Always Start with Petunias

The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Valleybefore.png (BGCMV) has been an integral part of the Floreciente community since it opened its first club in the neighborhood in 1994.  Their presence has since expanded to include a Teen Center as well as administrative offices for the entire Quad Cities area.  Whereas the BGCMV is highly regarded among community members for their youth programming, their Administration Building – located in the center of the neighborhood – needed to be repaved to deter people from leaving their cars unattended on the lot (image of lot from Google Maps above).

Several additional buildings, public infrastructure, and other services in Floreciente also needed improvements to make them more welcoming to residents.  Neighbors, business owners, and representatives from local organizations that work in the Floreciente neighborhood began to meet monthly to identify and prioritize community needs. They also worked to identify projects that would increase community pride and participation and civic activities in Floreciente early on in order to draw more neighbors to their cause. Reoccurring themes for potential projects included undertaking beautification projects, planting flowers, addressing transportation issues, and creating play arduring.jpgeas, all while  finding ways to get neighbors to work together. 

Global Communities worked with neighborhood businesses, BGCMV, Habitat for Humanity, MetroLink, and the City of Moline to explore different approaches to these problems and came up with these solutions:

  • Global Communities organized community volunteers, BGCMV and Habitat for Humanity to recruit neighbors to decorate, plant and distribute flower pots for display on the front porches of Floreciente (see picture to the right).
  • MetroLink and BGCMV worked together to lay a concrete slab and run electricity to a site in the BGCMV Administration Building parking lot so that a neighborhood could have a sheltered bus stop on  busy 4th Avenue.
  • Global Communities, BGCMV, Habitat for Humanity, and a local artist worked with neighbors to identify themes and vet designs for a community mural to be painted on the pillars of the BGCMV Administration Building and on the parking lot. 

Global Communities funded these projects because they complemented each other well, and serve as an example for place-making, a process by which spaces are repurposed with public input as part of an coordinated effort to transform a community.  Children will be able to ride bikes and play hopscotch, and the entire neighborhood will enjoy a mural depicting images of the Quad Cities and the community’s Mexican heritage while they socialize or wait for the bus. 

pots.jpgGlobal Communities organized volunteers for these projects in March and April to help prime pots, sign up neighbors, make phone calls, and decorate and plant pots. On May 7, more than 100 neighbors came to the BCGMV Administrative Building to either decorate, plant, or pick up flower pots to display on their front porches (see picture to the right). In early June, MetroLink installed the bus shelter, which  people started using it immediately,   By the end of June, approximately 120 volunteers from within the neighborhood and from the greater Quad Cities area came together to help with the flower pots or start on the mural  at the BGCMV Administration Building. 

Global Communities will continue to work with its partners on transforming this space into something the community looks on with pride.  The relationships that have been built between neighbors as they participate in these projects will need to be fostered to keep the tremendous momentum going.

One of the basic principles of place-making is to “always start with petunias,”  because short-term activities, especially those that are inexpensive such as flower planting,  are a way to generate a short-term win for the community, test ideas, and learn from the experience as additional projects are formulated. 

Global Communities, Floreciente residents and partner organizations took this principle literally – and started with planting wave petunias into flower pots at the BGCMV Administrative Building. Since Floreciente literally means “flourishing” in Spanish, neighbors are hopeful that the petunias will grow and bloom into more community engagement projects for the neighborhood.   

after.jpg

Panorama of the BGCMV Administrative Building after the bus shelter installation completed and the mural painting has started.

 

Funded by the John Deere Foundation through May 2018, the Flourishing Communities program is working in Floreciente to create long-lasting, community-led change by organizing and educating residents and business owners to participate in community and economic development decisions affecting their neighborhood.