On October 9, 2004, more than 600 local residents, elected officials and members of community organizations united to clean up nearly 3.5 square miles of the Florence Firestone unincorporated community. In two hours, the volunteers collected 31,000 pounds of trash, completed a pollution-prevention themed mural painted by a local artist, and beautified the grounds of Edison Middle School, planting flowers and ridding the campus of trash and debris.
The Florence Firestone Beautification Event was conducted as part of the County's stormwater pilot program, which utilizes community outreach and grassroots activities to influence change in the pollution-causing behaviors of residents. The pilot program was implemented in partnership with Supervisor Gloria Molina (1st District) and Supervisor Yvonne Burke (2nd District), whose districts share the Florence Firestone community.
The beautification event marked the first effort of the Florence Firestone Task Force, a group of 20 residents and community leaders representing local businesses, schools, faith-based organizations, and law enforcement. Members met to discuss local pollution issues and spent three months planning the beautification effort, which included litter removal, gardening projects and painting a new environmental mural. The Task Force collaborated with County services to enhance graffiti removal and trash pick-up services, and to facilitate a Household Hazardous Waste and E-waste roundup. Future projects and programs will be determined according to the needs of the community as the Task Force continues to meet.
In the weeks leading up to the October event, Task Force members reached out to their fellow residents, businesses, churches and schools to encourage participation. The County supported these grassroots efforts with an 8-week media campaign that utilized bilingual Can It! advertising in community newspapers, on billboards, buses and lightpole banners and on radio and cable television.
To ensure all neighborhoods participated, the community was divided into ten clean-up zones, each led by a Task Force member. Volunteers were encouraged to gather in the zone nearest to their home on the morning of the event. Outfitted in free Can It! campaign t-shirts and armed with trash grabbers, brooms and dustpans, the volunteers set to the streets to clean and beautify. In Roosevelt Park, Supervisors Burke and Molina joined in the activities helping volunteers paint the pollution prevention mural. Students and their families worked side-by-side at Edison Middle School to plant flowers and shrubs around the campus.
While immediate results of the cleanup were readily apparent throughout the community, our goal is that this effort will foster environmental stewardship and have a long-term impact on polluting behaviors.
"I feel that with my participation I was a positive influence in my community. It was a wonderful event and we had a good outcome, especially for being the first beautification day. I think people realized that with a little effort we can end up with huge results that make a difference," said Jeannette Godina, Florence Firestone Task Force member and resident.
Clean-up activities concluded with a community celebration hosted by Edison Middle School. Supervisors Burke and Molina took the stage to thank the Florence Firestone Task Force members, residents and students and encourage everyone to continue the clean-up efforts. KCBS weatherman John Elliott and traffic reporter Vera Jimenez served as emcees for the program that also included a performance by Roosevelt Park's cheerleading squad.
"It was important to collaborate with our neighbors to take care of our community. This was a very positive experience and I hope to continue to do this in the future," said Pablo Mejia, Florence Firestone Task Force member and resident.
With the support of the Supervisors and the Department of Public Works, the Florence Firestone Task Force will continue to build the community's pollution prevention program by educating fellow residents and facilitating neighborhood efforts.
"The Florence Firestone Beautification Event is just the beginning of what we hope will be a long-standing partnership dedicated to reducing pollution and improving the health and beauty of Florence Firestone, both now and for generations to come," said Melinda Barrett, Head of the Environmental Affairs Section, County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works.
About the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works Stormwater Campaign
Mandated by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit (NPDES) requirements, the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works has launched the Stormwater/Urban Runoff Public Education Program to educate the public about what they can do to prevent pollution and keep local waterways clean. The program uses a variety of different outreach efforts to help remind the public what happens when they don't think about the effect they have on the environment. Current program outreach activities include paid advertising, community pilot programs, media relations and corporate partnerships. In addition, the program provides technical assistance to the incorporated cities and unincorporated communities within the County of LA to help promote cohesive pollution prevention efforts throughout the County. For more information about the program, please contact Kerjon Lee at (626) 458-3543 or email@example.com.