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Once a year, near the start of summer, businesspeople and residents turn out on Woodstock Boulevard to spruce it up

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - Re-planting a flowerpot in front of Woodstock Wine & Deli, during the Woodstock Boulevard annual community cleanup are, from left: Jonathan Straus, Jordyn, Trevor Attenberg, and Ingrid Mather. On Saturday, June 3rd – a splendidly cool and cloudy morning – people gathered in front of the Woodstock Community Center to check in for the Woodstock Annual Cleanup.

For six years in a row, the Woodstock Stakeholders Group, a commercial property owners nonprofit headed by Angie Even, has organized various activities to spruce up the neighborhood: Litter pickup along and behind Woodstock Boulevard; a fresh filling of new plants into the large cement flower pots that dot the street; and weeding and pruning of trees in the medians and on the boulevard.

This year Ms. Even was pleased to report that eighty-five people had participated – fifty large SOLVE bags were filled with litter; two pickup trucks were filled with pruned tree branches; and six people helped weed and prune the Woodstock Community Center's grounds.

While munching on donated pastries from Grand Central Bakery before heading out, a few people shared with THE BEE their reasons for participating.

Jessica Seiders, owner of the nonprofit "Southside Swap And Play" indoor play space located in Our Lady of Sorrows Church at 52nd and Woodstock, remarked, "I'm pretty invested in the community. I spend almost every day here, and I like to see the neighborhood look good." She was participating with her 2½ year old daughter, as well as with her cousin Lisa Haynes and her three year old son.

Jonathan Straus was on a planting crew with his blind housemate Trevor Attenberg. "For me, it was a chance to connect with my neighborhood and get to know the little details of Woodstock's landmarks that I otherwise would obliviously walk past," commented Straus.

Out on the streets, nine-year old Roxanne Iversen and her mother Beth were picking up cigarette butts, and pulling handfuls of litter out from weeds near the US Bank drive-up and behind the Delta Café. "I like cleaning up because it helps the earth to be clean", smiled Roxanne, a Woodstock Elementary School student.

Her mother added, "We've done this the last four years in a row. We look to see who can find the largest piece of litter. Last year it was an old wooden scooter bike." This year the cleanup's biggest items found were a tire and a garden hose.

Daniel Iversen and his ten-year old son Jake were farther up Knight Street picking up litter. "I have to live in this environment where people throw trash, so I came to help pick it up. And," he added half-jokingly, "I came for the free food!" At noon, that Saturday, the litter and planting crews returned to the Community Center to partake in a generous free lunch.

Angie Even posted on the Stakeholders' Facebook page: "Otto's brought their grill and hot dogs, along with Double Mt. Pizza, New Seasons' salads and chips, beverages and fruit from Safeway, and Cloud City Ice Cream. Yum!"

Woodstock Boulevard by that time was cleaned up to renew a sense of neighborhood pride, and for the opening of the Woodstock Farmers Market for the summer on the following day.

Contract Publishing

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