Guerrilla Gardeners Rally Community to Take on Potomac Avenue Triangle Parks
by Larry Janezich
Guerrilla Gardeners, who turns neglected city greenspace into community supported gardens, has partnered with the residents of Potomac Gardens and Hopkins Apartments, nearby neighbors, and Brothas Huddle https://brothashuddle.org/ – a civic organization that works with community residents and youths – to reclaim the two Potomac Avenue triangle parks between 12th and 13th Streets, SE.
The effort grew out of Guerrilla Gardener Jim Guckert’s scouting the neighborhood for the organization’s next project. A plot at 13th and I Streets, though neglected, turned out not to be public property. After consulting with ANC6B Commissioner Kelly Waud, attention turned to the two triangle parks. Waud explained how the city installed playground equipment and a splash pad but ran out of funding for landscaping and maintenance. Waud consulted with Naomi Mitchell who handles community relations for CM Charles Allen for guidance on Guerrilla Gardener’s involvement in improving the public space. Mitchell also helped bring the Potomac Gardens and Hopkins communities on board and provided invaluable assistance in facilitating collaboration with city agencies.
Guerrilla Gardeners committed to leading the effort to make the parks clean, safe, and beautiful, and launched a fund raising drive and issued a call for volunteers. As of yesterday, the group had raised $4,500 – all from individuals – and the call for volunteers brought out 18 people last weekend and 26 on Saturday. Last weekend, the park at 13th and I was cleaned up and prepared for planting; the park at 12th and K Streets was cleared to improve appearance and mitigate mosquitos. Yesterday, volunteers continued to clean up the 13th and I park and planted the beds. Additional perennial plants and bulbs will be added this fall. Work on the parks will continue during the weeks ahead, and a dedication celebration will take place at 10:00am on Saturday, September 26.
Guerrilla Gardeners has committed to support the parks for the next five years with funds and training – fundraising specifically dedicated to the parks will continue over that period. Guckert hopes that during that time, the community-building care and maintenance effort for the parks will become self-sustaining.
Guckert says “I can’t resist the opportunity to improve neglected greenspace – the worse shape a piece is in, the more I’m interested. Unfortunately, these triangles have been left on their own. We’ll do the work, and try to get the neighbors involved to maintain them, maybe by setting up a friends of the park group.”
Fifteen years ago, Guckert – who lives near 8th and I Street, SE and four of his neighbors constituted the informal group that took upon themselves the beautification of the – then neglected – plot of land on 8th Street, SE, between I Street and the 395 overpass. He incorporated the organization as a 501C3 nonprofit in September of 2019, after an article in the Hill Rag sparked community interest and requests for assistance on misused, unused and neglected plots.
The group has no boundaries and pursues gardening where no gardening is being done as people make known plots that are candidates for improvement. To learn more about the project, donate, or volunteer, go here: https://guerrillagardenersdc.org – contributions are 100% tax deductible.