Salisbury wins USA Weekend award for BlockWork

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 10, 2012

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — BlockWork made a difference.
Such a difference, in fact, the city of Salisbury has won $10,000 and a USA Weekend Make A Difference Day award for the makeover last fall of two blocks in the Brooklyn-South Square neighborhood.
The Sunday issue of USA Weekend, which comes inserted in the Salisbury Post, mentions three cities chosen by the magazine and the Corporation for National & Community Service to win $10,000 each. San Jose and Jersey City also won.
The cities will receive $10,000 donations from Newman’s Own April 19 at an awards luncheon in Washington, D.C.
“This really helps cement the idea that the community working together can make a difference,” said Ken Weaver, president of the Brooklyn-South Square Neighborhood Association.
Salisbury won for the first BlockWork project on Oct. 22, which happened to fall on Make A Difference Day.
Volunteers installed walkways, landscaped yards, painted houses and fences and more in the 200 and 300 blocks of South Shaver Street. Led by Barbara Perry, the city’s Community Appearance Commission organized the event based on the United Way Day of Caring.
“The Community Appearance Commission recruited 85 volunteers, including the mayor, in a two-block makeover,” the USA Weekend article says.
In San Jose, the Strong Neighborhoods program led 160 volunteers in cleaning up a graffiti-scarred area.
The Jersey City Parks Coalition, three city agencies and the mayor’s office led 600 volunteers in planting 18,000 flower bulbs at 80 sites.
BlockWork has had a lasting effect on the Brooklyn-South Square neighborhood, where residents meet regularly, communicate effectively with police and feel a sense of bonding, said Lynn Raker, a city planner and landscape architect who headed up the project.
“It’s great to get the award,” Raker said. “It validates the project and gives it more attention, and other neighborhoods will be more interested in participating.”
Last month at the annual Community Appearance Commission awards, Brooklyn-South Square won the Margaret H. Kluttz Neighborhood Improvement Award for participating in BlockWork.
The neighborhood has mobilized in other ways, pursuing a corridor study of Long Street and asking for four-way stop signs and crosswalks to slow traffic and increase walkability of the historic area.
Raker said the $10,000 prize should pay for most of the next BlockWork project, coming this fall.
Last year, the city won a $5,000 grant from the Woodson Foundation and $10,000 from the Robertson Foundation and had a little money left over, she said.
Neighborhoods interested in applying for BlockWork should send a representative to the May 3 Neighborhood Leaders Alliance meeting at 4 p.m. in the Salisbury-Rowan Water Utility building at One Water Street. The city will help neighborhoods with the application process.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.