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‘Spread to their neighbors’: BlockWork holds annual event on North Main Street

SALISBURY — On Saturday, the Salisbury Community Appearance and Salisbury Housing Advocacy commissions hosted their ninth annual “BlockWork” neighborhood beautification project event in the 900 block of North Main Street.

The 900 block of North Main Street was specially closed for volunteers and those partaking in the project.

The grassroots program began in 2010 by the Community Appearance Commission’s Neighborhood Leaders Alliance, with the goal of bringing residents in the community together to build cleaner and safer neighborhoods, to foster pride and bring a shared sense of identity and understanding to Salisbury.

City of Salisbury Urban Design Planner Alyssa Nelson said Saturday’s projects included planting 32 trees, edging the sidewalks of homes, pressure washing, painting, installing railings, landscaping, a mural completed by students from UNC-Charlotte and more. Through working with property owners, residents, city staff and support groups, volunteers help “beautify” neighborhoods through landscaping, painting, carpentry and various volunteer work.

Volunteers were able to complete a number of projects at the event, including repairs to front porches, planting mulch, painting light posts, awnings as well as railings at homes in the 900 block.

“When you see people taking pride in their homes, this will in hope spread to their neighbors, to not just this one block but help those that come by this corridor and those surrounding neighborhoods,” Nelson said.

Council members come out as do city staff, firefighters, volunteers and organizations that include but are not limited to the Salisbury Community Development Corporation and the Historic Salisbury Foundation, Nelson said.

“This is a great way to meet people and feel more a part of the community,” she said. “We asked people if they have special skills to let us know. We’ve had some carpenters out here installing the railings. It’s whatever you want. There are no rules. There are projects assigned per house, but we let you do whatever you feel capable of doing.”

And Saturday was not the end of the annual event’s work. According to Nelson, an upcoming project includes “removing a broken concrete pathway and installing a brick pathway” along one of the homes in the 900 block of North Main Street. That project has to go before the Historic Preservation Commission, she said.

“So, we weren’t able to do it today but we will be able to complete the project with students from Catawba College, early morning on Nov. 23,” Nelson said.

Diana Cummings, who works for the city of Salisbury, said that “the community loves it.”

“The kids that come out and help really get a lot out of it,” she said.

“It’s almost growing in a way. When we started out, we thought we did good with 85 volunteers and now we have at least 160 volunteers,” Cummings said.

The event was also home to a mural painted on a concrete wall on Miller Street by students from UNC-Charlotte’s College of Arts and Architecture’s “Good, Fast, Cheap Building Design” class taught by Marc Manack, an associate professor.

“I used to work with Habitat for Humanity, and it reminded me of working out on the job site on Saturdays with my volunteer crews,” said Urban Design and Geography Graduate student Jacob Huffman, who participated with the College of Arts and Architecture.

Huffman said painting the mural was calming and relaxing.

“It was about bringing Salisbury ‘into a fence,’ and mending the barrier between these two houses and bringing the love back,” said Ashley DelliPaoli, a student with the class. “Getting together and doing something out of the studio was very fun and especially because it was a communal experience.”

DelliPaoli said that she loves “doing stuff like this,” especially when she has free time.

“Salisbury is a really cute town and I hope we get to be part of it more,” she said.

UNC-Charlotte Graduate Students Devin Waddell, Nicole Avitabile, and Kristen Cullen all contributed to the mural as well.

“It was nice to see all of our classmates outside of class and being able to do this today,” said Nicole Avitabile.

Devin Waddell said the group had received “a lot of compliments” on the final product.

Students from Carson High School’s Key Club on Saturday participated with volunteer work at BlockWork, too.

Seniors Katelin Bostian, Shakia Smallwood, Victoria Post, Kassidy Voyles and freshman Dalton Bostian all expressed their excitement in an interview with the Post.

“It’s really nice to be able to help someone in the community. It feels so nice,” said Dalton Bostian. “It’s been great seeing everyone in the community, help those in need.”

Katelin Bostian said the group has completed multiple service-learning projects, including help those who need assistance with disaster relief from hurricanes and other, various community service.

Victoria Post said that, through participating in the group and volunteering at BlockWork, she has learned responsibility

“It’s become more than just a task or something to do, but something I enjoy because I see the affect it has on my community,” she said.

Eight BlockWork events have been held since its founding, including the initial event on South Shaver Street, which earned a National Make a Difference Day award and a $10,000 prize.

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