Jan 19, 2015
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Armed with garden tools and great ideas, community volunteers got to work on the Richmond Greenway Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service.

Rather than lounging around the house for the holiday, neighbors spent the morning sprucing up and beautifying the ever-evolving bicycle and pedestrian pathway between 6th and 16th streets, just north of Ohio Avenue.

The Richmond Greenway is a three-mile former rail corridor that community members have been working to improve since before the city constructed a bike path in 2005.

Along with general cleanup and gardening in the area, the community visited information booths to learn more about a $5 million state grant to create “Unity Park” along sections of the Greenway, and to offer suggestions on what the project might include.

Harbour-8 Park, a newly opened children’s playground built by Pogo Park’s team of local residents, stood out as a shining and colorful example of what happens when the community bands together to improve neglected spaces.

Seeing is believing, of course, so follow our photo journey of the impressive annual MLK Jr. Day event in Richmond.

We first entered the Greenway on 6th Street looking west, where volunteers picked up trash, prepped soil and offered ideas on what the 6th Street garden will look like:


Here’s the view of activity along the Greenway east of 6th Street, lined with volunteers and various booths to inform on various projects to protect the local environment:


It didn’t take long to run into Mayor Tom Butt, who helped spread mulch chips as part of a gardening technique called sheet mulching. The chips and cardboard help create compost in the garden by mimicking a process that occurs naturally in forests as trees and plants shed. The mayor said he brought his own tools, including what he called “the ultimate mulch pitchfork.” He was getting ready to speak at around noon:


Here’s another look at the sheet mulching that occurred along the Greenway, which garnered attention from TV media:


Right where a pipe carries rain water from city streets out to the Bay, community volunteers constructed a rain garden. The right soil and plants that bio-degrade pollutants can clean up the rainwater before it reaches the Bay, said project leader Derek Hitchcock.


In case you needed a refresher on the recent history of the Richmond Greenway, a shed along the pathway was set up like a mini-movie theater. There, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech played along with a film detailing the last eight years of Greenway developments:


Locals had a chance to see the seasonal plan to grow a variety of berries along the Greenway:


Youth and adults alike helped beautify the garden at Lincoln Elementary School (6th and Chanslor) through an art project to create garden stepping stones:


We received an education on the importance of bees and the dire effects of their diminishing population:


Community members created sachets from materials taken straight from West Contra Costa Unified School District gardens:


Over on 16th Street, volunteers hauled loads of new soil and chips to an adjacent garden. The only complaint we heard from the event was the lack of a restroom at this location:


Another information tent at 16th Street begs help on designing an edible forest:


Also at 16th, the good folks at Rich City Rides, a bicycle advocacy nonprofit, offered bicycle parking and repairs. Services included replacing tires and brake pads:


Best of all about the morning was the amount of fun everyone was having despite the hard work being done. For example, this young girl:



About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.