Boston Shines Looks To Beautify Neighborhoods

As the conclusion of the Boston Marathon marks the true beginning of spring, it’s time for some serious spring cleaning. Boston Shines, an annual citywide neighborhood cleanup project, will kick off this weekend, Friday, April 25 and Saturday, April 26. Boston Shines is a program run by the city’s Office of Neighborhood Services. Since its inception in 2002, the program’s goal has been to increase solidarity among Boston residents, encourage volunteerism, and promote collaboration between Boston residents, businesses, and city services through neighborhood cleanup projects.

Any Boston resident can request a project to be completed in their neighborhood through a Boston Shines volunteer team. The program has helped clean sidewalks and streets and plant gardens in public parks, among many other outdoor cleanup or repair projects that beautify the neighborhood.

“We support whatever projects folks are interested in doing,” said Jordan Deasy, the South End and Bay Village Neighborhood Coordinator and the citywide coordinator for Boston Shines this year. “We make as many projects as possible work.”

Residents can submit a service request online, over the phone, in person at Boston City Hall, via Twitter, by approaching one of Boston’s mobile city services trucks, or utilizing the office’s Citizens Connect mobile app. Once individuals have submitted requests, they can track them online.

The administration of Mayor Martin J. Walsh, WCAS ’09, has made a major change to the program this year. Rather than devoting one weekend to all Boston neighborhoods, the administration has decided to divvy up the volunteer projects over the course of three weekends. Each weekend is devoted to a different region in Boston.

Deasy explained that the administration felt this approach would allow more city agencies to devote more time to each neighborhood. In year’s past, many felt the city’s resources were being spread too thin. This approach, Deasy said, should allow city agencies to focus their full attention and resources on one area at a time. The city provides t-shirts, gloves, and tools to the volunteers at their project sites and welcomes donations of these items from the public. The city will also be responsible for cleaning up trash and picking up supplies once the project is completed.

There will also be Sidewalk Teams this year. These are groups of people who specifically volunteered to “clean the sidewalks and other public places on their streets,” according to the event details on Boston Shines’ official website.

This weekend, Boston Shines will cover several neighborhoods: West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, Allston and Brighton, and Bay Village. The weekend of May 2 will cover Hyde Park, Roslindale, Dorchester, and Mattapan. The project’s final segment, on May 9 and 10, will hit the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Mission Hill, Fenway, the South End, the North End, the West End, Downtown, Charlestown, Chinatown, East Boston, and South Boston.

According to Boston Shines’ website, this year’s program plans to place a particular focus on “physical service, university engagement, youth development, and expanding City of Boston volunteer opportunities that help unite neighbors and communities.” Deasy explained that Boston Shines frequently partners with community service groups at local universities such as Boston College and Boston University, as well as sororities and fraternities in Boston area colleges. While students are attending college in the Boston area, Boston Shines wants to remind students that they too are residents of Boston who deserve a clean city and should take pride in their neighborhood.

One of the ultimate goals of Boston Shines is to increase solidarity within the Boston community and building neighborhood pride. Boston Shines hopes that this pride will carry over year-round and inspire people to keep their neighborhoods clean 365 days a year.

While Boston Shines is a single event, all residents are encouraged by the city to be active within their neighborhoods and to be vocal when their neighborhood needs help.