Weeding Wednesdays Keep Public Spaces Tidy

 By Abby Johnson 

Mary Jo Viero didn’t like the weeds she saw piling up alongside the train tracks at the 103rd Street Station. It was a jarring sight, she said. Hideous greenery had burst from the ground and settled into the cracks and crevices of the pavement, much like unwelcome house guests.  

“It was a terrible representation of our neighborhood,” said Viero, who is the Community Organizer for BAPA. “We had to do something about it.” 

So they did. BAPA workers Grace Kuikman, Jennifer Alving and Margot Holland tossed a few brooms and rakes into the back of Viero’s SUV and drove to the disheveled lot. There they spent the morning removing weeds and picking up trash and leaves. Three hours later, the area looked transformed. The unwanted greens had been removed, and the seed for BAPA’s Weeding Wednesdays had been planted.  

This summer marks the third year of what began as Viero’s drive to remove an eyesore. Starting this month, a different clean-up location will be selected every Wednesday. BAPA staff and volunteers will meet from 8:30 to about 10 a.m. to pull weeds, remove litter and trim overgrown plantings.  

Volunteers are welcome to join. Viero said she understands that time constraints can make it hard for people to give back to their community, but hopes that people who love gardening and love our beautiful community can find some time to help out on a Wednesday morning this summer and early fall.  

“People are always so busy that going out and doing some good for the community can fall to the wayside,” she said. “We want to present them with some opportunities so they see how easy it is to get involved.” 

And Weeding Wednesdays are good for the neighborhood, too. Areas around the Rock Island Metra and the Forest Preserves rarely see primping and are always in need of rejuvenation.  Viero wants Weeding Wednesdays to serve as inspiration. Even if you can’t participate in the weekly cleanups, Viero said, try to do something similar on your own time.  

“Find your own infuriating outdoor mess and spend some time cleaning it up. Where ever it may be.”