Fed up with trashy streets, mom pushes for ‘Meet and Sweeps’

Morton Village: Michelle Crawford-Cranmore is leading the charge for a tidied-up Morton Street Village. 	Bill Forry photoMorton Village: Michelle Crawford-Cranmore is leading the charge for a tidied-up Morton Street Village. Bill Forry photo
Broken glass, empty beer bottles and used sanitary products: These are just a few of the items that Michelle Crawford-Cranmore said litter the area around her Morton Village home, the area where her six-year-old child also plays.

In an attempt to both clean the area and get to know her neighbors, Crawford-Cranmore is proposing a Meet and Sweep group to meet once or twice a week to tidy up the area stretching from the Morton Street T station to Norfolk Hardware, and the side streets in between.

 “I’ve been to other areas of Dorchester and even Mattapan itself and it looks cleaner, and people know their neighbors and know each other,” she said.

Crawford-Cranmore suspects the “never ending supply of garbage” comes from a combination of littering students at a nearby schoolhouse and absentee landlords and homeowners.

 The plan for the group, which is slated to be in action by the middle of May, is to meet on the weekend and sweep the sidewalks, while getting to know each other and talking about issues in the neighborhood. Eventually, Crawford-Cranmore said, she hopes the group will help jump-start the beginning of a neighborhood association.

 Danny Hardaway, the head of the Morton Village Board of Commerce, said when he worked to beautify Morton Street in 2009, it was no small effort: The mayor’s office had a heavy hand in assisting the cleanup, along with the Department of Neighborhood Development, Mattapan Community Development and the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

 “If you’re interested in your community I think definitely you should take more pride in making it cleaner, not just in Morton Village,” he said. “It’s a much bigger picture than just one particular area.”
 Hardaway added that for a cleanup to be successful, the whole neighborhood has to want to take part.

 “What you find is you have to get everybody involved in the community – it’s not just one person,” he said. “You got somebody else that’s not taking pride in their community, they’re going to dirty it up again.” 

Despite the obstacles like a neighborhood of people in temporary living situations, Crawford-Cranmore is determined to rid the area of its excessive trash.

 “Really something needs to be done, this neighborhood’s a mess,” she said. “And I realize that most people are renting, but our kids play here – you can’t have them playing in broken glass and filthy used sanitary products.”

The city of Boston is sponsoring its annual two-day, citywide clean-up effort on April 29-30. Boston Shines, as it is known, features thousands of volunteers who assist in targeted clean-ups in every city neighborhood, beginning with commercial areas on Friday, April 29. For more, see cityofboston.gov/ons/bostonshines/2011.asp