About a dozen longtime Georgetown residents spent Saturday morning sweeping up East Market Street, less than 24 hours before Hurricane Sandy finished washing it down.
The downtown clean-up effort was the first public event for
Georgetown Arts & Flowers, a new civic group dedicated to raising community pride and promoting the arts in town.
“We planned this event weeks before anyone knew the hurricane was coming,” co-founder Joy Sikora said as group members swept the sidewalks and curbing. “Actually, it should help with the storm because now all this dirt and trash that we’re picking up won’t end up in the storm drains.”
The sweep up on East Market Street was organized to coincide with Make A Difference Day, a nationwide community service effort held every October since 1992.
“We thought this would be a good way to introduce ourselves to the community and hopefully people will see that we really care about our town and are working together to make a difference,” Sikora said. “We’d really like to have this thing grow legs and add more members who also want to increase the viability of the town and make it a better place to live.”
Georgetown Arts & Flowers is a direct result of the Blueprint Communities initiative, a 4-year-old, wide-ranging partnership between member communities, FHLBank Pittsburh and the University of Delaware’s Center for Community Research and Service.
The initiative, which Georgetown joined a year ago, is designed to train community leaders, as well as provide access to a network of public and private resources, loans and grants for businesses and affordable housing projects.
Sikora was a member of Georgetown Blueprint Communities leadership team and Georgetown Arts and Flowers sprang out of a focus group she attended with fellow longtime resident Battle Robinson.
“I think we all thought that this is a lovely town that needs some sprucing up and we we’re all interested in doing it,” said Robinson, who joined Saturday’s clean-up with her 4-year-old grandson Graham. “We decided to keep the conversation going and form a group that would be able to put our talk into action. Hopefully, it will catch on and more people will participate.”
Several people working in and passing through Georgetown on Saturday morning certainly noticed the group’s clean-up effort.
“I think it’s great that these people have the sense of civic responsibility to help out and clean up the town,” said Roger Reed of the accounting firm Jefferson, Urian, Doane & Sterner on North Bedford Street. “I feel kind of lazy not helping out.”
Debbie Marker, a waitress at the Georgetown Family Restaurant on East Market Street, was equally impressed.
“I think it’s wonderful what they’re doing,” she said. “The sidewalks definitely needed to be cleaned up and it’s great that they took it upon themselves to do it.”
Sikora said the group’s future plans include raising funds and awareness of their efforts by raffling a Longaberger basket full of Georgetown-related goodies at Return Day on Nov. 8.
In the spring, the group is planning to sponsor a downtown children’s art contest, while also replenishing the large concrete planters located throughout Georgetown’s downtown.
“A recent study released by Americans for the Arts shows that having a thriving art community can have a tremendous positive impact on a town’s economy because it makes people want to come and visit,” Sikora said. “We’re just a small group right now, but our goal is to become the core of a much larger effort to improve our town.”