Sunday, 5 July 2009

Taking back our park

We did it, we cleaned and cut a park last night.

3 of us headed down there with lawnmowers and garbage bags in hand not knowing what to expect. We thought CUPE would arrive quickly and try to extinguish our fire, we thought that the neighbours would sit on their porches watching, we thought the people in the park would clear out
instead of becoming embroiled with some heated battle between us - the community minded people who don't want our kids playing in filth and waist-deep grass full of shit, and the striking CUPE workers who would surely come to stop us.

Guess what -
As soon as the 3 mowers revved up, people did too.

One by one, neighbours grabbed their own mowers, garbage bags, brooms and gas cans and joined in. We all smiled at once seeing them come over to the park. Within a half hour our trio had grown to 10 mowers and countless others doing their part to take back the park. Little kids with grocery bags wandering around picking up trash, one little girl with a broom sweeping the pathways off, people with clippers trimming the overgrown bushes, people bringing out bottled water for the workers, and others emptying the large garbage bin that had been duct taped up to prevent use. It was truly a sight to see. For over 2 hours last night the neighbourhood
reclaimed its park and we couldn't have been more proud to be a part of it. All it took was someone lighting the spark, the rest came naturally.

I think the only reason this hadn't been done yet is fear. People keep hearing the stories of strikers disrupting any attempt to clean up the mess that is Windsor, saying that we're doing their jobs. Well, here's our response - YOU'RE NOT DOING YOUR JOBS. What you complain you don't get paid enough to do, we just did for free, as a matter of fact, it cost us to do this, our gas, our garbage bags - which by the way, we have to pay to dispose of ourselves, because you won't!

No CUPE members showed their faces last night.
Not one.

There was someone circling the block a few times, but we can only speculate on why, they never stopped the car. People did make their opinions known last night, dozens of cars honking and giving us the thumbs up. One man even walked around to everyone shaking their hands, then he started picking up sticks. All ages, all neighbours, at least 30 people in that park last night, all because someone took the initiative and started it. We didn't really want to stop when the cutting was done, we started a second round - some of the grass was still kinda high. Maybe we wanted confrontation? Maybe we were hoping to prove a point to the strikers, or maybe we were hoping that a random news crew would show up? I don't know what kept us going, except that now our kids have their park back. Period.

Someone did accuse us of helping CUPE, that person was quickly corrected. We don't want to help them at all, they got themselves into this, they can get themselves out. The point is why should the citizens suffer? Why is it that when Google puts our fair town online in a few months all people will see is the massive piles of garbage and unkempt parks?

Why hasn't the Health Ministry stepped in to order a clean up? Why are 1,800 people holding over 200,000 people hostage in our own city?

I hope more people step up the way we did last night. I hope CUPE comes to it's senses. Please people, go back to work. You are our friends, family and neighbours too. You have families to feed and homes to keep. You have lives too. I know it's you inept leadership that is keeping you out, I know that many of your members are on the verge of losing their own homes because the strike pay just doesn't cut it. I know that you want this 13 weeks of hell over as much as the rest of us. Face it, the city won't give in and either will you. I appreciate the principle of the matter but enough is enough.

The next time we do this (hopefully we won't have to), I hope to see CUPE members alongside of us, cutting and cleaning. I hope CUPE realizes who has been hurt by this. 2009 will be remembered as the summer the kids couldn't play.

Thank you to everyone who helped last night.

The photos are courtesy of a relative who lives on the park. Faces have been intentionally blurred.


  1. You know how I feel about Unions. This wasn't about that. That is was all about giving our kids a place to play. This is our neighbourhood. This is where our daughter like to play on the swings. The daughter who suffers from allergies, which this year are out of control, due to the weeds and such. You guys weren't there to stick to the were there being good parents, providing a healthy safe enviroment for your children to play in. Good for you!
    Let's hope you don't have to do it again, and that our children will soon be able to go to camps and pools and play in parks, the way they should during the summer.

  2. There were more kids at the park last night than I have seen there in the last 12 weeks. You all did good!!!! We need to keep the kids off the streets and if more people would help clean their parks we can keep the kids safe and off the streets.

    Cheers to a job well done... all of you :D


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