Community cleanup at Central Hillside Park

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On Sunday afternoon, 20-30 volunteers gathered at Central Hillside Park in Duluth to clean the park and the surrounding area. The event was organized by two groups, the “Sober Squad” and “Idle No More”.

Sober Squad is an organization for Native Americans in recovery. They have meetings called "Talking Circles" that are similar to NA and AA and plan sober events, such as bowling and picnics, for sober people. Idle No More is an advocacy group that covers Indigenous issues, including environmental issues, human rights, and addiction issues.

The groups were unable to organize the community cleanup the past two years due to being cautious about the pandemic, but this is the third time they have gotten together to clean the area.

“Most of us live in this neighborhood,” explained Carr. “We want the park to be clean for the kids. It makes me feel good because at some point during the summer, I’m going to use the park a couple of times. My friend’s kids use it. We want it to be safe and clean.”

The buckets and grabbers were provided by the City of Duluth through their “Clean and Green” Parks and Recreation program.

“Anybody can organize one of these,” said organizer Shawn Carr. “Or you can just go out on your own. It makes you feel good if you make the neighborhood look good.”

After the volunteers canvassed the park and picked up all the trash in sight, they kept up the momentum and cleaned surrounding areas with some of them walking several blocks to help the community.

“It’s just a matter of community pride,” said Carr. “The snow is melting, the garbage is showing. It’s time to go out and pick it up.”