Neighborhoods, parks and city streets in Scranton have a renewed energy due to Scranton City Pride cleanups and plantings. Our longstanding beautification program was halted due to COVID-19 in 2020, but it returned in June with new promise and new partners, contributing to the fresh start we all needed after more than a year of health and safety restrictions.
This year, Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti served as honorary chairwoman of the event as we partnered with the city and welcomed the team at NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania to the project. With an increase in requests for volunteer opportunities, and National NeighborWorks Week on the horizon, members of NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania were eager to collaborate with our Safe, Clean & Green ambassadors to help organize cleanups and plantings throughout the city. The project speaks volumes to the importance of partnerships as we strive to enhance the quality of life for all who live and work in Scranton, and to solidify the city’s role as the economic center of the region.
In just one week, 259 volunteers contributed 420 hours of their time to fill 240 trash bags with about 9,600 pounds of litter and unsightly debris in every section of the city and in the downtown. They planted 4,000 summer annuals, created rock gardens and hosted landscape improvement projects. Homeowners were involved in this year’s initiative, too. We encouraged residents to participate by sprucing up their properties with simple, but important, maintenance projects, such as touching up the paint on front doors and fences, updating lighting on front porches, weeding and planting flowers. Even small projects make a significant impact on the visual appeal of our neighborhoods. (For a list of ideas, check out our blog at https://www.scrantontomorrow.org/blog).
Scranton City Pride was made possible through the support of PNC Bank, PPL Foundation, the University of Scranton, PennDOT and the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful program. In addition to funding and in-kind donations, projects like these rely on community participation to succeed. We are grateful to the business and property owners, city leaders, civic organizations, neighborhood associations and devoted volunteers who came together to make their city a better place. All brought a level of enthusiasm and energy to enhance the city and their efforts are deeply appreciated.
Cities that invest in beautification programs reap countless benefits. Clean streets and well-maintained properties highlight the unique and historic architecture and the natural beauty of our greenspaces and parks. This stewardship and care creates an inviting environment where people want to shop, dine and live.
Leslie Collins is the president and CEO of Scranton Tomorrow, a nonprofit economic development organization.