A lone man walks through the fenced-in park that spans nearly the entire small block between North 41st and West Cambridge Streets in East Parkside. He carries a metal litter grabber, a garbage bag, and wears a surgical mask. With practiced intensity, he stabs the debris lining the playground’s fence, and drops it into the plastic bag.
“Someone’s got to do it,” says Quinton Davis, the middle-aged man currently wearing the surgical mask. “Otherwise it will just sit here.”
Born and raised in Parkside, Davis devotes a few hours each week, as he does this morning, to maintaining his neighborhood - a part of the city that to residents often feels neglected by city services.
“It just looks terrible,” he says. “You know, sometimes people just come and sit here to eat or what have you, and it just sort of piles up.”
Davis doesn’t work for the city. He’s simply one man in a group of neighborhood residents that tries to keep the streets clean, devoid of litter.
“The neighborhood cleanup is coming through in a few days,” he said. “I’m just getting it ready for that.”
Davis works alone as intermittent groups of children and teenagers walk through the playground, a short cut between Poplar Avenue and 41st Street. Though the wind has picked up, he studiously continues stabbing the trash and dropping it into the nearly full bag.
Mary Coyle & Maureen Costello
Group 6, Mantua/Parkside