“I saw something that needed to be done, and I did it.”

“I saw something that needed to be done, and I did it”

I got up this drizzly morning, got my cup of coffee, and sat down to my computer to catch up with the world.  As usual, I started by skimming the news and saw snips of why it’s more painful to get a neck tattoo, stupid criminal acts, Sunday football predictions,a woman suing her children for care – benign, boring.

Then a picture flipped by with the headline “The Mower Gang Takes Action in Detroit.”  Now, the decay in Detroit is something I’ve watched with sadness for a long time.  When I was teaching Civics and Economics, I covered the concepts of urban decay and renewal, and I used the widely available images of Detroit to illustrate the problem to my students.  What better representation of the “Rust Belt” – a major US city, home to our automobile industry, power, wealth, status.  My dad drove American made cars – preferred Fords, Mercuries, and then, in later years, Lincolns – and Detroit was the emerald city of car makers – magical, powerful – that is, before the industry crashed.

Now, the country hears of the city’s financial collapse.  We see images of Detroit’s magnificent buildings in ruins and homes abandoned and collapsing.   We hear about the plight of residents who have not abandoned the city – and wonder what can be done.

Then this story – about a group of people who take one small step, do one small thing, because it needed to be done.  One man, one lawnmower (purchased on credit, no less) and an overgrown park once again becomes a place where children can play, sports teams can practice and play, and a community can come together.  More people see what can be done and more space is cleared – and the people come.  It’s a small act, in a place where more needs to be done, but it impacts people’s lives in a positive way – something that needs to be done.

Can this simply philosophy spread?  When you see something that needs to be done – can you step up and do it?  Anything – because we will all be better off for it.

Urban Innovation Exchange: The Lawn Mower Gang

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