Citywide SOUP Winner – April 2014

Blighted lots and abandoned homes, overgrown with unkept grass and vegetation are spread throughout the city of Detroit. Communities have a slew of eager volunteers, ready to help clean up, but getting the city involved can be difficult with so much work to be done within the city. Lots of Love, created by Chelsea Neblett and Becki Kenderes, is a mobile tool lending library on wheels, a renovated ice cream truck, helping clean up communities around Detroit.

“After organizing numerous clean-ups in our own neighborhood, we recognized a few concerning patterns.” Neblett explained. “We often had more volunteers than we had tools to go around, and volunteers who did own their own equipment (such as lawn mowers) had difficulty transporting them to clean-up sites without access to trucks.”

Anxious volunteers are ready to step up and help manicure these broken lots, but lack of proper materials can be an issue. Providing tools to neighborhoods in need, is just one of the little things this city needs to thrive. Lots of Love is putting the right materials into ready hands, and helping clean up neighborhoods properly.

“We are providing resources (tools, transportation and (wo)man power) to dozens of community groups across the city and the idea is that we build capacity, so that they can implement their own visions for their own neighborhoods.”

The importance of SOUP goes far beyond receiving money, but sometimes that little bit of extra cash can make all the difference. With the winnings, Lots of Love was able to procure their vehicle, a 35-year-old ice cream truck, and fill it with a variety of lawn care implements.

“SOUP helped us raise the funds for the initial costs associated with starting up our organization and also helped connect us with valuable support from the community such as volunteers and press,” Neblett added. Finishing up its first summer in Detroit, Lots of Love looks forward to expanding their project beyond just lawn care maintenance. With so much love needed around the city, there are plenty of ways to help, especially when you have two like minded people, working together to make a difference.

“We plan on continuing to offer the service to residents and volunteers but hope to expand our services beyond lawn maintenance. Land reuse is a hot topic in Detroit, and we hope to help implement various vacant lot treatments this upcoming year.”

As far as words of wisdom for someone looking at starting their own project in the city, Neblett and Kenderes feel the best way to achieve your dream is to reach out to the people around you for support and able to bounce ideas off each other and make connections with people who are eager to share on how to improve Detroit.

“We have great needs in Detroit, but we have even greater communities of support. Whatever your idea may be, find the right people to connect with and you can make it happen.”

Visit www.loldetroit.org for more information or to reserve tools!

– Chaz Parks