Wildflower Alley: Connecting neighbors through community spaces
Neighbors and volunteers from Topeka, Kan. come together to make their neighborhood ‘a better place to call home.’
In the Old Town neighborhood of Topeka, Kan., Mike Spadafore, a local resident, saw an opportunity to bring his neighbors together by improving the community’s access to green space in their alleys. An American Enterprise Institute report finds that people who live in neighborhoods and communities with greater access to shared spaces, like parks or green spaces, feel less isolated and are more satisfied with their neighborhoods.
According to Spadafore, who is active on the Historic Old Town Neighborhood Improvement Association, the community considers itself “a diamond in the rough.” However, the Topeka Planning Department, which tracks the health of neighborhoods, has considered it an at-risk area for the past 20 years. Thanks to Spadafore’s submission, H&R Block and Nextdoor selected the community for one of 10 projects to be brought to life across the U.S. The project was chosen from nearly 2,000 submissions across the country.
“Collectively, we are doing small things in big ways. Our Wildflower Alley Project is going to make our neighborhood a better place to call home. During the pandemic, I noticed more people were getting out and walking our alleys for fresh air and exercise, so I thought, ‘What a great opportunity it would be if we could take this neglected space and turn it into something that’s not only beautiful but also beneficial.’” says Spadafore.
In a time when social disconnection is increasingly prevalent and loneliness is found to lead to negative health outcomes, H&R Block’s Make Every Block Better program is committed to helping communities thrive. The program seeks to foster conversations and enable avenues, or in this case, alleys, for neighbors to connect with each other.
All photos by Brian Goodman Photography.
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