Cityscape: “Promoting the Change That Makes Things Happen”

By Gabrielle Fellows

Youngstown Cityscape is bringing the downtown to life for the 18th year in a row with Streetscape 2015 — “Bloom or Bust.”

Each year, the foundation recruits volunteers the Saturday after Memorial Day to plant flowers, install flowerbeds, pick weeds and re-paint murals in downtown Youngstown and its surrounding areas.

This year’s Streetscape is being held May 30 and is expecting an upwards of 500 volunteers.

Sharon Letson, executive director of Cityscape, said that this year’s volunteers are going to be working on sprucing up over 150 pots and about 40 different designated areas in the immediate downtown, including certain bridges, walkways and staircases.

Cityscape partners with outside neighborhoods to get them involved as well, making Streetscape a multi-community event.

Local businesses team up with Cityscape to provide support and raise awareness for the cause. Businesses also help by supplying a luncheon for all of the volunteers who come out and work on the city.

Thomas Smith, member of the board of directors of Friends of the Mahoning River, said that his organization supports Streetscape and the work that the group does to better Youngstown by making the city more beautiful.

“The Friends of the Mahoning River have been helping out with Streetscape for the past three years. We have worked on the John Young Memorial each year, as it is near the B&O Station and the Mahoning River,” Smith said. “We are going to be additionally working on installing a new flowerbed around the B&O Station sign this year. We like to see the whole city revitalized with fresh flowers and are happy to help out … the folks at Cityscape.”

While working on the city’s flowerbeds and monuments is tough work, Letson said that it’s rewarding because Cityscape is no longer beautifying downtown alone.

“18 years ago, nobody was doing anything like this. We made the city look pretty, paid attention to the details. We were planting, painting over graffiti, mulching, all of those kinds of things. I guess my point is that the city might not be where it is today if nobody was doing this 18 years ago. The exciting part of us as an organization is that we aren’t out there alone any more,” Letson said. “There are neighborhood groups that are working, the city is working — everybody has a piece of this. We all have to be partners and be a part of this, promoting the change that makes things happen.”

Streetscape is still accepting volunteers and will be up until the day of the event. If interested in either volunteering for the event or donating to the cause, visit the Youngstown Cityscape’s Facebook page and click on their event, Youngstown Streetscape 2015.