MILWAUKEE — For a neighborhood trying to build back, sometimes it takes starting small.
"We're looking at trying to do this from a grassroots standpoint," said Kevin Honey.
Kevin and his wife, Willmette Honey, live in Garden Homes neighborhood, where they're members of the neighborhood association.
They organized a trash cleanup on Saturday. It's a chance, they said, to connect with neighbors. Connections they hope lead to greater safety and prosperity in a neighborhood now filled with vacant homes and squatters.
"We're trying to take the area back," said Honey. "We want kids to come to the park and play. Family to have barbecues and socialize and fellowship, with the gun violence and craziness and without the mess and the trash."
The Honey's cleanup happened to fall on the same day as The Tory Lowe Community Clean Up. So, they signed up with Lowe, and the 101.7 The Truth host brought his crew out to meet their volunteers.
"When you really get your hands on something, you take great pride in that. And then you start doing other things where you put your hands on it to make sure you can bring a finite result to things," said Lowe.
With trash pickers — both the grabbing and stabbing kinds — they spread out across Garden Homes Park and the surrounding homes on a cold day during a cold rain.
"We've been up, since 10 a.m., in the rain nonstop," said Willmette Honey.
The result — a spotless green park.
The youngest team on the ground was siblings Olivia and Braden Jasper.
"I think it's awesome because me and my brother work as a team," said Olivia Jasper.
"It's very cool," said Braden of his trash picker. "So I don't have to pick it up with my hands."
Even with all the help, of all ages, the Honeys know the park will be dirty again. And that's why it's so important, they said, to build connections with neighbors to sustain a transformation in Garden Homes.
"Sometimes we have to model good citizenship. Sometimes we have to model the right thing to do," said Kevin Honey.
Good examples to build toward those bigger goals like safety. More cameras on homes, said Honey, or even a neighborhood watch.