Case in point is the community garden project on Anniston’s West 10th Street. The Calhoun County Community Development Corp. is spearheading this effort to turn a scene of blight — a vacant car wash — into an eye-pleasing addition to the city. For that, the corporation and its executive director, Joseph Jankoski, should be commended.
Doubters of this project may say it is much ado about nothing, that Anniston’s economically struggling western neighborhoods don’t need community gardens, they need new businesses and better housing. That view, even if held in good taste, is missing the larger point.
As a story in Friday’s Star explained, Jankoski envisions this community garden being more than a place where health-conscience residents can readily buy vegetables — and that’s what’s best about this idea. As we said, improving our communities, be they in low-income areas or upscale residential developments, doesn’t have to require the front-page impact of new big-box retailers, popular chain restaurants or large employers. Removing blight and improving image can be just as important.
Small, incremental alterations represent the building blocks of better communities. One after the other.
“As we go through and try to help people in west Anniston and Calhoun County revitalize properties and bring neighborhoods back, it’s kind of tough to do that if you’re located right next to something that’s decrepit,” Jankoski told The Star.
Today, the community has a chance to assist this worthwhile project. Jankoski is asking for volunteers to help with additional site-prep work at the former West 10th Street car wash. Volunteers wearing long pants and work boots and bearing tools such as hoes, edgers and shovels are needed to help with all sorts of details.
We have every expectation that this project, though small in scope, will be a success for west Anniston. It has a purpose and a stated goal, key components of any community plan. We also envision this project becoming a model for others in communities all across Calhoun County. A garden here, a park there, a new playground somewhere else, anything positive that turns unused, blighted areas into picturesque community treasures.
Those are ideas too good to fail.