[MUSIC PLAYING] SPEAKER 1: CCE is about putting knowledge to work. And part of our local mandate is improving home and community landscapes as well as strengthening families and promoting health and well being, which is exactly what Blocks in Bloom does.
SPEAKER 2: We help everybody to create their own front yard flower garden and beautify their neighborhoods, but at the same time be strengthening their blocks, be strengthening their communities using gardening as a tool.
SPEAKER 3: My name is Lydia Rivera-Warr. I live on Emerson Street in Rochester, New York. Emerson Street has had a rough name for many years due to the drugs and the crime. One day when I was actually walking down the street with my daughter and she asked me why our street looks so icky. And I looked around and I saw the litter, and the abandoned houses, and the open drug market occurring in front of us, and I didn't have a good answer for her. So that became my motivation to just do better. When you know better, you have to do better.
The Blocks in Bloom program was actually the foundation of bringing change into the neighborhood. I just went to my neighbors, and they were ecstatic about doing something positive. By planting these flowers, they actually unify the neighbors, because we worked together to do it. And it also made it more welcoming. Our residents are looking out for each other.
SPEAKER 1: You look at the stories and you look at the outcomes and the impact, families are being strengthened and communities are being strengthened and being beautified as well. So it's a win-win.
SPEAKER 2: We are at the point now where we feel that this program is replicable to other communities. And, in fact, this year for the first time, we had blocks who participated in previous years now donating plant divisions for other blocks. So that is real sustainability. The Cooperative Extension of Monroe County makes this all possible. They provide us with the support, the space, really the organizing center for this and many other projects to work out of.
SPEAKER 1: It's about relationships, it's about strengthening communities through those partnerships and using the resources that we have to help people. That's what it's all about, and that's why it works.
SPEAKER 3: My kids are proud of where they live at now. We're gaining our control back of our neighborhood.
SPEAKER 2: Lydia is 100% genuine and about the block and the community.
SPEAKER 1: She just had so much energy and passion. And I believe a lot of that came from finding purpose in this program.
SPEAKER 3: I wanted a change and didn't know how to come about to do it. But I reached out to people who knew. I don't think I'm different from anyone else, just willing to put the work in.
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Rochester’s Blocks in Bloom community gardening initiative helps inner city home owners and renters grow neighborhood pride by cultivating front-yard flower gardens, led by Master Gardeners with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County.