This week, we’re wrapping up a community project we started last week to bring hope to my hometown.
Marianna, Florida is my hometown, and in late 2018 it was devastated by Hurricane Michael. This building on the town square was destroyed in the storm and the vacant lot it left behind was a daily reminder of the devastation.
So, I wanted to create something positive to fill the space.
Working with Long-Time Friends
This was the right project to re-energize Marianna, but I needed help to make it happen, so I called on my buddies who still live there.
Paul is an architect, and he put together the plan for a pocket park. Victor is the organizational wiz who lined up the details, and Mickey, well, everybody loves Mickey, and he was the right guy to drum up community support.
So, Chelsea and I headed to Marianna.
The Progress We’ve Made
More than 150 volunteers turned out to lend a hand for this pocket park. In just two days, we’ve cleared the old slab, built a stage, installed six enormous wood planters, built a paver planter, and constructed a retaining wall at the entryway.
We knew, from the beginning, that we need to divide the work into off-site and on-site projects.
One of the off-site projects was building gigantic planters, and Marianna High School students tackled that project. Another off-site project was building picnic tables.
Immovable Picnic Tables
Scott Phelps, the construction tech instructor at Chipola College, guided students who tackled the picnic tables. Each table is made of 100 pieces and it takes five people to move one around, so no one will take them from the park!
These students also created the park’s sign that will provide an entryway.
Building the Entryway
We set two steel posts that will support the park’s sign — then we wrap them in pavers to dress up the entry.
Building 9-foot-tall paver columns, and creating a paver block wall to flow behind those posts, will make this one eye-catching entrance.
Softening the Look
My buddy Mickey is this project’s on-site coordinator. He keeps volunteers’ spirits up as they work on all kinds of tasks, liking planting plants to soften the park’s look.
That’s not my strong suit, but it is Victor’s wife, Theresa’s, talent.
She makes sure we have low-maintenance, drought-resistant plants for this Northwest Florida region. Theresa knows where to position the plants and directs volunteers on where to place everything.
Installing Shade Sail
We top this pocket park with purple-and-gold shade sails, which have special meaning because they are Marianna High School’s colors. Go Bulldogs!
Town pride aside, shade sail also prevents the park’s visitors from being completely exposed to the sun, perfect for particularly sunny days.
Besides that little chore, there are also lots of other details that need to be handled so we can get this park ready to open up to the public.
This pocket park in my hometown is nearing completion, with dozens and dozens of plants going into the nine different planters on the site.
And of course, those plants need water, so we’re also camouflaging the plumbing with pavers.
Finally, to illuminate this park after dark, we hang over 500 feet of cafe lights.
Before we park the heavy equipment, we bring in the picnic tables to fill in the park space and get it ready for the grand opening.
Symbol of Hope
Now, an empty lot that once was a bad reminder of a bad time has become a symbol of hope.
Besides adding some greenery and tranquility to the middle of town, this little park also serves as a testament to what people can overcome and accomplish when they work together.
Other Tips From This Episode
An Easy Way to Make Your Work Table Taller
|Best New Product
The Efficient Way to Pick Up Leaves
Watch the video above to find out more.