BENTON PARK WEST – A small but eager group gathered outside Earthbound Beer on Cherokee Street around 3PM on Thursday to clean up the neighborhood and network over a beer at the first-ever Cherokee Street Trashy Hour.
In an attempt to encourage the residents of Cherokee Street to participate in keeping the neighborhood clean, local groups EFS Energy, Decantery and Nebula teamed up with Earthbound Beer to create an event that combined street clean-up, networking and happy hour.
At 2:30, those who wanted to participate gathered in front of Earthbound Beer to get supplies and instructions on where to look for trash to pick up. Around 3, the groups set out to clean up the streets and then came back for a beer afterward.
Though the finished product was a group effort, it was Graham Jennings of EFS Energy who originally proposed the idea for Cherokee Street Trashy Hour.
Jennings, who recently moved to St. Louis, said he got the idea from a friend back in his old home of Richmond, VA.
“He used to go down by the James River every week and hated seeing it in the state it was in,” he said, “and he started a group that’s been two years strong, once a month going out to pick up right along the James River local park system, because it turns out Richmond doesn’t have a budget to clean up the river.”
That’s a more common problem than one might expect, said Jennings.
“…I certainly think that it’s a pretty systemic issue, especially in America, it does seem like it’s a very common problem to just be a very underfunded thing,” he said of resources for trash and river clean-up.
Specifically of Cherokee Street, he said, “The Cherokee Street Improvement District pays to have the street itself cleaned, but when you go out into the alleys – when you go out anywhere really past the main street, you are running into lots of trash and lots of mess that really makes it feel less inviting.”
Jillian Firns, who works for Decantery, one of the businesses that helped sponsor the event, said that, while she does think a happy hour is a good way to entice people to participate, she would likely still have come to the event without that incentive and emphasized that this clean-up really was a group effort.
“I think we’re also really relying on the community to want to come out and take care of their neighborhood,” she said.
This was the first event of its kind, but Jennings said he hopes the event will have additional iterations.
As for Thursday, Jennings said the goal was “to improve the community we’re in, get to know our neighbors, and hopefully take one small step in making Cherokee an even better place to live.”