By Callie Hietala
A group of volunteers gathered in Uptown Martinsville last Saturday for a volunteer cleanup day, a small but significant part of the ongoing effort to revitalize Uptown Martinsville.
Volunteers gathered at the TAD space in Uptown at 8 a.m., where they were welcomed by Uptown Partnership Director Kathy Deacon and Martinsville City Council member Danny Turner, who said the city was fully invested in the Uptown revitalization effort.
Quoting the movie “The Shawshank Redemption,” he said that, with recent controversies swirling around the city’s reversion to a town, it was time to “get busy living or get busy dying,” and with events like this cleanup effort, “Martinsville is going to get busy living.”
For several hours, the volunteers walked around Uptown, examining sidewalks, alleyways, and parking lots while pulling weeds, blowing leaves, and picking up litter ranging from beer cans to broken bottles to cigarette butts.
It’s all about instilling a sense of care for the community, Deacon said.
“It’s projects like these that build community between neighbors, and it gets the community engaged in what’s happening up here,” she said. “This is just a small piece of what happens in the revitalization process, when people get together, they do work like this, and then all of a sudden, there’s this new sense of pride, this new opportunity to move past the status quo.”
The youngest volunteer, seven-year-old Emery Taylor, said events like the cleanup are “important because you should love your community.”
Turner agreed, and added that, especially on the issue of reversion, “Whatever the end result is, we’re still one big community, Martinsville and Henry County.”