Founder of Project Petals and community on her community-based group, Project Petals.
While most gen Y’rs are focused on helping themselves, Project Petals founder, Alicia White, just wants to help everyone else. After bringing a post-grad class project to life, she sits down with Socialite Heights to talk about property value, parks, and possible global domination.
Q- What is Project Petals?
A- Project Petals is a community revitalization project. We’re here to fill in the gaps that the state–run or government-run agencies leave behind regarding greenery, and neighborhood atheistic. We advocate on behalf of under-served communities for their funding needs to revitalize run down parks or public space areas.
Q- Why should people care about what you do?
A-It may seem silly to worry about what your neighborhood park, or abandoned lot looks like when there are so many other things in our lives we need to focus on. But directing the same energy and passion we have for our jobs and families towards the upkeep of our communities can have a major effect on how it looks and feels. I have a career in non-profit, but I also make time to serve my community, we all should. The change that Project Petals can provide to an area produces more than a pretty façade to walk by. Taking care of our neighborhoods increases property value for homeowners and even has the potential to help reduce crime rates.
Q- Who does Project Petals Serve?
A- Any under-severed community in need. Right now, we’re focusing on the New York City area. Our first project was completed right in my own neighborhood, Railroad Park, in Jamaica, Queens. A few people didn’t get the concept at first. Some were my own neighbors. They didn’t know why we should take responsibility for our own community, but they came around and saw the volunteers, kids and home-owners from the neighborhood and saw the sense of pride they had in making something nice for themselves.
Q- Are there struggles that come from working for a community you live in?
A- None, honestly. Because I live in the community I’m currently working on improving, it’s easier for me to assess their needs. And that, like, insider knowledge of living in an underserved neighborhood helps me understand the struggles of other communities that I seek to develop. I can have this special connection with the hard-working middle class community member who takes care of their house, and their lawn but their neighborhood as a whole suffers from city-service based neglect.
Q- What do you want people to know about Project Petals?
A- That we’re on their side. The majority of community members commute to the city for work, midtown, downtown, the financial district, and enjoy the pristine aesthetic while there. Project Petals wants underserved communities to feel that same appreciation when they come home to their neighborhood. It’s all about the mind-set of the community, once people understand that the community they want is in their grasp, the hard work is easy. Volunteerism doesn’t have to happen outside of your neighborhood for it to be valid.
Q- The future of Project Petals is . . . ?
A- I can see Project Petals as a global outreach organization, definitely. The funds for a streetlight, or a park area is there. Communities are all the same across the world; they need a service that isn’t readily available and are in need of assistance. Project Petals can be there for them, we can be their partner, all they need is the desire to see a better community for themselves and a willingness to put in the work and we will hold their hand the whole way.