Thanks to incredible organization and dedication of KaBOOM!, councilwoman Desley Brooks, the City of Oakland, and Disney VoluntEARS, we somehow managed to get it from (pretty much) start to finish in 7 hours!
A few weeks before, local kids from the Millsmont neighbourhood met with a "design team" to get their ideas on paper and design their dream playground. And last Friday, we built it!
We got there nice and early and got divided up into teams, and were immediately rollin' on our tasks. I was on the "Lettuce" team and our job was to spread gravel in the area which would eventually house the planters/vegetable garden. We also tamped the ground and made it nice and level, with expert guidance from the experts at the Oakland Parks Dept.
|Let's do this!|
|"Oy, how are we gonna mix all these bags of 80lb concrete?!"|
|Nikki believes in us|
|Making new friends from other Disney companies :)|
|Hard at work|
|Lynda taking care of business|
|Look, we see ourselves on the ABC7 News Live feed!|
Mixing the concrete was a tough job but lifting the concrete bags was the hardest. They were 80 lbs each, and I must have lifted about 40 of them all afternoon! That rocked. "Lift with your legs!" As we continued the hard work with truly excellent construction workers supervising us and directing us, it was really satisfying to see the playground turn into reality. I moved around a lot after eating some very tasty lunch they provided, and tried the herb garden planting, shoveling, and ultimately went back to lifting concrete bags, pouring water and mixing concrete, and (my favourite activity), taking finished wheelbarrows of concrete from the mixing area and dumping it into the playground structure foundation.
|The playground is turning into something real...|
|Epic dragon slide! And some of our fancy concrete work|
|Planters for flowers and herb garden|
|Lucasfilm gets the job done!|
|Councilwoman Desley Brooks talking about her Oakland District and how they will benefit from our work|
I met a man at lunch who was participating from the Oakland community, and asked him how he got involved. Turns out he is a preacher at a church in Oakland, where "we get drug dealers, and people in gangs, and everything. We welcome everyone." What a bunch of amazing people. This man was really an incredible person too, really funny, and a kindhearted soul. It was awesome to meet people like him there, and people who came with the optimistic spirit of making their community better. He told me this park used to be overrun with drug dealers, and he was hoping this project would really help continue to turn it around and make it a welcoming, safe place for Oakland's children and families. The spirit and dream of making the world a better place is something I care a lot about, and it was beaming from all the smiles and sweaty brows at this great event.
|We did it!!|
|Sweet rock climbing thing, and that slide rocks|
|Impromptu dance party|
|Planting some tasty basil|
|Before and after!|
As Dan Ashley says in the above video, "there is much more we could all do to lend a hand where it's needed... it's a drop in the bucket, but at least it's a drop. Volunteerism can change the world, literally. Good people did something good at Concordia Park today... but there is much more to be done, and we should all resolve to do our part." Beautifully put!
I loved this event and it was especially fantastic because of the extreme good nature and organization of all the people who planned it and donated their time and effort. We arrived, most of us had no construction experience, and we all worked hard together for the same cause, for a more positive future for some children and families that we will most likely never meet. This is the real aim of "tikkun olam" (lit. "repairing the world"), and as Dan Ashley so finely puts it, we should all resolve to do our part. There is a lot more work to be done, if only we make a small amount of time in our busy lives, get out, and do it. I was surprised with how much I was able to do with no prior experience, and I urge you, dear reader, to try joining a volunteer effort like this. It was awesome, and enjoyable on many, many levels.
Finally, here's some more great coverage of the day, courtesy of ABC7 News: