A group of community members in Portsmouth are working to restore the city’s downtown streets, and hope to make it into the record books while doing so.
Friends of Portsmouth, a local nonprofit group, kicked off their “Plant Portsmouth” project Sunday. They repainted curbs and light poles, pulled weeds from the sidewalks, hung up American flags, and cleaned up one block of Chillicothe Street.
“We want people to drive down this block and say, ‘Wow this block looks awesome, what’s going on,'” said Jeremy Burnside, a team captain for Plant Portsmouth.
The idea is far bigger than just one day of work, though. Sunday’s cleanup of one block was a test run for a massive community event they’re organizing on August 18. The goal is to have about 1,500-2,000 people tackle the beautification work that day, repairing some of the main downtown streets.
“Plant Portsmouth is not so much a beautification event, as it is a unification event,” said Burnside.
“It means we’re starting to take pride in our community,” said Robert Black, a Friends of Portsmouth member. “That’s what it’s all about. We’ve gotten a bad rap over the last couple years so we want to change things around and we want to get pride in the community and get people active.”
Not only do they hope to leave a mark on their city, but also in the Guinness World Record book. Each participant will get a plant at the event on August 18, and they intend to set the Guinness world record for “most people potting a plant simultaneously.” The group will have a representative from Guinness World Records at the event to certify the historic occasion.
“It’s basically symbolism,” said Burnside. “We’re planting Portsmouth. We’re potting a plant, but we’re also planting Portsmouth on the map as a destination for people to go to. We’re planting Portsmouth in our hearts, so that people will always have pride in their community.”
The event is also planning to involve senior citizens, kids, and local businesses. They believe a group effort is key.
“This is an opportunity to take the bull by the horns and clean it up, instill pride, and get the city growing,” said Burnside.
“To be part of what we did today is really cool, but to see that energize the community, it’s going to be awesome,” said Black.