When you hear the word “neighborhood,” you might think of the person next door, the kids around the corner, or the park around the corner. But what about the taco shop you frequent, the Mediterranean grocery store you pass on your way home, or the family machine shop you go to for oil changes? Local businesses are an integral part of our communities, bringing character and individuality. They connect with residents and neighborhoods and are an essential part of the community fabric.
Andrew Winke is a local Charlotte artist who hopes to help businesses along part of Central Avenue see a part of their home and feel more connected to the community. He is one of many artists who have joined the CharlotteEast Central Avenue Beautification Project to improve waste control and expand commercial and residential collaboration. As part of this initiative, Andrew and his girlfriend diligently painted a trash can with 72 flags, highlighting different regions represented by businesses in the area. Andrew said: ‘Each side of the bins represents a different region that can be ‘visited’ along that section of Central Avenue. Designs by artists like Andrews help CharlotteEast merge Central Avenue businesses with Eastside communities.
In 2018 CharlotteEast adopted part of Central Avenue as part of the Adopt-A-City Street program, run by Keep Charlotte Beautiful. CharlotteEast, a nonprofit Charlotte advocacy council, was approved for a neighborhood matching grant with a desire to do more than clean up their portion of Central Avenue a few times a year. They created the Central Avenue Beautification Project, which began with Eastside artists painting trash cans in eight bus shelters on Central Avenue, from Eastway Drive to North Sharon Amity.
In the next phase of the project, the artists’ creations will be packaged on signal cable boxes. Upon completion of these art pieces, community leaders will deliver a letter about beautifying Central Avenue and a reminder to continue joining the community in controlling the liter. The delivery of these letters will also serve as a face-to-face medium to further connect with local businesses.
Projects like the Central Avenue Beautification Initiative help residents create conversation and more of a connection the next time they’re at local businesses.
Do you have an idea that will help improve your community? For more information, visit the Neighborhood Matching Grant program website for program guidelines. Grant applications are accepted three times a year, on March 1, June 1 and September 1.