NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Trash often litters city streets, but in one Manhattan neighborhood there’s a man who has put out his own money and time for the past three years to beautify his surroundings.
It started the way many great ideas begin.
“I think I was just fed up with passing the garbage and there was just nobody doing anything,” David Kass told CBS2’s Alice Gainer on Tuesday.
— Alice Gainer (@GainerTV) September 16, 2020
Anger turned into action. In 2017, Kass decided to take over abandoned dirt beds on sidewalks mostly along Sixth Avenue. He put in his own time and money, buying plants in Union Square and lugging heavy buckets of water around several days a week.
And we’re not just talking about one or two. In all, he has planted 16 of them between 15th and 21st streets, Gainer reported.
He said each micro garden costs around $125.
“I try to plant perennials or things that are evergreen for the winter,” Kass said.
Kass is a lighting designer, but said he has always had a green thumb.
“It’s funny. I grew up gardening in Brooklyn,” he said.
With cars on one side and bikes on another, this kind of gardening has a sense of danger to it.
“I have to make sure that for about two lights I’ll be able to go in here and do what I need to if it’s remove trash or plant something,” Kass said.
He picks up trash people throw in and replaces any flowers stolen or driven over by cars.
People walking by constantly stop to appreciate his work.
“I was upstate from COVID and I was dreading coming back to the city and it was just so cheerful to come and see flowers on my block,” resident Gabrielle Tessler said.
And that’s why he says he does it, noting there’s even a homeless gentleman who helps with one garden.
“He watches over it and he planted the iris,” Kass said. “He said, ‘Can I put a bridge in there?’ I said have at it,” Kass said.
“I feel like I’ve eliminated a garbage pit and turned it into something that people can appreciate,” he added. “I’m just one person and one person can make a difference.”
A difference he says many people looking for a bright spot appreciate now more than ever.
Kass said he created a GoFundMe page and has received some donations that will go toward new metal fencing. One building now pays for the bed in front of its location and another company is contributing to theirs.
To learn more about what Kass is doing, please click here.
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