A walk through Edna Sabucco’s neighborhood on the east side of Flint is not unlike others – children riding bikes, neighbors raking leaves and the occasional vacant lot. Now, it will include the smell of fresh fruit.
Edna and the Eastside Franklin Park Neighborhood Association spent the last two years working to transform nine vacant lots on the east side of Flint into a pocket park that will produce strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and apples for all residents to enjoy.
To ensure the space would be accessible to people of all abilities, Edna reached out to the Crim-led advocacy coalition, Safe & Active Genesee for Everyone (SAGE). Watching her 11-year-old granddaughter, Rylee, experience the world from a wheelchair opened Edna’s eyes to the need for an improved infrastructure throughout Flint and Genesee County. Rylee, who has spina bifida, encounters challenges on a daily basis – from doorways not wide enough to accommodate her wheelchair to lack of full access to the playground at recess.
Edna wanted to make sure her granddaughter would be able to enjoy the pocket park to her fullest ability when the neighborhood group broke ground in in October.
“It’s important that Rylee, and everyone like her, be able to enjoy the park, orchard and garden to the best of their ability. They deserve the right to stroll or roll on the grounds and enjoy some fresh fruit and vegetables, smell the flowers, sit in the shade and read a book, or just sit and watch the world go by,” said Edna.
As a member of the SAGE coalition and the Citizens Advisory Committee at the Land Bank, Edna now advocates for policies, systems and environment changes like Complete Streets, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design and improved lighting.
“People shouldn’t have to worry that the sidewalks are uneven or missing, which could cause them to take a tumble and do some serious harm,” said Edna. “No one should have to sit life on the sidelines.”