A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Since 2011, Natalie Thomas has been the caretaker of the Unified Positive Effect Community Garden at the corner of Climax Street and Estella Avenue in the Beltzhoover neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Thomas, 57, said the space used to be a jungle of overgrown weeds and grass that attracted neighborhood crime. Now people know not to “mess with” her garden, and she said she’s noticed a reduction in crime on the block.
Whether it’s working with neighborhood kids to plant flowers or pulling out pesky weeds, hosting garden tea parties or scurrying door to door at local businesses to gather donations for gardening materials, everyone in Beltzhoover and nearby Allentown seems to know of Natalie and her positive personality.
She’s a person who smiles with her whole face. She loves kids. She sings and writes poems about her garden. Natalie will chase you down the street, waving her arms and yelling “Hiiiii!” at the top of her lungs because she’s so excited to see you.
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Text by Ryan Loew. This article and video first appeared in Public Source and is included in Vox Populi with permission.