Civic Leadership Award Honoree 2014

Chelsea Neblett/Becki Kenderes

Chelsea Neblett and Becki Kenderes are community organizers by trade. Over the past few years, they organized tens of dozens of community clean-ups in their neighborhood on Detroit’s Northwest side. The duo quickly noticed some recurring problems at these events; oftentimes more volunteers showed up to participate than they had tools to go around, and those in the area who owned their own equipment (such as lawn mowers) had trouble transporting them to volunteer sites. Chelsea and Becki put their heads together and determined that it wouldn’t take much to acquire a truck and enough tools to “share the love” across the city.

Since Chelsea and Becki operate Lots of Love as volunteers, clean-ups must occur on the weekends (they have to keep their day jobs). However, the two aim to squeeze in as many clean-ups as possible and have already booked out virtually every weekend between now and October.

These women have led numerous efforts to advocate for demolition of dangerous buildings in their neighborhood. Approximately 30 of these properties were recently demolished. As a result, the pair got to work on fundraising and have now raised $30,000 to install low maintenance, green infrastructure on these aggregated vacant lots. The green infrastructure will include trees, urban prairies and wild flowers, adding beauty and safety to the neighborhood.

Lots of Love Detroit, is a tool lending library on wheels, free to Detroit residents and volunteers to use for community improvement projects. A volunteer-powered operation, Lots of Love is operated entirely by co-founders Chelsea Neblett and Becki Kenderes during their spare time. The two acquired a used ice cream truck, filled it with a wide range of lawn care tools and hit the streets each weekend to support volunteers and non-profit organizations in cleaning up abandoned properties across the city. The goal? To promote resident engagement and community care through the tactical transformation of vacant lots into productive community spaces. Hosting a surplus of vacant lots and abandoned homes, Detroit holds an enormous amount of under-utilized land. Lots of Love is turning that state of affairs around by lending communities all the tools they need to complete their projects, for free! The service takes time, money, and transportation out of the equation, giving residents open access to the tools needed to take care of their city.

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