Earth Day Project to Beautify South Bend’s Renaissance District


Are you looking to make a difference this Earth Day?

A group of community leaders is coming together as part of a project to restore the Renaissance District just south of downtown South Bend. The Renaissance District is bordered by Chapin St. to Michigan St. and Western Ave. to Sample St.

It is being called the Renaissance District Beautification Project.

“It came about as an extension of efforts last January to reclaim the old wood flooring from the Studebaker facility,” says Angela Johnson, a local attorney at Faegre Baker Daniels.

Johnson is part of the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Academy. Five of her fellow participants at the Leadership Academy — Adam ElBenni, Sherry English, Kevin Poe, Amy Houghtaling, and Jeermal Sylvester — teamed up with Quentin Bishop of the Crossing Education Center as part of the wood reclamation project, which eventually evolved to include the Renaissance District.

The Leadership Academy group teamed up with Willow Wetherall of Ignite Michiana and Shawn Peterson of Union Station Technology Center to make the expanded project happen.

Now their combined efforts are coming to fruition.

The goal is to clean up brush, spread top soil in preparation for planting trees, paint fire hydrants, and clean up reclaimed wood flooring from the old Studebaker building.

But the effort requires a large number of volunteers.

“For the Earth Day cleanup day, we’re looking for 150+ volunteers in honor of South Bend’s 150th anniversary,” Johnson says.


Volunteers can stay the whole day, or participate in one of two shifts: a morning shift between 9 am and noon, and an afternoon shift between noon and 3 pm.

Volunteers will receive a lunch and a commemorative t-shirt for their hard work.

There are other ways to contribute even if you are unable to volunteer.

“We recognize that not everyone is available to take part in the Earth Day Cleanup Project, but there are many other ways to contribute. Chiefly, help get the word out!” Johnson adds, noting the groups Facebook page.

They also need monetary donations, food and beverages, as well as supplies like black paint, cleaning supplies, latex gloves, paint brushes. They are also looking to borrow or have someone bring and use weed wackers, wheel barrows, and mowers.

“The community will benefit from the beautification but also, students from the Crossing will play a key role,” Johnson concludes, noting that the students will learn “organizational and leadership skills while becoming civically engaged in our community.”

The sign-up page for volunteers is located at

If you have questions about the event — which takes place on April 22 — or want to learn more about how you can contribute to the project, please contact Quentin Bishop, Regional Director for Crossing Educational Center at (313) 310-7634 or via email at [email protected]. You can also visit their Facebook page at

Image Credit: U.S. Embassy Romania, flickr

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