Winners plant seeds of hope; Pride in your place City’s Blooming Spirit awards handed out

New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal 
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 
Page: C3 
Section: News 
Byline: John Mazerolle Telegraph-Journal

The Blooming Spirit "pride in your place" awards sound as though the focus would be flowers, but this year's winners illustrate that Saint Johners can plant figurative seeds of growth, too.

As Deputy Mayor Michelle Hooton put it during the award celebrations last week, it can mean anything from "planting the seeds of hope in a child to placing a pot of summer flowers on the front step of a run down and forgotten building."

Blooming Spirit is a summer-long campaign to brighten up the city. The "pride in your place" awards are presented to individuals and organizations for environmental protection, tidiness, landscaped and floral areas, heritage preservation, and community involvement.

This year's winners were the neighbourhood of Crescent Valley, the East Point Shopping complex, the Saint John Boys and Girls Club, Harbour View High School, and Marianna Stack and Denise Durette.

Organizers including Hooton have pushed the campaign as a way to attract and retain workers as the city grows. "People can work anywhere in the world," Hooton said during the presentation at the Mary Oland Theatre in the New Brunswick Museum. "What will ensure that they choose to stay and build a life here is the quality of life that Saint John has to offer."

Crescent Valley won for the work done by both the Crescent Valley Tenants Association and the Crescent Valley Renew Our Community group. By working with the city and provincial government, the low-income neighbourhood has attracted a community police officer, improved lighting, upgrades to sidewalks and roads, a community garden, and a new teen program.

East Point Shopping won for its unique exterior design and landscaping, as well as its innovative storm-water drainage system, a lighting control system, use of natural gas, and a recycling program used by all the complex's tenants.

The Boys and Girls club essentially won for its existence: by helping 350 young people daily use the clubs services, including nutritious meals, the club provides what the judges called an "invaluable" service.

Harbour View High School won for the tidiness of its school grounds, its recycling and composting programs, and various community projects, including a food bank drive and Coats for Kids.

Meanwhile, the individual category was won by Marianna Stack and Denise Durette.

The judges said their sloping property is a "garden fantasy" that passersby ask to visit.

It includes perennials and annuals, a vigorous vegetable garden, shrubs and a pond.

This year's selection committee included Geoff Britt, Wendy Papadopoulos, Bernie Morrison, Bernie Cormier, Heather Acker, Jackie Henneberry, Chris Gaudet, Carly Anderson, Aaron Craig and Jane Fullerton.