The West Bloomington Revitalization Project is celebrating a decade of making life better for people.
The WBRP will host a 10th anniversary block party from 5-8 p.m. Saturday, June 30, with the grand opening of the new WBRP building, a bike co-op moving in, and the anniversary itself.
"There's so much to be happy about, and grateful and thankful, that I think we need to have kind of this large celebration to invite the community that we're in," said project leader Armando Baez.
WBRP is responsible for the organization and sustaining of nine programs that provide resources for the community, including the Tool Library, Veggie Oasis, and the Seed Library.
WBRP started out as a small organization run by volunteers and has only grown.
"It's neat that it started out with just a handful of individuals who wanted to bring change, and it's grown into what it is now, which is there in a building. It's got tons of space, and they have nine programs that are all in different areas. I'm one of the few paid employees over the 10-year history," said Baez.
Baez said adding programs has presented a challenge in coordinating all the moving parts, and paid staff has helped provide that central communication function.
"Keeping just a balance of both having a lot of people involved, but also having basically just a person to be there consistently, (that) people recognize. If you're looking for something, having someone who knows where to find it, just that organization side to it," said Baez.
Baez said he hopes the organization will remain primarily volunteer-led.
"There's so many beautiful, unpredictable things that happen when it's decentralized. But also, if you let that go for too long, it's really hard to focus the efforts if there's something that you really want to focus on," said Baez.
Current projects of the WBRP include the Tool Library, the Seed Library, Veggie Oasis, the bike co-op, street beautification, community gardens, and the Home Repair Project, and efforts at economic stabilization for residents.
Baez said currently their hardest program to maintain is the Tool Library. WBRP currently relies on volunteer staff to check the tools in and out. Baez said the group is struggling to find enough volunteers to work. Baez said he hopes the WBRP will be able to make working at the Tool Library a paid part-time job.
Other projects are significantly easier to maintain, he said. According to Baez, the budget of the Veggie Oasis is only about $125 a year.
Baez said he hopes the WBRP will maintain the same founding fervor with new waves of volunteers over the next 10 years. Baez said he remains hopeful that existing projects will continue alongside new initiatives.
"I really want to make sure that we're staying true to listening to the residents, the voice of the residents. That's a huge part of the founding ideals of the organization, developing your programs and who you're serving, but also keeping in mind the intention and the basis of the organization was to empower the residents of West Bloomington. We want to make sure that those programs are empowering and that they're also serving west-side residents," said Baez.
The celebration will take place on Allin Street next to the new WBRP building. The event is officially called the West Bloomington Fest and will include food trucks, Carl’s Ice Cream, and live music from local bands. There will also be a bike giveaway, a dunk tank, and other various activities for children.
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