Rebecca Turney (UofL student), Finley Barber (Duke student), Jody Dahmer (BGT), and Eileen Sember (UofL student) work to clean up the Oak Street alley.
The UofL Center for Healthy Air, Water and Soil has partnered with the local sustainability-focused group Beargrass Thunder and the UofL Health Equity Innovation Hub to clean up a local alley and assess the impact of the change on residents’ mental wellbeing.
Volunteers, including UofL students and staff, cleaned up alley space along Oak Street of trash and overgrown invasive plants and added flowers, art and low-level lighting to create pleasant green space. To document the impact of improving green spaces, UofL researchers conducted online surveys of area residents before the cleanup to assess their mental wellbeing and distress.
In a year, they will survey the residents again to find out how having more nature near their homes affects their mental wellbeing.
“This is another way to assess the varied impacts ‘nearby nature’ can have. If gains in physical and mental health can be made through projects like this, it can inform city leaders and policy decisions around urban spaces,” said Jody Dahmer of Beargrass Thunder, who is leading the revitalization project.