Over ten children showed up for the Operation D2 Clean Streets initiative kick-off. Adults pictured left to right: LaShone Hodges, Tonia Johnson, Ms. T from the Cash Money Riders Motorcycle Club .
Tonia Johnson, a candidate for Hennepin County Dist. 2 Commissioner, has a planned method for cleaning up the streets of Minneapolis and surrounding areas.
Johnson’s Operation D2 Clean Streets is an initiative for community residents and children to clean the streets of their neighborhoods and provide a better image for the business corridor along West Broadway. Dist. 2 borders Plymouth on the west, St. Anthony Village on the east and includes Medicine Lake, Crystal, Golden Valley, North and Northeast Minneapolis.
“The children have picked up liquor bottles, cigarette boxes, baby formula, things that really should not be on our streets,” said Johnson. “As a business owner, I think twice about establishing a business where trash is everywhere; it’s hard to attract customers like that.”
Operation D2 Clean Streets plans to adopt a street every month to pick up trash along the roadside.
“I grew up during an era where there was a strong anti-liter campaign. That made you conscious, that made you think twice about dropping a bag of potato chips,” said Johnson.
The candidate for Dist. 2 commissioner also carries this practice in her own community.
“I walk around with a bag to pick up trash in my own neighborhood,” said Johnson. “You cannot get any more hands on than cleaning trash in your community. We do really good about saying we don’t want any more murders and keeping peace, but what about keeping communities clean,” she said.
In addition to promoting organic recycling to reduce the amount of waste being land-filled or burned, Johnson plans to do more than serve an existing role model for youth to take pride in their communities. “Strengthening communities and building clean communities, that’s what this is all about,” she said.
Johnson believes a clean environment serves as a message.
“Trash is not good, and will not attract any type of business here,” she said. “What it shows investors is that people around here don’t care, so why should we. Sometimes we cannot wait for politicians to clean up, we have to be more proactive and maintain our property.”
A similar approach to community beautification can be found in the South Bronx, N.Y. Environmental justice advocate Majora Carter, founded Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx). SSBx advocated the development of the Hunt's Point Riverside Park which had been an illegal garbage dump. In 2003, SSBx started the Bronx Environmental Stewardship Training program, one of the nation's first urban green collar training and placement systems.
“There are studies that prove when neighborhoods are clean, it discourages bad behavior, drug dealing and crime,” Johnson said.
Johnson has owned and operated a small business for the past five years as a business development consultant.
Johnson believes the clean-up will not only induce a healthier business aspect, but could lead to a turnaround for North Minneapolis.
“With the past leadership, West Broadway of North Minneapolis and other areas of District 2 have never been able to achieve its true potential because of the closed mindedness of the leaders,” Johnson said.
Cash Money Riders, a local motorcycle club has also joined the endeavor for a cleaner and more business viable community.
“I do not want to walk outside my business with trash all over the place,” said LaShone Hodges, Cash Money Rider member and business owner of a beauty salon on 42nd Avenue and Freemont Avenue.
Operation D2 Clean Street has a planned clean- up along Central Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis later next month.
“Everybody wants a clean community,” Johnson said. “It’s about sending the message that we all care about the community.”