Lane Street Project: B.H.M. Clean-Up testimony.

The community delivered another successful volunteer clean-up at Odd Fellows cemetery yesterday. I’ll let folk tell you about it.

Angie Hall stands near her finds.

Working toward the back of Odd Fellows, Angie Hall noticed several water-filled depressions. After clearing away vines and debris, she and another volunteer uncovered two headstones: “Today I did a thing. I volunteered to assist the Lane Street Project clearing out the old cemetery, and I discovered a few graves once my feet fell into a hole of water. Here I stand in front of two graves. I don’t know why I wanted to know more about who they were but the feeling of joy and accomplishment I felt was amazing. And today my grandma turned 80! What a blessing to be in the presence of my ancestors on this beautiful Saturday.”  

Joshua Robinson noticed that work was being done on more than one level: “Awesome experience, I am so happy to see such a project bring the community together. We were clearing tree limbs, vines, and other debris to find those lost to time, but we were also clearing the way for a better city, unity, and love!”
 
Julia Newton, who came to the Project from East Wilson’s Seeds of Hope community garden: “I spent some more time removing layers of wisteria roots from around the graves of Samuel and Annie Vick. It’s deeply humbling to do this work. This situation must exist in every community in the South. Thanks to everyone for their help and friendliness.”
 
Shaquanda King reflected on the impact of volunteering to improve her home community: “My cousin and I volunteered for the first time yesterday for the early morning. Was able to gain some knowledge and history from the overseers. It was an amazing experience for someone who was born and raised here.”
 
Janelle Booth Clevinger returned after helping make the January Clean-Up Kick-Off a success. She  encountered one of the cemetery’s vexing problems: “Another great afternoon spent with wonderful people! The best projects are grassroots projects, filled with people who are there for the right reasons! Thought I’d found an area full of tombstones, but they turned out to be strangely shaped pieces of concrete that resemble footings of some sort. We are thinking they may have been dumped there as trash. Leave it to me to find garbage.”
 
Castonoble Hooks, a key member of the Lane Street Project team: “Honored to be a part from the very start because I can see the progress firsthand. The removal of wisteria has opened up parts of this sacred burial site allowing the light of the sun to shine upon and bring honor again to our ancestors. Hands-on history, excited to see children black, white, and Hispanic working with fervor. This project, like no other, attracts the best of the best — a group as diverse as the country itself.”

6 comments

  1. Lane Street clean up…This is wonderful. I am so glad that members of my family (LaMonique Hamilton and Shaquanda King)are were able to help with such memorable moments. I only wished that I could have joined with the clean up.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lane Street Project Notes – RBS

    1st Visit (Jan 16, 2021)

    Worked 3+ hours

    2nd Visit (Feb 6, 2021)

    Worked 3+ hours at hard core clipping, lopping, sawing of vines of diameters ranging from < 1/8" up to 3+" .. dragged to piles for others to cart and carry down to the large brush piles by the road where the City is charged to collect and dispose/recycle everything. It's really hard work and gives my back a start. Was pretty beat afterwards but am feeling back at normal strength and condition on the next day. Impressed by the commitment I see and hear of others attending. People pitching in to a seemingly impossible task! These vines are crisscrossed under the leaves and mulch that cover the surface and form a mesh that seems as taut and strong as steel although heavy loppers will ease through most of it once you find a good place to cut at. The only problem is that you're seldom at the end of anything .. and are only taking out a section of what seems an endless and powerful encompassing growth. This jungle obscures the simpler ground that once filled over each of these graves where old important bones lay hidden. I am torn for a word with somebody about this. I am wanting to feel the light that Castonoble Hooks speaks of our bringing into this long darkened domain. I am glad for so many others helping and hoping for more. This will take all of us and then some to free up the voices of these bones. Let's not be weak or quiet about it. There is a shout out about this that needs not be quiet or weak but loud and strong. As strong as the earthly lives that came to rest here. As strong as the joyfully shouting souls that watch over this from Heaven!

    Here is a link to share of numerous articles describing the work of a similar project that I participated in in the neighborhood of Kenilworth in south Asheville where I lived for a time. I hope this will encourage everyone to have faith and perseverance in this difficult but rewarding work!

    https://www.google.com/search?q=oldest+african+american+cemetery+in+Asheville+nc&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us&client=safari

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    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and impressions, Briggs. I agree that ridding Odd Fellows of decades of wisteria growth will be a daunting task, and I’m hoping our gardening volunteers will have some useful ideas. The levels upon levels of runners are astonishing — and disheartening. Still, we are making some progress, and I’m delighted and grateful for you and others who are putting their backs into the work!

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