service project

Lane Street Project: the environment.

I understand that poking around in cemeteries is not for everyone. Might I interest you, then, in a creek cleanup?

This is Sandy Creek. Yesterday, just past Rountree Cemetery, I shepherded a snapping turtle from the middle of street to the curb, then watched it tip itself headlong into this filth. Like the other waterways of East Wilson — branches of Hominy Swamp and Toisnot Swamp — the pollution in Sandy Creek is atrocious. That any animal, much less one as large and ancient as a dinner-plate-sized turtle, is able to survive in this soup is a miracle, but does life need to be so hard? 

Lane Street Project: April 23 cleanup.

A small, but efficient, crew showed up for today’s cleanup at Odd Fellows, and we continued to make deep inroads into the tangle of privet and wisteria that enshroud the cemetery’s midsection.

To accommodate May holidays, Season 2’s final cleanup days are May 14 and 21. Please join us!

Beta Beta Beta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity was again there strong! Samuel H. Vick was a founding member of the chapter. I challenge other fraternities and fraternal organizations to match the Ques’ commitment to community service!

It was a beautiful day for making a difference.

The Senior Force cleared out the pile I discovered in January 2020 and featured in a recent post

Briggs Sherwood and Castonoble Hooks work to pull wisteria from a gum tree it is smothering.

The terrible beauty of wisteria.

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, April 2022.

Lane Street Project: a fervent request.

We have, at most, three more organized Season 2 cleanups at Odd Fellows Cemetery — April 23, May 14, and May 21. The heat and fecundity of summer, as well as the hazardous insect and reptile life, make working in the woods more difficult than we can comfortably invite volunteers to do. For these reasons, it is critical that we maximize our time and effort in the coming weeks.

Here’s Odd Fellows on a recent April morning. The Senior Force has been putting in extra work every week and, for the first time in decades, a fifty-foot swath inside the tree line has been cleared.

In February 2020, almost a year before Lane Street Project began, I discovered a pile of headstones well back in the woods, evidence of some misguided earlier cleanup. The pile was nestled just behind an immense thicket of privet and wisteria and could only be reached by circuitous approach. This past February, I expressed hope to Castonoble Hooks that we would be able to break through the thicket and open a direct path to the headstones.

The Senior Force did it.

Circled below, Bessie McGowan‘s headstone at the edge of the pile that includes my great-grandmother Rachel Barnes Taylor‘s. The Senior Force, anchored by brothers Cass and Will Hooks, Briggs Sherwood, and Glenn Wright, demolished a seemingly impenetrable hedge to expose the interior of Odd Fellows cemetery.

Here are Bessie McGowan’s marker and the Jurassic forest that has sprung to life behind it in the last month. Everything green you see is wisteria, an invasive vine that has largely choked off native plant species.

In January, I placed Rachel Taylor’s headstone upright against a stump.

Here it is yesterday. This is what we’re up against, folks, and we can’t do it without you.

Saturday’s going to be beautiful. Please lend a hand. Come for 30 minutes. Or three hours. Bring a hand pruner. A lopper. A rake. A lawnmower. Whatever you have. Or just yourself. If you can’t labor, come offer words of encouragement or bottles of water. Honor the ancestors. Build community. Save a sacred space.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, April 2022.

Lane Street Project: wisteria, four ways.

It’s the season in which Odd Fellows Cemetery’s principal scourge is at its most charming, dripping shimmery lavender racemes. In two seasons, though, Lane Street Project volunteers have flushed the wisteria from the treetops, and its showy flowers now appear only at the edges of the woods. 

Removal of a few decades of leaf litter has exposed the dense lattice of wisteria that scores the forest floor above and below ground.

Now that the canopy’s been cleared, increased sunlight is spurring the rampant growth of young wisteria shoots. 

Toward the back of Odd Fellows, thick ropes of wisteria continue to strangle trees. 

Please consider joining us for a cemetery cleanup. The next two are scheduled for April 9 and 23. Thank you!

Lane Street Project: Season 2, number 2.

The original bulbs of these daffodils were planted in Odd Fellows Cemetery 70-125 years ago.

My visits to Wilson have not generally aligned well with LSP clean-ups, but this one did, and I was elated to join the last Black History Month effort at Odd Fellows. I am grateful to everyone who came out, including the cadre of Wilson Police Department officers that showed up early and stayed late to fell dead pines in the woods and clear winter’s dead weeds from the front; the pastors and members of Saint Timothy’s and Saint Mark’s Episcopal Churches; Our Wilson Mentoring; the Wilson Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (as always!); Wilson Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; Total Impact Church (who brought barbecue lunches!); WhirliDogs; Seeds of Hope; and — surprise! — a group of students from East Carolina University’s Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, who came to Wilson to work at Seeds of Hope’s community garden and were steered over to Odd Fellows to learn a little Wilson history and help us out! 

A cautionary word, though. Safety first. Please, PLEASE don’t lean on monuments. After 100+ years, many are unstable. Henry Tart‘s obelisk, the largest in Odd Fellows, was accidentally toppled Saturday. Fortunately, no one was standing behind it when it fell, as they would have been seriously injured. The obelisk was not damaged, but will have to remain where it is until we can secure professional help to stabilize the base and reset the shaft and pyramidion.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2022.