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Hell on Rotating Blades: The Detroit Mower Gang Takes A City’s Parks Into Its Own Hands

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A group of renegade landscapers in Detroit isn’t accepting the city’s drastic cutbacks in services. Instead, they’re taking matters into their own hands and fixing up Detroit’s parks and playgrounds, because even if the city doesn’t have the resources, they want kids to still be able to play in Detroit parks.

Known as the Detroit Mower Gang, the group organizes on Facebook and shows up at parks to clean them up. But it’s not just a quaint neighborhood get together: Riding mowers are highly encouraged. The Mower Gang’s website describes their events as “one part cleanup effort and one part biker
rally. We socialize, compare mowers, talk about modifications, and play games. Recently we have even invented something called grass-surfing. It involves towing an off-road skateboard behind a lawn tractor.”

At some point in there, the park gets fixed, too. Besides simply mowing, the Gang is on a new campaign to fix swings. By their count, 111 swings in Detroit need fixing, and they’re raising money on Kickstarter to pay for the new sets.

As cities and towns around the country confront deep financial crises (arguably worse than the federal government’s), will we see more of these citizen civil service projects popping up around the country? Perhaps depriving people of the basic services they came to expect from the government won’t result in disaster, but force people to work together to support their own communities. Which is, paradoxically, both libertarian and communist at the same time.

Before and after shots of Riverside Park via Detroit Mower Gang

[HT The Detroit Hub via Planetizen]

Follow Fast Company on Twitter. Morgan Clendaniel can be reached by email or on Twitter.

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