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Extreme Makeover: Dump to Park in 24 Hours

Parks Director Luther Williamson

Parks Director Luther Williamson

The Parks Dept. in Johannesburg, South Africa created a new five acre park from an illegal dumping ground in Soweto, the park poor half of the city in….guess how long? One day. After being inspired by the show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, where homes are rapidly transformed in 7 days, the the city’s parks director Luther Williamson thought of creating a new park in 24 hours, in an effort to bring notice, nature and place into underserved areas. According to the Washington Post article:

Last year, after three months of calculating just how many seconds it takes to plant a tree and lay a brick, Williamson directed 200 park workers in an overnight transformation of what had been a five-acre, illegal dumping ground in Soweto.

Today, the “Diepkloof Xtreme Park” is a grassy expanse with fountains, a soccer field, still-spindly trees and a permanent, large-screen television that broadcasts children’s educational programs each afternoon and soccer matches on weekends. Before school let out on a recent afternoon, adults picnicked and snoozed in the shade of the park’s trees as workers trimmed the grass and emptied trash bins. The $450,000 project is one of several that have brought his department international awards, not to mention plaudits from neighbors.

“There was nothing. There was just rubbish. There was no place for kids to play,” said Dorothy Nkabinda, a Soweto resident who works at the park, keeping its bathrooms clean. “It was a miracle.”

Apparently nothing’s been stolen or vandalized.  There’s probably thousands of opportunities for something similar in other parts of the world. Of course, some might take more than 24 hours to build.

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