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Southeast Como Improvement Association sponsors community beautification event

“Rendezvous at Rollins” will feature workshops on lawn care and gardening.

S.article {border:4px solid #ccc;} 1pring has sprung, and the Southeast Como Improvement Association is ready to get the neighborhood in shape for a colorful summer.

The association is sponsoring an event known as Rendezvous at Rollins and will focus on greening up the neighborhood starting with the intersection of 15th Avenue and Rollins Avenue Southeast.

The event starts at 4:30 p.m. and runs until 8 p.m. It is free to the public.

Students are encouraged to buy plants that will be for sale to fix up their homes or apartments. The event coincides with Beautiful U Day, when students are invited to clean up the campus.

The University Child Care Center on Rollins Avenue received a $6,000 grant for Beautiful U Day, and the association matched $3,000, said neighborhood coordinator James De Sota.

Each year the University and the association take part in a week of events with an environmental focus, De Sota said.

“The major pillar of the grant was not only on beautification, but traffic calming,” he said. “And there is a lot going on at (the 15th Avenue and Rollins Avenue) intersection.”

Mary Leinfelder, a teacher at the University Child Care Center, helped organize the event.

Last year the Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education received a Beautiful U Day grant, and Leinfelder decided to try to get one this year.

“It’s just that neighborhood pride thing,” she said. “I thought we are off campus, but we are still part of the University.”

She began meeting with association members last spring and eventually received a grant for this year.

Tuesday, the association office started selling pansies in connection with the Cornercopia Student Organic Farm at the University’s St. Paul campus.

This year’s Rendezvous will include tree planting with a leading tree specialist in the United States, as well as workshops in organic lawn care.

“Anyone who has an environmental or green bent, this is something to put on their calendar,” De Sota said.

The University’s landscape design department will provide a CD for designing landscaping.

Community gardening organizer Stephanie Hankerson described today’s event as the gardening and lawn care kickoff for the summer.

The Southeast Como Improvement Association along with the University Child Care Center in Southeast Como received the grant, which will be used for safety and beautification improvements, Hankerson said.

There are community gardens in Southeast Como, especially along Como Avenue Southeast, where students may plant flowers or vegetables.

She said today’s event would be a good opportunity for students or residents interested in organic vegetables, sustainability or “just getting to know our neighbors.”

“Students that have been involved at community gardens have found that it’s really fun for them to work side by side with neighbors and get to know them,” Hankerson said.

Jan Morlock, director of community relations at the University, connected the Southeast Como Improvement Association and University Child Care Center on the grant project.

“I just love to use Beautiful U Day as a way to connect the University to the community,” she said.

Certified master arborist Mark Stennes was scheduled to speak about urban forestry and trees this afternoon. He will be available to talk about which types of trees to plant.

“When people have a place to plant a tree, so often they make the wrong choices (in tree types),” he said.

Colorado spruce and ash already are overgrown in the area, Stennes said. He recommended planting indigenous oak trees.

Stennes said those who attend will learn something about how to take care of their property.

“My principal role is as an educator,” he said. “But I have some opinions from my own experience.”

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