Can We Vote for This Guy? (Even Though He’s 9?)

Hey Readers — You want inspiration? You got it: A 9 year old Detroit boy was dismayed by the fact his local park was totally overgrown — the city could afford to mow it just twice a year. So did he stay inside playing videogames?

He set up a lemonade stand and made $3000 over the course of five days. Donated it to Parks & Rec. This video is from when he was just getting started. You’ll love it!

29 Responses

  1. Wow! Kudos to that young boy and those lovely adults all around him and supporting him.

  2. Can you say Community Spirit? Wonderful to see so many coming out to support, this incredible young man. Something like that is worth the drive across town to buy a lemonade.

  3. Sadly too many other cities try to suppress this kind of spirit by shutting down lemonade stands or fining them because they don’t have permits. Good to see another success story.

  4. Love it when kids feel empowered to take the initiative like this!

  5. While this is great, I don’t see how long grass (which doesn’t even look that long!) would keep kids from playing. The trash maybe…. but the neighborhood kids could pick up the trash instead of their parents paying someone to do it – which might give the neighborhood more of an appreciation for not throwing trash on the ground. And it’s kind of screwed up that the neighborhood is willing to pay $3000 for popcorn and lemonade, but not toward keeping their city livable.

  6. Here’s another kid doing great things with her lemonade stand:
    http://www.alexslemonade.org/

    September is childhood cancer awareness month. In the U.S., almost 13,000 children under the age of 21 are diagnosed with cancer every year; that is 35 kids TODAY and tomorrow and the next day…. Approximately 1/4 of those kids will not survive the disease.

    Mom to a 12 year old warrior

  7. “it’s kind of screwed up that the neighborhood is willing to pay $3000 for popcorn and lemonade, but not toward keeping their city livable.”

    Look at it this way: in order for the “neighborhood” to pay the money for the city to take care of this problem without the fundraising, their taxes would have to be increased.

    There are two reasons they might be willing to spend the money on popcorn and lemonade rather than have their taxes increased. First, only the people who feel they can afford to spend money on popcorn and lemonade buy the popcorn and lemonade. You don’t have to tax people who can’t afford higher taxes.

    Second, people don’t trust tax increases to go to the things they’re concerned about. If you buy popcorn or lemonade from a kid who has a stand with a sign saying he’s raising money to clean up the park, you know your money goes to cleaning up the park (assuming you trust the kid, which they evidently did.) If your taxes go up, who knows where the money goes? Maybe to things you’re not too thrilled with, or maybe down some stupid black hole.

    Oh, actually, there’s one more reason: this way, on top of contributing to the cleanup of the park, they get popcorn to eat and lemonade to drink on top of it. I don’t see what’s screwed up about that, either.

    So it’s not “screwed up” that people are willing to participate in targeted fundraising but not have their taxes raised, it’s perfectly rational.

  8. Anyone want to lay odds on whether Parks & Rec will “lose” the money somehow and “forget” to mow?

  9. Unegen, that is a big problem, so we need to hire a high-priced consultant (who is a relative of mine) to produce an in-depth study of the issue.

  10. That is amazing! This kid had more character than most adults and certainly more than most kids. I wish Nathan who hung himself yesterday had the character of this kid. He would still be around. I know you don’t know this guy but please pray for his survivors. I have more details posted on my blog if you want to go read a letter from my mother asking for prayer request.

  11. Awesome story about an awesome young man. I wish I could go to Detroit and buy popcorn and lemonade to fix up the park. Better yet, I wish I could bake some of my famous vegan-but-don’t-taste-like-vegan brownies to put towards the fundraising effort. I mean, I could in theory, but if I shipped them to Detroit, they’d arrive in crumbs.

  12. Crying tears, so moved by this boy and his family, love the consciousness there.

  13. “Look at it this way: in order for the “neighborhood” to pay the money for the city to take care of this problem without the fundraising, their taxes would have to be increased.”

    Or they could just donate directly to the parks & recreation department. If there are people that can afford popcorn and lemonade, they could afford to donate instead; popcorn and lemonade are not necessities.

    Or heck they could pick up the trash themselves and take turns cutting the grass when they mow their own lawns. All the lawns in that video look clean and cut.

    These people aren’t willing to pay/work for for a clean city unless they also get some bonus such as popcorn and lemonade. Just the clean neighborhood, and somewhere for their children to play should be enough. It isn’t, and that IS screwed up imo.

    We have very low property taxes in my city, yet it is a great city because the community all works together to make it great and keep it great. The nearby city where my parents live, which has the highest property taxes in the state, is a craphole, because everyone that lives there is unwilling to do anything for the city, and because they have an attitude of caring only about themselves so screw their neighbors, and end up screwing themselves because of it.

  14. I agree with you, Amanda. Instead of wringing your hands saying someone should do something about this, just go ahead and do it. Granted, that’s what this boy did, but, as someone else said, what are the odds of the P&R dept ‘losing’ the money? Detroit isn’t exactly known for it’s honest politicians. What’s stopping the neighborhood from having a bi-monthly clean up the park day? If you really care about an issue, you’ll roll up your sleeves and do something about it.

  15. I’m sure it would get done more often by having the neighbourhood do it, or hiring some neighbourhood kids, or a local private company to do it… I’m also sure that there is some union rule as to why that is not acceptable.:/

  16. I’m speechless. That’s not an easy thing to do. I wonder what’s harder, fixing Detroit’s financial problems or getting me to shut up?

  17. Wow, Amanda, way to harsh on this kid’s awesome.

  18. Well, Amanda, if all the raindrops were lollipops and gumdrops, it would be a wonderful world. If everyone just up and voluntarily, without any one particular person taking initiative and with no special incentive, did what was best for their community, it would be almost that good.

    I don’t consider everything short of that idealistic community utopia “screwed up,” I think that’s just life in the real world. The kid found a way to get done what should be done, and he got cooperation from his neighbors by coming up with a plan that would motivate them to fork over money, if not time. I guess we could complain that everyone wasn’t better than they were in the situation, but I think that misses the point.

  19. Did you see the follow up video on YouTube where Dertoit Mayor Dave Bing calls the boy? He very firmly tells the boy and his mom, basically, whatever you do, do NOT give that money to the city. Put it in a savings account for college then come back and open a business in Detroit. I watched all the way to the end to see the part when he would assure the boy that he had personally instructed the head of Parks & Rec to clean up the park the next day, but he never did. Hmm…

  20. Sounds like someone’s trying to score political cred points while being unwilling or unable to promise that he can take on the city bureaucracy to get the job done. That’s why situations like this arise in the first place.

  21. Yea, I live very near (within blocks) of Detroit… giving money directly to ANY government program here would be a mistake. There is NO reason for the city to be in the state it’s in. I’m not saying it’s all goverment… there are plenty of citizens who’d rather steal and harm their way through life. Take the people who ripped the new water heater and all the copper out of my home, or who stole the central air unit while we were at the hospital having our son. It’d be lovely if everyone was willing to pitch in and the government prioritized children, schools, and citizens rather than themselves. If wishes were poppies we’d all be dreaming, right?

    The kid is trying to do good, period.

  22. Anyone want to lay odds on whether Parks & Rec will “lose” the money somehow and “forget” to mow?

    I agree. That’s why they need to either hire a private contractor to mow and clean up or do most of the work themselves. Occupy The Park! Just take it over and keep it clean. Start holding events there like amateur musical performances. The extra traffic will put extra eyes on the street that will reduce crime and build the kind of ‘hood where people know and trust each other. Maybe start a community garden too. There’s a nonprofit in Houston called Urban Harvest that educates people about home gardens, converts brownfields into gardens, and holds weekly farmer’s markets. Do they have anything like that in Detroit?

  23. “I don’t consider everything short of that idealistic community utopia “screwed up,” I think that’s just life in the real world.”

    Well it isn’t the way things work in the real world of the community I choose to live in. And it doesn’t have to be the way things work anywhere else. I’ve lived in neighborhoods where that’s the way it works, as well as neighborhoods that are an “idealistic utopia.” Just because it is common doesn’t mean it isn’t screwed up.

    Again; I think what this kid did is great.

    I hope that it inspires the neighborhood to take a little more responsibility for keeping their neighborhood livable… but if not, at least the kid seems to have the initiative necessary to get himself out of that neighborhood and into a better one when he grows up.

  24. As for “why didn’t the boy just organize a park clean-up himself,” well, my fear with that comes from the same cynicism as the people in the “city will probably ‘lose’ the money” camp. Suppose they set aside a Saturday, and cleaned up the garbage in the park. That’s great, but it’s a one-time thing–a few days later, it’d probably get littered up again, so a one-time clean-up is really just a Band-Aid solution. It’d be much more difficult to get people willing to clean up the park on a weekly basis (which might be necessary to keep it clean), and honestly, it’s not fair to expect the general public, made up of taxpayers who pay for the city to keep the parks clean, to do what the government employees seem to be unwilling to do, due to lack of funds. Also, the boy was going by what his mother said–that the park was dirty because the city had no money to keep it clean–so he raised money. Bear in mind that he’s nine years old, and he probably hasn’t learned yet that you can’t solve a problem by throwing money at it. I still think he did a good thing, and maybe the government will make a stronger effort to keep the park clean BECAUSE this child raised money to help make that happen. Even if the government is too corrupt to properly handle taxpayers’ money, they surely wouldn’t be that careless with money raised by a child.

  25. P.S., Even if nobody littered in the park after the boy and his friends and family cleaned it up, the grass would still grow back, and most “residential” lawn mowers wouldn’t be able to keep up with it.

  26. If you clean something up, you are not going to just throw trash on it again, and you’re going to tell other people not to throw trash on it either. Notice I said the neighborhood kids, not the people paying the taxes could clean it up. But even if the people paying the taxes cleaned it up, they will make sure their kids don’t just mess it up again.

    The park didn’t look big enough to be a problem for residential mowers, and if it is, multiple people could do small parts. But even if the grass isn’t cut, as I said; I don’t see how tall grass keeps kids from playing.

    Yes the boy did a great thing. I keep saying that. It’s his neighbors that are screwed up.

  27. I don’t think the mayor tried to score political points. He knew the donation would get gobbled up in the bureaucracy. I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire donation would pay for only one or two grass cuttings. However he couldn’t say this without causing a stir. I’d hate to be a politician. You’d be continually walking on eggs because people love to take your words out of context.

    I’m not for him or against him. I just think politics is a horrible job.

    Joshua did MUCH more than raise money. He got people to unite! That’s worth more than 100 times the amount that he raised.

  28. Amanda –

    You do understand that this is Detroit, right? An inner city? With one of the highest crime rates in the country? Detroit is improving somewhat and this boy’s immediate area appears to be more working class than totally ‘hood, but still … give me a break.

  29. “If you clean something up, you are not going to just throw trash on it again, and you’re going to tell other people not to throw trash on it either. ”

    That’s assuming that the people throwing trash are the people who live in the neighborhood or at least are on speaking terms with them, not punks of various ages or descriptions who might not be the sort just anyone wishes to confront about throwing trash around.

    Not every community is full of people who have that kind of goodwill. Okay, that fact is screwed up. But let’s not assume that if all the nice people just thought nice thoughts and picked up some garbage, the problem would be solved. It isn’t always the people in the neighborhood causing the problems in the neighborhood. Or, as Donna put it more succinctly, “This is Detroit.”

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