Former Mayor Harvey Halls Champions Downtown Arts District Beautification
Like many American cities, Bakersfield has been searching for innovative ways to revitalize its long-ignored, heavily vacated downtown in the wake of the ’70s-’90s migration to lifestyle centers. But that can pose significant challenges and costs. Fortunately for the city, there are enough committed citizens that saw an important vision and mission for the future. It’s a team effort that’s been propelled in no small way by the energy and passion of Bakersfield’s former mayor, Harvey Hall, whose Hall Family Foundation has funded the Downtown Street Ambassadors program with $80,000 initially and another $40,000 for 2018.
Two residents from the Bakersfield Homeless Center, Steve Nelson (right) and Shaun McConnell (left), both dealing with challenges in their lives, saw a life-changing opportunity to get back into the workforce—and to make a difference for both Bakersfield and themselves. They work five hours a day, four days a week in their mission to clean-up the Bakersfield Arts District. Steve and Shaun sweep and steam-clean sidewalks, empty trash cans and use a high-tech pressure steam machine that removes gum and graffiti from sidewalks. New trash receptacles are also being deployed. It’s a program that’s really making a difference—and changing lives.
“People get a second chance to get back to work,” Keep Bakersfield Beautiful board member John Enriquez says. “Through this work, we can change lives.”