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Artisans beautify Calle Guanajuato

While setting up her booth recently at the Lithia Artisans Market, Amy Godard peered over the Calle Guanajuato into Ashland Creek, where disposable coffee cups and an empty stroller tangled with blackberry brambles. The sight inspired a volunteer work party to clean up sections of the creek and Lithia Park Wednesday.

Godard, a printmaker, said she organized the group in response to a greater degree of trash accumulating in Lithia Park since the pandemic started, and a desire to assist Ashland Parks and Recreation with their workload. Born and raised in Ashland, Godard joined the Artisans Market as a vendor seven years ago.

“I feel like Lithia Park is a big part of who I am,” she said.

Recognizing budget and staffing constraints on the parks department, Godard said she drew on the market’s strong volunteer base, which is accustomed to bringing ideas to life through engaged citizenry.

Artisans use the Calle for market every weekend from early spring through late autumn. Fueled by the knowledge that vendors spend much of their time in the space, a clean-up effort was the natural evolution of actively working to resolve a problem, Godard said.

“For us, it’s part of our livelihood too, so it’s definitely worth it for us to beautify the area and also help parks out,” she said.

The Lithia Artisans Market is open on weekends along Guanajuato Way from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sulaiman Shelton, volunteer and special events coordinator for APRC, stays busy this time of year helping businesses, groups and neighborhoods organize spring work parties in their adopted parks.

The groups come out three to four times per year to help maintain Ashland’s 18 parks — a program that began a decade ago when APRC stopped spraying herbicides and staff needed help managing weeds and general maintenance, Shelton said.

On the Calle Guanajuato Wednesday, Shelton directed artisan volunteers to remove blackberry bushes, weed trails, smooth pathways and pick up trash. The 10-person crew received freshly laundered gloves and sanitized tools to do the work while remaining masked, he said.

Shelton said Godard’s offer to organize volunteers was particularly advantageous amid APRC staff layoffs and increased parks usage as more residents seek to get outside during the pandemic.

“[The Lithia Artisans] are there on the Calle, and I know that they benefit from that space, we benefit from having them there, so it’s just another way of fully exploring that mutual relationship we have with them on the park,” Shelton said.

Jessica Johnson of Ashland clears out vines Wednesday while helping out with the Lithia Artisans Market Association clean-up in Ashland Creek. Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune