Salted with Sharks

Guerrilla Beautification Incursions

In Uncategorized on August 1, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Freshly weeded and mulched trees along old M-168

By Emily Votruba 

When the Michigan Department of Transportation began ceding M-168 to the Village of Elberta four years ago, they paid to improve the roadway with sidewalks, street lamps, and 60 new trees lining the old highway. The maples, thornless honeylocusts, and Callery pears alternated along the road, each with a huge pile of mulch at its base.

Most residents I talked to were happy about the improvements (though wistful about the enormous elms that once towered here). But with near unanimity, the cry went up: “Now the Village has to maintain it! With what money!”

Now in 2014 we are down to just one full-time member of our Department of Public Works, Ken Bonney, and his helper Doug McPherson, to take care of the Village’s 70-plus acres of public space and parkland.

Enter the Guerrilla Beautifiers! Village residents and fans who are taking matters into their own hands.

With the Village council’s permission, Friends of Elberta created a community garden in Penfold Park at the end of May. Since then, colorful annuals have mysteriously appeared, and weeding has occurred. Randomly, stealthily.

In July, Phil and Rosemary Mix were spotted weeding and mulching every tree along M-168, a gargantuan task they accomplished quietly and *totally without permission.* Don’t embarrass them too much with your gratitude, but do embarrass them a little.

Also in July, when a westerly storm blew a bunch of horribleness over to Elberta Beach from Wisconsin, Jen Wilkins and Sue Oseland got down and dirty and did what they could to restore our pristine sands.

Parks & Rec held a work party one morning to clean up Tot Park. They threw down some mulch, scooped the feral cat poop out of the sand box, and picked up trash.

And the lovely plantings in the whiskey barrels along Frankfort Avenue? These are the work of Linda Manville for the second year in a row.

In a world of seemingly endless red tape and bureaucracy and cries of “liability,” it’s nice to know that some people still have the courage to stand up (or crouch down) for what they believe in. Sometimes it really is OK, if not better, to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. It’s your Village, after all.

One of Linda Manville’s planters from 2013


  1. Way to go everyone!!!

  2. Nice Article Em

Leave a Reply to Bill Puckett Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: