Friday, December 1, 2017

The A,B,Cs of a Great Back Alley Display by MCR Patti D.

I live in an older area with neighbours who frequently walk their dogs through the back alleys.  My MCR personal project was to create a back alley display about waste reduction.  How hard can that be, I thought?
  • Go to the dollar store. 
  • Get a display board. 
  • Create signage about waste reduction. 
  • Put the signs in page protectors. 
  • Change the signs each week. 
  • Start conversations. 
Voila – my 35 volunteer MCR hours are filled in no time!
Challenge 1:  Rain.  The display board from the dollar store was not waterproof.  After the first heavy rain, it was destroyed. Although I must note that there were pieces remaining around the screws that I had used to attach the display board to the fence...
Solution:  I spent $5 more and purchased composite wood board from Home Depot.  The sales clerk assured me it should last at least 2 years.
Challenge 2:  Wind.  I placed the signs on the board one day and proudly went out the next morning to inspect them.  All the signs were missing. I later located all the signs down the alley.
Solution:  I stopped using thumb tacks and used heavy duty staples to tack the signs to the board.
Challenge 3:  Wind AND Rain:  I placed the signs in page protectors with the openings at the bottom – smart eh?  The rain will not move upwards!  Wind will actually move the rain upwards and the page protectors did not help against rain.  The beautifully coloured signs looked like runny rainbows displayed in plastic envelopes.

 I’m VERY pleased to report that once I decided to use quality products, my back alley display was in much better shape.  
Solution:  Ordered expensive self-laminating sheets from Staples.  All signs are laminated front and back before they are stapled to the composite wood board.
Challenge 4:  Procrastination.  I blame it on loss of momentum.  I spent three weeks working on solutions to the first three challenges. Once I got those sorted out, I found that my enthusiasm for this project diminished.  I found other stuff to do over the summer and my signs were NOT changed once a week.  
Solution:  There is no solution; I am a procrastinator.  Regardless, I’m very proud of the signs I have created to date AND -  now that I have worked out solutions - it’s a simple matter to create a new sign, laminate it and place it in my Back Alley Display.
Challenge 5:  Conversations.  This did not spark as many conversations as I’d hoped.  In my dreams, I had people coming up to me, eager to take in the knowledge that I had to give. I had one neighbour admit to me that she did not compost as if it was a dirty little secret. Another asked me to come by her place to discuss garbage versus composting. I had hoped for a lot more interaction.  
 A compost mentor lives here. Talk to me if you need compost help. 

 The feedback I’ve received from other neighbours tells me that they ARE reading my signs; one neighbor walked by and I heard him explain to his son what grasscycling is.  Through the signs, people in my neighbourhood have started to think about waste reduction.  Here’s to my next six months!

Patti loves Edmonton and wants to help make it an even better place to live. She is now worm composting and started her first outdoor compost, this year. She has enjoyed sharing her knowledge with her neighbours at their annual block party. She keeps a box in her basement to store old batteries and light bulbs. When it's full, they take a trip to the Eco Station.


  1. Cool idea, Patti! Thanks for sharing your attempts and successes. I might have to try this too... though I think I'll just make a single display and not worry about changing it.

  2. What a fantastic idea!! I wonder how I could so this for my place that does not have a back or front yard, just stairs. Time to get creative!