It’s like New York’s broken window theory, but right here in Calgary — and with birdhouses.
Christine Bolcsfoldy-Horne has lived in the same three-block radius of the west end of downtown for 14 years, but she recently grew tired of seeing the area’s planters not being maintained, instead becoming full of garbage.
So, she decided to do something about it, at first cleaning the planters up herself. She likens it to the broken window theory in which visible signs of crime and disorder create an environment that encourages further crime.
“I was so tired of seeing these empty planters not being taken care of and having garbage in them,” she says, adding she did that for about a year.
Taking matters into her own hands, literally
Now, Bolcsfoldy-Horne has started crafting cute little birdhouses to hang on trees along the 7 Avenue and 9 Street SW corridor to beautify the area, but also to put smiles on the faces of Calgarians.
Each birdhouse has a different theme, such as fairy cottage-style and bumblebee-style houses, for example.
“I don’t have access to a woodshop… I get prebuilt shells from dollar stores and craft stores, and I have a number of things to decorate them with,” she says, adding as a painter she already has paints and varnishes on hand.
“I’ve also accumulated a lot of other materials like natural materials, moss, bark, twigs, wood veneers to decorate, and all kinds of materials that could be added onto them. I just clear off the kitchen table and get going when I get home.”
Putting smiles on people’s faces
Bolcsfoldy-Horne, a construction worker who is studying for her journeyman apprentice, pays for all of the supplies herself and has put up about six birdhouses now, although she discovered her favourite one resembling a 1970s camper was stolen this week.
“This is the first time that anything has happened to them. I’ll just have to make an even better one and hang it higher next time,” she says, adding it didn’t appear to be vandalized, just stolen.
Otherwise, the community response has been positive, she adds.
“Most of the feedback I get is online. Because I’m at work most of the day, I don’t actually get to see people’s responses in person but I just hope for the best.”
More than the birdhouses
The birdhouses aren’t the only thing Bolcsfoldy-Horne has done to help her community and those in it.
She also recently joined up with Rumble House to do community cleanups every Saturday at noon. They’re always looking for more volunteers to join.
“They’ve been so great,” she says.
Last year, she started putting water bottles in planters for unhoused residents during the heat waves.
“That’s worked out pretty well, too, although I am not able to afford to do it every day. But whenever there are heat waves, I do it.”
Bolcsfoldy-Horne also plans to reach out to her area councillor to look into adding used needle boxes to the area or moving an existing one into a better spot.
“I think the intent was good, I just don’t think any thought was placed into where it went.”
Know more about Calgary, every morning in just 5 minutes.
Get stories you won’t find anywhere else about the people, places, and businesses at the heart of our city.
By filling out the form above, you consent to receive emails from Calgary Citizen.