Keep Cambridge Clean

The "Keep Cambridge Clean" campaign was a recommendation of the Cambridge Community Safety Audit which consisted of Youth Action Researchers investigating the city using the Photovoice research method. The youth researches captured images of safety concerns that need to be addressed and safe aspects that should be expanded. 

Photovoice is a participatory action research method by which people can identify, represent, and enhance their community through a specific photographic technique.

The Community Safety Audit also consisted of a survey Action Researchers created and distributed to over 150 youth and homeless with the assistance of the police force. These surveys not only allowed Action Researchers to get feedback on images, but assess perceptions of safety and law enforcement, barriers to safety, and knowledge of the current services available.

The Cambridge Police Department was awarded $30,000 from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) to complete the community safety audit as part of the Community Transformation Grant (CTG).  CTG has a strategic direction of promoting and creating healthy and safe physical environments through initiatives to improve the built environment. This will increase opportunities for physical activity. Photovoice 2012

2012 Youth Action Researchers:

  • Jasmine Rich
  • Anne Laurie
  • Pierre Louis
  • Kerby Mompoint
  • Elana Williams
  • Cameron Burke
  • Stephanie Jean-Baptiste
  • Zahri Muntasser
  • David Tobias
  • Samir Eid


Researchers identified several themes and produced recommendations to the City:

  • City Maintenance. One recommendation youth had was to create a brochure with all important city phone numbers and to distribute this brochure during the City’s door-to-door campaigns, on the campuses of the universities and in other public buildings. Another recommendation that youth had was to create a 3-1-1 hotline. The hotline would make it easier to report maintenance problems.
  • Health. One recommendation for health is to place more cigarette butt receptacles throughout the city and create more designated smoking areas within the City. This would encourage those who do smoke to do so out of the way of more populated areas. To promote physical activity a recommendation is to ensure that public parks are kept clean and maintained so that they can be used. Youth believe that Danehy Park is a great example of a park that is maintained in great condition.
  • Crime. There are several issues within this theme. One that youth identified as being very prevalent in their lives is the tension between certain Cambridge neighborhoods. One suggestion is to continue programs such as Night Court. These programs and events bring large amounts of people together and it does not matter what neighborhoods people live in. Youth that were surveyed would like to see these types of programs continued through the winter for those who do not make the City teams. Also suggested is more alternative programs at the youth centers in the winter. One program that was put in place during the winter of 2010 was a cooking class that was held at the West Youth Center.
  • Homelessness. After speaking with the homeless, youth recommend that Cambridge build more shelters as well as a detox center. If there are more shelters, there will be less homeless people out on the streets at night which means there will be less homeless people who congregate together, a source of feeling unsafe to many people. Building a detox center would also allow some of the homeless people, as well as some others who are not homeless gets the help that they need. Many people do not get this help because centers are not easily accessible.    
  • Residential Maintenance. The largest problem that youth identified within this theme was the laziness of the people in our community. Most of the problems identified have to do with individual behaviors. One recommendation to address littering in the city is to create a sticker campaign that could be placed on all of the trash receptacles throughout the city. The sticker would say “Don’t settle for outside shots, just dunk it.” This would influence people to actually get their rubbish in the proper place. 

This final theme and recommendation relating to residential maintenance can be seen in action through signs (pictured below) affixed to trash receptacles in parks and across the city as part of the "Keep Cambridge Clean" campaign.

Keep Cambridge Clean

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Monday: 8:30am-8pm
Tuesday-Thursday: 8:30am-5pm
Friday: 8:30am-12pm

Cambridge Police Department

Christine Elow
Police Commissioner

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