Mean Green Team is dedicated to keeping Point Loma beautiful
Point Loma Association’s beautification team maintains 20 sites in the neighborhood.
The Mean Green Team isn’t mean, but it sure is mighty.
Founded in the 1990s, the volunteer group operates under the umbrella of the Point Loma Association, which was established in 1961 and focuses on beautifying, improving and advocating for the neighborhood.
Cecilia Carrick, who was PLA’s president from 2011 to 2012, is one of the Mean Green Team leaders. She joined the group in 2005 after walking by volunteers working on a site at Nimitz Boulevard.
Every Friday morning, the Mean Green Team gathers to maintain one of its 20 beautification sites, which include medians, parkways, community entrances and corridors. The group’s roster has about 45 members, and about 25 volunteers usually show up every week.
“Our group comes from all types of backgrounds; every single one of us is different,” Carrick said. “We have lawyers, artists, engineers, doctors, nurses, musicians — we have everything. So it is a team of people that basically are bound by this love of community.”
Tasks depend on what each work site needs. The group focuses largely on maintenance work such as weeding, fertilizing, planting, irrigating, pruning, removing graffiti and collecting trash and debris.
When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in March, the Mean Green Team had to take a break for a few months because of stay-at-home orders. But once it was deemed OK to be outside again, the team quickly got back to work — carefully.
“We masked up and we disinfected our tools — we basically went out and found ourselves separate niches in the areas that we tend to. ... They get very disheveled if they’re not looked after, and we didn’t really want our community to look like that,” Carrick said.
One of the team’s largest projects is “Ed’s Triangle,” a median on Nimitz Boulevard near Sunset Cliffs Boulevard that meets residents and visitors as they exit Interstate 8 and drive into Point Loma or Ocean Beach.
Transformation of Ed’s Triangle, which comprises 1.3 acres, started in the late 1990s, resulting in the median being lined with palm trees. In 2011, the team entered a second stage of the area’s beautification process, including planting Torrey pine trees and agave in the median’s center.
The maintenance for this project was funded by the family that founded Kobey’s Swap Meet outside San Diego’s sports arena, who promised to fund Ed’s Triangle over a 10-year period.
Carrick said the Mean Green Team often spends a lot of time fundraising and writing grants to secure money and resources. The organization’s bylaws prohibit it from committing to a project without being fully funded.
Despite the amount of work required to maintain the sites and seek funding, the volunteers are committed to the cause.
Karen Davis is a Mean Green Team veteran with 25 years under her belt. She is one of the master gardeners and takes the lead on many of the planting projects.
To Davis, volunteering for the team “just means loving your community and the members of your community enough to put some sweat equity into it and care about it.”
Davis is one of the only members who worked directly with Mean Green Team founder Hugh Story, who lived across the street from Davis and recruited her in 1995. Story, a former submariner and engineer, retired and started the Mean Green Team shortly after.
“He was never in it for himself — he was in it for the community,” Davis said. “Hugh was in it to make things better. ... He just volunteered because he believed it was the thing to do.”
Since his death in 2006, the Point Loma Association created the Hugh Story Memorial Rose Garden at Liberty Station, now one of the beautification sites the Mean Green Team tends.
Davis said Carrick has many of the qualities Story was known for, including a hard-working attitude and a drive for serving the community.
Davis and Carrick said the Mean Green Team volunteers are very connected to one another. They often talk, socialize and meet for coffee on Fridays after work sessions, though the pandemic has put the coffee dates on pause.
“We are not only volunteers but we’re friends,” Carrick said. “We share an incredible amount of our lives — they’re very, very intertwined.”
“The people you meet when you get in an organization like this — they are just such wonderful people,” Davis said. “And I think that’s why the group is so strong and they stay together. It’s because they really genuinely enjoy each other’s company; they love their community.”
For information on becoming a member of the Mean Green Team, visit pointloma.org/volunteer.