Spectacular Project for a Spectacular Town
By Sally Baho | Photos by Manny Espinoza
Carmel Cares is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep Carmel-by-the-Sea “beautiful, safe, and inviting” through volunteer-supported maintenance and improvement projects. It partners with the city’s public works department to achieve this goal and has already cleaned up two prominent areas since its start last year.
“We really view the whole thing as a big community engagement project,” says Dale Byrne, founder and chief caring officer. Byrne is passionate about getting people of all ages involved in activities that connect them with the community and make them feel ownership for their town and home. What started as a virtual meeting to discuss how fast the weeds grow in the one-square-mile town of Carmel-by-the-Sea turned into regularly scheduled weed-pulling meetups to beautify the Scenic Pathway. Attention and energy then turned to a makeover of the Forest Theatre, and more projects are in the pipeline. Passersby asked how they could help and donate money; the organization exists on the generosity of community members in both time and resources.
Volunteer extraordinaire Shirley Moon began sweeping the Scenic Pathway on her own. When she read an article in the Carmel Pine Cone about Byrne and Carmel Cares, she immediately got in touch with Byrne. After working alongside her for just a few hours one morning, Byrne appointed her project manager of the Scenic Pathway cleanup project. Moon studies the original 1988 plans for the pathway and tailors her project to maintain the intent of the much-loved—and only three-quarters-mile long—course.
“My new saying is, ‘This town deserves to be better than average, it deserves to be spectacular,’” says Byrne. Based on the community’s engagement, enthusiasm, donations, and compliments, he is achieving that goal daily.
To learn more or get involved, visit carmelcares.org.