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Ruth Clarke

In the spirit of tikkun olam, Ruth Clarke chose to repair the world by transforming her neighborhood.

Spurred by concerns about the vacant lots on their street that were filled with trash and used mainly by drug dealers, Ruth Clarke and her neighbor, Magnolia Monroe Gordon, created the Nonquit Street Gardening Club in Dorchester, MA. Together they transformed a vacant lot into a flower garden and wildlife habitation refuge. Clarke then raised over a million dollars to rehabilitate a larger vacant lot on the same street, creating a beautiful public park where neighbors could picnic and play basketball. She started the Nonquit Street Neighborhood Association and Land Trust, Inc., whose motto is “Fighting crime with flowers.” In 1998 and 2000, Nonquit Street was selected as an official site for National Night Out, an event organized by local communities around the country to celebrate efforts to fight crime. Her work has inspired other neighborhoods to transform empty lots into gardens and parks.

Ruth Clarke was honored at the 2004 Women Who Dared event in Boston.


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Ruth Clarke volunteered for her community in Dorchester, MA. Photographed here in 2004.


Detroit, MI
United States

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Ruth Clarke." (Viewed on July 5, 2020) <>.


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