Mark Armstrong & Take Back Lodi Working to Keep Lodi Clean

Mark Armstrong created Take Back Lodi two years ago this coming summer. “I kept driving into work and seeing all the homeless people in Lawrence Park and shopping carts along the street and garbage around and complained about it and I finally said, I gotta get something started or find some way to deal with it,” said Mark. “So I had a public meeting but that just turned into a lot of people complaining. I said okay, let’s get a smaller group together. So I did. I got about 12 people together and we talked about what we can do, and that’s kind of how Take Back Lodi got started. We came up with a name, we came up with a logo. We just thought something really had to be done; not just about homelessness, but the lack of respect for the city with garbage and shopping carts and so forth.”

“This isn’t just about homelessness. It’s about everybody doing their part,” shared Mark. “Don’t throw your garbage out along the road, clean up around your business. Our whole thing is to make Lodi a better place to live,” says Mark. “We try to stay positive and work for the good of the city and have everybody work together. I try not to let anybody get real disrespectful to the city council or city agencies because we need them. Everybody can help. You don’t have to be an active member of Take Back Lodi but you can help. Clean up around your house, around your block, get people together and pick things up. Let’s all be in this together.”

Take Back Lodi works by identifying problem areas in Lodi and getting them cleaned up. They use a Facebook group to decide on locations, and target the spots that are most visible. Then coordinate with the Lodi Police Department so they can safely go out and clean up.

Mark says Take Back Lodi is always looking for more people to help clean up but there are also other ways to help keep our town beautiful, and you can support their group’s effort in the following ways:

  1. Even if you can’t clean up (or don’t want to clean up) the group is always in need of garbage bags, gloves and pickers.

  2. If you can, pick up the shopping carts. “The other thing is people will get on Facebook and complain about a shopping cart being somewhere rather than picking it up and bringing it here,” says Mark.

  3. Be responsible for the area around your place of business. Don’t rely on others to clean it for you.

  4. If you’re part of the Facebook group, share where you’re seeing any camps so people can do something about it.

  5. Be persistent and be consistent. Know the laws and when someone is doing something wrong, Mark says make a call. “When you see someone doing something they shouldn’t be doing, you need to call the police. Call non-emergency dispatch and explain what they person is doing wrong. Like laying in a park is not wrong, but camping in a park is.” Lodi PD has a homeless liaison who is specially trained to know how to help or take care of the situation depending on what’s appropriate.