Spirit of cooperation fuels projects in city.

A positive development soon will be taking root in a local area of need.

Garden City's Neighborhood Improvement Project, a program that puts local teenagers interested in cleaning up and beautifying areas of their community to work, soon will be embarking on a large community garden behind the East Garden Village mobile home park in the city.

The NIP program creates alliances with local individuals and business owners to address problems in such ways as ongoing efforts to combat graffiti and gang activity; making sure people are on the lookout for suspicious activity; and cleaning up neighborhoods by removing junk cars and other eyesores.

NIP helps local youth understand how important they are to the success of a community.

By contributing to such improvements, teens learn valuable lessons in how to solve problems and conflicts through peaceful, constructive ways.

Some 300 local teens are expected to help create the community garden.

The garden isn't the first such project intended to improve the East Garden Village neighborhood. Not long after the NIP program got rolling locally in 2009, complaints over conditions at the mobile home park led to teens picking up trash and aiding in other cleanup efforts.

Residents of East Garden Village understandably have expressed frustration in recent years over messy, rundown conditions, and other issues in their neighborhood.

The NIP projects there give residents an opportunity to participate in the kind of initiatives that generate optimism in their neighborhood.

We know local law enforcement and other officials can't go it alone in addressing the many issues that arise in a community.

Whether the need is in East Garden Village or elsewhere in town, it's far more difficult to help residents who don't want to help themselves. Expect the new community garden to foster even more buy-in among residents interested in a better place to live.

The NIP program has shown it's possible to craft meaningful change when people band together. Ideally, such spirit will spread beyond NIP involvement, and lead more residents of the mobile home park and other neighborhoods to pursue new ways to spruce up their environments.