Wecycle, the self-described “community revitalization cleaning company” started by life-long Austin resident David Fleming, is hoping to make a big splash and clean up the community during its Austin Village Spring Cleaning Rally on Saturday. 

The April 3 clean-up will start at 10 a.m. at 5922 W. Division St., make its way east on Division Street, then go south on Central Avenue before turning west on Chicago Avenue until they reach 5840 W. Chicago Ave., where they will give out snacks and giveaways. The rally is scheduled to wrap up at around 1 p.m.

Fleming said that the idea isn’t just to clean up, but to raise the spirit of a community battered by the pandemic. He said that he has support from Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), whose ward includes Austin, as well as several Austin community organizations. 

Fleming started Wecycle in June 2019. He said that he was inspired by his experiences as an Uber driver. While driving through the wealthy North Shore suburb of Winnetka, he thought about tossing a gum out of the window, only to catch himself. That’s when he realized that he would do it in Austin without a second thought.

“I had an epiphany,” he said. “I thought, ‘I won’t do it in their neighborhood and I shouldn’t do it in mine.’” 

With Wecycle, Fleming wanted to hire people from the community, including the formerly incarcerated. 

But he admitted that actually getting the business off the ground has been difficult. Wecycle didn’t get a cleaning contract until some private entities hired the company to do snow removal last winter. Fleming was able to hire around 30 people, but with the warm weather, he worried about how much longer he’d be able to keep employing them.

“Running a business during the pandemic has been tough,” he said. “It’s very, very difficult without the resources, without the financial support and with things being closed and shut down, it’s made it even more difficult. But we’re tenacious, we’re resilient, and I think we’ve been through the worst of it.”

Fleming said that a few of his employees will be joining in, but he mostly sees the clean-up as a community effort.

“We encourage people to come out and volunteer,” he said. “Show appreciation and respect for the community.” 

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...