Mayor Daley and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman Wilson at a neighborhood cleanup. (Credit: Mike Krauser)

Mayor Daley and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman Wilson at a neighborhood cleanup. (Credit: Mike Krauser)

GARY, Ind. (CBS) — Former Mayor Richard Daley brought his grad students to Gary today to help that city’s mayor and a group of volunteers with a neighborhood clean-up.

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They call the effort 5-by-5-by-5. The idea is to improve 5 blocks at time over a 5 week period in 5 neighborhoods a year.

Residents, volunteers and city crews pick up trash, board-up abandoned buildings and identify areas where improvement or services are needed.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman Wilson calls it a deep cleaning, saying “I think it really underscores what community is all about and what it takes to really correct some of the challenges that we see.”

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Former Mayor Richard Daley took park in this effort, along with students from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, where the former mayor’s title is Distinguished Senior Fellow.

Daley was famous for carrying around a thick note pad when he was mayor. As he rode around the city, he would take notes about little things that he didn’t like, be it a broken street lamp, a bit of graffiti, a crumbling curb or an abandoned car.

He said, “small things make a difference.”

Daley and the U of C grad students have been working with Gary for the past year on revitalization efforts like this one.

“I always believed that no one and no part of America should fail, you know, in United States history we save the world, but we should start saving America.”

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Daley went on to say, “everything can be reborn. There’s challenges, but challenges can be overcome by people.”