Keep Phoenix Beautiful – Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton rolled up his sleeves alongside 300 volunteers to help activate a once vacant lot as a part of his restoration initiative. Mayor Stanton, together with Keep Phoenix Beautiful, launched PHX Renews Activation Day, which took place from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 21, on the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Indian School Road in Phoenix. On this day, supporting organizations, volunteers and businesses began breaking ground and activating the 15-acre space for public use. Activation Day signifies the grand opening of PHX Renews, which will be open to the public seven days per week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., accessible by the pedestrian gate near the Central Avenue and Indian School Road light rail stop. Volunteers from Wells Fargo, UPS, University of Phoenix, ASU, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Matson Navigation, PetSmart and other community groups helped out.

“PHX Renews is a community-driven effort showing how we can find creative and sustainable opportunities if we all work together to shape the future of our city,” said Mayor Stanton. “I want this project to serve as a prototype of what will be the beginning of a trend to transform other vacant properties into usable public spaces.”

PHX Renews is about improving the urban landscape of the city of Phoenix through creative vacant land transformation. Its implementation across the valley is intended to uplift communities in the form of social and artistic spaces, reduced crime, improved health and increased property values, while simultaneously providing local therapeutic and sustainable food sources for those in need, free education pertaining to food, energy, water and waste, job skills and vocational training. The initiative also serves as a catalyst for more permanent, smart and sophisticated development solutions for local businesses. PHX Renews is a partnership among nonprofit Keep Phoenix Beautiful, the City of Phoenix, and Barron Collier Companies, owners of the property. PHX Renews is the largest transformation of vacant land happening in the country today.

“We are proud to share with the community the work of Keep Phoenix Beautiful and all of our partner organizations the culmination of more than one year’s worth of work at our PHX Renews site,” said Tom Waldeck, Keep Phoenix Beautiful executive director, who also serves on the Keep America Beautiful board of directors. “We have overcome many hurdles and we are starting to see the successes of our efforts.”

Over the next 18 months and beyond, PHX Renews will evolve as a community-driven effort showing how residents, nonprofits, businesses and organizations can work with the city to shape the future of their community. Mayor Stanton also looks to make it easier to get city approval for more projects like this in downtown Phoenix and various light rail areas.

For more information, call 602-262-4820 or email
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Keep Austin Beautiful dives into Lake Travis Underwater Cleanup

In partnership with Travis County and the Colorado River Alliance, Keep Austin Beautiful held the Annual Lake Travis Underwater Cleanup in Texas on September 15. New lake levels may have changed the shorelines of Lake Travis, but thanks to the 1,015 volunteers who came out last Sunday morning, every mile of Lake Travis was cleaned. Volunteers geared up with wetsuits, oxygen tanks, trash bags, and gloves to clean Lake Travis above and below the surface.  The value of their time totals $56,086 — Not including the $20 bill found during the cleanup at Starnes Island!

From the shoreline to the depths of Lake Travis, volunteers found everything from common keys, an old bike, glasses, cell phones (including iPhones), a boat motor, and shoes to more uncommon items such as tweezers, a 20-year-old cassette tape, a crankshaft, men’s underwear and a stainless steel grill. But the most unusual shoreline item of all was a pink flamingo cemented in a bucket found by Pack 205, who won a two-hour chartered sailing trip prize for their find. After the cleanup, volunteers headed over to The Oasis on Lake Travis for the Volunteer Appreciation Party featuring free lunch, live music, Finley the Fish’s dance moves, kids’ activities, and door prizes!

Follow the fun with #cleanlaketravis on Facebook and Twitter!

Keep Genesee County Beautiful, Flint, MI

It was a beautiful but cold start for the Lowe’s Project at Hardenbrook Park on Sept. 14. A brisk 38 degrees had all of the volunteers ready for a work warm-up. By 10 am there were 30 volunteers with nine Lowe’s Heroes volunteers among them, including store managers Dan Karpinski (with eight volunteers from the Flint Township store) and Brian Siemienkiewicz (with his daughter, from the Burton store). The remaining volunteers included Cub scouts from Saint James Episcopal Church with their parents, Flint Northern Class of 1974 alumni (who sponsor this park) and staff from Keep Genesee County Beautiful.

Over the course of three hours the volunteers cleared out 450 feet of fence line on the south side of the park. In some places they had to clean out over 12 feet of brush to get to the fence. Chain saws, brush hogs, weed whippers and rakes were used to accomplish the task in record time. And, of course, the park sponsors provided lunch including hot dogs, catfish and French fries (fried on site), homemade baked beans, coleslaw, spaghetti, drinks and deep-fried biscuits with jelly for dessert. Incredible! Then we had to go back to work after that meal! In total, we filled 90 yard waste bags with brush, twigs and limbs, five large trailers full of larger limbs and branches, 15 garbage bags, and as assortment of old fencing and other metal objects, bicycle tires and cement.

The contract has been signed for the new baseball field, backstop repair and fencing repairs at the park entrance. The new park sign and five new wooden picnic tables have been installed. We expect that work will begin on the baseball field in about three to four weeks.

Hear more about Keep Genesee County Beautiful’s baseball field project on ABC News12.


The Litter Letter Project - Care

The Litter Letter Project, Keep Washington Parish Beautiful, LA

Rachael Hatley, who will be graduating with a MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts in mid-October,  developed The Litter Letter Project as her graduate thesis project in response to an issue of strong personal interest.

“I grew up in England where littering is shameful, so it is disappointing to see how big of an issue litter is in Louisiana, a state that is so beautiful in so many ways,” she said. “I felt compelled to do ‘something’ and believe using design as a tool and combining it with community collaboration as well as educating youth and using a positive message can be a very powerful driver for change.”

Hatley’s concept — to create three-dimensional inspirational messages using chicken wire filled with litter collected from roadways and highways — was well-received in Louisiana. So much so that Keep Louisiana Beautiful awarded a grant to Keep Washington Parish Beautiful (KWPB) to construct six installations throughout the parish.

After prototyping the two-foot-tall CARE letters (above), Hatley helped facilitate the six-foot installations. Residents of the Rayburn Correctional facility created the six-foot letters that are on display in the parish. Troy Barber, the Chairman of KWPB, organized the local community leaders to make the project come to fruition.

Hatley is using litter to deliver a visually powerful anti-littering message in the hope that it will inspire people to change their behavior. Read more about the project, including how Hatley constructs her “litter letters” and view additional installations here.

Keep Denton Beautiful Helps Low-Income Denton Residents

Keep Denton Beautiful (KDB) will host the third cycle of the KDB Garden Giveaway on Saturday, September 7, 2013 at the Denia Recreation Center in Denton. Individuals and families were selected on the basis of need to receive a free “garden kit”. The kit will include a self-watering container; soil; 6 vegetable plants; a watering can; a recipe book; and planting instructions. Participants will be educated about the environmental, health and socioeconomic benefits of gardening and provided with the resources to be knowledgeable and successful.

During last year’s giveaway, KDB supplied 100 garden kits and the new gardeners planted kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, collard greens and basil. In 2013, 75 recipients will receive vegetable container gardens.

This program is supported by sponsors: Sustainable Denton, Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center, The Denton Record-Chronicle, the City of Denton Solid Waste Department, the City of Denton Parks & Recreation Department, and Sleepin’ Dogs Website Designs.

Contact: Jannibah Coleman
Community Outreach Coordinator
Phone: 940-349-8711 | Fax: 940-349-8396

Keep Mississippi Beautiful Prepares for National Planting Day, Madison, MS

In the coming days, the work of one of Keep Mississippi Beautiful’s largest beautification projects will blossom, literally.

Our organization partnered with several nonprofits to sow more than 1 million flowering bulbs, the first of which should be blooming as fall nears. This effort was funded by donations by KMB and other groups and it armed 26 communities across the state with boxes of flowering bulbs, including dahlias, gladiolas and peonies.

From the Coast to the Delta to northeast Mississippi, we worked with America Responds with Love, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Mississippi Beverage Association, Mississippi Municipal League, our affiliates and many other partners to make this possible.

Planting trees, shrubs and flowers has obvious perks. Plants improve aesthetics, help clean air and water, and provide shade and sanctuary.

But the benefits of beautification efforts are bigger. They lead to higher property values and can truly transform a neighborhood.

For example, tree-scaped business districts average 12 percent higher revenue than treeless areas. When a tree is planted within 50 feet of a home, it can increase the home’s value by 9 percent. And homes within a quarter mile of a park boast a 10 percent higher value.

Research shows people prefer natural landscape to hard-scapes, even showing that urban residents dislike treeless, empty spaces. When trees were added, more people took advantage of that urban place. A study also showed that exposure to public green spaces also builds a stronger sense of unity among residents.

It’s pretty amazing what a green thumb can do for a community. And it makes sense why one of our key objectives is community greening.

We’re affiliated with Keep America Beautiful, and like us, our state is home to affiliates that serve cities, counties and even a reservoir. With 30 affiliates and four new ones about to be on the roster, our network has made a big impact across the state.

In September, Keep America Beautiful and its many affiliates will celebrate National Planting Day, an event in which groups like us gather together to beautify communities.

If you live in Mississippi, I encourage you to see if your community has a Keep Mississippi Beautiful affiliate. If it does, join in and see how you can help clean and green your community. If it doesn’t consider joining us for a volunteer project or look into starting an affiliate in your community.

To learn more about our beautification efforts, visit or check us out on Facebook or Twitter.

-Sarah Kountouris is executive director of Keep Mississippi Beautiful.