Keep Allen Beautiful, Allen Texas

There’s a new greenhouse in Allen courtesy of a $5,000 Lowe’s/KAB Community Improvement Grant. Keep Allen Beautiful and the City of Allen’s Urban Forestry Division teamed up with the local Lowe’s Heroes to purchase and install a much-needed and greatly anticipated greenhouse. The City of Allen is a growing suburb in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex that takes great pride in providing high-quality public amenities for its 88,600+ residents. Allen’s Urban Forestry Division maintains the City’s urban forest as well as all public park and open space landscape beds consisting of 63 public sites that total 876 maintained public acres, with an additional 225 undeveloped acres to be landscaped and maintained in the future.

The new greenhouse will give failing plants a place to recoup when the ever-changing Texas weather puts them under too much stress, as well as providing a place to grow new plants and nurture plants that have been removed for road expansions. Of course, getting a jump-start on spring plants during the winter instead of purchasing plants is also a rationale for the new structure. Putting the greenhouse to work stretches public tax dollars in sustaining the City’s public landscapes. The Urban Forestry Division is currently working on the final plans for an educational component, hoping to open the greenhouse for educational purposes in the coming months.

Thanks to Lowe’s corporate funding and local Lowe’s Heroes’ installation assistance, the City of Allen Urban Forestry Division and Keep Allen Beautiful have a much-needed greenhouse purchased, installed, and fully operational!

Keep the Midlands Beautiful – Columbia, SC

Keep the Midlands Beautiful staff and volunteers were joined by employees from TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, and Alliance for Community Trees (ACTrees) on Oct. 25 at Martin Luther King Jr. Park to participate in TD Tree Days, a cooperative effort to plant new trees in local communities in need.

As part of TD Forests, the bank’s environmental initiative to reduce paper usage and increase protected forest habitat, TD Bank and ACTrees are partnering with local community organizations for TD Tree Days. The tree-planting events will take place from Maine to Florida during September and October in communities and neighborhoods in need. The native tree species to be planted are drought resistant, consume little water, help with storm water retention and more. Volunteers planted 75 trees at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, a community park that provides recreation and open space relaxation to the surrounding neighborhood. Martin Luther King Jr. Park is one of only 18 locations selected for this nationwide event.

“Keep the Midlands Beautiful is excited to receive one of only 18 grants in the nation that will benefit our community. Planting 75 trees in a community park will help the park by bringing shade, improving neighborhood aesthetics and helping with water management and air quality” said Jacqueline Buck, executive director of Keep the Midlands Beautiful.

“TD Bank is showing their commitment to our community by funding programs like this and partnering with organizations like ACTrees brings immeasurable benefits to our neighborhoods.” Buck added. “Finally, this event would not be possible without the support of Graham Taylor and the City of Columbia Parks and Recreation Department.”

Hundreds unite to beautify the Arkansas River

Arkansas volunteers joined forces during this year’s Great Arkansas River Cleanup to spruce up shorelines and trails along the Arkansas River, providing the state with more than $16,000 in time and effort value.

Keep Arkansas Beautiful and the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality partnered with city leaders in Clarksville, Fort Smith, Little Rock, North Little Rock, Ozark and Van Buren to pick up litter from the river and its banks. Teams also cleared brush from shorelines.

“We hope the Great Arkansas River Cleanup will lead to year-round efforts that will transform Arkansas and make its residents feel proud of our state,” said Randy Naylor of Keep North Little Rock Beautiful, which started the Great Arkansas River Cleanup last year.

Despite rainy weather, more than 250 volunteers removed more that 6,000 pounds of litter from stretches of the river in the six participating communities. Along with the expected flotsam from river users, tackle, Styrofoam, cans and bottles, volunteers were shocked to find an abandoned hot tub, tires and other large items that had to be hauled away.

“This event was a great opportunity for everyone who treasures our great river to clean and improve it, augmenting its importance to their local communities,” said Robert Phelps, director of Keep Arkansas Beautiful. “By clearing trash and debris, we can make sure that the Arkansas River continues to be one of the state’s greatest natural resources.”

The Great Arkansas River Cleanup is held in conjunction with the annual Keep Arkansas Beautiful Great Arkansas Cleanup (GAC).

Beaufort County – City of Beaufort, SC

This Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant Program project took place at 605 West Street in the historic downtown of Beaufort, S.C. It was unique in that it aimed to meet the needs of an individual property owner and beautify a streetscape and neighborhood. The goals of this project were to both help an individual begin to restore his historic home (c. 1880) that had been struck by a tree limb, while also creating an example for the community of how one intervention can make a huge impact on a street and neighborhood. (See video below.)

The owner of this house is legally blind, and had been living for months with a caved-in porch roof. The yard was filled with debris, including the rest of the dead tree. Along the front of the year, a chain-link fence and gate spray-painted orange to help him find the entry was accessed by a make-shift concrete ramp, poured and re-poured over time. Chain-link fence also lined the perimeter of the property, but none of it was actually located on the true property lines. It was overgrown with weeds and small brushy trees.

On Sept. 21, a team of nearly 40 people gathered for 12 hours to work on this project. This was a true community effort and included over 30 Lowe’s Heroes and Marine Corps Air Station volunteers, as well as volunteers from the City of Beaufort, Historic Beaufort Foundation and the Old Commons Neighborhood Association. The construction was coordinated by City Councilman Mike Sutton, whose business specializes in historic preservation construction.

This ambitious project removed the non-historic dilapidated porch, stabilized the side façade and repainted it to match the rest of the house. In addition, the volunteers removed the large dead tree and associated debris, removed the front chain-link fence, installed a proper retaining wall to accommodate the change in grade, installed a “living fence” planted with Carolina Jasmine and lit with solar lights to help the owner find his way. They also landscaped the front and side foundation and fence line visible from the street, relocated the remaining 300 feet of fence to align with the property line, and generally cleaned up all weeds and debris from the yard.

Because a primary goal was to have a positive impact on the streetscape, the majority of the aesthetic focus was put on the front fence and landscaping improvements. This was a significant challenge, as the majority of the front yard between the street and the house had been poured with concrete. Finding a simple, cost-effective, aesthetically-pleasing solution that would blend into the historic neighborhood was our biggest design challenge, but ended up to be one of the biggest successes of the project.

Affiliates from Mississippi and Alabama Meet to Share Ideas

For Evelyn Copeland, this month’s joint meeting of Keep Mississippi Beautiful and Keep Alabama Beautiful proved a great opportunity to share ideas on community improvement.

“We come home rejuvenated, our batteries charged and ready to take on new challenges,” said Copeland, director of Keep Simpson County Beautiful, one of Mississippi’s 40 affiliates.

Copeland was one of about 100 attendees of the annual gathering held in Tupelo, Miss. Attendees received training from Keep America Beautiful’s (KAB) Susan Burkhardt and learned about KAB’s emerging and classic programs, ranging from Cars to Donate to the Great American Cleanup.

“Susan Burkhardt’s sessions were such a help to me and other affiliates,” said Andrea Rose, director of Keep Corinth-Alcorn County Beautiful.

“The Mississippi-Alabama state conferences are always a great way to network and learn from other affiliates and also hear from our national organization,” Rose said. “It always helps me feel more connected with Keep America Beautiful national organization and my fellow Mississippi and Alabama affiliates.”

Tupelo is home to Universal Asset Management, a company that buys airplanes and recycles and rehabilitates airplane parts. What can’t be recycled, they transform into art and furniture. Their office has boardroom tables made of airplane wings.

“The most unique part was the visit to aviation afterlife,” said Judy Keenum, coordinator for Keep the Shoals Beautiful, one of the KAB affiliates in Alabama. “Their business of dismantling and reusing aircraft is incredible. Equally impressive is the quality and precision of the workmanship used.”

USDA People’s Garden at the Lincoln Birthplace

On Sept. 30, students from Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, Larue County High School Future Farmers of America (FFA) Members, Kentucky FFA President Brian Chism, and garden sponsor Steve Meredith gathered with National Park Service (NPS) employees to harvest the first-ever USDA People’s Garden at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in Hodgenville, Ky.

The USDA People’s Garden Initiative is a tribute to the 16th President, who created the USDA in 1862. In tribute to Lincoln’s agricultural legacy, volunteers planted, cultivated and harvested a spectacular 1,500 square foot garden, which included corn, pumpkin and bean varieties from the Lincoln childhood era, along with modern varieties of tomatoes, butternut squash, cucumbers and okra. The outer fence carried a vine display of various gourds commonly used as storage and drinking containers on the Kentucky frontier. Edible produce was donated to a local church food bank.  In addition to volunteer labor, the Lincoln Birthplace garden was sponsored by Keep America Beautiful, Kentucky FFA, and the National Park Service.

Keep Philadelphia Beautiful Cleanup Season

We’ve had quite a cleanup season here at Keep Philadelphia Beautiful – and loved every minute of it. So let’s recap, shall we?

We started off in the great Northeast section of the City – where we partnered with Clear Channel, Radio 104.5, and the Tookany-Tacony/Frankford Watershed Partnership to hold a cleanup of Tacony Creek Park. We hosted 35 volunteers, and picked up more than 60 bags of trash and recyclables!  Check out the great video of the day, courtesy of Keep Philadelphia Beautiful Board member Loraine Ballard Morrill.

We also held a two-day community cleanup in the Olney section of the City with the North 5th Street Revitalization Project and TD Bank on Sept. 11 and Sept. 12. With the help of 35 volunteers, we collected 60 contractor bags of litter, removed 350 bandit signs, submitted 30 requests to the City of Philadelphia’s 3-1-1 non-emergency reporting system, and distributed 855 informational brochures encouraging residents and businesses to keep the North 5th Street commercial corridor clean. See our pictures here and here!

On Sept. 28, we partnered with Resources for Human Development’s Equal Dollars Community Currency program and a number of community organizations on a cleanup throughout the Kensington neighborhood. Thirty-three amazing volunteers picked up 36 bags of trash – and we conducted a great composting workshop at La Finquita, an urban farm located in South Kensington. Check out pix here.

And we’re not done yet: we’ve got one last cleanup for the season coming up in a couple of weeks in the Fairmount neighborhood!

Thanks to all of our amazing volunteers and partners – we could not have done this without you!