Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (Indianapolis, IN)

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. (KIB) believes everyone should be given the opportunity to experience nature close to home. Turning vacant lots into beautiful parks allows neighbors to take pride in their community. Last year, KIB received a grant from the Lowe’s/KAB Community Improvement Grant program, to transform a vacant lot into a pocket park in the Bates-Hendricks neighborhood of Indianapolis, a neighborhood area sorely lacking greenspace and its benefits.

This project combined the efforts of neighbors from five streets partnering with Southeast Neighborhood Development (SEND), the Bates-Hendricks Neighborhood Association and neighborhood businesses. Bates-Hendricks leaders are committed to neighborhood renewal and to this end they launched an effort called Building Blocks.

The neighbors of Building Blocks envisioned the transformation of four adjacent vacant lots in their neighborhood into a community greenspace. They applied to KIB’s IPL Project Greenspace program, and were chosen to receive a pocket park, featuring shade and understory trees, low-maintenance landscaping and native plants, a shelter, and a designated open space for recreation.

One creative aspect of the landscaping was reusing several extremely large concrete pads that we excavated from the site’s “past life” as a utility station: these were simply too large to remove! We kept these as distinctive boundary markers on one side of the park, as a reminder of the transformation.

Community greening is one way to help empower people. With the success of this project, KIB has engaged families through greening projects, building stronger bonds with their neighbors and contributing to the vitality of their community. We look forward to working with this engaged neighborhood in the future!

Keep Cuero Beautiful

KCB placed these characters in the park to indicate some of the goals of Keep Cuero Beautiful, Keep Texas Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful: litter abatement, tree planting and beautification. This year, we added elves disposing of E-Waste, participating in neighborhood cleanups, and properly maintaining trees. Cuero’s Christmas in the Park is a lighting display that runs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Approximately 30,000 cars/85,000 tour the lights annually. The tour is free but CIF accepts donations for future displays and maintenance.

Captain Planet Foundation, Atlanta GA

As a recipient of a KAB/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant, the Captain Planet Foundation would like to thank KAB and Lowe’s for supporting the expansion of the Captain Planet Learning Gardens (CPLG) Program into Ventura County, Calif. elementary schools. The CPLG program is a comprehensive and innovative approach to the school garden concept that invites schools to consider their garden as an extension of the classroom. The school garden serves as a living laboratory that is embraced and utilized by the entire school community across multiple disciplines and school subjects.

The CPLG program aims to address the high obesity and low nutrition rates among under-served children, while helping them to develop a connection to nature and a sense of place in their communities. School gardens have been proven to build an ethic in students (and often times their families) for environmental stewardship — leading to a deeper understanding of the natural world and creating a desire to implement beautification efforts at school and around their communities. The CPLG program ensures that every student has an opportunity to increase their time outdoors while learning about and tasting fresh fruits and vegetables each month during the school year — building an appreciation and palate for healthy food options.

To KAB and Lowe’s — we deeply appreciate your dedication to our mission of building an educated generation of eco-visionaries and environmental change-makers. As Captain Planet says, “The Power is yours!”

Keep McAllen Beautiful, McAllen, Texas

Keep McAllen Beautiful has completed it’s sustainable irrigation pilot project! Thanks to the KAB/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant, and with some great help from the City of McAllen, KMB and its volunteers installed a beautification project on a major thoroughfare in McAllen, Texas. The project is particularly special as it demonstrates an innovative new method of irrigation which uses solar-powered pumps and stormwater runoff to irrigate the plant matter that was installed for the project.

The project was accomplished with help from high school volunteers, professional architects and engineers, and the dedicated employees from the City of McAllen. It represents an innovation in water conservation and environmentally sustainable urban beautification projects. “Project Grove,” as the effort has been dubbed, includes 23 native trees and over 600 climate-adapted plants on a major thoroughfare in the McAllen cityscape. It reuses stormwater runoff captured in a city drainage canal and re-utilizes this water to maintain the plants and trees planted along the side of the street.

Keep McAllen Beautiful thanks all the volunteers, Lowe’s, Keep America Beautiful, and the City of McAllen for making this project possible! We hope it helps to establish a new standard of environmental responsibility and innovative conservation in our community!

GET (Green Explorer Trails) Outdoors in Houston, TX

We were thrilled to find out that Lantrip Elementary and Lantrip Blooms (our parent support group) was awarded a $20,000 Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant. We were the only elementary school out of the entire list of grant recipients. We felt honored and overwhelmed at the task that lay ahead!

Our aim was to engage students and adults in outdoor activities by having many visible and intriguing outdoor projects. We wanted to bring nature into an urban area. Our greatest success is that the Lantrip campus has been entirely transformed. The mulch trails and decomposed granite paths we created help to clearly define the space and better frame its features. Huge cypress trees that were barely noticed now stand out and line the pathway. The path is about one-quarter of a mile; they’re used almost daily because our students participate in Marathon Kids (they complete 26 miles over the course of six months). The 12 raised garden beds are symmetrically placed in a grid and sit on top of a decomposed granite pad that also serves as a new outdoor classroom. We now have two areas of outdoor seating with picnic benches. Our goal is to line the pathways with interactive learning stations where the children can explore various aspects of environmental science and connect to the outdoors with more information through signage and QR codes.

Our project generated enthusiasm and engaged more parents at Lantrip than ever before. Historically, the PTO (Parent-Teacher Organization) had been largely dysfunctional and had alienated parents. The GET Outdoors project demonstrated to parents that our parent support group had changed, and being awarded this grant clearly signaled this to the entire school. Even more than that, the successful implementation of this grant had generated enthusiasm in nearby schools and created enthusiasm far beyond the Lantrip community. Many partners participated in the implementation of this grant including: the USDA Forest Service, The Friends of the National Forests and Grasslands of Texas, The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation, Texas A&M Forest Service and Agrilife. Our newest partner, the Lowe’s Heroes, volunteered in rain and mud; their contribution to this project was indispensable.

There remain several small tasks to complete, but the overall vision of this project was actualized. The buzz this project created locally was likened to the momentum of a runaway train, by Houston Independent School District Board Member Juliet Stipeche. She also mentioned that this project was unlike anything in recent memory. This project has brought together the entire community and encouraged other area schools to try their hand at grant writing and to participate in ongoing “green” efforts. Additionally, our school and several other East End schools are being tested as a pilot model for the USDA Forest Service GreenSchools! to create a Greenbelt of participating area schools. The KAB/Lowe’s grant facilitated the progression of all these projects.

Keep Lewisville Beautiful, Lewisville Texas

There’s a new wildflower field in Lewisville courtesy of a $5,000 KAB/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant.

During national Make a Difference Day in late October, 255 Keep Lewisville Beautiful volunteers worked to make Lewisville a more beautiful place to live. KLB volunteers set out at 9:00 a.m. at Lake Park to plant 1.33 acres of Texas native wildflower seeds that will bloom late next spring/early summer. Volunteers collectively spent over 510 hours preparing the soil and sowing more than 85 pounds of seeds along a field adjacent to Trotline and Lake Lewisville shoreline. Volunteers also planted more than 180 physical plants, along the field’s edges to promote growth and provide a boundary for the field and walking paths.

In addition to planting the wildflowers, volunteers also conducted a cleanup of Lake Park and the surrounding area — picking up 56 bags of trash and nine bags of recyclables. Offsite, Girl Scout service unit 406, led by Stacey Campbell, cleaned up additional community locations in conjunction with the national Make A Difference Day and Keep America Beautiful’s National Planting Day. An estimated 850,000 wildflowers will bloom this Spring, creating beautiful backdrop for pictures, picnics, and recreational enjoyment.

Thanks to Lowe’s corporate funding and local Lowe’s Heroes’ assistance, the City of Lewisville Parks and Leisure Services, We Plus You, Keep America Beautiful, and Keep Lewisville Beautiful volunteers who helped make this project possible.

Keep Alvin Beautiful, Alvin, Texas

Keep Alvin Beautiful received a $5,000 Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant to beautify Alvin’s “Ugly Corner.”

As you come across the railroad tracks to downtown on the left is our restored 1907 Historic Alvin Train Depot surrounded by a copy of the original pipe and post fence, crepe myrtles, and knock-out roses. On the left is the “Ugly Corner.” The City of Alvin is leasing the corner from BNSF railroad and Keep Alvin Beautiful is working with the City to make the entryway into Alvin beautiful. Wrought iron fencing was added first, then a 60-foot section of the pipe and post fence, and a sidewalk. Using our grant, we worked with a landscape architect and a landscaper to install two 45-foot beds with crepe myrtles and knock-out roses.

Our next project involves putting Austin stone columns in the corner on both sides of the street and by the tracks with a small plant bed. This will make a grand entryway into our historic downtown.

Keep Ohio Beautiful and the Home Depot Foundation Create Outdoor Refuge for Veterans

Keep Ohio Beautiful and The Home Depot Foundation visited the Chalmers P. Wylie Columbus VA Ambulatory Care Center on Oct. 17 to create a peaceful green space for veterans and their families. The Columbus VA initiative is among several similar projects funded by a grant to Keep Ohio Beautiful from the Home Depot Foundation.

Approximately 80 Home Depot associates from 14 Home Depot stores in central Ohio worked to help enhance outdoor space for the veterans. The volunteers installed multiple projects, including: 1) A paver patio with a pergola, which will be used for entertainment and education for outdoor programs and events; 2) A patio with seating and plantings for veterans and their families to relax and visit while they are at the Medical Center for treatment; 3) Two raised planters where veterans can plant and care for annuals and vegetables; and 4) A buffer zone comprised of 25 arborvitae trees around the grounds to make it an inviting space for veterans and their families.

“These projects provide veterans with increased access to new and improved gardens, but also an opportunity to be actively engaged in horticultural activities with the introduction of raised beds and planters, and have peaceful visiting areas with the addition of the patios,” explained Michael Mennett, executive director of Keep Ohio Beautiful.

The green space around the Columbus VA Ambulatory Care Center is used for a variety of activities, such as exercise, picnics and patient rehabilitation through horticulture therapy practices. A comprehensive garden program was developed to allow veterans to grow plants from seed and distribute the grown vegetables to other veterans. With the new raised beds, veterans who are physically compromised will now have an easier time participating in this activity.

“I would characterize the veterans’ sentiment towards this project as one of gratitude, and when individuals and organizations honor their service through projects like this, there is a genuine sense of appreciation for their efforts,” said Keith Sullivan, director, Chalmers P. Wylie Columbus VA Ambulatory Care Center. “With the help of Keep Ohio Beautiful and the Home Depot Foundation, the new greening projects add to our ongoing Relationship Based Care Initiative that aims to care for the veterans’ mind, body and spirit through a caring and healing environment.”

After the work was completed, Keep Ohio Beautiful held a dedication ceremony with remarks from speakers Dan Weisenbach, vice president, Keep Ohio Beautiful; Frank Graves, RPSM, Ohio Valley northern division, Home Depot; Keith Sullivan, director of the Chalmers P. Wylie Columbus VA Ambulatory Care Center; Rick Isabel, Mayor Coleman’s cabinet member and veterans affairs coordinator; and Mayor Kim Maggard, The City of Whitehall.

“The Home Depot Foundation shares a passion with Keep Ohio Beautiful to help make a difference in the lives of the veterans at the Columbus VA Ambulatory Care Center,” said Kelly Caffarelli, president of The Home Depot Foundation. “We were thrilled to be part of their efforts by lending a hand for this project that will benefit so many veterans and their families.”