Bud Light “Do Good. Have Fun.” Memphis River Warriors Cleanup

Memphis City Beautiful, Tenn. was fortunate enough to be selected by Keep America Beautiful and Anheuser-Busch for a Bud Light “Do Good. Have Fun.” project. Memphis City Beautiful is one of the founding partners along with the University of Memphis of the Memphis River Warriors, a group of college students who come together to adopt the cleaning of shoreline along the Mississippi River and the lakes and harbors adjacent to Downtown Memphis. The warriors conduct at least six annual clean ups recruiting primarily college aged students.

Memphis City Beautiful and the Memphis River Warriors decided to conduct this clean up in support of the International Outdoors, Inc. Annual Canoe & Kayak Race. We targeted the area of the harbor where over 500 racers and thousands of spectators would gather the weekend after our clean up.

Working with our local distributor – Budweiser of Memphis – Memphis City Beautiful and the Memphis River Warriors went to Social Media and the colleges to recruit volunteers.

On Saturday, June 7 on the banks of the Mississippi River 78 volunteers came out to help cleanup along the waterfront parks, cobblestone landing, streets and alleys of Downtown Memphis; as well as plant bushes to beautify Tom Lee Park.

Volunteers were rewarded with BBQ provided through a generous grant from Anheuser-Bush and beer was on tap provided by our local Bud Light distributer.

Keep Johnson City Beautiful–Johnson City, TN

Keep Johnson City Beautiful halts Graffiti in the downtown area with the third annual Urban Art Throwdown last month. The annual Urban Art Throwdown takes place during the Blue Plum Festival to raise awareness of graffiti in Johnson City, and discourage graffiti while encouraging the artistic value of the works. A foundational idea of the Urban Art Throwdown is that the difference between graffiti and art is permission. The Throwdown is constructed of twenty-four graffiti artists who register for free to participate in a graffiti competition. They are provided canvases, paint, tops, and masks and are directed on the theme of their artwork. The first, second, and third place artworks receive cash prizes. In addition, the winning pieces of the Urban Art Throwdown are displayed in downtown Johnson City. Another component featured is a Recycled Materials Art Contest. The Recycled Materials Art Contest consisted of fine art created from recycled materials such as paper, plastic, cardboard, glass, aluminum, tin, and scrap metal. The competition of recycled art also rewards winners with cash prizes.

The approach to address graffiti is unique and quite different than other methods such as hosting cleanups of graffiti or school discussions for its reduction. This artistic approach required more effort and thought. It invests the community’s interests. By hanging the canvases downtown, people respect the artworks and the artists, which discourages graffiti in those areas and other areas as well. The Throwdown supports Keep Tennessee Beautiful’s mission to educate and engage citizens. People were engaged in the competition because it is incredible to watch creation of the artworks, and it was free to the public to come and watch. Additionally, people were educated at the Throwdown because there was a booth present at the competition where people learned about the effects of graffiti on the community, the recycling services of Johnson City, and about Keep Johnson City Beautiful itself.

Many of the artists return each year to compete in the Urban Art Throwdown. There are bleachers setup on the site of the competition, and friends come to watch as well as people attending the Blue Plum Festival. It is rewarding for the artists to have their talents recognized, and it provides a place for their art to be created constructively rather than destructively. They have the opportunity to be paid for their work in a sense. Their efforts are poured into something that people admire, unlike graffiti which is most often vandalism. Some artists have made connections through the competition and will work for art camps in an educational setting. The Urban Art Throwdown successfully addresses the need to protect public places from graffiti in an event that can continue to grow and sustain itself, and that benefits the artists directly. They are more likely to respond to the Urban Art Throwdown because their interests are taken into account.

Keep Lexington Beautiful, KY

Planting Natives Restores Natural Beauty to Community Stream in Lexington, KY

Last October, Lexington, Ky., community members had a unique opportunity to help Keep Lexington Beautiful eradicate invasive species and uncover the beauty of a local business corridor and stream. On a cold and rainy day volunteers removed nearly 85 tons of invasive bush honeysuckle and other plant debris from the area, and installed 100 native trees and shrubs.

The aggressive bush honeysuckle can become a huge problem along waterways, especially in Kentucky. The massive amount of invasive species overtaking the corridor hampered residents and drivers from knowing about the stream and habitat that existed underneath it all.

Not only were the aesthetics of this historic business corridor affected negatively over time, but the amount of storm water runoff and pollution had long been diminishing the water quality of the river. Local students tested the water with kits provided by the state utility company; this helped provide a baseline for testing the improvement of the quality over time.

Fortunately, the volunteers not only beautified the area, they also collected 440 pounds of recyclables and 1.5 tons of trash and debris that had been littered along the corridor and in the stream.
Lexington continues to be a great city thanks to so many of its citizens volunteering to make it more beautiful.