Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful, Reno, NV

Record number of sites for KTMB’s Great Community Cleanup
More than 600 residents brave weather to clean up Truckee Meadows

RENO, NV (May 10, 2014) – More than 600 Washoe County residents turned out in the wind and rain Saturday to clean up illegal dumpsites and invasive weeds at a record 22 sites during KTMB’s Great Community Cleanup. Volunteers removed 116 tons of trash, 13 tons of invasive weeds and more than 300 tires for a cleanup total of 132 tons. Volunteers also removed graffiti from several sites.

“Last year it was almost too hot to be out, and this year was the opposite, but you can’t stop our volunteers,” said Christi Cakiroglu, executive director of Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful (KTMB).

Cakiroglu said the organization also started the KTMB Speakers Bureau this year to try and spread a wider word about how illegal dumping negatively affects the Truckee Meadows.

“People might think they are saving some money, or they truly might not know what to do with some of the items they’re dumping,” Cakiroglu said. “But there are alternatives, and people can contact us anytime for that information. Dumping never saves money because residents pay in so many other ways like lowered property values, deterred business and depressed quality of life for everyone who lives here.”

KTMB volunteers are individuals, families and groups from all over the community, including the event sponsor, Intuit, and all the event partners like the Truckee River Fund, NV Energy Foundation, YP, Allied Nevada Gold Corp., cities of Reno and Sparks, IGT, KTVN, Save Mart, Signature Landscapes, Sun Valley GID, Washoe County, Washoe County Health District, Waste Management, Wells Fargo, Wilks Radio, AT&T External Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Microsoft Licensing, OrangeTree Productions, Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, Scheels, The Nature Conservancy, Tires Plus, United States Forest Service, and Washoe County Sheriff’s Office.

KTMB’s Great Community Cleanup began in 2006 as a part of a community-based effort to preserve the natural beauty of local recreation areas and remove the dangers to people and wildlife associated with illegal dump sites and invasive weeds. For a map of 2014 cleanup sites, before and after photos, video and more, visit ktmb.org/events/ktmbs-great-community-cleanup/

In 2014, KTMB celebrates 25 years of stewardship in the Truckee Meadows, and KTMB’s Great Community Cleanup is the 15th event in KTMB’s 25for25 Silver Celebration (#25for25). All KTMB programs are geared toward educating the public about the economic and health hazards of litter and illegal dumping; reducing our waste; eliminating trash from our parks, roadways and open spaces; making our community a beautiful and safe place to live; and giving opportunities for residents and businesses to take pride and ownership in their home. Residents can get involved by visiting ktmb.org

Keep Clark County Beautiful

Keep Clark County Beautiful is helping the National Trail Parks and Recreation District in Springfield, Ohio, to create an educational nature walk trail for urban youth with little or no access to wilderness areas in the city. On Sunday, March 31, 2014, volunteers removed over 1,000 lbs. of litter from the soon-to-be trail, along with dozens of dumped tires and other bulk items. Utilizing KCCB’s new Community Cleanup Trailer, volunteers were also able to clear vines, weeds, and honeysuckle from the trail as well.

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 Luna County Beautiful, Deming, NM

Keep Luna County Beautiful received a $5,000 grant from Lowe’s /KAB Community Improvement Grant. With the grant, Keep Luna County Beautiful was able to start an Outdoor Classroom in the community. The students were able to enjoy learning how to plant and care for a garden. Many of the students attended our cooking classes where they could learn how to use the produce they grew in very tasty meals. The students learned life skills that they could take back home and teach to their families. This has a major impact to our community due to our area being close to the border and many families have difficulty paying for fresh produce to feed their families. Thank you to Lowe’s and Keep America Beautiful for the opportunity to start this project in our community.

Keep Opelousas Beautiful, Opelousas, Louisiana

The impact we hope to achieve is change in attitude about the neighborhood where the trees and shrubs were planted. Our project committee feels it immediately began to meet some of our community’s needs the moment the work started on this project. Simply cleaning up the litter found in this four block area was a huge start. The reaction to our project has been overwhelmingly positive from both residents and passerby. Softening the effect of the railroad tracks that run through the area by planting the flowering trees and shrubs has definitely helped meet the needs of our community to have a more beautiful neighborhood in which to live.

Keep Bakersfield Beautiful – Lowe’s Grant – CA

Keep Bakersfield Beautiful Blog for 2012 Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant for $5,000

Keep Bakersfield Beautiful (KBB) community garden projects grow hope in the hearts of volunteers who live in neighborhoods known to struggle with crime. KBB is honored to be an instrument to transform nearly a combined 37,000 square feet of space in these blighted neighborhoods plagued with burglaries, gang activity, and graffiti. Armed with an arsenal of contributors, including an invaluable $5,000 Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s Community Improvement grant leading the way, KBB is empowered to cultivate community leaders through the creation of community gardens. This KAB/Lowe’s grant was the metaphorical seed money to build momentum for the Greenfield Walking Group Garden and A Fresh Start Garden in Southeast Bakersfield.

The Greenfield Walking Group has been a group of concerned families and friends for several years. They started out being a bunch of moms who took strolls together with their children. They first began to make a presence in the news when they took the lead to motivate community improvements around a dilapidated neighborhood park surrounded by gang activity. They spearheaded the change and reclaimed the park as a family-friendly space. Years ago, KBB began working with the Greenfield Walking Group regularly to clean up litter and graffiti in the neighborhood. Our commitment to improving it together expanded into an Adopt A Neighborhood program, which included the potential for community gardening and beautification projects in the future. Well, the future is now. KBB and the Greenfield Walking Group hope this community garden will be a 15,600 square foot safe zone for neighbors to enjoy together for the betterment of their community.

More than 250 pairs of hands from as close as next door to as far as Lincoln, Nebraska have happily gotten dirty to make this garden beautiful. Some volunteers come for a day, others are core members who were there from brainstorming to planning to planting – all are valued, all are necessary. Some of the outstanding volunteers who are not a part of the Greenfield Walking Group are Dora, a Russian immigrant who resides in one of Bakersfield’s most affluent enclaves, has become the unofficial project manager, Dora’s star volunteer is Jason, a 13 year old who lives in a mobile home park several blocks away, and 54 blessed volunteers from Nebraska, some of whom believe divine intervention brought them to Bakersfield to finish building the Greenfield Walking Group Garden.

The Youth of Messiah Lutheran Church of Lincoln, Nebraska travels annually to do mission work, but they weren’t scheduled to do service in Bakersfield. The youth group got a disappointing last minute phone call right before 54 of them were to fly out to help another non-profit in a tiny rural town 98.7 miles North of the Greenfield Walking Group Garden. The caller told them not come because of a terrible intestinal flu outbreak. Since their plane tickets weren’t refundable, the Youth of Messiah Lutheran Church came to California anyway. They went to a Lutheran church in Bakersfield and asked for suggestions for a new missionary project. That’s how they found us. It became a news story and sponsors stepped in to support the mission work, which in turn provided a boost in manpower and funding to finish what we thought would be future phases of our garden project. Thanks to them we have creatively painted block-walls surrounding two sides of the garden; crop rows planted with a variety of food from sweet berries to spicy chilies; spikey flowers along the fence for added security; and raised beds for herbs. When the youth got back home to Nebraska, they emailed us to say they never worked as hard, never had so much fun doing mission work, and believe that God sent them to the right place after all.

The Greenfield Walking Group Garden is building a sense of community that stretches beyond its immediate neighborhood. Their love for their community and passion for a healthier lifestyle attracts an outpouring of support from the Lowe’s two miles away from the garden. Lowe’s and its vendors like Bonnie Plants and Duarte Trees and Vines are vital to the sustainability of the Greenfield Walking Group Garden, because they offer their expertise in growing with invaluable onsite visits, as well as needed products.

The Greenfield Walking Group Garden is about six miles away from A Fresh Start Garden. Both neighborhoods were pleasantly surprised to see a beautification project happen in an area where residents often feel overlooked or undervalued. A Fresh Start garden is proud to be led by African-Americans in a predominately African-American neighborhood. A Fresh Start Garden has more than 21,000 square feet available to grow and to host community events organized by the neighboring anti-gang organization called Stop the Violence.

The harvest festival and ribbon cutting ceremony was a Halloween alternative block party for families and neighbors. Thanks to this KAB/Lowe’s grant, Keep Bakersfield Beautiful was able to buy the necessary garden tools and lumber to finish 16 adoptable plots and the fence in time for the garden to open. The garden manager, Isaiah, is a former Keep Bakersfield Beautiful board member who has experience with community gardens. A Fresh Start Garden’s neighbors are key partners in the sustainability of this project too. St. Paul Church next door provides electricity and water. Plus, Stop the Violence across the street helps to raise funds and organizes the community.

Together our groups empower more than 100 volunteers for A Fresh Start Garden, litter cleanups, and outreach. A Fresh Start Garden is in the center of a walkable neighborhood with a severe litter problem – the worst in Bakersfield. Volunteers often have to clean up litter when tending the garden. The litter is a constant battle because it blows in past the fence. But the greatest challenge A Fresh Start Garden faces is earning the trust of the neighborhood in order to engage them. Stop the Violence and the Neighborhood Watch Program agree that working with a suppressed population that has lost hope in the goodness of others while dealing with substance abuse, gang and gun violence, and a lack of education makes it very difficult to draw the community to take part in the garden. Community events are a way to raise awareness to build that trust. Stop the Violence also says that many in the neighborhood lack motivation to use resources like A Fresh Start Garden rather than just rely on public assistance.

Trust is being earned though. Neighbors who have been introduced to the garden are very thankful for it. Stop the Violence and Isaiah’s Sober Living clients were working in the garden on a rainy day pulling weeds when children passing by noticed them. The children were curious and asked a lot of questions of what was going on there. The kids smiled when they learned it was a community garden. The kids asked if they could come and garden too. Of course Stop the Violence invited the children to come back with their parents. Since then, several plots have been adopted. There’s been a 12.5% increase in neighborhood participation since 2012, according to Stop the Violence

This Keep America Beautiful/Lowes grant opportunity blazed the trail for Keep Bakersfield Beautiful, Stop the Violence, and the Greenfield Walking Group to uplift two communities in need of help. This grant was the kindling to a grass roots fire. Now both gardens have the support of several administrators, volunteers, technical advisors, other grants and sponsors, and the City of Bakersfield. Together we strive to make a safer and more beautiful Bakersfield. We have much gratitude for Keep America Beautiful and Lowe’s for being there in the beginning to make these thriving community gardens possible. Thank you.