Keep Broward Beautiful, Fort Lauderdale Florida

Keep Broward Beautiful through Broward County’s Natural Resources Planning and Management Division, the Youth Environmental Alliance (YEA), a local non-profit organization, and the State of Florida Park Service, are partners in implementing the Keep America Beautiful / Waste Management John U. Lloyd Beach State Park Dune Restoration Project. During the course of 4 events held since November 2013, over 400 volunteers from 10 different organizations have planted more than 8,000 native dune plants and trees as an effective method to mitigate beach erosion, restore coastal habitats and beautify the park. Volunteers and park staff continue to monitor and water the plantings to ensure their survival. This project clearly demonstrates the power of partnership and community engagement. “It was amazing to see such active participation from the community”, said Dawn McCormick, Community Affairs Manager for Waste Management. “When we work together, we accomplish great things!”

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!

Lowe’s Grant Helps Beautify Section of the Mill Creek Greenway Trail, Cincinnati, OH

Keep Cincinnati Beautiful received a $20,000 KAB/Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant that is helping to revitalize part of the Mill Creek Greenway Trail in Camp Washington, in collaboration with the nonprofit Groundwork Cincinnati/Mill Creek (GWC). Lowe’s also provided an additional $3,200 in fieldwork supplies and materials to KCB and GWC to support both organizations’ ongoing work throughout the city.

On Oct. 24, more than 20 Lowe’s Heroes worked alongside 50 students from Withrow High School to beautify a quarter-mile stretch of the Greenway Trail near Mill Creek Road and Ralston Ave. Volunteers landscaped three areas along the path that included shade trees, ornamental grasses, and stone benches. Volunteers also artistically enhanced a section of the site’s chain link fence by weaving colorful strips of salvaged industrial vinyl in a zig-zag pattern. When the project is complete, over 200 panels of chain link fencing will come together to create a colorful art installation.

The project site is part of the planned 14-mile Mill Creek Greenway Trail in the City of Cincinnati that will extend from the Hamilton County Fairgrounds in Carthage to the Ohio River, connecting to the Ohio River Trail on the western and eastern riverfronts. To date, GWC has completed river improvements and constructed the paved hike and bike trail along 3.5 miles of the river, passing through Carthage, Spring Grove Village, Camp Washington, South Cumminsville, and Northside. The greenway trail offers unique opportunities for free and accessible outdoor exercise, recreation, and human-powered transportation.

The Mill Creek Greenway Program is an important component of the Mill Creek Healthy People/Healthy River Strategy that GWC is implementing in collaboration with cross-sector public and private partners, including Keep Cincinnati Beautiful. The strategy also includes ecological improvements, planting edible forest gardens along the river, transforming derelict properties, and providing environmental education programming for thousands of students each year.

View Keep Cincinnati Beautiful’s project photo gallery here.

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.

Keep Hot Springs Beautiful, Hot Springs, SD

Thanks to a $5,000 Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant, Keep Hot Springs Beautiful was able to purchase Earth Boxes and plants. Earth Boxes were given to two groups: low income people to plant vegetables and business owners to plant flowers to place in front of their businesses. The Earth Box Give-Away took place in early June. With the help of the local Master Gardeners and other community volunteers, we were able to train the recipients about the Earth Box system and help them plant their Earth Boxes so they could take them home to display.

Keep Phoenix Beautiful – Phoenix, AZ

On Saturday, May 18, volunteers came out to the largest vacant lot transformation in the country – PHX Renews! Volunteers assisted in creating cover crops in the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension garden to improve the health of the soil. Volunteers also assisted in installing parts of a 160-piece public art collection on site. The art was created by various artists and the public under the direction of Hugo Medina.

PHX Renews is a project envisioned by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and implemented by local nonprofit Keep Phoenix Beautiful. The basis behind this project is to document and find temporary uses of vacant urban land, which is scattered all across Phoenix.

PHX Renews is centered on a 15-acre parcel at the intersection of Central & Indian School Roads in central Phoenix. This property is privately held by the Barron Collier Company of Naples, Fla., and has been vacant for over 20 years.

Keep Phoenix Beautiful is a 501(c)3 organization and an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful. Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, a past partner of KAB, has converted over 6,000 vacant lots in Philadelphia into green space. While green space is difficult to achieve in our arid desert climate, the achievements of the Philadelphia program are hard to ignore. Several KPB staff members have spent time at PHS projects learning best practices and witnessing their accomplishments.

For more information, visit PHXRenews.org or KeepPhxBeautiful.org.

Montgomery Clean City Commission, AL

MCCC Participates In Creation of New City Park

Montgomery Clean City Commission (MCCC), Alabama Power, the City of Montgomery and Maxwell Air Force Base, are joining forces to create the new 1.25-acre Maxwell Park. The City will take unserviceable land and convert it into a recreational area featuring a boat ramp for the exclusive use of non-motorized boats and a scenic overview of the Alabama River.

On February 16, MCCC brought in a group of 110 volunteers from Maxwell AFB to start the arduous task of removing years of accumulated rubbish. More than 400 bags of debris were filled and removed, but plenty of trash remained for further cleanups. On March 2, volunteers from the Civil Air Patrol, Montgomery Rowing Club, and Master Gardeners continued the task. And MCCC has another cleanup and green-up scheduled for March 16, with 18 pallets of sod being delivered. A rain garden was also built, thanks to funding from Coca-Cola.

Susan Carmichael, MCCC’s executive director, reports that it will be moving on to a larger project called Peacock Tract, which is a two-year neighborhood revitalization project in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights march.

“We will be integrating the principals of smart growth, urbanism and green building into the first national system for neighborhood design,” Carmichael said. “This will be the largest project MCCC has been involved with since we began in 1975. It’s huge! Everything from tearing down buildings to removing sidewalks to taking out brick walls and steps to painting a collage on some large slabs, removing and planting new trees, restoring buildings and so much more.”

The cleanup initiative is far from done, however. There will be cleanups throughout the spring Great American Cleanup period and into the summer.

If anyone is interested in volunteering in Montgomery, Ala., contact Susan Carmichael at (334) 241-2175 or scarmichael@montgomeryal.gov .

Keep Greenwood County Beautiful, SC

Restorative Power of Community Greening in Greenwood County, S.C.

Last summer, Keep Greenwood County Beautiful in Greenwood, S.C., used a $20,000 Lowe’s/KAB Community Improvement Grant to facilitate various greening projects throughout the community, including a healing garden for the more than 10,000 veterans living in the county. Additionally, the grant was used to create a raised bed garden for students in wheelchairs to provide them with access to gardening. The herbs and flowers grown in this garden will be sold at the local high school for students of different abilities.

Grant monies were also used to conduct an environmental education program at a primary school that included a pollinator garden in addition to continuing support for the infrastructure of 15 local community gardens that provide fresh produce to food banks, soup kitchens and senior centers. All of the gardens are required to donate their surplus produce. (In 2011, 10 county gardens donated nearly 7,000 pounds of fresh produce.)

Each new garden engages 15 to 20 new participants and feeds an additional 30 families. Keep Greenwood County Beautiful was able to leverage this grant by garnering an in-kind gift from the Greenwood County Power Works, which waived an $800 water tap fee for a new irrigation system.