In the coming days, the work of one of Keep Mississippi Beautiful’s largest beautification projects will blossom, literally.
Our organization partnered with several nonprofits to sow more than 1 million flowering bulbs, the first of which should be blooming as fall nears. This effort was funded by donations by KMB and other groups and it armed 26 communities across the state with boxes of flowering bulbs, including dahlias, gladiolas and peonies.
From the Coast to the Delta to northeast Mississippi, we worked with America Responds with Love, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Mississippi Beverage Association, Mississippi Municipal League, our affiliates and many other partners to make this possible.
Planting trees, shrubs and flowers has obvious perks. Plants improve aesthetics, help clean air and water, and provide shade and sanctuary.
But the benefits of beautification efforts are bigger. They lead to higher property values and can truly transform a neighborhood.
For example, tree-scaped business districts average 12 percent higher revenue than treeless areas. When a tree is planted within 50 feet of a home, it can increase the home’s value by 9 percent. And homes within a quarter mile of a park boast a 10 percent higher value.
Research shows people prefer natural landscape to hard-scapes, even showing that urban residents dislike treeless, empty spaces. When trees were added, more people took advantage of that urban place. A study also showed that exposure to public green spaces also builds a stronger sense of unity among residents.
It’s pretty amazing what a green thumb can do for a community. And it makes sense why one of our key objectives is community greening.
We’re affiliated with Keep America Beautiful, and like us, our state is home to affiliates that serve cities, counties and even a reservoir. With 30 affiliates and four new ones about to be on the roster, our network has made a big impact across the state.
In September, Keep America Beautiful and its many affiliates will celebrate National Planting Day, an event in which groups like us gather together to beautify communities.
If you live in Mississippi, I encourage you to see if your community has a Keep Mississippi Beautiful affiliate. If it does, join in and see how you can help clean and green your community. If it doesn’t consider joining us for a volunteer project or look into starting an affiliate in your community.
-Sarah Kountouris is executive director of Keep Mississippi Beautiful.