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 Mississippi Beautiful Prepares for National Planting Day, Madison, MS

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.

To learn more about our beautification efforts, visit keepmsbeautiful.com or check us out on Facebook or Twitter.

-Sarah Kountouris is executive director of Keep Mississippi Beautiful.

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Indianapolis, IN

The Youth Tree Team program at Keep Indianapolis Beautiful is wrapping up for the summer. High school students from around the city worked to mulch, water and maintain more than 5,000 trees each week. The students carry 2 buckets of water ( 80lbs! ) to each tree once a week. It’s a lot of hard work, but there is also a lot of fun to be had.
During the summer, the high school students work three days a week, then on Thursdays they participate in enrichment activities. Activities this year included rafting on the White River, creating art out of nature at the Indianapolis Art Center and learning how to follow a compass during an orienteering lesson.
The teens also took an overnight wilderness trip in the woods where they hiked, participate in leadership and team building activities and learn how to identify trees.
This year, 61 high school students and 16 adult leaders participated in the program, but the work doesn’t stop with the end of the summer! During the fall and early winter, the students return on weekends to help water, mulch and plant trees around Indianapolis.

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Indianapolis, IN

On a chilly Saturday morning in November 2012, a group of Lowe’s Heroes assembled with KIB staffers along Fall Creek waterway to plant 71 large, Indiana native trees, as part of a native habitat restoration effort along this Indianapolis waterway. Planting trees as “green infrastructure” lessens the pressure on our city’s combined sewer system, reducing overflow events into Fall Creek, and improving our the quality of our waterways.

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. (KIB) has had a wonderful experience partnering with Lowe’s locally. KIB received a 2012 grant from Keep America Beautiful and Lowe’s to plant 180 trees as part of our Fall Creek restoration project. Lowe’s brought out 40 extremely hard-working volunteers, who were all in good spirits despite the cold, damp morning, and they got the trees planted in just about an hour and a half! Several Lowe’s employees also told us that they learned the proper way to plant a tree!

Altogether last fall, volunteers and KIB staff planted a total of 183 trees along Fall Creek, despite the severe drought in central Indiana, which compressed our planting schedule. Thank you again to Keep America Beautiful and Lowe’s for the wonderful support of trees and “green” in Indy!

Keep Mansfield Beautiful Plants Flowering Crabapple Trees In Effort to Beautify Downtown

Located 30 miles south of Boston in Mansfield, Mass. community members and Keep Mansfield Beautiful worked together in mid-May to plant donated flowering crabapple trees as part of the “Don’t Just Stand There – PLANT SOMETHING!” campaign.

Thanks to Keep Mansfield Beautiful, these colorful trees will beautify the gateway to the downtown. Prior to planting, expert horticulturalists from Guerrini Landscape demonstrated proper tree planting techniques, which provided volunteers with the information needed to properly plant the trees.

Volunteers also placed whiskey barrels along the sidewalks of Main Street, each planted with a matching variety of vibrant annual flowers. Volunteers also worked on the Mansfield Community Mural project along the wall adjacent to the downtown business district and public transportation station.