They do things in a big way out in Texas. The sprawling western territory of cattle, cowhands and lone prairies has yet another feather to stick in its 10-gallon hat. One of its municipalities, Sugarland, has snared the top ranking as one of America’s cleanest cities.
Indeed, other cities and states have been taking notice and beginning their own beautification plans.
Chicago stepped up to the plate, too, and now bears the distinction of being the largest stand-alone affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, according to Joyce Charmatz, founder and president of Keep Chicago Beautiful and Keep Illinois Beautiful.
“We have a Great American Cleanup every year, and the past few years we have partnered with the William Wrigley Jr. Company Foundation, the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation and the Chicago Park District to do this,” said Charmatz, adding that the latter two entities are members of the KCB Board. “Also, we are a stand-alone 501(c) (3), which means we are an independent nonprofit and nothing that we do is part of city government.”
Over the years KCB has provided environmental curricula and training to thousands of public, private and parochial school teachers, who in turn have taught hundreds of thousands of students about building sustainable and vibrant communities.
“We have succeeded by bringing together leading businesses with schools, neighborhood groups and government agencies at all levels,” said Charmatz. “This has proven invaluable to companies with operations in Chicagoland that want to partner with organizations promoting good environmental practices. With increasing emphasis on corporate responsibility, our members tell us they are proud to point the accomplishments of KCB in their annual reports.”
KCB brings all the participants together, and the Chicago Park District, which is a KCB board member, plans and supervises the program. This year the Wrigley company sponsored team-building events at two Chicago Park District locations.
At Kilbourn Park, team members helped build raised beds for the children’s vegetable garden and weed the children’s play garden, orchard and prairie areas. They cleared and laid paths in the children’s garden, removed debris and restored two organic gardens that grow fruit, vegetables and native plants. At the North Park Village Nature Center, they helped restore native habitat for birds, reptiles and mammals. They also had the task of removing Buckberry, an invasive plant, from the park.
“Now local families can play and learn in a clean and beautiful space because of the Great American Cleanup, the help of Wrigley Associates and the partnership between KCB and the Chicago Park District,” concluded Charmatz.
“It is always appreciated when corporations join with government and KCB to give back to the community. This event was a model for all of Chicago.”
Pennsylvania has been doing its part as well. The Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Illegal Dump Survey Program has surveyed every county since its 2005 inception. It aims to do away with trash, including cigarette litter and graffiti, and offers the Yellow Pages Opt-Out service where residents can control or stop the number of Yellow Pages phone directories being delivered to their homes.
According to Barbara Baker, recycling manager for Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority and coordinator of Keep Lancaster County Beautiful, Pennsylvania follows the national model of Keep America Beautiful.
“klcb became a certified affiliate of KAB on Sept. 10, 2002, and klcb was first established as an initiative of the Lancaster Alliance, a nonprofit organization focused on the betterment of Lancaster City, Pa.” said Baker. “Then in 2008, the lcswma took on this important initiative (because) it complements our mission to serve the Lancaster community and ‘manage solid waste and recyclable materials in an environmentally safe, reliable and efficient manner. klcb was widely accepted throughout the community.” The lcswma invests approximately $8,000 annually in this program.
The endeavor was executed through strategic alliances and community partnerships. klcb provides support, resources and guidance to the many organizations and volunteers throughout Lancaster County, which donate their time and efforts to clean up local waterways, roadways and public parks.
“We continue to receive many positive comments on the work klcb has done throughout the community,” Baker concluded.