Insider’s Look at Clean Up Akron Month

by Morgan Looney, Communications Intern

It’s officially April and that means that 1) Clean Up Akron Month has officially started and 2) I only have about five weeks left of my internship. With those two things in mind I thought that it would be cool to give an insider’s look into CUAM and some of the work we’ve been putting into it.

I started my internship in the middle of January and since then I’ve been working hard with the KAB team as we prepared for CUAM. The end of February and the entire month of March were the busiest as we put together registration packets, sent out marketing materials to many organizations and individuals in the community, finalized important details for specific CUAM events, put cleanup supplies together, and started getting those supplies out to our volunteers.

One of the events we’ve been finalizing details for has been Super Saturday, a volunteer appreciation picnic at the Akron Zoo. A few weeks ago, I participated in the walk-through of the event at the zoo with Helen, the Communications and Volunteer Project Manager, and the two co-chairs for Super Saturday, Willa and Shelby, who are former KAB interns. We reviewed where the picnic lunch would be, where the Awards Ceremony would be held, and also finalized details on things like food preparation, dropping supplies off, and volunteer arrival times.

While we did get a lot of things accomplished during the walk-through, it wasn’t just all work! Right before we left, we took a few minutes to stop the Penguin Exhibit. We were able to watch them swim around for a bit and while we certainly enjoyed seeing them and getting a much needed dose of cuteness, I think they enjoyed seeing us just as much! We can’t wait for our volunteers to have the opportunity to experience all that the Akron Zoo has to offer as a way to say, “thank you” for their hard work.

In between all of the work for Clean Up Akron Month, we’ve been doing other things like speaking to community organizations about Keep Akron Beautiful and what we do. Two weeks ago, Helen and I went to Ohio Living Rockynol to speak to the Philanthropic Education Organization and I was able to observe as Helen spoke about our various projects and programs like Flowerscape, the Dreamscape Raffle, and Clean Up Akron Month. It was a cool moment to get out of the office and see how speaking about these things can really raise awareness and understanding and illicit interest in these programs!

Back at the KAB office, we got to work putting together the supplies for the CUAM volunteers. Luckily we had some amazing help putting together these supplies! Students from North High School came in and helped us pack the supply bags for the volunteer groups who had already registered and additional bags of supplies that we anticipate we’ll need throughout the month.

Putting together supply bags.

We want to give a huge thank you to our North High School volunteers! It’s always such a great day when we have their smiling faces around to help us prepare for one of our busiest months of the year!

Our North High School volunteers!

Something I’m really looking forward to as I participate in my first ever CUAM is the cleanup at Summit Lake on April 22. The Summit Lake Cleanup is a huge cleanup that takes place the weekend before Super Saturday and a bunch of people get involved. The cleanup in 2016 had 166 volunteers, including members of the KAB team, that helped remove over 5 tons of litter from the lake as well as 14 tires, 4 propane tanks, and a scooter in just 4 hours.

Summit Lake Cleanup 2016

I can’t wait to participate in the Summit Lake Cleanup this year! It’s been an amazing experience helping organize and put things together, but I know the most rewarding part of all of this will be being able to get in there myself and do my part. I can’t wait to see how many people come together for the cleanup at Summit Lake and to see what we can accomplish.

Registration and kick-off for the Summit Lake Cleanup will take place at Reach Opportunity Center in Akron on April 22. For more information on the Summit Lake Cleanup contact Helen Dauka at 330-375-2116 or at You can also check out the event page on FaceBook. Don’t forget to RSVP if you’re going!

There’s also still time to register for other Clean Up Akron Month projects! You can register online, stop by the KAB office to pick up a packet, or call the KAB office at 330-375-2116 and we’ll mail a packet to you!

This blog has been a fun one to write. I enjoyed thinking about all of the things I’ve been a part of since I started my internship and looking back on some of the great memories I’ve made as I start to get ready to leave KAB. Of course, I’m not leaving just yet and we still have a lot of work to do throughout April! I’m excited to continue working on things for Clean Up Akron Month and I can’t wait to take part in it myself on April 22!

Dreamscape Raffle 2017 Tickets On Sale Now

by Morgan Looney, Communications Intern

2016 Dreamscape Winner

Tickets for our 14th annual Dreamscape Raffle are now on sale! Tickets are $25 each of five for $100 and can be purchased online, at the KAB office in Akron, or at the following locations: Dayton Nurseries, Inc., Donzell’s Flower & Garden Center, Inc., Graf Growers Garden Center, and Suncrest Gardens.

All ticket sale proceeds will be used to fund Keep Akron Beautiful’s Flowerscape Program. The program has 34 Flowerscape sites that are planted and maintained yearly using more than 35,000 flowers at different public property sites around the City of Akron. The Flowerscape Program promotes civic pride and landscape beauty while helping to improve the quality of life for everyone in our community!

One of our beautiful Flowerscapes

The hard work and talent that goes into the beautification of our Flowerscape sites will be used in this year’s makeover as KAB Flowerscape Director Leah Heiser is the lead landscape designer for the 2017 Dreamscape Raffle. This marks the first time a Flowerscape director has taken on the role! Leah’s background, expertise, and eye for beautification will be a tremendous asset to the makeover team and we can’t wait to see what they come up with!

The winning ticket will be drawn on Thursday June 8, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. at Alexander Park on West Market Street. In addition to the grand prize ticket, there will be three runner-up prizes which include 4 yards of mulch or compost blown into landscaped beds by TerraScape, LTD and a basket of gardening supplies courtesy of Graf Growers Garden Center.

Other sponsors and vendor partners for the Dreamscape Raffle are: Advanced Arboriculture, Cascade Lighting, Circle K, Graf’s Landscape & Design, Hitchcock Fleming & Associates, Inc., Main Street Gourmet, Naragon Irrigation, Nick’s Landscaping of Ohio, LLC, Pam’s Perennial Plant Farm, KB Bio Energy, Inc., R.G. Thomas Landscape and Design, Inc., Star Printing Co. Inc., Tim’s Custom Electric, Wilson Plumbing & Heating, Inc., W.L. Tucker Supply, YES Press Printing Co., Blooming Designs, and Lewis Landscaping.

Thank you to all of those who help make the Dreamscape Raffle a success. We cannot wait to see the transformation of the winner’s yard!

Help Your Home, Your Akron

By Cindy Pantea, Keep Akron Beautiful Staff

summit lake debris cuam2015We gotta talk trash

It was more than 35 years ago that former Akron Mayor Roy Ray and his former Special Assistant, now KAB Emeritus Board Member, Vince Lobello, helped kick off what bloomed into the Keep Akron Beautiful agency, under the direction of first Executive Director Judith Isroff.

Why? Mainly because the garbage and dumping in Akron was out of control. The pictures can still be accessed through The Akron Beacon Journal archives.

Never again! It’s unhealthy for you and our hometown, which is why the Keep Akron Beautiful litter crew continues to pick up debris year round — in order to help keep it from accumulating. It’s so important to us.

Want to know how important? Want to know exactly how we feel?…

Chad Pregracke Passion

Meet Chad Pregracke, who grew up along the Mississippi River and noticed the accumulation of trash in and around the river he loved, played and worked as he grew into early adulthood. So, he called government agencies to notify them of the dumping, trash and neglect affecting the natural water sources around his home.

Nothing was done.

So, he decided if no one else will clean up these waters, he would, but it was a bigger job than he expected. He then went on a mission to enlist more help from volunteers and find bigger vessels, in order to complete his self-promise.

Because of his resolve, willingness to take on the responsibility and cleanup successes, he was named CNN Hero of the Year in 2013. See a look at this amazing person in the piece here via CNN on YouTube:

As you can see from the video clip, Chad Pregracke’s goals and passion turned into his life’s work, and his determination is an inspiration.

Chad’s story is one that relates so well to the Keep Akron Beautiful vision, too!

Clean UP Akron Month

volunteers clean up akron After the snow completely melts, and we are able to get into some of the nooks and crannies around town, we all begin to observe what has been hidden under the snow and the leaves. We begin to notice that some people have been neglecting our great city.

As such, Keep Akron Beautiful needs your help during our month-long spring cleaning event called Clean Up Akron Month, which coincides with Keep America Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup.

Not only will you be beautifying an area of your city, you will come from the experience with a renewed awareness. This will make you want to do right in caring for your health through the health of your environment by taking the time to:

  • Find a trash can or recycling bin for your trash or recycling
  • Secure your lids on garbage day
  • Encourage your friends and family to dispose and recycle properly
  • Use the Hazardous Household Waste (HHW) Recycling Center through ReWorks for tires and other items
  • Explore ways of repurposing items before disposing
  • Take advantage of the DUMP by Summit County Public Health for unused medications
  • Do regular cleanups in your neighborhood on daily walks
  • Pick up and throw away a piece of trash that found its way into parks and other public areas
  • Call Akron Police at 330-375-2181 if you see a dumping in progress
  • Call City of Akron Customer Service at 330-375-2311 if you see dumping on private property
  • Call Keep Akron Beautiful at 330-375-2116 if you see dumping on public land

Who knows…you may even find a new passion from the feeling of pride you get from making your city a better, cleaner place to live.

Register for #CUAM17

So, won’t you, your family, and/or your friends register for Clean Up Akron Month today! Registration process:

  • Register your team here: Make sure you receive a confirmation. Then print and distribute the waivers to your team from the registration packet that can be downloaded from our homepage at Waivers need to be filled out before supplies are picked up during supply distribution week.
  • Or, you can call the office at 330.375.2116 and give us your address and we’ll mail the registration packet to you so you can fill out the forms to register (mail in or drop by as soon as you’ve filled the forms out). Waivers need to be filled out before supplies are picked up during supply distribution week.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about Chad, his agency, and even how to purchase his book, “From the Bottom Up: One Man’s Crusade to Clean America’s Rivers,” visit his agency website: Living Lands & Waters. Look for his cleanup crusade along the Ohio River!


Keep Akron Beautiful Says: Please Try to Put Us Out of Work!

by Cindy Pantea

keep america beautiful logoJanuary 23-26, 2017, I had the pleasure of attending the annual Keep America Beautiful conference along with CEO, Jacqui Ricchiuti, and Helen Dauka of the Keep Akron Beautiful staff.

I was prepared for taking away ideas on how to engage more people to take responsibility for the community in which they live, work or visit. Keep America Beautiful did just that, so I want to share the main idea with you:

We want you to put us out of work!

Here’s what we mean:

People Litter with Intent

Part of day two of our conference involved listening to a panel discussion with social/behavioral psychologists who performed the nation’s largest study on littering behavior in 2009 and who are currently updating their findings. They have determined that most people who litter do so with intent. As such, it was clear to me that the responsibility of our agency remains important in reducing garbage in our public spaces.

Litter Pickup/Beautification Important

Why? Because even though individuals choose to litter, they are still more likely to trash an already littered environment, but by removing it promptly, it can help limit the littering and keep trash buildup from spinning out of control. In addition, beautification plays an important role in helping to control litter. Plus, constant reminders of what is expected of individuals, either by education, enforceable laws or public signage, has an effect on how much litter shows up in our public spaces…and it’s what we do.

Litter Requires a Behavioral Change

Unfortunately, the fact remains that the majority of litter is purposeful and reasons for littering can range anywhere from:

  • How you’re feeling that day to
  • Temperature or time of day to
  • Not knowing what to do with the item in hand to
  • Expecting that someone else will handle to
  • Pure laziness with regards to receptacle convenience to
  • No consequences for the crime

…and more!

Not Surprising/Surprising

cigarette butt litterNot surprising of the professionals’ findings is that cigarette butts remains the most littered item (seemingly due to the lack of available cigarette butt receptacles). This was followed by food wrappers or remnants and paper. What may be surprising is that public trash cans do not keep an area completely litter free. Take, for example, those who shoot, miss and leave their trash next to a receptacle. Yet, the placement of cans fewer than 10 feet from an individual did play a significant role in the amount of litter in the public space. This may be important for your next event litter and recycling needs, and we have the loan-a-receptacle program to help. Side note: I recently took a beach vacation where cigarette butt recycling and no cigarette litter signs were prominent and trash/recycling was less than. Result: No cigarette butts, but instead, a whole lot of empty water bottles at the sand volleyball courts!

Bad News/Good News

Bad news is that while you would think our youth are more environmentally conscious, those 30 and younger tend to litter more often. Also, people who believe that litterbugs should be held legally responsible for their actions actually have admitted that they themselves are guilty of littering! Good news is that there has been a reduction in overall litter over a 40-year span.

Your KAB

Keep Akron Beautiful helps to provide public litter control year round. In the winter months, the crews are out removing debris from highways, parks, and roadways. If there is heavy snow on the ground causing litter to become invisible, the crews are still busy helping the city to shovel sidewalks.

Knowing how littered the streets could be is why there are many folks who say to us frequently, “What would happen if you didn’t exist?!” Yet, we urge you to try to put us out of work by putting litter in its place and encouraging your friends, kids and neighbors to do the same.

Thank you for doing your part to end littering and to keep Akron beautiful. It’s up to all of us.

See key findings of 2009 litter study:

Read the 2009 litter study: