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: https://www.kab.org/sites/default/files/News%26Info_Research_LitterinAmerica_FactSheet_LitteringBehavior.pdf

Read the 2009 litter study: https://www.kab.org/sites/default/files/News%26Info_Research_LitteringBehaviorinAmerica_2009Report_Final.pdf

 

Revisiting Dreamscape 2014: Steve Williams and David Jesse

By: Nalee vang, Communications Intern

In our last “Revisiting” blog post, we had the opportunity to follow up with the 2013 Dreamscape winner, the Akron Rotary Camp. Don’t miss out on that blog post; read it now!

In 2014, lucky homeowners, Steve Williams and David Jesse, won the Dreamscape raffle, which allows the winner to have the landscape makeover of their dreams worth over $10,000! Craig Graf and Lisa Graf of Graf Growers Garden Center and Landscaping were the lead landscapers. Many renovations were done including planting trees and flowers, light fixtures and installation of a maintenance-free fence and a pergola. For details of the whole process, read “Dreamscape Makeover Provided Finishing Touches to West Akron Home“.

D2014

The results were amazing, and seeing the transformation through photos really showed how much work was put into this Dreamscape makeover. We wondered how Steve and David have been keeping up with their exciting change, so we did some catching up of our own with Steve:

Nalee Vang: What was your initial reaction after finding out that you won the Dreamscape Makeover?
Steve Williams: Well, first, [was] shocked.  We absolutely never thought we would be the winners! Then, our thoughts turned into what we would change in our yard now that we had the chance.

NV: The transformation in the ‘before’ and ‘after’ picture was beautiful. What was your favorite part of the makeover?  
SW: Working with Grafs to design the space and then watching the transformation unfold. It was amazing to watch the craftsmanship that the crew from each firm brought to the project.

KAB-Dreamscape-DrawingNV: How has the makeover changed your home?  
SW: We now have this amazing outdoor living space. We spend more time outside, when the weather permits, relaxing, enjoying the space and entertaining.

NV: Has there been any challenges keeping up with the renovations?  
SW: Well, once the renovation was underway, we realized we would need furniture for the space as well!  Thankfully, we found some wonderful pieces that give it the feel of an outdoor living room, which complimented our existing patio area perfectly.

NV: Looking back at the whole process, what are some reflections or thoughts you have that you want to share with us?
SW: The staff of Keep Akron Beautiful were wonderful and did a very good job of keeping us informed about what would happen along the way.

NV: Were you pleased with the results?
SW: Absolutely!  We could not be more pleased with the outcome.

NV: What is some advice for future winners?
SW: Be prepared for A LOT of change in a very short time!  It can seem overwhelming at times, but hang in there, because the end result is SO worth it!

NV: Would you recommend purchasing a ticket for the Dreamscape Makeover?
SW: Most certainly.  By purchasing a ticket, you help continue the excellent work being done to beautify our community at Keep Akron Beautiful.  Winning was just a bonus!

D2014_1

The Dreamscape Makeover Raffle is Keep Akron Beautiful’s annual fundraiser that was developed 12 years ago to help support our public land beautification program, Flowerscape. We are so happy that Steve and David enjoyed their Dreamscape experience with us! Now, you have a chance to win your very own Dreamscape Makeover too! Purchase a ticket now!

Akron Beautification Watch Mailing 2014

by Cindy Pantea

The 2014 Beautification Watch Awards have been mailed! This year 3347 Akron residents and 218 organizations/businesses were nominated and received a certificate.

Each year from July to late August, volunteers, staff, and/or citizens canvass the City of Akron for Beautification Watch Award nominees based on the following criteria:

  • Litter free
  • Well-maintained with flowers, shrubs and/or trees
  • Free of weeds
  • Stands out from its surroundings.

Through these folks, we hear a lot of wonderful, feel-good stories, such as how a neighbor bought a once run-down home and have turned it around to be a beautiful addition to the neighborhood. Or, other stories letting us know how much their neighbors love to be in the yard and/or take pride in their gardens.

Keep Akron Beautiful hopes everyone appreciates this small token of thanks for helping to keep our Akron beautiful, and it wouldn’t be possible to include so many worthy Beautification Watch Award businesses and homes if we didn’t have our great volunteers who take the time out to canvass the neighborhoods for this program.

Keep Akron Beautiful Building Nominated

beautification watch awardThis year, 850 East Market Street was also nominated and received a Beautification Watch Award. Thank you for the nomination.

In turn, we want to publicly thank Polly, the Flowerscape Director, and her crew of three: Chuck, Tim and Sue, who work so hard to keep up the beautiful flowers at 850 East Market Street.

keep akron beautiful flowerscape garden

850 E Market St Gardens 2014

keep akron beautiful gardens at city of akron building

850 E Market St gardens and lawn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, as the address shows, this award is shared with the building, which includes not only John Eaton’s group in Customer Service, along with “J. J.” (John Jones), who keeps the yard nicely trimmed, but also all of the people working with Rob Snyder in Motor Equipment, who are conscientious in keeping the property litter free.

How to Nominate

If you would like to nominate your neighbor, friend or relative for a Beautification Watch Award in 2015, we take the nominations July through August, and we begin sending the certificates in September.

Thank you for helping to keep Akron beautiful by taking pride in your properties. It is up to all of us!

 

 

Mums Galore!

By Jacqui Flaherty, Program Manager

Every fall it happens, mums (Chrysanthemums) galore appear in the grocery stores and nurseries. It’s a tradition that rings in autumn like college football, apple picking, corn mazes and Pumpkin Spice Latte’s. But what do you look for when you buy your mums in the store? Choosing the right mum plant and keeping it healthy is important. So… do you choose a full bushy plant loaded with flowers or the newly budded beauty about to burst with blooms? The answer to that question is one my mother often asks… so, I did a little research this year! Thank goodness our friends at HGTV came to the rescue through my research!

Fall mums are a beautiful addition to any garden!

Fall mums are a beautiful addition to any garden!

Here’s how to choose the right mum plant and keep it healthy, via HGTV Gardens:

  • First, decide when you want to plant. If you’re reading this now and haven’t already gotten started,  you’ll probably need to go with a fall planting! Keep in mind that fall-planted mums may not survive the winter since their roots haven’t had a chance to get established, but since mums are relatively inexpensive, you can treat them as annuals and re-plant from year to year.
  • Next, choose your variety. Your two basic options are “florist” or “hardy” mums. While both types come from the same original parent mum, they’ve been extensively hybridized over centuries to create many offshoot varieties. Florist mums are meant for cutting blooms, while hardy mums are bred to flourish longer-term in the garden. If you plant a potted florist mum in spring it may thrive while the weather is warm, but won’t survive the winter.
  • Caring for your mum depends on whether you want to keep it for a season or for more seasons to come: If you are planting your mum as an annual, all you need to worry about is planting in well-draining soil in a partly-sunny area of your garden. Choose a container or bed that offers plenty of space for the formed root ball. Water well, and continue to water every other day or so, or as much as needed to maintain blooms. If you’re planting mums as perennials, it’s best to start in spring in full sun to give roots a chance to get established. Plant the mums in well-draining soil, making sure to leave 6-12 inches between each plant and water frequently. Before winter, protect the mums by covering plants with several inches of mulch.  Wait until the following spring to cut back stems, and fertilize well to encourage blooms. If the mums produce spring blooms, pinch them back before late summer to encourage fall flowering.

Happy Fall! Happy planting! Happy mums!

Interested in purchasing mums in Akron? One of our Dreamscape Vendor Partners, Donzell’s Flower and Garden Center hosts a Fall Festival each year and has great mum deals! Check out more information on Donzell’s and their mums!