As Spring is arriving and school is getting out, you and your family may be itching to get outside. Why not give back to your community at the same time? Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB) is an organization that embodies this mindset. Their mission is to, “engage diverse communities to create vibrant public places, helping people and nature thrive.” Last year, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful hosted 851 community improvement projects, engaging over 28,000 volunteers.
Keep Indianapolis Beautiful was not always this large and far-reaching. In fact, the organization was started by a few, “civically minded women calling themselves the Keep Indianapolis Beautiful Club.” They began meeting in the 60’s and 70’s with the mission to clean public spaces. In 1981, the organization incorporated with the Indianapolis Clean City Committee to tackle larger issues such as environmental education and drop-off recycling.
Over the years, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful has grown exponentially. In 2007, the organization notably partnered with Mayor Greg Ballard to plant 100,000 trees in Indianapolis. To date, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful has planted 50,000 trees. Today, they have numerous ongoing programs and projects to engage the Indianapolis community.
One major tenet of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful’s mission is to plant trees. According to KIB, “trees help to reduce crime and foster more sociable neighborhoods.” They go about planting trees in several ways. Some trees are planted via community forestry groups. Groups can be pre-existing groups such as churches or can be new groups such as neighbors interested in adding more trees to their neighborhood. Volunteers are responsible for planting the trees and watering each tree weekly with 15 gallons of water. KIB also plants trees through one-time Tree Planting events.
Keep Indianapolis Beautiful also relies on consistent weekly volunteers to maintain trees. “Tree Tenders” or volunteers focused on tree maintenance meet weekly to care for previously planted trees. KIB also has volunteer positions with their Research and Technology team. Volunteers take data utilizing Global Positioning System (GPS) and Geographic Information System (GIS) software. In short, there are numerous ways to get involved with tree planting at Keep Indianapolis Beautiful.
Cleanups, Beautification & Placemaking
Keep Indianapolis Beautiful does not stop with trees, they are also heavily invested in cleaning and beautifying Indianapolis. This mission takes form in several different programs.
One of the most well-known programs is IPL Project Greenspace. IPL Project Greenspace is all about, “transform[ing] vacant lots and underused spaces into natural, beautiful, and functional pocket parks and greenspaces for neighborhoods.” Each year, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful transforms 3-5 local greenspaces.
KIB also has numerous community-based volunteer groups working on cleanups, beautification, and placemaking. These groups fall under the Adopt-A-Block program. The goal of this program is to address litter, graffiti, weeds and overgrown grass issues. Of course, these issues are also addressed by the Great Indy Cleanup, a multi-day KIB anti-litter campaign event in April. In 2016, over 2.1 million pounds of liter was collected by 12,500 volunteers in the Great Indy Cleanup.
There are numerous ways that KIB engages with youth volunteers. High school students can be a part of the Youth Tree Team (YTT) a paid 7-week summer job designed for students who are, “interested in improving their community through tree care.” Students engage in KIB’s tree planting efforts while receiving leadership and personal finance skill development trainings. Lunch is even included!
Of course, there are always a variety of special events occurring throughout the month to engage volunteers. For example, on May 18, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful will be hosting a Fall Creek Greenspace Habitat Restoration event to remove invasive plant species from the future Fall Creek Orchard Greenspace. Alternatively, on June 22, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful will also be hosting Happy Hour Weeding, a time designated for volunteers to weed KIB headquarters. As the title hints, volunteers will receive complimentary adult beverages provided by Sun King Brewing Company after weeding.
In short, there is no reason not to get your hands in the dirt and give back to Indianapolis through Keep Indianapolis Beautiful this Spring!