Throughout 2009, there will be a strong national emphasis on community service programs–ordinary citizens coming together to do what they can to make a difference in their communities. It just so happens our industry has one of the best community revitalization programs, America In Bloom (AIB).
For more than seven years, AIB has been making an impact at the grassroots level by connecting people to plants through education and participation. Nearly 160 communities from 37 states have participated in the annual beautification contest. One of the comments we hear over and over is how the program brings residents together who might not normally work together on common goals. The fact that AIB spans eight judging criteria cultivates residents who are not only interested in plants and landscaping but also heritage preservation, environmental awareness, economic development and community spirit. You don’t have to be a gardener or horticulturist to embrace it.
The registration deadline for the 2009 competition is Feb. 28. Now is the time to approach city hall and civic groups.
Are you already involved with public plantings in your city? Would you like to start a program in your town? Getting your community involved in America In Bloom is a great way to not only recognize the work your town and its residents already are doing, it’s a great way to plant new programs.
Even years after communities cycle out of the AIB program, their local efforts continue to expand. Visible results are contagious. Throughout the United States, we have pockets of participation with neighboring cities sharing their experiences in AIB.
This Monday, on Martin Luther King Day, the Obamas will be joining thousands of people across the country for an extraordinary day of service, kicking off a campaign to “Renew America Together.” Through America In Bloom, community service could be cleaning up blighted areas, planting a perennial garden in a park or new hanging baskets and planters on Main Street. No project is too small.