Remembering 9/11 And America In Bloom

Remembering 9/11 And America In Bloom

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE This past week we’ve been reflecting on where we were during the Sept. 11 attacks on our country 10 years ago and how our lives have changed. I was home on maternity leave with our youngest son, Devlin. My mom called and told me to turn on the television to see the tragic events unfolding.

But my husband, Steve, and I were also getting ready to drive with our three children to St. John, New Brunswick, for Canada’s Communities In Bloom (CIB) awards symposium and nothing was going to stop me from making that trip. The event was that weekend. At the time, America In Bloom (AIB) was just a pilot program, with four American communities mentored by four Canadian cities whose leaders reached out to them to be dance partners in the international competition.

The inaugural entrants were Stratford, Conn.; Monroe County, N.Y.; Portland, Maine; and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Our first two AIB judges were Alex Pearl, a vocational horticulture teacher near Dayton, Ohio; and Matt Rosen, who directed horticulture for the city of Des Moines, Iowa. Pearl volunteered after reading about AIB in Greenhouse Grower and Bedding Plants International recruited Rosen.

Even though I had a baby on July 20 that summer, I felt a strong responsibility for this pilot program with four cities to succeed. CIB’s Executive Director Raymond Carriere took the leap of faith with me and rallied veteran Canadian participants to recruit U.S. cities into the AIB pilot program. The idea was to fully experience the In Bloom program before doing a full launch in the United States with what would be 38 cities in 2002.

One reason CIB is so successful is each Canadian province has a competition and sends its winning entrants to the national competition. National winners are then eligible for an international competition that CIB hosts, which includes cities in European countries, too. Many winning AIB cities have participated in the international challenge, too.

Our experience in Canada was so uplifting and inspiring. Hearts poured out for America as Canadians sang our national anthem as part of the ceremony. I still have the notes I put on a card in my jacket pocket from when it was my turn to present AIB for the Canadian audience and representatives from the pilot program were called to the stage in a historic theater. I was blinded by the lights as I spoke:

“My family and I have really enjoyed our week in St. John and experiencing Communities In Bloom. Your work and your pride in your cities and towns, provinces and country are very inspiring. We see tremendous potential for this program and cause in the United States. America needs this now more than ever. The twinning of the four U.S. cities with four mentoring Canadian cities is just the beginning. We’re really excited about launching a full America In Bloom program next year. We are very grateful for the help and leadership you are providing. Thank you.”

Back To The Future

Ten years later, I continue to be inspired by the difference AIB is making from coast to coast. What’s most impressive is the long-term residual effect once a city participates. I see it every day in Westlake, Ohio, where I live, and Willoughby, where I work. These two cities were my first AIB recruits. Once people see what plants can do, there’s no turning back. The key is to get In Bloom programs planted properly, and growers, garden retailers and landscapers are the experts who can do that.

Another aspect that has been really gratifying is to see others invest so much of their hearts, time and talent into the cause. I’m so glad I recruited Jack and Diane Clasen at an International Master Gardeners conference in Orlando in May 2001. Jack now directs the AIB judging and Diane continues to be one of our most dedicated international judges. They lived near Cincinnati and I thought it would be convenient with AIB being in Columbus.

Evelyn Alemanni is my absolute hero! She joined AIB as a participant representing Elfin Forest in California and has done so much as a board member, judge and overall ambassador. She just published a “Best Ideas” book, capturing the best from all the AIB cities in the last 10 years.

OFA and AIB’s Executive Director Laura Kunkle have done a tremendous job managing AIB on a shoestring budget with declining voluntary contributions. Now that we have a real track record, the industry needs to get behind it! It’s no longer a leap of faith but a true grassroots model for success. Plant it in your markets.

After 9/11, the AIB Task Force lead by Ron Pierre knew AIB’s meaning would be much greater than just selling more plants and flowers. It would bring communities together to heal, rebuild and appreciate their assets. It would become a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization and economic development, turning blight to bright, even fighting crime. As president of our AIB Board, Marvin Miller has always seen this much bigger picture.

I am so looking forward to the 10th America In Bloom Symposium and Awards Program chaired by AIB board member and judge Katy Moss Warner, who is also emeritus president of the American Horticulture Society and used to direct horticulture at Disney. If you had ever thought about getting involved in AIB, you should seriously consider attending the symposium Oct. 6-8 in Washington, D.C. To register for the symposium, get your town involved next year or to buy the “Best Ideas” book, visit www.americainbloom.org.

Leave a Reply

More From Marketing...
Luxflora Flower Run

July 20, 2016

First-Ever Flower Run Was A Big Success, Luxflora Says

Kicking off Cultivate’16 on Sunday, July 10, Luxflora’s first annual 5K saw nearly 150 participants racing through the picturesque Scioto Audubon Park in Columbus under clear blue skies and perfect conditions. It was a great way to start the week, participants said. Congratulations to the winners of the first-ever Flower Run: First Place: Jacob Griffith Gardner Second Place: Mike Goyette Third Place: Jack Ford The top three winners — and all of the Flower Run participants — were showered with flower petals when they crossed the finish line, making for a colorful and fragrant finish to an invigorating experience. “Personally, I would consider it a grand success,” says Luxflora President Rebecca Lusk. “The overall mood was fantastic, from start to finish. There were many high fives and group hugs, numerous duo phone selfies and postings to social media, while participants enjoyed their bananas and bottled water donated by Experience Columbus. Most […]

Read More
PrairieSplendor_CompactRose Syngenta Flowers March 2016

May 16, 2016

New “Generations Of Flowers” Study Tracks How And Why Consumers Are Buying Flowers And Plants

The Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment have released an update and analysis of this study, which first began in 2009.

Read More
Webinar Photo from Flickr

May 7, 2016

How You Can Connect With A Broader Audience Through Webinars

Webinars are time-saving and effective marketing tools that can extend your reach to a greater audience.

Read More
Latest Stories
Luxflora Flower Run

July 20, 2016

First-Ever Flower Run Was A Big Success, Luxflora Says

Kicking off Cultivate’16 on Sunday, July 10, Luxflora’s first annual 5K saw nearly 150 participants racing through the picturesque Scioto Audubon Park in Columbus under clear blue skies and perfect conditions. It was a great way to start the week, participants said. Congratulations to the winners of the first-ever Flower Run: First Place: Jacob Griffith Gardner Second Place: Mike Goyette Third Place: Jack Ford The top three winners — and all of the Flower Run participants — were showered with flower petals when they crossed the finish line, making for a colorful and fragrant finish to an invigorating experience. “Personally, I would consider it a grand success,” says Luxflora President Rebecca Lusk. “The overall mood was fantastic, from start to finish. There were many high fives and group hugs, numerous duo phone selfies and postings to social media, while participants enjoyed their bananas and bottled water donated by Experience Columbus. Most […]

Read More
PrairieSplendor_CompactRose Syngenta Flowers March 2016

May 16, 2016

New “Generations Of Flowers” Study Tracks How And Why C…

The Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment have released an update and analysis of this study, which first began in 2009.

Read More
Webinar Photo from Flickr

May 7, 2016

How You Can Connect With A Broader Audience Through Web…

Webinars are time-saving and effective marketing tools that can extend your reach to a greater audience.

Read More

April 27, 2016

Use Your Data To Make Smarter Marketing Decisions

Learn which marketing metrics are important to your business, measure successes, and learn where changes are needed.

Read More

April 26, 2016

“Bee-Friendly” Labels Matter To Plant Consumers, Accord…

Research at Michigan State University shows ornamental plant buyers understand and respond to bee-friendly production practices.

Read More
Krause Berry Farms Farm To Table Dinner

April 20, 2016

What The Floriculture Industry Can Learn From Farm Mark…

Although we have a lot in common with the produce industry, there is much we can learn from one another.

Read More
Costa Farms Container Ideas E-Book

April 12, 2016

Costa Farms Targets Consumers With New Container Garden…

The electronic book offers tips on container selection, design, and plant care for millennials looking to grow in small spaces.

Read More
Tropical Fruit Tree Selection (Hopkins Tropical Fruit Nursery)

April 7, 2016

University Of Florida Research Shows Consumers Value Lo…

Compared to conventional plants, consumers reported a higher purchasing likelihood for certified organic or organically produced fruit plants.

Read More
Random Acts Of Flowers

March 31, 2016

The Floriculture Industry Needs A Unified Message To Pr…

Seeing the sneak preview of the new varieties that will be presented at California Spring Trials (CAST) spurs a visceral reaction in me. I’m giddy and excited about these gorgeous plants, having taken in some of their beauty and excellent performance already at Costa Farms’ Season Premier. I’m excited to travel to Spring Trials and that spring is coming, and I’m ready to dig in and get gardening. I’m guessing many of you feel the same way. And it’s likely that consumers do, too. Nearly a year ago, upon returning from California Spring Trials, I lamented the absence of ideas translated from CAST to retail. The beautiful displays, the breathtaking combinations, the clever marketing — somehow, all of that effort and enthusiasm focused on business-to-business promotion is not being funneled effectively to the consumer. As an industry, we are not good at working together to market our products in a clear, […]

Read More
Sakata Seed America President David Armstrong

March 30, 2016

Sakata Signs Agreement With Indonesian Government To Co…

This week, Sakata Seed Corp. announced internationally that it has signed an agreement with the Republic of Indonesia to cooperate in the further development and production of its line of SunPatiens interspecific hybrid impatiens, based on the principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Under an agreement based on the CBD, Sakata Seed has worked with the Indonesian government since the early 2000s to identify the origin of the native germplasm collected in Indonesia to develop SunPatiens, and the two parties have agreed on how the indigenous genetic resources will be used for the further development of SunPatiens. There are currently only a few cases in the world of such an agreement, based on the CBD in the category of horticultural plants, made between a resource-rich country and a commercial seed company. Greenhouse Grower contacted Sakata Seed CEO David Armstrong to provide context about this agreement, what it means […]

Read More
NGI-SunPatiens-Compact-Hot-Coral-Sakata

March 23, 2016

P. Allen Smith Says SunPatiens Are Hero Plants For Cons…

Plants that ensure consumer success with disease resistance bred into their genetics, and ease of use in a variety of conditions, are heroes for gardeners, especially beginners, and they should be celebrated and supported to promote gardening success and interest. These are the messages the award-winning designer, gardening, and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith wants the horticulture industry to know, with the recent announcement of his expanded partnership with Sakata Seed. In an exclusive interview with Greenhouse Grower, P. Allen Smith describes his expanded partnership with Sakata Seed to promote SunPatiens and why the now 10-year-old series helps both novice and expert gardeners to be successful. Smith also collaborates with Sakata to promote the HomeGrown Collection of vegetables. SunPatiens Set Consumers Up For Success, Smith Says As a plantsman first, Smith has extensively trialed SunPatiens in his gardens at Moss Mountain Farm in Little Rock, AR, and says he is […]

Read More
Suzanne McKee

March 18, 2016

4 Pitfalls To Avoid With Responsive Web Design

When implementing responsive design on your website, sidestep these common problems with some advance planning.

Read More
1 800 Flowers Instagram Women's Day

March 15, 2016

Society Of American Florists Uses Social Media To Take …

SAF strategically promoted five key Facebook posts to expand its reach beyond its followers and prominently featured Women’s Day on its other consumer channels.

Read More
Mason Day Great Plant Debate Campaign For GrowIt!

March 3, 2016

GrowIt! App Founders Look To Make Waves At The Chicago …

Mason Day and Seth Reed will hold a “Great Plant Debate” at the event, while updating the GrowIt! app with information on every plant featured at the show.

Read More

February 26, 2016

How To Recruit Loyal Customers With Facebook

Facebook is a powerful engagement tool that when used effectively can help you attract and retain faithful customers.

Read More
Greenhouse Vegetable Marketing

February 18, 2016

9 Tips To Maximize Your Greenhouse Vegetable Market Pot…

Set yourself apart by sizing up your competition, evaluating your demographics, and putting customers first.

Read More
GrowIt! Logo

February 9, 2016

GrowIt! And MasterTag Partner To Enhance Plant Care Inf…

The partnership allows MasterTag to provide plant care instructions to the wide catalog of plants available on GrowIt!, which helps consumers find plants in their area.

Read More

January 27, 2016

Costa Farms’ Season Premier Provides Sneak Peek A…

Costa Farms presented the 2016 Season Premier at its 2-acre Trial Gardens in Miami, FL, in the third week of January. The event showcases varieties from breeders of all sizes to growers and major retail buyers, providing a look at what genetics are coming to the market and how they’ll perform in retail settings and in the landscape, when consumers bring them home. The mild winter climate in South Florida allows Costa Farms’ Research and Development Department to simulate the spring growing conditions of various regions in the country. Because each group of visitors to Costa Farms’ Trial Gardens wants to see what the new plants look like in the environments that matter to them, Season Premier offers several areas within the Trial Gardens that highlight different ways to look at the wealth of new varieties. The New Product Showcase offers a way for retailers to see how plants will […]

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]