Volunteers fuel efforts to Keep Cincinnati Beautiful

Volunteers got their hands dirty, literally, by picking up nearly 185,000 pounds of litter and debris during this spring's Great American Cleanup, hosted by Keep Cincinnati Beautiful (KCB).

They cleaned parks, recreation areas, playgrounds, vacant lots and business districts. They collected more than 9,000 pounds of recyclables and 1,231 tires.

KCB, a local affiliate of Keep America Beautiful since 1978, includes neighborhood improvement programs like Future Blooms as well as free environmental education programs.

The message seems to be taking root. In the past two years, there has been a city-wide decrease in litter and an increase in volunteers.

"We want residents to understand the value of a clean, safe and strong community and how to leverage their resources in order to achieve and sustain it," says Brooke Rowaniw, KCB's public awareness and volunteer coordinator.  

Much of the knowledge and know-how KCB teaches to Cincinnati residents is through programs that focus on beautification, litter prevention and waste management, recycling and environmental education.

"I think our biggest challenge is changing behavior," Rowaniw says. "The best example I can give you of this challenge deals with littering.  Most people do not know the economic impact of litter on their community, and over time, littering has become tolerated behavior.  In reality, it is a very serious issue with serious consequences like increased crime and decreased property values."

Despite challenges with pushing for proactive behavior, KCB provides Cincinnati residents with the tools to be the change in their community. KCB hopes to see an increase in resident volunteers, an expansion in programs to blighted neighborhoods and the continued, proactive education of Cincinnati residents, Rowaniw says.

Do Good:

Adopt-a-Spot. For a start-up fee of $50, you can get your name or your group's name on a sign at the public spot you agree to keep tidy.

Plant 100 daffodils. Donate just $25 to KCB's Daffodils & Daylilies program from the comfort of your computer and beautify a roadside year after year.

Follow the tweets. Get up-to-the-minute KCB updates, including volunteer opportunities, from Twitter.

By Jayna Barker

Photo courtesy Keep Cincinnati Beautiful
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