Wednesday April 9, 2014
Mayor Greg Fischer today unveiled plans for engaging citizens to help make neighborhoods cleaner and to plant more trees in all areas of Louisville. The initiative – One Bright City – will be led by the Brightside organization.
A key component will be regular cleanliness monitoring of neighborhoods – a process that will be led by teams of citizens in each of the 26 Metro Council districts.
“A cleaner and greener city, with a more robust tree canopy, is not only better for those of us who live here, it ultimately helps us attract new talent and jobs that make our economy stronger,” Fischer said. “Louisville has incredible civic pride and harnessing that pride and empowering our citizens to create stronger neighborhoods will in turn create a stronger community.”
To keep neighborhoods cleaner, 10 locations in each council district, including major street intersections and commercial corridors, will be monitored four times a year for litter and other cleanliness factors by citizen teams each led by a Brightside champion. The sites will be rated on a system of one to four, with one being the cleanest score.
Neighborhood scores and other data will be displayed on maps that will be available through the city website. Louisville Metro Public Works will help collect and enter the data.
Fischer said the One Bright City initiative is a logical extension of the work that Brightside has been doing for nearly 30 years to make the city cleaner and greener.
“We’ve mobilized nearly 11,000 citizen volunteers during our twice yearly communitywide cleanups,” said Gina O’Brien, Brightside executive director. “Now, we will have citizens focused 365 days a year on keeping their neighborhoods cleaner, plus being stronger partners in growing our city’s tree canopy.”
To plant more trees citywide, the One Bright City initiative will include four major tree plantings yearly – two each in the spring and fall. Brightside will work in partnership with the city’s Tree Advisory Commission and with community organizations such as Louisville Grows.
The plantings are already underway. More than 120 trees were planted March 30 in the Germantown neighborhood. Another 150 new trees will be planted April 12 at several schools and other locations in West Louisville, coinciding with the Mayor’s Give A Day week of service.
To help fund more planting and long-term care for trees, Brightside will oversee The Louisville Tree Fund, which will allow citizens and businesses to easily make donations that will be used to buy, plant and maintain trees throughout the community.
Fischer announced that the community had met its goal of adding 10,000 new trees to Louisville’s tree canopy, and set a new, short-term target of planting 5,000 more trees this spring and summer. A longer-term and much larger tree goal will be set late this year using information from a comprehensive citywide assessment of Louisville’s tree canopy.
“We are committed to growing our tree canopy because it’s essential to a vibrant city,” Fischer said. “Trees are important to the health of our city by reducing the urban heat-island effect and they are a key part of Louisville’s quality of life and sense of place.”
Brightside is working closely with the Metro Council to recruit cleanliness teams and leaders in the 26 districts. The first cleanliness assessments will take place Saturday, April 12 at 10 locations in Metro Council district 5.
“The Metro Council is particularly pleased to take this opportunity to expand our partnership with Brightside,” Metro Council president Jim King said. “This new program enlists the help of each Council district and each council member to participate in a strategic planning effort by asking our constituents to help us identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in each district pertaining to neighborhood beautification. I have always said ‘neatness counts’ and neighborhoods that are allowed to look unkempt will always attract undesirable elements, crime and blight. This Brightside initiative is very timely as well as forward-looking and I thank them for asking the Council to help them.”
Brightside will also partner with the Metro Council to educate and motivate citizens to be more environmentally active through a program called Green Living Certification. Neighborhood associations and other groups will be able to apply for three levels of certification – similar to the federal LEED certification of environmentally-friendly buildings -- based on “green” actions such as recycling. A neighborhood where 90 percent of residents recycle, might earn the highest award for example. Criteria are now being developed with the program scheduled to be launched later this year.