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GN Book Excerpt - - America In Bloom How You Can Make A Difference In Your Local Community

Posted Feb 16 2011 2:44pm
AIB Members Working Together.jpg

Warrenville, Illinois America In Bloom volunteers planting containers to beautify the community.

The below feature is an excerpt from my book, "Gardening Nude", which is a story about an organization that is making a difference for communities in the United States. Enjoy!!

GN Book Excerpt - - America In Bloom How You Can Make A Difference In Your Local Community

America In Bloom , in particular, is one of my favorite organizations that enhances and builds communities because it encourages people from all sizes of cities and towns to come together to develop and improve their neighborhoods. I have seen both beautiful and amazing changes in my and other cities who have participated in the program. Cities of all sizes participate--from under 5,000 in population to way larger than 1,000,000 in population--all have amazing results.

The national America In Bloom website says, "participating America in Bloom Towns have experienced positive changes in their communities. The kinds of improvements and their intensity may vary, but often include:

• increased levels of civic pride and community involvement;

• cooperation among residents, organizations, businesses and the municipality;

• everyone working toward a common goal: a better place to live, work, play, and visit;

• visible results;

• valuable information and feedback from judges;

• increased property values;

• increased economic development and a positive impact on the retail industry;

• increased tourism and a positive impact on the hospitality industry;

• decreased vandalism; and

• information and cultural exchanges with neighboring, national, and international communities."

(To continue reading this story, please click the link.)

The above examples are true and far, far more. America In Bloom is more than gardening or adding floral pockets and hanging baskets in town. By participating in the America in Bloom program, you open up your city for judging with other cities of similar size. Your city is judged in eight categories; floral displays, environmental awareness, landscaped areas, tidiness, urban forestry, heritage preservation, turf and ground covers, and community involvement. Two judges see at least 80 percent of your city and analyze it in these different areas. But they are required to provide detailed documentation with the contest results to all the community participants, along with a large list of helpful suggestions for improvements.

Since my involvement with America In Bloom, I have become far more aware of the needs of my community and how I connect with the greater world beyond my small neighborhood. Meeting dozens and dozens of people who have cleaned up and beautified their cities has been a special experience for me. At the annual America In Bloom symposium, one person told me, "officially this organization is a contest; but from what I can see, everyone has come out a winner. Every single town this organization has touched has become richer and more beautiful."

This type of improvement increases jobs, property values, economic development and enhances the retail industry. For my town it has increased tourism and seems to have decreased vandalism and crime. It has been my pleasure to meet and work with some wonderful people through the local America In Bloom organization. There are dozens of people in our group, and many have become my close friends. A few have impressed me with their kindness and dedication by giving extraordinary amounts of time to the community. They have really made a difference!

Marvin Miller, Making a Difference For Community

America In Bloom is led on a national level by Marvin Miller, Ph.D, who is currently the president of the America In Bloom organization. I have met him many times and each time I do, I am inspired to go one step farther in helping my community. Miller is on a mission to unite caring people across the nation to promote hometown improvement. Miller, by trade, is an agricultural economist working with Ball Horticultural Company and also serves on several other boards including the Seeley Conference board at Cornell University. Miller believes, as I do, that the promotion of community goes beyond the radius of surface enhancements.

Miller knows that promoting community reduces crime, enhances economy, and most importantly, builds relationships to reduce isolation and depression. Improving the human condition is part of the important reason Miller participates on the America In Bloom executive staff. He is going beyond "talking the talk." He also determinedly works in his personal life to improve the quality of his neighborhood and community from an environmental perspective. He is the president of his condominium association. Miller is also the chairman of the landscape and grounds committee. He speaks publicly to many groups about enhancing the environment and working together to build improved natural areas.

Miller, in leading the America In Bloom organization, has encouraged the goal of making the United States a more beautiful, cleaner, healthier, and safer place to live nationwide. He has touched hundreds of lives in his effort to improve the country.

When searching for a way to make a difference in your community, Miller encourages people to start small, but think big--building a team will help you more easily accomplish your goals.

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