I had the honor of presenting the 2012 Keep Austin Beautiful Awards today. It’s so inspiring to see the great work going on in our community by individuals, organizations, businesses and others, to beautify our city! And, hearing from keynote speaker Art Acevedo is always a treat–what a great job he is doing for Austin!
Keep Austin Beautiful does an incredible job, providing resources and education to inspire individuals and the Austin community toward greater environmental stewardship.
Here are the award categories and winners–take a few minutes to read about them!
As the first stop for 31% of Town Lake Trail users, The Johnson Creek Trailhead has been weathered from rainwater runoff and high traffic usage. As a result, The Trail Foundation has worked with landscape architects and other partners within the community to extensively enhance the area to include native plants in rainwater gardens, replace invasive species with native plants, and install retaining walls for erosion control. With ongoing support and maintenance, The Trail Foundation and its community partners are ensuring the trailhead will better serve its 1.5 million annual users.
As a “Green Artist” and owner/creator of Fuzzy Popsycle, Chris Holloway has focused his talent and artistic expression on beautifying the East Austin business community. At no cost to the business owner, Chris uses recycled art supplies and paints to create murals with the intent of beautifying and revitalizing the community as well as inspiring local residents to take pride in their neighborhoods.
Designed to reduce ground-level ozone, the Clean Air Partners Program was developed by CLEAN AIR Force in response to Central Texas being on the threshold of violating the EPA ozone standards. Currently, 58 employers and over 127,000 employees are implementing innovative measures, such as tax deductions for transit passes or vanpool credits and avoiding peak traffic hours, to significantly decrease harmful ozone emissions. With a strong leadership team, these employers’ efforts have resulted in meeting EPA standards, a 16% reduction in ozone, and positively impacting 1.78 Central Texans.
Austin Energy’s Refrigerator Recycle Program provides free pick up and monetary incentive for customers who recycle their working refrigerators and freezers, guaranteeing the appliance will be permanently removed from the electric grid. Austin Energy engaged art departments within local high schools to decorate the appliances demonstrating their impact on electric bills, power grids, and current landfills. The project raised awareness about the negative impact of having an inefficient refrigerator plugged in and the damage caused by land-filling appliances. Displayed throughout the city, many Austin residents have come to know and use the Refrigerator Recycling Program.
2012 Dennis Hobbs Individual Achievement Winner: Susie Milan
Known affectionately among North Austin Civic Association residents as the “Garbage Goddess,” Susie Milan has consistently lived up to her title through her personal commitment to keeping her neighborhood clean, leading volunteer cleanups and recycling. Since 2004, Susie has volunteered in a variety of positions within many organizations aimed at keeping Austin beautiful. Whether coordinating the NACA Beautification Volunteers, participating in KAB’s Clean Street Program, distributing door hangers for the Good Neighbor Agreement, assisting with Wooldridge Elementary School’s Beautification and Cleanup Project, or one of her many other volunteer endeavors, Susie’s commitment to environmental stewardship is inspiring and beneficial.
In one year, Green Mountain Energy (GME) reduced carbon dioxide in the air by 4.5 billion pounds. GME not only delivers environmentally friendly products, they also hold their practices to the highest environmental standards in pursuit of their mission to “change the way power is made.” The Silver LEED-certified Austin-based headquarters has achieved 100% carbon offsetting and considers the environmental impact of every facet of its operations. Employees and customers are awarded environmental incentives to offset the effects of large events. SXSW and ACL have seized the incentives to mitigate their impact. The recent incentives are just a few of the countless benefits provided by Green Mountain Energy. For fifteen years the company has offered environmentally friendly energy to residents and businesses.
2012 Litter Abatement Winner: Kitten’s Dell Team
Kitten Wall began volunteering with KAB more than ten years ago! Her interest began with maintaining Low Water Crossing Park located near her Lake Travis-area residence. Through the years, she has motivated countless others to join her efforts in cleaning the park, including neighbors, business owners, fellow Dell employees, friends, and family. As a project leader, Kitten coordinates Dell’s cleanup opportunities, encourages participation, spreads the word about KAB, and facilitates wetland tours at Dell. As a result of her hard work, Low Water Crossing Park below Mansfield Dam has become one of the cleanest areas along Lake Travis.
For over 150 years, St. David’s Episcopal parish has been committed to being a good, responsible neighbor in the heart of Austin’s downtown. In 2004, a small number of environmentally active parishioners formed the Environmental Guild, which is dedicated to reducing, reusing, recycling, and educating. On all four fronts, St. David’s Episcopal parish has enacted expansive efforts to better our environment, help the less fortunate, and strengthen the Austin community as a whole. At St. David’s plastic bags have been replaced with fair-trade canvas bags, Styrofoam cups eliminated, electronic forms of communication have reduced paper consumption, composting and extensive recycling have become the norm, and eco-friendly concepts have permeated the day to day decisions.
Created to combat a disengagement from the natural world among local students, Austin Youth River Watch mentors low-income students in personal accountability and environmental stewardship. Each year, approximately 120 students, known as River Watchers, devote their after-school time to collecting and publishing water quality data from Austin’s streams and reservoirs. Partnering with many environmental organizations throughout the city to achieve maximum water quality reporting, AYRW effectively reengages students, protects the natural resources of Austin, and frequently motivates River Watchers to further pursue education and careers in science and the environment.