From Our Director, Michelle Feldman:

I’m currently making my way back to Philly from Keep America Beautiful’s 2014 national conference in Charlotte, North Carolina – excited and energized – and I wanted to share a few thoughts with all of you.

In my short time as part of the Keep America Beautiful (KAB) community – I was fortunate to join Keep Philadelphia Beautiful last April – I have learned about all of the amazing work that KAB and its affiliates across the country do every day. But over the course of this year’s conference I got a better glimpse in to just how effective Keep America Beautiful at a national level, and its affiliates at a local level, are in raising the quality of life in hundreds of communities throughout the country. In last year’s Great American Cleanup, KAB’s flagship program, 87,000 trees were planted, 81,000 parks and public lands were cleaned (the equivalent of cleaning Central Park 100 times!), 8.1 million volunteer hours were logged, and 1.3 million youths were educated about litter, recycling, and waste reduction. Throughout the conference, speakers referred to KAB affiliates and their volunteers as “do-ers,” and if those numbers don’t prove it, I don’t know what would.

But it’s not just about the numbers (though the numbers are important, and impressive to say the least). It’s about the individual stories that affiliate leaders told throughout the conference – about the park that used to be a haven for drugs but is now a community space safe for all, about the KAB Youth Advisory Council members and their projects to better their neighborhoods and schools, and about the work that national KAB staff does to support affiliates and encourage experimentation and innovation. I was even fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak about Keep Philadelphia Beautiful’s partnership with the Science Leadership Academy on a new recycling education initiative.

I’m a pretty excitable person, or so I’ve been told – but I am leaving Charlotte more excited than I’ve been in a long time. So thank you, KAB! And see you soon, Philly – I’ve missed you!