The New Year marks the beginning of Pound Ridge’s participation in America in Bloom’s National Awards Program. America in Bloom is a national organization that aims to empower communities to beautify and improve overall quality of life.
AIB encourages volunteer community leadership in coordination with municipal efforts to engage in self-assessment and growth. Central to the program is a two-day comprehensive visit to the community by a two-person team of professionals serving as advisors and judges. Following the visit, the team submits written recommendations to the community and may nominate the community for national recognition.
Growing Pound Ridge, a committee of the Pound Ridge Partnership, elected to participate in the America in Bloom program for the potential benefits derived from an outsider’s perspective.
“Participating in America in Bloom has been my goal for over a year,” said Carolynn Sears, chair of Growing Pound Ridge, noting the organization recently paid the nearly $1,000 registration fee which covers participation for the next 12 months.
“The ball is rolling and we want everyone in town to be in the know about the program. This summer the visiting team will look at everything and ask lots of questions. There are implications for everyone — the municipality, businesses and property owners, organizations and residents,” she remarked, adding “We’ll want to look our best and do our best to show off our town.”
America in Bloom promotes nationwide beautification through education and community involvement by encouraging the use of flowers, plants, trees, and other environmental and lifestyle enhancements. Founded in 2001 by a group of horticulture industry professionals, AIB soon recognized that true community development went beyond horticulture to include quality of life issues as well as economic drivers for communities, such as community vitality and volunteerism, the preservation of local heritage and environmental efforts, according to Ms. Sears.
“These are areas that the Garden Club and Historical Society have been addressing for a long time, supported by municipal departments, boards and agencies like Landmarks, Conservation, Economic Development, Recreation, Neighbor-to-Neighbor and Comprehensive Planning. And then there’s the Business Association, Pound Ridge Partnership, Friends of Pound Ridge and more. The community has had the support of some amazing business and property owners, too,” observed Ms. Sears.
To learn more about participation in AIB, residents are invited to attend two informational meetings scheduled by Growing Pound Ridge in January. A program on Tuesday, Jan. 4, at 7 p.m. via Zoom by the Pound Ridge Library will share the results of interviews with representatives of five communities that have participated in AIB. The communities, similar in size to Pound Ridge, are Castle Rock, Washington (population 2,200), Lewisburg, West Virginia (population 4,000), Greendale, Indiana (population 4,500), Brewton, Alabama (population 5,400), and Logan, Ohio (population 7,200). Some of the communities have participated in AIB for several years.
At a second meeting, scheduled for Jan. 25, Laura Kunkle, director of AIB, will welcome Pound Ridge to the program, offer advice and answer questions to help the community focus on what it wants to gain from the program.
All Growing Pound Ridge meetings are open to the public, posted on the Pound Ridge Library Calendar of Events, with registration through the library.
“The efforts of so many people and organizations lend to the palpable, forward momentum in Pound Ridge,” Ms. Sears added. “The town seems primed for outside guidance and recognition. I invite everyone’s participation in order to fully benefit from the input of an AIB advisory team.” She called AIB’s focus “broad and all-encompassing.”
Growing Pound Ridge will initiate its second annual Pennies for Posies fundraising campaign in January. From now through April, residents can drop spare change into the contribution cans near the cash registers of local businesses, give the cashier a sack of coins to hold for pick up by a Growing Pound Ridge volunteer, and/or watch for volunteers rolling coins in front of The Market at Pound Ridge Square on selected Saturdays. Donations can also be made online. All funds collected support annual flowers and landscaping projects in the public spaces of Pound Ridge.