Keep America Beautiful has more than 620 community-based affiliates at the state, county and local levels throughout the country. Each new affiliate goes through a comprehensive approach created with the help of behavior scientists to get at root causes of why people mistreat their local environment and how to change those behaviors.
Through the Keep America Beautiful affiliation process, community leaders analyze the unique needs of their communities and how specific challenges can be addressed to combat litter, improve recycling and beautify their local environment.
In the case of Erie County, Pennsylvania, a high priority is to combat illegal dumping, according to Erie County, Pennsylvania, Executive Kathy Dahlkemper.
On March 1, Keep Erie County Beautiful became the 12th Keep America Beautiful affiliate in Pennsylvania. The certification of this new affiliate marked the culmination of a public-private-civic partnership process that began in May 2016. The organization will be a program of the Erie County Dept of Planning and coordinated through the Erie County Recycling Program
“Keep Erie County Beautiful will bridge the gap between the Keep American Beautiful programs in northeast Ohio and northwestern New York,” Dahlkemper said during the affiliation process. “We look forward to increasing our collective impact, strengthening strategic partnerships, and expanding our volunteer networks.”
Cecile Carson, Keep America Beautiful’s Vice President/Litter and Affiliate Relations, indicated that Keep Erie County Beautiful initiated the process by conducting Keep America Beautiful’s Community Appearance Index (CAI), which is done to gather data annually by surveying a random, statistical sample of a roadways. Keep Erie County Beautiful based its CAI on city, town and rural watersheds and link the problem of litter to possible marine debris. The annual results will be used to develop a local plan to change attitudes and behaviors regarding litter, recycling, beautification, and related issues.
In addition to Dahlkemper and Carson, participants in the event included Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful President Shannon Reiter; John Buchna, Chief Executive Office of the Erie Downtown Partnership; and Keep America Beautiful National Youth Advisory Council member Elena Prenowitz, an Erie resident.
Kathy Dahlkemper said, “We have government, business, nonprofits and private citizens all coming together and when we combine our resources, we’ll be able to make better things happen.”
(Photo above, from left) Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful President Shannon Reiter; Brittany Prischak, Executive Director, Keep Erie County Beautiful; Cecile Carson, VP/Litter & Affiliate Relations, Keep America Beautiful.