Keep Mansfield Beautiful: Dedicated to a Clean & Beautiful City
Don’t Mess With Mansfield
By Kerry Pipes
If you want to know one of the reasons why Mansfield is one of the best places to live then you need look no further than the local citizen group Keep Mansfield Beautiful. It’s a city-supported, community-based group that focuses on engaging and educating the community to help create a clean and beautiful city. Their strategies include litter abatement, waste reduction, recycling and community beautification - all in an effort to improve the health and prosperity of the community, says Sarah Zink, the group’s current board chairperson.
“Our two primary areas of focus are to help the city staff achieve their objectives in terms of litter abatement, waste reduction and recycling, and to help residents engage in community beautification as a means to create a clean and beautiful city,” says Zink, a self-described “multi-preneur” with an extensive background in business and leadership.
Now, midway through 2016, the group has a new logo, a renewed focus, eagerly dedicated volunteers and some fresh ideas and plans to get the community even more engaged and involved in Mansfield’s beautification than ever before (see sidebar).
A Clean Start
Keep Mansfield Beautiful traces its history back to May of 1986. It was historically focused mainly on a bi-annual beautification day and creek side cleanups, according to Zink. But more recently, she says, there has been an expansion of their approach and programs to include projects such as “Love Your Neighbor,” an initiative that invites community members to help residents struggling to keep their properties up to code, either because of age, illness or financial challenges.
This year, the board was reorganized to align more closely with a reinvisioned “Love Your City” campaign. Board members are strategic partners who collaborate at monthly meetings to determine how best to fulfill their mission and vision, as well as how to best engage the community. “As we evolve in the upcoming years, our goal is to create an interactive program, both in-person and digitally, that offers our community layered opportunities to learn about recycling, reusing and reducing waste,” says Zink.
As Keep Mansfield Beautiful’s chairperson, Zink says her role is to create processes and infrastructure that enable the board to focus on plans to carry out the organization’s mission. “I also see my role as that of being a liaison between the city and the community to create engagement opportunities that create the ‘win-win’ scenario of having a clean and beautiful city,” she says. She likens herself as both a coach and cheerleader to everyone she works with.
Keep Mansfield Beautiful doesn’t exist in a vacuum. For example, the group works with the city’s Code Compliance Department to integrate awareness and action for Mansfield citizens. Together, they have put more than 4,000 local volunteers to work to make a difference in the community.
Above it all, the group is working to “integrate programs into the community to create a culture of environmental consciousness and civic pride that support a mindset of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’,” says Zink.
Volunteers & Getting The Work Done
Of course none of Keep Mansfield Beautiful’s initiatives gets done without dedicated volunteers to jump in and carry out the plans – whether as board members or on the ground out in the community. Steady growth throughout the city has provided a larger pool of volunteers and a constant flow of new residents to join in and get their hands dirty in the group’s endeavors.
Keep Mansfield Beautiful’s volunteers work with numerous city employees. “We have an active, vibrant city staff that is largely unseen that works tirelessly to keep our city clean, beautiful, and environmentally healthy,” she says.
There’s no typical day at Keep Mansfield Beautiful as events and initiatives ebb and flow throughout the year. But volunteers and board members are dedicated and work hard to do all they can to advance the group’s cause. But obstacles do arise, says Zink.
She sees three major challenges. “First, staying relevant ‘In Real Life’ when many people focus more on their digital lives; second, ensuring that the work we do truly makes a difference, and isn’t simply an ego project or a ‘surface’ project, and finally, reaching the most residents in our community with the information they need to get involved in their community through this program,” she says.
Furthermore, she says, it’s always a challenge to determine what’s most important when you have a host of voices who all believe that what they want or need is important. “My role, as I see it, is to make sense of what everyone wants and pull it into a manageable, actionable, cohesive plan of action, to be carried out by minimal staff and a host a volunteers,” she says.
Moving forward, Zink says Keep Mansfield Beautiful will be working on furthering strategic partnerships with other community groups to ensure that they are engaging in meaningful activities that will benefit the community the most.
Since the group depends heavily on volunteers for the smooth operation of its programs, the best way to find out more about volunteering is to contact the volunteer coordinator, Priscilla Sanchez, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“As a city, I think we can develop our awareness of how to reduce waste, reuse items and recycle. I also believe there exists a powerful opportunity to engage our young people more through in-school education,” says Zink.
It’s not difficult to see how Mansfield benefits from Keep Mansfield Beautiful. “It’s easy to simply look at the obvious – beautification – and think that the work of KMB ends there,” says Zink. “However, the work that KMB does has an impact on our bond ratings, our ability as a city to maintain water runoff permits, and much more. Home values are impacted, new businesses are attracted, and the residents experience a sense of civic pride.”
And therein lies the power of community groups such as Keep Mansfield Beautiful.
Keep Mansfield Beautiful Board of Directors
Sarah Zink, Chair
Ann Monroe, Treasurer
Charna Blumberg, Adopt-a-Street
David Crumpton, HOA's
Carla Green, Calendaring
Jan Hurlbut, Marketing
Sharon Roberts, Calendar Management
Keep Mansfield Beautiful Programs & Events (2016-17)
Keep Mansfield Beautiful has been working within the community of Mansfield since 1986. What began as a relatively simple organization to clean up the city and creeks a couple of times a year has grown into a multi-faceted organization working alongside the city to create awareness and engage the community in putting a clean face on Mansfield.
The group’s chairperson, Sarah Zink, says they have recently revamped their “Love Your Streets” (Adopt-A-Street) campaign. “We’re very excited about creating an annual event that will offer opportunities for community education and engagement,” she says. Historically, there was a one-time $45 fee. Changes include new pricing ($75 initial fee, $45/year thereafter), new signage, with the logo created by Mansfield Magazine, a ramped-up social media promotion of participants, a more robust volunteer recognition program, and more.
She says in 2017, they’ll host the 2nd annual Earth Day Festival. The event should be on the scale of the former Pecan Festival and will include local artisans, music, food and Earth Day-based classes, art and more.Here’s a look at the four main areas of focus for Keep Mansfield Beautiful:
“Love Your Streets” (groups encouraged to oversee beautification of certain streets/spots/parks)
“Love Your Neighbors”
- Volunteer Program (serving the disabled, aged and impoverished)
- Neighborhood Program/HOA’s (a way for the city to engage with communities that care)
“Love Your City Clean Up Events”
- Spring Trash-Off event
- Fall Creekside Cleanup event
- Beautification Days
- Shredding Day
- Drug Reclaiming Day
“Love Your City Programs & Events”
- Smartscape Classes
- Stop-A-Leak Week
- Mulch Program
- Water Plant Tours
- H2Grow Spring Living Festival
- Plant Fair
- Rain Barrel
- Earth Day event
How You Can Get Involved
We asked Keep Mansfield Beautiful chairperson Sarah Zink for some specific ways that citizens can get involved in some of the organization’s current initiatives.
- “Love Your Neighbor” program helps elderly, ill and financially-challenged residents keep their properties looking good and up to code.
- “Love Your City Green Team” is open to realtors, landscapers and other residential-focused service industries; they help to promote Keep Mansfield Beautiful’s programs and services to residents.
- “Love Your Streets” Adopt-a-Street program - $75/enrollment, $45/year, open to businesses and organizations who want to adopt one of the 35 available streets in the city.
- “Earth Day Festival” – Zink says they are looking for committee members, musicians and artisans to participate in this city-wide celebration.
For more details about these programs and more, contact Zink directly at email@example.com.