Keep America Beautiful 2014 Conference Notes

My graduate student, Laura Baird, and I have just returned from Keep America Beautiful 2014. Truly enjoyed a well-organized conference and the chance to translate some complex research topics into useful tools for local executive directors. Below, I reproduce my notes for anyone who wasn’t able to make the conference. Hope they help you!  I have linked the Word .docx version Keep America Beautiful 2014 Notes here. –Dr. Logan Park

Keep America Beautiful 2014 Notes


The Power of Storytelling


We deeply understand stories



Statistics don’t move or motivate us [or grant funding sources], stories do.  Statistics are required and ubiquitous after funding is secured.



The canonical storyline


·      Once upon a time…[setting]


·      And every day…[introduction]


·      Until one day…[hook]


·      And because of this…[rising action]


·      Until finally…[climax]


·      And ever since that day…[resolution]



Description: Macintosh HD:Users:loganpark:Desktop:IMG_20140204_142513.jpg




Cigarette Butts Litter Prevention


Four highly tested strategies


·      Support/advertise local anti-littering laws


·      Build awareness with public outreach


·      Install ash receptacles at transition points


·      Distribute portable pocket ashtrays



Partnerships multiply reward : effort ratio


Usual suspects:


·      City agencies, public works


·      Business improvement districts


·      Town councils, city councils


·      Hospitality groups


·      Main street associations


·      County board of Supervisors


·      Volunteer groups: Rotaries, Kiwanis


Get on their public meeting agendas and talk about pairing up to extend matching funding



Media blitz


to get the word out to the public and serve your project partners’ metrics as well



Small business impacts


Marinas and small businesses concentrate butts at the land/water interface.


·      Butts are a direct fire hazard to boats


·      Butt cleanup is a direct impact to small businesses’ bottom lines



Talking Trash Plenary Session


Handling trash


250 M tons of waste generated per year in the USA


Getting people to think about what happens to the waste beyond the curb, and the workers


New York City has added entire city blocks extending beyond geologic shoreline by building atop dumps


Political and class divisions meant New Yorkers endured disease and trash problems solved long ago by other similar cities (Paris)


The mix of litter and manure was called corporation “pudding”


A colonel (Waring) was put over street sweeping


·      White uniforms


o   Esprit


o   Hard to sneak off to pub




·      Standardized horse breeds


·      Replaced wood carts with durable metal carts


·      Setup curbside recycling


·      Permitted women to be employed by the city for gleaning recyclable scrap


·      Before/after photos used as PR in Harper’s Weekly


·      Staged a parade before a reviewing stand, invited press, awards given


·      Trash loaded onto scows


o   Families could trim the scows looking for recyclables


o   Manure, ash, refuse


Snow removal


·      Horse, then ICE powered


·      First piled in street


·      Then dumped in river


·      Now treated as sewage then discharged


·      Tandem plowing used to clear entire multilane roads at once using trucks in chevron formation


Disposal of material


·      Landfills noted as parks on public maps


·      Barges no longer used


·      Maxed-out landfills re-contoured into public parks and wetlands(!)


Emergency response


·      Sanitation was the first department onsite, last to leave after hurricane Sandy steamrolled New York


·      Outpouring of public gratitude for their efforts


Demographics and social commentary


·      7000 workers, several hundred women


·      Legacy work, not uncommon to find generations of families working in it


·      Much more likely to be injured on the job as sanitation versus being police or fire


·      Fatalities receive less press, if any, but draw hundreds of workers in “class A’s” (dress parade uniform).


·      Police and fire museums, etc. but no explanation or celebration of sanitation workers


Logistics and deployment


·      Still using paper-based and handwritten records


·      In the process of being computerized


·      Delays in construction of a transfer station near a recently residentialized area, city has won legal cases to continue




·      Green markets with organics recycling bins available


·      Many restaurants pulled into organics recycling program


·      All hard plastics recyclable as of 2012


·      Food waste composting, urban facilities


Getting the Most Out of Re-TRAC


Information management platform for recycling and waste management


Gazillions of client orgs big and small


KAB affiliates can use free accounts to report up to KAB; 4000+ already are


Use cases




Data backs up funding requests, but costs gathering, processing, and presentation time


Re-TRAC automates everything but gathering and transcription


Analytics and reports generated automagically


·      Charts


·      Graphs


·      Comparisons


·      Ad messaging


·      Sliced any way




·      Baseline


·      Identify


·      Build


·      Better




Honeybees Collapse


Example of tragedy of the commons


Underlying reasons


·      Mites


·      Too much/too little mitocide on bees


·      Too much/too little insecticide/badly timed application on crops


·      Fatigue


·      Monoculture diet


Stakeholder meetings


·      Big ag


·      Small farmers


·      Beekeepers


·      Chemical manufacturers


·      Researchers


·      Facilitators



For KAB affiliates, local bee gardens and networking to beekeeping orgs are smart actions


Vibrant Urban Tourism and Leisure Spaces


History of urban shared spaces


WWII created suburbs, which started malls


Then strip malls


Downtowns died.


Vacancy is twice as high in urban vs suburban


But major shift toward European model of carfree plazas and downtowns, street festivals, etc






Visitors don’t hang out in downtowns where locals won’t hang out. 


Shopping dining lounging in downtowns is 80% of tourism economically


This is why Disney built downtown Disney next to each of its parks




Twenty things roger brooks learned by studying vibrant downtowns. The best achieved seventeen




1 Have a plan


Branding, development, marketing, action plan


Not 300 page master plan, do a 50 page action plan


Assessment: secret shopping your downtown


Ask roger for checklist of 60 things 


Make my own checklists to give as freebies




2 Clustering and critical mass


in three lineal blocks…


…ten places that sell food


…ten destination retail shops 


…ten things open after six pm bars bistros movies


Auto malls do seven times the business when clustered together




3 Have anchor tenants


Like nordstroms or Macy’s at the mall


An anchor tenant is the place you go out of your way to visit.


Not the same as big box, gourmet rolls…




4 Lease agreements include defined operating hours and days, usually evening hours


Seventy percent of consumer retail spending happens after six pm


Malls used to be closed on Sunday’s


Eating and shopping are shifting later into the night


Farmers market ran from ten to two, five hundred people


Shifted to staying open till p nine pm, went to ten thousand attendance




5 People living and staying downtown in condos and apartments




6 Pioneers with patient money were convinced to invest and wait


The big property owners can themselves cause the beautification




7 Start with one block, a demonstration block


Great lighting, street trees, Garden club took over street corner gardens called bulb outs


Must be with the collection of property owners and businesses most ready to work with you




8 Solve the parking dilemma


Two hour parking is a good way to punish your customers and keep them away


On the two hour parking sign put directional arrow to all day parking




9 Public restrooms


Number one need for people stopping in rural communities


McDonald’s never puts a customers only sign up, seventy percent of bathroom stoppers buy something, many out of guilt


Port o let sized single stalls with one way glass








Relieved visitors spend more money




Info pamphlets right outside the door to provide reading material




Visitors four times more likely to spend once they are out of the car




10 Development of gathering places


The age of third places, home work, plaza




Replacing a single sixty slot parking lot centrally located with a plaza/piazza.  Rapid city matched the visitation of mount Rushmore in one year by doing this. Average age of home buyers dropped by twelve years after two years




11 Narrow roads, widen sidewalks, make crosswalks awesome, street trees every ten meters


Alcoves in sidewalks for street musicians


Angle in parking can increase retail sales thirty percent


Street trees increased retail sales 18 percent by itself




12 Create community gateways


Rickety Kiwanis signs scare people away


The entrance is the first impression and sets the norm 


gateways create the sense of exclusivity and luxury


Real estate sells faster for more




The sign goes where it makes the first best impression, not at the city limit




13 Unify way finding with classy design, clear branding


Pedestrian maps and way finding, not just street signs


Never more than five items on the sign 




14 Gateway to the smaller downtown area


Pole banners, physical arches


Decorative sidewalks can be cut right into asphalt for 6.50$ per square foot, cheaper than pavers and resistant to snow plow blades






15 Blade signs perpendicular from the facade


Consistent height and size


Signage says a lot about you… Misspelling a school sign, crooked sign saying alignment, slow church services


Never use script writing


No lower than seven feet, no higher than nine




16 Outdoor dining as third place after bedroom and office


Convert intermittent parking spots during summer into cafe table seating


Doubles downtown retail sales




17 Verdant shop fronts


We judge the book by its cover


Extend window displays to exterior setups, not outdoor merchandising, which looks cheap


Potted flowers and greenery


Buy out an entire nurserys leftover stock at the end of the year and string along the whole block


Seventy percent of first time sales come from curb appeal


Adding evergreen and blooming plants increase retail sales by thirty percent




Makes women, who spend eighty percent of expenditures, feel safe and welcome




So add benches against facade facing out, not against curb facing in. Flank both side with plantings




18 ??




19 Give the downtown district a name


Names are powerful


Distinguish the place and make it rare




20 Experiential marketing


Deliver on the promise