Gratitude in Chaos

A note from KIB's President:

These are strange times, and while I, like all of us, have been consuming way too much frightening news about the coronavirus, I also find myself contemplating things for which I am grateful.

An important, and truly life-altering book I read last year was “Thanks A Thousand: A Gratitude Journey,” by A.J. Jacobs. In the book, A.J. starts with a cup of coffee at his favorite coffee shop, and thanks the barista. He then goes on to thank the truck driver that delivered the coffee, the person who paved the road the truck driver drove upon, the person who painted the safety lines to ensure the coffee was delivered without accidents, and so on, until 1,000 people later, he reached the spot in Columbia where the coffee was grown. 

The main point of the book is that we have thousands of people who help us in our daily lives that mostly go unseen, but if we stop to think, we realize we have so much for which we can be grateful. (If you’re interested in reading it yourself, go over to and make sure Keep Indianapolis Beautiful is selected as the nonprofit that you support with your purchase!)

So here are the things I’m grateful for: 

I am grateful for the hardworking staff at Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, who remain positive during this crisis. We are planning how to continue the important work we do to make Indy a better place. This includes determining which projects we have to postpone and how to fit all the work that needs to get done in a potentially compressed calendar. It includes figuring out how we can do more work with physical distancing. We’re planning how to do our work if we need to gather fewer volunteers together, and how all of those intricate dance steps need to be altered given changing circumstances on a daily – or sometimes even hourly – basis. We remain confident that we will come up with good solutions, and I’m grateful to my staff for figuring out plans A, B, C… and many other back up plans to our back up plans.

I’m grateful for those that support our work financially. The stock market is changing wildly, and uncertainty in the market is higher than it was during the Great Recession of 2008-9 and greater than the days following the attacks on 9-11. Yet, many of our large sources of support have been steady through these recent weeks. The City of Indianapolis, Citizens Energy Group, foundations including the Lilly Endowment, the Nina Mason Pulliam Trust, and a number of corporations are working with us to be flexible about changes in the timing and size of our projects. I’m grateful for their consideration and ongoing support of KIB.

I’m grateful for the 15,000 people who volunteer with KIB every year. The value of all the time and energy that everyone contributes to KIB is worth more than $2 million every year! Work around the city that gets done every year because of our volunteers, from picking up litter over 180 miles of city streets, to planting and sustaining new green spaces, and planting thousands of trees. I’m grateful that so many people volunteer with us with joy in their hearts to make Indy a greener, more vibrant city for everyone to enjoy.

I’m grateful that my family is with me. The five of us were able to go on a 5 mile walk the other day and pick up 1 ½ tall kitchen bags with litter along the way. You all can do that, too. While there have been some scary stories that the coronavirus can live for hours or days on different objects, an article from Johns Hopkins University noted that with real life dispersion patterns (e.g., a sneeze or a cough), the chance of contracting the virus from an object is quite low. I spoke with a virologist friend of mine, who concurred with this assessment. If you use gloves or a litter grabber, and then wash the gloves and wipe down the litter grabber with a wipe, don’t touch your face, and wash your hands, you should be more than fine.

In these times of change, here is how you can still help. You can go outside your home and pick up litter in your own neighborhood. We’re calling this campaign “Every Litter Bit" with its own hashtag of #EveryLitterBit, and encouraging folks to log their pickups on the app Litterati.

On April 1, at 12:15pm, we are asking everyone in Indianaplis to do a virtual Great Indy Cleanup. Go outside, wave to your neighbor, and pick up a little bit. Think how great the City will look once we get the all clear signal from the Mayor, when we all have done our part to make the streets look great.

If you have the ability to make a contribution to KIB, it is really important to us that you consider doing so now. All nonprofits depend on contributions, not just from government and foundations, but from companies and individuals, too. We are anticipating that like others across the city, there will be some financial hardships ahead. If you love KIB, and have the ability to make a contribution – no matter how small – it would really help us weather this storm. I’m grateful to you all for considering it. It’s really easy to do – just visit 

Last, let me just suggest that everyone reading this take care of yourself. If you’re ok, it will enable you to then take care of other people. Caring for others, and the city around us, is what we’re all about.

With gratitude,