Great Indy Cleanup 2017: BRAG Neighborhood

by BRAG resident Chris Dossman about how BRAG was selected to be the focus neighborhood for Great Indy Cleanup 2017

I love my city and I especially love my neighborhood. It saddens me to see all of the trash piling up along our streets, sidewalks and greenspace. Cleaning it up has become my passion (Just call me the Trash Lady). If you haven’t noticed, it is becoming a major problem in our city.  I finally decided to join BRAG (Binford Redevelopment and Growth) which represents a large quadrant of the NE side of Indianapolis and where I live. Because two major thoroughfares run through our community (Binford and Shadeland), trash is a major issue and not something that can be addressed without help due to the high traffic volume and safety issues.  When I saw last fall that Keep Indianapolis Beautiful was taking applications for the 2017 Focus Neighborhood, a large scale clean up. I was so excited!  The application process really forced me to evaluate our needs and the "why's" behind them.

BRAG's area of service. Great Indy Cleanup projects will be taking place throughout this area on April 29th.

We were thrilled to make it to the interview process and we were ecstatic to find out that we made it to the top 3.  The BRAG committee was invited (along with the other 2 neighborhoods) to make our pitch before a panel at the Litter2 First Friday event in November.  We were the last to present and I’ll be honest, the other two neighborhoods were strong competition.  They talked about greenspace, parks, native plants, invasives, bridges, artwork … and all I talked about was ‘trash’.  But our need and our passion for cleaning up the streets and changing the ‘trashy’ behavior came through. After a bit of nail biting, BRAG was announced as the 2017 Focus Neighborhood.  Jumping up and down seemed appropriate at the time … so I did. KIB representative Lauren Wright immediately got to work with us.  We have had monthly planning sessions where a range of project ideas were discussed and the pace has picked up.  While trash cleanup will be the major focus, we will also tackle the flower beds, plant trees and mulch. We are also working on some specific projects to involve the area schools as that is where a true impact can be made in changing behavior.  Lauren’s knowledge and guidance along with KIB’s support has been invaluable as we move through this process. As April 29th approaches, our excitement for this event is building and we can’t wait to see the results.  BRAG strongly feels that this event will be a springboard for future engagement and will make a long-lasting difference in our community.