Indianapolis - Operation My Town recently won the Keep America Beautiful’s First Place National Award for Litter Prevention. The award recognizes outstanding programs that promote litter prevention through education, public awareness and hands-on learning. Operation My Town was established five years ago by Councillor Lonnell Conley and was quickly adopted by Keep Indianapolis Beautiful as one of its projects.
Councillor Conley said, "I started this program after seeing a need for citizens to get more involved with cleaning their community. I’ve learned that personal involvement encourages citizens to have a sense of pride in their neighborhood. As a member of the Council’s Public Works Committee when the program was started, I realized that the City alone could not keep our streets and alleys free of debris and litter. Establishing a program that engaged citizens seemed to be a great way to alleviate that problem."
Operation My Town began with only ten Block Coordinators and, today there are approximately 158. The job of the coordinator is to work with the residents of their block on cleanup scheduling and responsibilities. Keep Indianapolis Beautiful not only provides cleaning supplies to the coordinators, but it also helps with training, setting up roundtables and organizing the Operation My Town Annual Meeting for volunteers. Volunteer coordinators and City blocks are given annual awards for their hard work and beautification efforts.
"The Litter Prevention Award clearly proves that we are making a difference in our community," said Conley. "My original goal of decreasing litter has grown to encompass increasing the number of residents involved with the beautification of their community so we can cover more of Marion County," said Councillor Conley.
Two other cities around the country, San Diego, California and Champaign, Illinois are planning to pattern neighborhood cleanup programs after Operation My Town.
The program consists of a twelve-member board that meets on a regular basis. Additional information on the program and how to become a Block Coordinator can be obtained by contacting Keep Indianapolis Beautiful at 264-7555 ext. 106.