Keeping Oakland Beautiful is Everybody’s Business

Posted on behalf of Eric Saltmarsh, KOB Board Member

As an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, Keep Oakland Beautiful (KOB) exists to preserve the environment of the Oakland community it serves. With a mission ‘to create and sustain a beautiful, clean, green, litter-free city through education, community engagement, and volunteer action,’ KOB aims to identify environmental issues in Oakland that it can help address; propose and implement solutions to those issues; and ensure that the improvements are sustained over time.

Examples of KOB efforts include:

  • Providing resources to reduce litter in public areas.
  • Removing litter from public areas, parks, and streams.
  • Reducing industrial pollution in the air, ground, and water.
  • Planting trees to provide shade, oxygen, and natural beauty.
  • Planting flowers to beautify public areas.
  • Supporting public art displays.
  • Making small grants available to improve or beautify public areas.
  • Educating the public, especially children, about environmental concerns.
  • Engaging Oakland residents and tapping into their spirit of volunteerism to address local environmental issues.

KOB operates solely through volunteerism. Since KOB has no paid employees, all efforts are planned and organized by volunteer Board members who also directly participate in the work. Occasionally, KOB partners with other like-minded organizations to collaborate and combine resources to tackle larger projects.

However, in order to have a significant impact on a community as large and diverse as Oakland, KOB relies on its greatest asset – you — the people of Oakland. By volunteering a small amount of time, we can accomplish great things together. The impact KOB has on our community is largely up to you because, quite simply, KOB is you and other, like-minded neighbors.

Each and every one of us has a responsibility to preserve our environment. By doing so, we will share the benefits of cleaner air and water, greater beauty, and civic pride. We will also leave a better world for our children to inherit. By actively engaging more Oakland residents to participate in environmental efforts, we can collectively address a greater number of issues in our community and we can achieve a greater overall impact.

As ‘Oaklanders,’ we can individually help with small-scale efforts, like keeping our yards beautiful, clean, green, and litter-free. We can also volunteer a few hours to work in collaboration with our neighbors on larger environmental or beautification projects.

As an expression of the potential of our Oakland community, if each resident picked up one piece of litter today, we’d dispose of 400,000 pieces of trash. If we’d each pick up one piece of litter every day for a year, we’d dispose of 146 million pieces of trash! Think of it!… better yet, do it!

While clean-up efforts like litter removal are critically important to keeping Oakland beautiful, preventing environmental problems from occurring in the first place is of even greater value. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Regardless of whether he was referring to the environment or healthcare, Dr. Franklin’s counsel of taking simple, proactive measures to prevent problems from arising, so we don’t have to take more painful measures to solve them later on, is wisdom in the truest sense of the word. It’s so much easier (and more beneficial) to properly dispose of trash in a proactive manner, than it is to pick up litter after an irresponsible person has thrown it on the ground. If we all practice prevention, there won’t be much need for the more difficult ‘pound of cure.’

Let’s commit to a shared goal of creating and sustaining a clean, green, litter-free Oakland that we will all be proud of. KOB creates value through our collective efforts to educate, engage, and volunteer in ways that result in enhancing and beautifying our city. By banding together to cure existing environmental problems and by putting in place some simple measures to prevent other problems from occurring, we can create enormous value for our Oakland community.

Keeping Oakland Beautiful is everybody’s business.

We encourage you to share your thoughts in the reply section. We welcome the dialogue and learning of others’ perspectives.

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