Celebrating Communities

Celebrating Communities
By Charlie Hall, AIB Past President

The AIB Symposium and Awards Program was held recently in Arroyo Grande, CA and, as usual, was attended by many passionate and enthusiastic folks. This small coastal town is an important horticultural region with exceptional public gardens, magnificent historic trees, innovative new green spaces, and picturesque natural landscapes.

Volunteers from states participating in the national awards program attended the symposium to celebrate the efforts their communities had achieved in preserving their local cultural heritage, enhancing the environmental aspects of their spaces, and, of course, beautifying their surroundings. It was an incredibly gratifying experience to watch their excitement in being recognized and affirmed!

Of the numerous meetings I attend each year, this one is a favorite of mine, not just because of the positive attitudes, but because of the verification that the programs’ sponsorship dollars have indeed made a difference in the lives of citizens all across America and have furthered the use of flowers, shrubs, turfgrass, and trees around the country. Let me express a huge thank you to all previous AIB sponsors (and encourage those who have been on the fence to go ahead and make the sponsorship that truly makes a difference).

Now in its 15th anniversary, the program has not only conveyed the message of beautification, but one of economic development, provision of environmental amenities, and enhancement of health and well-being as well. Over 275 cities and several million citizens have been exposed to AIB’s message, undoubtedly benefitting the countless local businesses in those trade areas. While this alone is impressive, it is exciting to consider that as AIB continues to expand, even more synergistic benefits will likely result.

The education at this year’s symposium was exceptional with so many good tips for communities to use in their own local programs. It was definitely worth the price of the ticket just to listen to the great insights offered by the speakers. Of course, the awards portion of the symposium was the icing on the cake. While everyone inherently knows that there are no losers in the program (given that communities obviously gained directly from all of the hard work put in by AIB volunteers), it is still nice to be recognized in some way.

Taking that to heart, one part of the program this year involved every single community receiving recognition for something the judges felt was outstanding about their respective communities. Everyone learned a lot just from hearing the judges’ comments about what they considered unique and special about their community!

It was an exciting time at the symposium this year and I can’t wait to see what is in store for AIB communities in 2017! See pictures from the 2016 symposium.

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