America in Bloom

We are affiliated with the America in Bloom program. It is a national organization that promotes "nationwide beautification through education and community involvement by encouraging the use of flowers, plants, trees, and other environmental and lifestyle enhancements".

Note: Video links with time specifications work. The others currently do not.

A nice clip about West Columbia from the 2015 Symposium and Awards event. The speaker is Dr. Charlie Hall, President of America in Bloom.

Additional inspirational videos from the 2015 Symposium and Awards: from Ball (a sponsor - 26 seconds), Neal Mast (a sponsor - 2 min.), and closing inspiration (1.5 min.).

Video excerpts from the Symposium -

Selecting the Right Plants - Day 2:

Flowers (10 min.)

Perennials (13 min.)

Trees (15 min. 45 sec.)

Encouraging Tourism through Beautification - Day 2:

Dr. Charlie Hall (9.5 min)

Dave Lorenz (12.5 min)

Michel Gauthier (11.5 min)

AIB Communities Shine - Day 2:

Environmental Efforts (7.5 min)

Floral Displays (8 min)

Heritage Preservation (7.5 min)

Landscaped Areas (7.5 min)

Overall Impression (7.5 min)

Urban Forests (7.5 min)

Best Ideas/Networking - Day 3:

Part 1 of 4 (19 min)

Part 2 of 4 (20 min)

Part 3 of 4 (18 min)

Part 4 of 4 (19.5 min)
 

We entered the program for the first time in 2015.

. We were in competition with three other cities of similar size: Brewton, AL pop. 5,408, Lewisburg, WV pop. 3,942, and Catskill, NY pop. 4,081. Our "bloom rating" was 3 as was Brewton's and Catskill's. Lewisburg's was 4. The highest rating is 5. Lewisburg, WV won the highest award of the four cities in our population category. Nationally, forty cities participated in 2015.

We were judged on April 27 &18, 2015 by  Linda Cromer and Melanie Riggs of America in Bloom. Click

for their report and see the comments below. We received the following award.

We were nominated for Most Attractive Naturalistic Landscape, but did not win it. I suspect we were nominated because of the Nash Prairie.

There are six evaluated criteria: Heritage Preservation, Overall Impression, Landscaped Areas, Floral Displays, Environmental Efforts, and Urban Forestry. Within each of these scores were given for different items grouped by Municipal (city government), Business, Residential, and Community Involvement.

Here are the six over all scores.

Heritage Preservation - 74%

Overall Impression - 63%

Landscaped Areas - 62%

Floral Displays - 59%

Environmental Efforts - 54%

Urban Forestry - 53%

Of the individual items in each of the above categories we scored highest in

Heritage Preservation Community Involvement

Volunteer involvement - 90%

We scored 80% or above in the following.

Overall Impression Municipal Overall Cleanliness
Overall Impression Municipal Maintenance public roads
Overall Impression Residential Overall Cleanliness
Heritage Preservation Municipal Leadership in preservation & restoration
Heritage Preservation Municipal Legal protection of heritage sites
Heritage Preservation Business Participation & support heritage/cultural activities
Environmental Efforts Residential Participation in environmental efforts

We scored less than 50% in the following

Urban Forestry Business Overall planting program
Environmental Efforts Municipal New programs, improvement, innovation
Urban Forestry Municipal Tree protection/planting regulations
Landscaped Areas Municipal Sustainable management, naturalization &  eco-design
Environmental Efforts Community Involvement Youth involvement
Urban Forestry Municipal Tree maintenance
Urban Forestry Municipal Preservation & restoration of natural areas
Urban Forestry Business Tree maintenance
Landscaped Areas Municipal Quality of maintenance
Floral Displays Municipal Design for all seasons
Environmental Efforts Municipal Effective communication of strategies & initiatives

I am not surprised at the low scores above. We spent little time on these.

Attached is your America in Bloom evaluation. Included are observations and recommendations for improvement in each area. The judges intentionally give a number of recommendations to stimulate your thinking. You are not expected to address all the recommendations nor are you required to implement any of the suggestions. They are reachable and reasonable ideas to assist you in your planning.

We seldom give perfect scores on evaluations as there is almost always some room for improvement. You may notice that some items include lower scores. This means that the judges did not receive enough information to give a better score.

Each year different judging teams are assigned to your population category. The teams consist of two individuals with different backgrounds. While an effort is made to encourage judges to maintain the scores from prior years, the judges are at liberty, according to their expertise, to raise or lower scores from year to year. Lower scores may indicate a need to rededicate an effort on a particular area. Focusing on the Bloom Ratings and ideas for improvement will help your community reach your goal of creating a more livable community.

The goal of America in Bloom is to help our participants reach their potential by offering positive feedback from outside, objective observers.

Thank you for participating in America in Bloom, and we look forward to your continued participation.

Jack Clasen, PhD

National Awards Chair

Judge Coordinator

Laura Kunkle

Executive Director

2130 Stella Ct

Columbus, OH 43215

aib@americainbloom.org

614-453-0744

From one of our judges, Linda Cromer -

You should know how vital the work you are doing is in making your wonderful community even better.  West Columbia has so much to be proud of, and you are a big part of that.  I hope you continue in your efforts.  Every volunteer you recruit, every project you take on, every day working at excellence makes West Columbia a winner in providing an ever-improving quality of life for residents. It was such a pleasure to meet with you all.  Keep up the good work as you continue as an America in Bloom community.

From Jack Clasen, Judge Coordinator -

The best way to answer your question is to say that this is a national award and the competition is very, very tough.  I am not sure exactly what the winning community had in the way of Heritage but if you look at the evaluation form and imagine that under each question they scored an 8 or a 9 then that is most likely the reason they won the award.  I have visited about 75 cities and have been amazed by what they are doing in the AIB criteria.  There is an independent team on board members who review the nominations.   I am sure that every community in the program feels they should have won awards they did not win.  If you could have come to Holland and seen what they are doing and spoken to others from around the country you would have your answer.  Keep moving forward and do the best you can.   Thanks.  We hope to see you next year.