There is a unique kind of pride that stays with you when you take the time to volunteer in your community. Whether it’s picking up trash around your neighborhood or painting over graffiti near a school, the feeling is like no other.

For the past 16 years, Keep Bakersfield Beautiful has been on a continued quest to bring the community together to improve the ecological and aesthetic view of the city.

Jessica Felix, community relations specialist with KBB, talked about the ongoing projects currently taking place.

GREAT AMERICAN CLEANUP

When the first Great American Cleanup in Bakersfield took place 16 years ago, about 500 volunteers showed up and helped clean two different areas in town. Last year, the number of volunteers was in the thousands and they spent time “beautifying” more than 50 different locations.

“The day is about bringing people together to literally keep Bakersfield beautiful,” Felix said. “It’s for people to realize that there is beauty here to be maintained.”

Volunteering is pretty easy. The sign-up form asks for a team captain, a co-captain and the total number of volunteers for a group. Free shirts are provided for participants.

The cleanup runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is followed by a family fun gathering and the Bakersfield Green Expo at Yokuts Park. There will be volunteer appreciation swag, games, food and a high school student art competition with a chance to win scholarship money.

The cleanup will be on Saturday, April 22.

COMMUNITY GARDENS

They grow lettuce, kale, cilantro, peppers and other vegetables in a garden. The gardeners: neighbors and children.

KBB has helped start up two community gardens – Seeds of Inspiration and Greenfield Walking Group – and their memberships continue to flourish.

Felix said there is a waiting list at the Greenfield Walking Group garden near Stiern Park, a garden that used to be home to illegal dumping and heavy trash.

“I’m so proud of what they have done,” Felix said. “The group had a vision that was carried out and the neighborhood really adopted the garden and embraced it.”

Although KBB doesn’t start gardens themselves, if a neighborhood is interested in creating one on an available area, the staff at KBB can help with the process.

“We can have a site visit and share with them our experiences,” Felix added.

OLD TOWN KERN

A big change is happening in Old Town Kern.

Revitalization and “beautifying” is the top priority in an area home to iconic Bakersfield spots like Wool Growers Restaurant and Pyrenees Cafe.

The first step has already been made: a colorful mural in the parking lot of Wool Growers Restaurant that celebrates the French Basque heritage.

Expect to see more murals, vegetation, improved sidewalks, lighting and art-decorated utility boxes, Felix said.

Also on this year’s KBB agenda is taking a closer look at the area near the Bakersfield Auto Mall.

Felix said many people have been requesting different art projects, like murals, to reduce graffiti in the area.

KBB is currently looking for sponsorships to help revitalize south Bakersfield. 

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