How We Started - A Keep Rutherford County Beautiful Mini-Story
Keep Rutherford County Beautiful began with a grassroots community litter sweep effort in 2017, entitled "100 Minutes. 100 People. 100 lbs of Trash." Jenna Washburn Bailey, Rutherford County native and co-founder of the local design firm, Artifacturing, created the event. Her idea was that 100 volunteers would pitch in for just over an hour and a half each, with the hope of taking 100 pounds of trash back out of our local environment. Bailey quickly found allies in town government and among other local business owners. Concerned citizens who recognized the problem also joined in with a desire to help. In total, over 1,000 pounds of trash and recycling were recovered, more than 10X Bailey's modest but meaningful original goal. This success inspired an annual effort.
In 2018, the Earth Day litter sweep was renamed "Pick It Up RoCo," using a fun name for Rutherford County popular on social media. The second time around, ambitions were larger and alliances were in place to make it happen. A volunteer committee was formed with Bailey as chair and four separate events were held. There were strong and crucial partnerships from the beginning, with local town governments as well as the NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) joining forces. The April event had 300+ participants who managed to remove an astonishing 3 tons (that’s 6,000 lbs!!) of trash and recycling over the course of 3 days. NCDOT provided safety vests, trash bags and gloves, while both NCDOT and the participating towns handled the removal of the bags collected.
By the end of 2018, local town governments and the NCDOT were pitching in resources, and Keep Rutherford County Beautiful was officially formed by the County Commissioners and County Manager Steve Garrison. Members now include individuals from Rutherford County Tourism, Artifacturing, Rutherford Outdoor Coalition, the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Spindale, the Town of Rutherfordton, the Town of Forest City, NCDOT, Rutherford County Schools, Rutherford County Law Enforcement, the Moyer Family, Project Challenge NC and the McNair Foundation. This group is determined to tackle waste management by focusing on litter pickups, recycling and littering education and policy change. To jumpstart these efforts, Rutherford County Tourism volunteered to spearhead the group and donated $20,000 to the cause.
Keep Rutherford County Beautiful now has its own brand, following the tradition of success begun by both the "100x100x100" and "Pick It Up RoCo" identities. KRCB represents the many groups that are now unified around the effort to make real and meaningful change in our county. KRCB also has its own mascot, Roxi the Raccoon. Roxi is a lively and lovable costumed spokeswoman who travels the county, engaging young people and standing up for community pride, clean streets and health