PEOPLE PLANTS & PRIDE

 

 
Tis the season when residential yards and municipal spaces are looking their best. The season where in certain parts of the ‘civilized world’, residents and municipalities alike compete with each other, dreaming of the bragging rights of owning the ‘Best Yard’ or having designed the ‘Greenest City.
“People, Pants & Pride” is the official motto Communities In Bloom, the Canadian non-profit organization committed to fostering civic pride, environmental responsibility and beautification through community involvement and the challenge of a national program, with focus on the promotion and value of green spaces in Community Settings.
CIB, as it is called by its volunteers, leaders and followers, is an official and impressive yard stick used to measure these particular yards, parks  and public spaces.  Tidiness, yards and balconies, trees and shrubbery, there are many components that CIB judges must consider in  their assessments to allow them to make difficult, educated decisions on these matter.
In our region, several municipalities have registered with the CIB program: using its far-reaching exposure to encourage and motivate its citizens to do their best to help make our towns and cities beautiful, and in return using the “bloom ratings” to recognize its citizens’ efforts, in fact saying “Hey, this is a team effort, thanks everyone, we won several blooms this year!”  Last year was the first year the City of Leduc competed on an international level, and it did very well.  Now in its second year on this impressive level, Leduc CIB committee members and civic supporters and leaders were thrilled to see the date approaching when the two international judges would arrive in this fair city, while heat and periodic rainfall had joined to help the blooming process.
The gathering for a dinner and celebration of the judges’ arrival took place next to the Stone Barn, in the Cultural Village, more precisely in the cozy Elks Hall.  Words of welcome were delivered by Fern Richardson, the soirée’s MC and a dynamic CIB member, and Dominic Mishio, on behalf of the City of Leduc Council. In his usual dynamic manner, the CIB chair Brad Symes shared that he always gets hyped at this time of the year, and that he is excited to greet CIB judges on the international level. The two judges were a Parks & Green Spaces management consultant, Bob Ivison of Hertfordshire, England, and his traveling partner was Alain Cappelle a landscape architect from Nieuwpoort, Belgium.  In his brief statement, Mr. Cappelle made the guests chuckle when he candidly shared that “if your gardening is as impressive as this meal was, this judging will be a joy!”
Both men addressed the packed hall with cheerful and dynamic words, and were swamped with friendly greetings after the official agenda was completed: hosts Lyle Douglas with the City of Leduc and the Leduc CIB chair literally had to ‘drag’ the judges out of the hall to go tour the Stone Barn with its multiple flowerbeds and running creek and the neighboring Garden, filled with unique and traditional perennials: this tour was quite a hit with the judges and a small group of guests who went along.  
After the official speeches, an impulsive guest was invited to address the guests and judges: Carol Sadoroszney of the Millet CIB Committee shared some timely information on the Annual Communities In Bloom conference, to take place this year in Edmonton! A passionate promoter of CIB, Carol works hard at making sure the Town of Millet and its citizens invest time and passion in competing in their CIB population category.
As part of the long Friday agenda, a short luncheon was hosted at Leduc’s Civic Centre, where a dozen or so City of Leduc team leaders and CIB members were able to deliver some typical hospitality to the international judges, in the midst of their busy day of touring the city. The long tour and official judging of the City of Leduc’s beauty, its residential yards and open spaces and its eco-friendliness took place the following day, and many yards and open spaces visited and scrutinized.  
To share a bit of history, (learned from the www.communitiesinbloom.ca website), Communities In Bloom was established with the guidance of “Britain in Bloom”, “Tidy Towns of Ireland” and “Villes et Villages Fleuris de France”, Communities in Bloom held its first edition in 1995 and 29 participating municipalities were honoured at the first awards ceremonies on Parliament Hill. The program now includes hundreds of communities across the country and an international challenge involving communities from the United States, Asia and several European countries allows participants to compete internationally. The program consists of communities receiving information and being evaluated either provincially or nationally by a volunteer jury of trained professionals on the accomplishments of their entire community (municipal, private, corporate and institutional sectors, citizens) on eight key criteria: Tidiness, Environmental Action, Heritage Conservation, Urban Forestry, Landscape, Turf & Groundcovers, Floral Displays and Community Involvement. 
A valuable Information Exchange Network allows communities to share accomplishments, best practices and projects. 
All participants are showcased on the Communities in Bloom website through the “Explore our Communities” section, with a description page and a link to their respective community website.  
So for now, the City of Leduc – like its regional neighbors and CIB competitors worldwide- will wait to hear how it has fared in this international Communities In Bloom competition. Then its residents will once continue to own the bragging rights of living in one of the most attractive regions in the country, even… in the world!
 
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