Each year, the Governor’s Community Achievement Awards (GCAA) celebrate ten Texas communities for their achievements in litter prevention, beautification, public awareness, and other focus areas. Categorized by population, these ten cities share a prize of $2 million in landscaping projects.
Longview is a mid-sized city in East Texas, where towering pine trees paint the landscape a beautiful shade of green. Although East Texas may not be known as an artist’s paradise, community art initiatives such as those in Longview may be changing that assumption.Increasing public art programs are only one of the ways that the city of Longview is motivating its citizens to get involved in their community. City leaders also coordinate annual volunteer events, such as the Great American Cleanup, the Don’t mess with Texas Trash-Off and the Adopt-A-Highway program.
“When we inspire our community, we improve our community,” said Kim Droege, Executive Director of Keep Longview Beautiful (KLB). One of the city’s public art programs is KLB’s Art from the Heart, which places art in public spaces across Longview.After three years, the program is very popular. “Our goal was to place one new installation somewhere in the city each year,” Droege said. “This year, we placed five.” Some Longview residents and businesses were so pleased by the city’s art installations that they contributed funds to support them.
Longview city departments also feature eco-friendly tips in water bills and other mass mailings. Public outreach efforts increased significantly in 2016, when the inaugural video campaign “Trick Trash Challenge,” went viral across the city. By reaching out to the city’s 80,587 residents through so many different avenues, Longview ensures a steady supply of volunteers at city cleanup events. Last year, more than 1,100 volunteers removed 12.6 tons of litter as part of Adopt-A-Highway activities. Another 1,200 volunteers removed seven tons of litter during the Don’t mess with Texas Trash-Off.
“Winning the (Governor’s Community Achievement Awards) GCAA has created ecstatic momentum among city leaders and community organizations,” Droege said.The award will allow the city to direct resources toward new initiatives, including a nine-acre public event space called The Green, which will include a walking trail and a pavilion for concerts, festivals, and other events to be enjoyed by all of Longview’s residents.