Smithville is a small, rural town in Central Texas with a population arguably at about 4,000 people. Keep Smithville Beautiful (KSB) is a committee of the Smithville Area Chamber of Commerce. Despite its small budget, KSB enjoys the support of a large network of volunteers and partners that help make sure that Smithville is working towards the goals of beautifying Main Street and other neighborhoods in town, working to enhance the Cultural District artwork programming, providing topical and current information and resources to the community, and supporting a number of cleanup activities in town.
KSB has been an integral partner together with the City of Smithville, the R.D. Latham Cultural District, the Lost Pines Artisans Alliance (LPAA) and the Smithville Independent School District (SISD) in many projects that showcase Smithville’s creative and conscientious spirit. For example, in the past year, KSB has been involved in:
- Public Art Programs
- Wayfinding and Informational Signs
- Main Street Art Projects
- Eco Fest
- Household Hazardous Waste Community Cleanups
The Public Art program kick started through National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) funding has been a terrific way to bring the community together to communicate and to be their best creative selves. Titled “Easy as ABC: Arts Bridging Community,” this project was all about getting people involved and making sure public art was located throughout the entire community. Smithvillians were asked to help select five historic figures for the “Legacy Portrait” (this was subsequently augmented with funding from the Texas Commission on the Arts, adding three more legacy portraits to the mural), and to discuss the people, events and places that were included in the “Smithville Possibilities” murals, as well as encouraging everyone to assist six artists in the actual creation of the various public artwork. KSB is proud to have been a major part of this collaborative effort.
Another part of the NEA grant was to provide wayfinding signs throughout the Smithville community. The “topper” artwork was selected through another public voting process, and again leveraged against a second grant (the Anice Reed grant program through the Texas Downtown Association).
Additionally, KSB was grateful to KTB for funding needed for signage at the Smithville Recycling Center to provide proper instructions and to call attention to the different areas of collection within the Center itself to help avoid confusion at the various stations in the Center.
For the past several years, KSB has been the lead on a variety of Main Street Beautification projects including the Sculpture on Main Street, the Youth Banners program, and a variety of other projects like painting the benches (featuring artwork by local primary school students) and trash receptacles. These have had terrific reception from the community, and many businesses and individuals help sponsor the costs. The Youth Banner program is a joint effort with the LPAA, SISD, and the Smithville Education Foundation (SEF). SEF coordinates the Enrichment Days program that ultimately provides the canvases at the Primary and Elementary schools. The Sculpture on Main program, now in its third year, has been drawing regionally-known artists to Smithville to showcase their work on our historic downtown Central Business District.
Eco Fest, in its 10th year, provides vendors and speakers in a festive atmosphere. Its goal is to encourage Smithvillians and others in this region to learn more about how to live a greener lifestyle with a smaller carbon footprint and less overall waste. Topics have varied from climate change to the sustainability of the food chain to recycling and other waste programs to water issues. Musical groups and kids’ activities round out the festival.
KSB has supported each of the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Events held at the new Bastrop County facility in Smithville since it opened last year. At the March event, over 70 households participated, bringing 1,505 pounds of paint, pesticides, corrosives, and batteries to the event. Bastrop County Environmental Enforcement runs the facility in partnership with Lee County, the City of Smithville, and the City of Bastrop, with support from KSB and Keep Bastrop County Beautiful.
KSB is grateful to all the volunteers, local organizations, and funding partners that have worked hard to collaborate on these projects to make such a huge impact on this small town.
For more information about KSB, please call (512) 237 2313 or follow on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KeepSmithvilleBeautiful/.
Blog Post Written By Jill Strube, Ph.D., Grants Administrator for City of Smithville and Chair of Keep Smithville Beautiful.