“Our long-term goal is to make Classen a beautiful boulevard that all of Oklahoma City can be proud of,” program manager Nicki Largent said.
OKC Beautiful officially celebrated its anniversary with the Ruby Red Rendezvous dinner in August.
The organization started in the 1960s as a beautification committee for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, then became a separate entity in 1971.
It was Stanley Draper Sr. who pioneered the committee breaking off into its own organization, said Pendleton Woods, who started the organization newsletter with Draper.
“His objective was to build it beyond just a committee of the Chamber of Commerce and into an organization of its own,” Woods said.
OKC Beautiful decided to become its own nonprofit organization in order to expand its funding sources.
“As a nonprofit, we can receive funding from grants and donations, which would not have been possible if we were just a committee,” Largent said.
The organization also launched several new programs this year to commemorate its 40th, such as the cigarette litter prevention program.
OKC Beautiful is kicking off a recycled art competition at Science Museum Oklahoma. The competition will pay homage to America Recycles Day and will be held Nov. 19. Artists of all ages can create a sculpture or another work of art with at least 75 percent of the work being made of recycled materials.
The establishment prides itself on impressing upon others the importance of making Oklahoma City look good. People from OKC Beautiful speak to different organizations and students about recycling and beautification efforts.
“That has made a real difference because the kids are taking it home with them,” Largent said. “Not only are we reaching the students and securing the future for beautification, but we’re also getting to their family and friends and everyone they get in contact with.”
The group plans to continue its successful beautification programs such as Litterblitz and its recycle bin loan program.
“It’s actually an economic development issue,” Executive Director Lisa Synar said. “If the city is beautiful, clean and safe, more people will want to move here and bring their children here and start their businesses here.”
Photo by Mark Hancock