Beautify St. Joseph

April 26, 2022


DEFINITION: characteristic of a good neighbor, especially helpful, friendly or kind.

Part of St. Joseph’s community strategic plan, Imagine St. Joseph 2040, is to keep enhancing the beautiful place we call home. From historic neighborhoods to green spaces and new trails, this is a city willing to invest in what matters. It’s a city willing to invest in what makes both old and new even better again.

But when St. Joseph residents take the reigns with energy, ideas and inspiration toward that goal, the results are even more awesome. This is how you could describe the grassroots group called Beautify St. Joseph. The group is citizen-led and constantly striving to engage the talents and tenacity of fellow residents for trash pickup, yard clean up and assisting homeowners with projects that make each block shine.

The group was formed with a simple goal in mind:  to use grassroots effort to address a litter/trash problem. To put boots on the ground, organizing within the neighborhoods, and then repeat the process.

Terry Lindquist Turbak, Beautify St. Joseph organizer, says there’s a simple formula for getting the work done. “First you gather the people you need and network with area businesses, other community groups, and gather people with similar interests. Then you throw out ideas and see what sticks. There are a lot of good partners out there, and so many good ideas.”

As many as eight organized events are planned each year by Beautify St. Joseph for different neighborhood areas, with attendees in agreement: We can all be part of the solution, and our city can be cleaner and healthier for everyone. Most events are only two hours on a weekend. Materials needed to help are provided – and sharing posts about the events helps too.

There’s an active collaborative spirit within Beautify St. Joseph, like most successful grassroots initiatives. This includes partnering with Missouri Western State University, local businesses and neighborhood associations. During the spring neighborhood North End cleanup, more than 100 MWSU students participated in trash pickup, gathering yard debris and hauling away yard waste. Neighborhood groups like Friends of Krug Park help make events like this a success, alongside several planning committee volunteers.

Turbak, and all Beautify St. Joseph members, encourages everyone to help. “It may seem like these are small tasks, but just getting involved by not littering, and picking up litter when you see it, as well as our organized events, really has an extended effect,” she says. “We can change our entire city, small task by small task.”

As an extension of the mission of Beautify St. Joseph, the group plans to work with MWSU students to create curriculum for younger students meant to encourage and foster a beautification perspective. It’s about creating the next generation that cares about their local neighborhoods and wants to see them remain a source of pride.

“It’s a fun way to make a difference in your community and meet some great new people,” adds Turbak. “If you know a neighbor who can’t get out and walk, help them out by picking up any litter along their sidewalk too. Good neighbors make good neighborhoods.”

Upcoming events are planned for different neighborhoods and parts of the city, and ideas are always welcome. “We are all proud of our beautiful, quirky and historic city. Meaningful change always starts small, in our homes and in our neighborhoods and in our communities. Never discount the power within you to support it. All you need is a willingness to help. And we can do it, together, as a community.”

To get involved or share ideas, email beautifystjoseph@gmail.com.


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Real change in almost any environment happens from the inside out. And no one knows just how to create the kind of contagious change a community needs like the community members themselves. In St. Joseph, and many communities like it, a revolution is happening around this kind of grassroots-based leadership – and it’s only just begun.