Keep Dallas Beautiful's projects for 2018 includes installing a 1-plus-acre Healing Garden at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in South Dallas. Courtesy of Keep Dallas Beautiful.

Jan. 23, 2018

Keep Dallas Beautiful is back and with big plans for greening up Big D.

The Keep America Beautiful affiliate was revived last May after being inactive for five years, according to Brenda Finch, Keep Dallas Beautiful's new executive director.

Keep Dallas Beautiful director Brenda FinchBrenda Finch, executive director of Keep Dallas Beautiful.

According to Finch, Dallas realtor and civic leader Ebby Halliday was a catalyst for the group for many years before she died in 2015 at age 104. 

"Ebby Halliday was driving force of the group. When she died, it died with her," said Finch.

Finch, who practiced law for 30 years and holds a masters in environmental science, said she was encouraged to revive the program by colleague James McGuire, the director of Environmental Quality for the city of Dallas.

McGuire said the city of Dallas sought to activate Keep Dallas Beautiful to help boost the city’s environmental programs.

“Having a partner like that is invaluable for us at the city. They help us by simply having boots on the ground, getting volunteers and help raising private money.”

Finch said the group will focus on beautification, litter reduction and environmental education, primarily in low income neighborhoods.

Fire Station Beautification

Not even a year old, the group already has made an impact. After reforming last spring, Keep Dallas Beautiful launched a neighborhood beautification program at local fire stations. With help from schools, volunteers and a $39,000 Loews grant for supplies, they installed patio gardens at 23 fire stations. Catering to the needs of each station, volunteers spruced up outdoor areas with patio furniture, paving stones, grills and firepits along with pollinator and vegetable gardens.

Dallas Fire Station 48 patio“It’s a little oasis, a place to go outside and grab a burger between runs,” said Finch. “It provides our firefighters a place in nature to find relaxation before the next call. It also provides wildlife habitat.”

Keep Dallas Beautiful installed patio gardens at 23 fire stations. Above, volunteers installed a garden at Dallas Fire Station 24 and a deck at Dallas Fire Station 48. Courtesy of KDB.

Healing Garden

In 2018, they are taking the garden project to larger scale.

They plan to install a one-plus acre Healing Garden at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in South Dallas. The University of Texas at Arlington’s landscape architecture students designed the garden.

“It’s going to be over-the-top exciting,” said Finch. “The students have really became passionate about this project.” 

Finch said they’re enhancing the space for patients, staff and families to use for therapy, meals and rejuvination. New features include an aromatherapy garden, a monarch waystation, a movement and experience garden, a covered lounge area, a concert area and a greenhouse, 

Hard structures will be installed in the summer. Trees and plants will be planted in the fall. Finch will be raising funds for the project, which they estimate to cost around $150,000.

“That is something the VA could not have done,” said Finch. “We’re going one step beyond what the government can do.”

Finch said these kinds of programs have been shown to have a lasting impact on the community. 

"We're providing the environmental icing on the cake.”

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