Group seeks to beautify Escanaba

Mary Gayle Blasier, member of Enhance Escanaba, left, and Karen Moore, president and founder of Enhance Escanaba, right, plant an arrangement of annual flowers in a large pot on Ludington Street. Enhance Escanaba is a non-profit organization dedicated to beautification projects in public, private, and historic location throughout the city of Escanaba. (Escanaba Daily Press photo)

ESCANABA — Established in 2021, Enhance Escanaba is a small non-profit organization with big goals of revitalizing and beautifying the Escanaba area through gardening projects. Despite still being in their infancy, Enhance Escanaba has recently been recognized on a national scale for its efforts by America in Bloom, an independent non-profit organization that promotes community enhancement programs across the country. After entering the America in Bloom grant competition in the fall of 2021, Karen Moore, founder and president of Enhance Escanaba, was thrilled when she discovered that her organization had won.

“To our organization, this grant is huge,” Moore said. “In fact [America in Bloom] only gave out six of these grants across the whole country, so it was very huge for us.”

Enhance Escanaba has accepted the $50,000 grant from Canadian National Railway, administered by America in Bloom, and has been using the money is a series of local projects and beautification efforts that are already underway. Enhance Escanaba has been collaborating with the City of Escanaba and the Downtown Development Authority to meet the 50% match requirement of the grant.

“The city has been absolutely wonderful, so cooperative, and so nice throughout this process,” Moore said. “City workers have had to help us on the weekends with our projects and they have been just great.”

With the grant money, Enhance Escanaba recently planted 94 dwarf hydrangea trees along Ludington Street in downtown Escanaba. The planting process required assistance from the City of Escanaba, with cement squares being removed from sections of the sidewalk and replaced by potting soil, mulch, and the hydrangea saplings. Volunteers from a variety of local organizations, including National Honor Society students, Girl Scout Troop 410, and Boy Scout Troop 411, assisted in the planting process.

Enhance Escanaba purchased 36 large cement pots with the grant money as well. These pots, located on the corner of Ludington St. between 7th and 15th streets., will be filled with flowers annually. The grant money also paid for the work associated with planting both the trees and flowers.

“We did just secure a grant from the Community Foundation as well,” Moore said. “It is a yearly grant, so each year the pots will be filled with annual flowers because of that grant.”

Enhance Escanaba will be hosting a celebration event for their grant award at 9 a.m. on June 15 outside the Downtown Development Authority’s office, which is located at 1025 Ludington St. The celebration, which is expected to last around 30 minutes, will include speeches and a dedicated sign reveal. Community members are encouraged to come and join the festivities. Representatives from America in Bloom and Canadian National Railroad will be attending the event as well.

“As an organization, we are just in our baby stage,” Moore said. “Once we get the [Ludington Street projects] done then we are going to look forward to having more members and go from there. We are hoping for it to be a big thing.”

Enhance Escanaba has plans to branch out beyond downtown Escanaba with its improvement efforts in the future. The volunteer organization is committed to restoring and designing beautification projects in public, private, and historic locations throughout the city.

Enhance Escanaba’s first project as an established organization took place in August of 2021, with floral arrangements scattered in various locations throughout Escanaba, including along the steps at the Karas Memorial Band Shell in Ludington Park.

“We are open to ideas as to what people would like to see in our beautification efforts,” Moore said. “I have to emphasize that we are just starting out here and we want to be big and we want to do some really big projects.”

Creating Enhance Escanaba came naturally to Moore, who is certified in garden design and a master gardener. Despite being involved with the Master Gardeners Association, who in the past undertook small projects in the area, Moore wanted to take things to the next level. With a passion for urban gardening and design, Moore filed the organization’s 501c3 papers in the fall of 2021 to continue beautification efforts in the area.

“Once I started doing beautification projects with the Master Gardeners Association I just got hooked,” Moore said. “I just really like to do urban beautification, so all of this is pretty exciting.”

Those interested in Enhance Escanaba’s work and their future beautification efforts can learn more at the organization’s website, www.enhanceescanaba.org, or their Facebook page. Any questions can be directed towards Moore at kmoore@escanaba.org.

“If anyone would like to join us, we are going to be taking members really soon,” Moore said. “We have a whole list of projects that we are looking forward to do.”


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