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A kinder, greener Clinton.

The City of Clinton (no relation to our President), in Mississippi, is more than a little greener these days, thanks to the Beautification Committee and its chairman Jehu Brabham. Once just a private citizen with a concern for his community's environmental health, Brabham now oversees a number of programs and has dreams on the drawing board. He juggles his daily responsibilities as chairman with his full-time job as administrator for the Parkway Baptist Church. Programs such as roadside litter cleanup, tree plantings, a Christmas-tree recycling effort, and pickup locations for home-use chemicals that are hazardous have all served to better his community and serve as a model for other communities. The roads and major thorough-fares of the city are now major tree-planting sites rather than major eyesores. More than 1,000 trees have been planted so far along these high-use areas, and more are on the way.

The old-town section of Clinton has received white crepe myrtles to improve its look and its health. Beautification of this historic section of Clinton was initiated when major businesses started to leave the area, settling in malls near major thoroughfares. Brabham hopes that the tree plantings, along with a healthy dose of renovation and public awareness, will restore both the beauty and the bustle that once was old-town Clinton.

"It is a tragedy in our society today," says Brabham about the move from down-town areas to malls, "that everyone seems to have forgotten the historic areas of their community."

Mississippi Greenways is a major project that Brabham is coordinating with the help of local government, the National Tree Trust, and the Federal Highway Administration. Among its goals is to plant more than 100,000 hardwood seedlings along highways in the entire metropolitan area. A No-Mow Zone will also be initiated to let nature take its course in rejuvenating these barren areas. Many places along the highway are completely devoid of trees, and Brabham hopes the plantings and nature's own course will help replenish the area and attract more visitors.

A smaller but no less important program is reclamation of abandoned sewage lagoon areas. These old lagoons are being filled up and replaced with trees, trails, and picnic tables. They can then serve as a haven for families to picnic and enjoy the natural life. Programs like these help Brabham's community take back areas that would otherwise go to waste.

Such efforts have not gone unnoticed. Brabham was a state winner and runner up for the MasterCard Jean Giono Award in Partnership with Global ReLeaf. The City of Clinton has been given both the People Against Litter Award and the Take Pride in America Award. The People Against Litter Award is based on the efforts of a city or community in cleaning up its litter; the Take Pride in America Award gives recognition to a city's tree planting. It is unusual for a city to win two such awards in just one year.

A basic tenet of Brabham's philosophy has been the importance of citizen involvement. He recently spoke about community volunteerism and service with a group from the Mississippi Urban Forest Council. Traveling around the state speaking to civic groups and other organizations, Brabham emphasizes the importance of citizen volunteers and how they can make the difference between a successful program and a failure.

"Individuals can make a difference," he says, "and 10 to 15 years down the line, when the trees have grown and matured, people will be able to see the difference they have made in their community."

If there is one more thing Brabham would like to accomplish, it would be to start a program to teach schoolchildren about good environmental stewardship. As he puts it, "I want children to know both the ecological and environmental advantages of practicing good stewardship so they can carry it through the rest of their lives." Perhaps the best start for children would be to simply follow his example.
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Title Annotation:Clinton, Mississippi
Author:Horne, Chris
Publication:American Forests
Date:Jan 1, 1994
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