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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Imagine Grinnell dives into new projects in the new year

Parks, LED lights and habitats for monarch butterflies are top priorities for local nonprofit Imagine Grinnell in the coming year.  Imagine Grinnell’s mission is to “improve the quality of life in Grinnell” and they have made a significant impact in the community in recent years. 

“In the last two years, we wanted to focus a little more on what quality is. … We are really focusing [this coming year] on green, playing, and growing initiatives in the community,” said Executive Director Sarah Smith.

One of Imagine Grinnell’s top priorities this year is to continue to improve Summer Street Park. Last year, they created a “natural playscape,” a playground that uses natural elements found in parks to construct a play space. The natural playscape features a tunnel constructed from boulders and a tree house constructed inside an existing tree. 

In 2015, the organization plans to add a youth garden to teach students about plants and offer gardening classes. They also plan to add an embankment slide, which will be built into the hillside, a walking trail through the park and a monarch way station. 

“Kids don’t have the connection to nature that we used to. … In putting a natural playscape here in Grinnell, we want to send the message that kids should be out in nature,” said Smith. “This is a little bit different [than other parks in Grinnell], and allows kids to really look at what nature is about all around them and experience it while playing.” 

In addition to building and improving new green spaces for the town of Grinenell in 2015, Imagine Grinnell plans to increase public awareness about the usage of plastic bags. The organization’s fellow from Grinnell College, Lindsay Fujimoto ’15, is helping to organize this initiative. 

“We make people in Grinnell aware we don’t need to use as many plastic bags, and try not to do at the grocery store. I’m as much at fault as anyone. We need to start to reduce that waste,” Smith said. 

Imagine Grinnell will also create a composting site downtown for large-scale food wastes produced by local restaurants. A larger company elsewhere in Iowa will take this waste and create compost. 

“This is a wonderful goal of ours. In the future, we would love to have a composting site right here in Grinnell, but this is the start of the process,” Smith said.

At the beginning of this year, Imagine Grinnell also funded the installation of $5,000 worth of LED bulbs in Grinnell Regional Medical Center. According to Smith, these LED bulbs are an equally good source of light, more environmentally friendly and do not pose the same concerning safety risks as compact fluorescent light bulbs, which have mercury in them. Smith hopes that more members of the Grinnell community will take note of the LED bulbs and considering investing in them widely  for personal and professional use. 

“We want people to look at what that looks like … for their homes but also for businesses. … And over time we’re going to show the energy efficiencies they’re creating,” Smith said.

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