Beautify Beaufort is a great idea.
A new organization by that name hopes to tackle "quick fixes that would have a quick impact" to beautify our county seat.
People can indeed make a big difference in this facet of life, with their work producing immeasurable returns on investment.
"I'm excited to see if we can get our town looking like it should," said Paul Michau, who heads Beautify Beaufort and spoke to City Council about it last week.
The answer is "yes," but it will take a concerted effort, a lot of time, persistence, money and cooperation among public and private entities.
In the early 1980s, two people like Michau rose up and demanded that Hilton Head Island not accept ugliness as a given. Jack Henry and Bill Morrell thought that the median of the newly widened U.S. 278 -- the island's primary thoroughfare -- must be beautified. The state highway department was going to plant Bermuda and bahia grasses and mow it once a month. Henry and Morrell had a better vision. They formed the Island Beautification Association, and with a lot of work and a lot of cooperation, planted the medians. The result subtly adds to the quality of life and community pride for residents and visitors.
Steve Tennant, the current president of the all-volunteer association, said keys to success include incorporating as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and approaching all the commercial entities in the area to be beautified because they have a vested interest in it and can lend a lot of help.
"It's not a futile effort," Tennant said. "Get people involved and things will start happening from there."
The Town of Hilton Head Island now maintains the medians, but the beautification association is still busy, with an improved town welcome sign now high on its list.
Beautify Beaufort can fill a role that is familiar.
We're reminded of efforts by the Beaufort Garden Club to beautify public buildings and the main thoroughfare into town more than 75 years ago.
We see an unkempt and overgrown median on U.S. 278 through greater Bluffton and wonder why it has to be that way. And the center of the new traffic circle on S.C. 46 suggests a lack of civic pride and people who do not care. We refuse to believe that is a fair reflection of the people who live here.
Take a minute to look at the campus of Hilton Head Island High School, and compare it to others. It looks like a nursery, thanks to volunteers, Master Gardeners and garden clubs. It is beautiful because people care.
Beauty can be achieved when people rise up and say they want to make a difference. Beauty can be achieved when people are willing to commit time, talent and money to make things better.
For doing that, Michaud and his colleagues deserve applause and support.