Once upon a time there was a Beautification Committee in Orono, tasked with sprucing up the downtown area and softening the so-called “hardscape” with colorful oases of tasteful plantings. As often happens with committees conceived in a flush of exuberance, momentum flagged and it died a quiet death.

But now it’s back, and it appears that the second time may be the charm. The eight members are all fresh faces and each brings not only enthusiasm and drive, but his or her own particular expertise to the fore. Chaired by Lisa Colburn, author of The Maine Garden Journal, the committee’s vision and ideas for making Orono more visually appealing are dovetailing with a facade-improvement program and the construction of a new University Credit Union building in the very hub of downtown.

All members of the committee agree that fresh plantings, and the reinvigoration of established beds, are not only good for the spirit but for business as well. Propelled by a “beauty begets beauty” ethic, the committee is not seeking to do all the heavy lifting of tilling, planting and tending by itself. Rather, it wants to encourage residents to lend a hand in the town’s beautification. The hope is that once people begin taking some ownership in Orono’s appearance, however modest the effort, they will be gratified by the results and inspire others to see the benefits of “digging in” to bestow glosses of natural elegance on the common areas of the town.

Downtown Orono is by no means bereft of garden spots, but some were established years ago and are suffering from neglect. To this end, one of the goals of the committee, in addition to siting new plantings, is to clean up and reinvigorate what is already there. If residents — and this includes university students — pledge to adopt an established bed, or even part of a bed, a great deal can be accomplished, and the general workload would be lightened by the involvement of many hands.

With winter gone and spring in ascent, Orono’s Beautification Committee is busy laying the groundwork for a new flowering of the downtown. Help is welcome and encouraged. Please contact Lisa Colburn at 866-3861 if you would like to get involved.

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