Florence, AL…Keeping outdoor events litter-free allows us to showcase two of the Shoals area’s most valuable assets – our rich musical heritage and the incomparable natural beauty that surrounds us. “In Harmony With Nature” (IHWN), an initiative that was launched two years ago and continues to gain momentum, is focused on encouraging environmental stewardship by supporting litter-free venues at festivals throughout Northwest Alabama.
The concept originated during the planning stages of the 2010 W.C. Handy Music Festival, when sponsors and event coordinators expressed a desire to help brand the Shoals area as a “green” destination for the thousands of tourists who visit here during festival events. The concept was well-received the first year and was expanded during the 2011 festival. This year, all public outdoor event coordinators have committed to keeping their venues litter-free.
“We are thrilled to see that the “In Harmony With Nature” initiative has taken on a life of its own,” said Nancy Gonce, executive director for the Music Preservation Society. “It has become an integral part of the W.C. Handy Music Festival and is steadily being introduced into other festivals throughout the region.” Gonce said the program’s success is driven by the fact that it is a blended effort involving volunteers, students, not-for-profit organizations, tourism officials, local government agencies and business groups.
IHWN activities are currently being funded through grants from the Northwest Alabama Resource Conservation and Development Council, the Alabama Department of Tourism, International Paper, Lowes and United Parcel Service. Local sponsors include the Music Preservation Society, Florence Recycling Center, The Shoals Chamber of Commerce, Shoals Solid Waste Authority and Keep the Shoals Beautiful.
Funds from the grants have been used to develop materials that can be shared with neighboring counties that are committed to keeping outdoor events litter-free. Festival coordinators who want to participate in IHWN will be offered free banners and educational materials and will have access to litter-grabbers, trash bins and recycling bins. A website has been developed which contains information about how to obtain materials as well as a manual that provides guidelines for hosting litter-free events. For more information visit www.harmonyandnature.net.