Happy 2012! PLANET is excited about the upcoming year, and is looking forward to serving you for another year. While 2012 promises to be full of education, events, and networking, the accomplishments of 2011 have surely helped to get us where we are today.
In the spring, planning started for the inaugural PLANET Gives Back, our newest community service project. In October, during the Green Industry Conference, the months spent planning and coordinating came together as close to 40 volunteers worked to enhance four downtown Louisville sites in four hours. Everyone involved was pleased with the results, and it is our hope that PLANET Gives Back can grow to become an annual event.
In the summer, discussions started on developing a new consumer-based Web site, in addition to the existing LandcareNetwork.org. The new site will be geared toward helping consumers find PLANET members who can meet their land care needs, as well as toward answering frequently asked questions, educating them about the PLANET community, providing tips and breaking news, and promoting the importance of certification for lawn care professionals. It is our goal that this new Web site be launched in summer 2012.
In early fall, PLANET officially announced we had adopted a New York City park. Located at the intersections of Laight, Canal, and Varick streets in Manhattan, Capsouto Park is where firefighters and law enforcement officials staged their rescue and recovery efforts on September 11, 2001. At that time, the area was an asphalt parking lot. Since 9/11, PLANET (at the time, ALCA) had worked with the City of New York to build a park on this lot and had raised $86,000 to contribute to the project. After much work and design, the park now includes plantings and contemporary benches around wide walkways, and a 114-foot long sculptural fountain. The overall design won an Excellence in Design award from the New York City Public Design Commission in 2007. PLANET will assist with funding maintenance of the park for the next four years.
Also, in the fall, the Community Stewardship Award was added to the Awards program. This award aims to inspire members to become leaders in their communities at a grassroots level, and to raise awareness and encourage others to improve the quality of life in their communities, and demonstrate the value of environmental stewardship. Details about this award will be available soon, so stay tuned!
In October, right before GIC, we were delighted to learn that our Director of Government Affairs, Tom Delaney, was named one of the eight most influential people in the green industry by Landscape & Irrigation magazine. The program recognizes those who have had an impact on other green industry professionals. Delaney was honored at GIC, as well as in the January issue of Landscape & Irrigation.
Delaney has also been influential in working toward two major green industry victories last year. The first victory came in November with the Environmental Protection Agency’s removal of the 40 percent turfgrass restriction from the WaterSense program’s landscape specifications. The second came in December with President Obama’s intent to sign into law a bill that will prohibit the implementation of the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) H-2B wage rule for the remainder of fiscal year 2012, which runs through September 30, 2012. The average increase in hourly wage costs as a result of the rule is 40 percent. Members fear that the final rule will stunt, if not reverse, the growth of PLANET’s H-2B members’ businesses and the career opportunities of their year-round U.S. workers.
Last, but certainly not least, PLANET welcomed nearly 300 new members in October alone, following GIC. We are excited to have so many more green industry professionals, students, and state associations join us, and hope that all members continue to take advantage of the educational, networking, and fun events in 2012. We are proud of what we have accomplished, and excited about what the future holds.