Community Spotlight: Trashcan Art in Greensburg

Community Spotlight

A few years ago, Greensburg had a somewhat stinky problem: its decades-old trashcans across the downtown were falling apart, and the cost to replace them all was too high. Many communities would have chosen to buy just a few new trashcans, and try to make some of the old ones last a bit longer. That solution wasn’t good enough for Main Street Greensburg, so the Executive Director Wendy Blake proposed another option: use art to upgrade the current trashcans.

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The famous Decatur County Courthouse, at the center of Greensburg’s downtown, with a tree growing out of its tower.

Instead of spending over $1,000 for each trashcan replacement, Main Street’s idea was to cover the current trashcans in broken tile and other materials as a form of public art. The project has relied on a mix of donations and grant funding, and has used local groups and organizations as volunteers to create the trashcan artwork.

It may not sound like much, but this project has not only saved the city money and beautified the downtown square, it has sparked a new interest among residents in having more public art and creative programming.  Later this fall, Main Street Greensburg is planning to bring attention to the underutilized alleys connected to the town square by hosting a farm-to-table community dinner in one vacant alley.

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One possible alley for the community dinner, across the street from the courthouse.

This is a great example of standard placemaking, with a series of small projects and/or activities (like trashcan art or a community dinner in an alley) that engage and empower people while improving the quality of a place (like a downtown square) over a period of time.

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One trashcan in the midst of being upgraded. Photos provided by Main Street Greensburg.

In other words, the trashcan art in Greensburg proves that you can start small to achieve big transformations.

For more information about this and other projects taking place in Greensburg, you can checkout Main Street Greensburg’s website here.

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