Bright Spot Award promotes environmental awareness to Keep Carbondale Beautiful


Dominique Martinez-Powell |

Rick Crossley stands in front of his yard beside his Bright Spot award from Keep Carbondale Beautiful Aug. 12, 2021 in Carbondale, Ill. . Since winning the award, he has witnessed an increase in members of the community stopping by and connecting with each other. “It touches my heart when people I know did not have any interactions come and I see them walking by together in the mornings. It’s really touching, ” Crossley said.

Making Carbondale beautiful one yard at a time is a primary goal of the non-profit that hands out the Bright Spot Award.

The award is granted by a board of directors who confer it based on community nominations and is awarded monthly to a residential and commercial winner.

Anne Krippenstal, the executive director of Keep Carbondale Beautiful, said, “It is used to recognize people who have contributed to the environment in a positive way.”


This award is presented for revitalization of property, new constru

ction, planting, beautification, upkeep, maintenance or rehabilitation, according to the group’s website.

“We like to see all different types of homeowners get involved, and we love it when neighbors nominate other neighbors, “ Krippenstal said. “I think that brings the community together when neighbors recognize other people. It’s a really awesome thing that I think we do.” 

She said the group doesn’t have a very defined set of paramete


“People know this and we like to take notice and recognize nice yards. We get a variety of yards. We don’t have a one size fits all,” Krippenstal said. 

The latest residential recipient of the award was Rick Crossley.


Crossley, a computer engineer, redesigned his yard with a ring of flowers around the mailbox. Along the drive, he installed a rock-bordered French drain, and framed his doorway with a collection of potted plants while freshly spray painted furniture lined the front deck. 

Crossley makes a point to repurpose abandoned or otherwise trashed items within his home and garden in an effort to combat unnecessary waste and pollution. His commitment to environmental friendliness and community engagement caught the attention of the people in his community, many of whom then nominated him for the Bright Spot Award.

“People kept coming by and saying they’d put my name in,” Crossley said. “I was just floored by the people that knew about the award and kept telling me they’d nominated me, they’d called for me, they’d sent emails about me and I was just touched.”

Crossley said he appreciates the way the award has galvanized his community and provided it something to be proud of, especially considering how new he is to gardening.

“This is the first year I’ve owned my own garden. This is the first summer I’ve been able to do this,” Crossley said.

The Business Bright Spot Award went to Baker Family Dentistry in July 2021. Dr. Douglas Baker, with his wife and daughter, gave a complete facelift to his building. A handmade railing now greets guests as they enter the property, alongside a bubbling fountain, a well manicured lawn and new, modern sidings along the outside of the office. 

“Someone from the city of Carbondale came by and notified me [of the award] last year. It was in the winter so I asked if they could come by when there were things flowering and looking a little nicer,” Baker said. 

Baker and his family also cleaned litter out of the surrounding area and planted holly trees. Various bird and small wildlife feeders are maintained along with flowering rose bushes for pollinators.

Baker said it had been about 60 years since the office had been fixed up.

Some businesses experience an increase in positive feedback due to being the recipients of the award. 

“It gives exposure to the time and effort you spend to make your office look nice, not only for yourself but the neighborhood you live in,” Baker said. 

Staff reporters William Box and Joel Kottman can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected] To stay up to date with all your Southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.