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Downtown Tucson Beautified Through Unique Partnerships

Downtown Tucson Beautified Through Unique Partnerships

Downtown Tucson, AZ, April 4, 2018 - Downtown Tucson Partnership (DTP) has partnered with two local organizations Desert Survivors and WorkAbility to beautify Downtown Tucson.

DTP has contracted with Desert Survivors to provide the plants and the labor force for all the City planters located along Congress Street and Stone Avenue. This is an ongoing beautification effort Downtown. Eventually, all of the Downtown planters on all the streets located within the Business Improvement District will be filled with native plants that provide a clean desert look, while reducing the cost of watering and plant maintenance.

Desert Survivors, which employs over 40 developmentally challenged adults at its plant nursery provides two crews for the Downtown beautification effort. Each crew consists of three developmentally challenged adults and a trained horticulturist. The horticulturist selects the plant material based on the unique microclimate of each planter, assists with the plantings and manages each crew.

“The partnership with DTP was an obvious opportunity because of the organizations’ shared vision for Downtown,” said Desert Survivors Executive Director Karen Wilson. “By collaborating with the DTP, our folks are moving one-step closer to their goal of competitive employment. It is truly a win, win situation for DTP, Desert Survivors and the individuals we serve and also the general public who we hope will be encouraged to grow native plants and in doing so protect the ecology of our desert home.”

WorkAbility, an organization dedicated to helping young adults with developmental disabilities transition into the workforce, will provide three to seven adults who will work with DTP maintenance ambassadors two to three times each week. They will be providing a number of maintenance activities including sweeping sidewalks and picking up litter and they also love interacting with the public, merchants and patrons. 

Both teams from WorkAbility and Desert Survivors are out on the Downtown streets in purple shirts at various times/days each week, and are paid through their respective organizations. DTP pays for the plant materials and provides materials, uniforms, management, and mentorship.

“The benefits of these partnerships are numerous: We’re building relationships, improving the appearance of Downtown, highlighting the native plants of the Sonoran Desert in our urban core, conserving water by planting drought tolerant plants grown from seed, while providing a safe and welcoming entry to the workforce for people with disabilities. This also frees up our maintenance staff to provide an enhanced level of service. We couldn't be more pleased with the results!” stated Kathleen Eriksen, President and CEO of DTP.


Learn more about Desert Survivors here.

Learn more about WorkAbility here.