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Baton Rouge non-profit tackling blight by recycling beads year after year

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BATON ROUGE - An often-overlooked contributor to the blight in Baton Rouge is the symbol of the state itself: Mardi Gras beads. 

A local non-profit is tackling bead blight by taking in donations and making sure the beads are reused year after year.

The MidCity Redevelopment Alliance takes bead donations year-round, but they always see spikes when Carnival season ends. Volunteers started accepting donations in 2020, and the alliance has been using them each year on their float for Mid City Gras since.

In January, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome announced her vision for the city-parish at her State of the City address. One of the plans she outlined for the city was to improve the quality of place and life in Baton Rouge. By collecting beads and preventing them from ending up on the streets or in the waterways, the MCRA is contributing to that vision.

"This is a way for us to be a part of that initiative," said Denise Dyson, the community engagement manager at Mid City Redevelopment Alliance, "even in the small matters. We all know small things become big problems, so that's exactly how we tackle that issue, through what we stand on."

Dyson and MCRA believe that to decrease blight issues means to decrease city-wide littering. 

"It is ridiculous the amount of litter that we have," Dyson said. "That plays into the lack of pride, and that plays into the oversight of resources, the oversight of voices ... What sets us apart is the root of it all: having a voice and being heard and finding our different avenues through that, even if that’s recycling beads."

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