For the past 10 years, the Clean and Green Team has been working to beautify the streets of downtown Phoenix by planting trees, creating banners and taking down graffiti.

The eight-person Clean and Green Team is a part of the Field Services Team of Downtown Phoenix Inc. (DTPHX), a collaboration of businesses, City of Phoenix leadership and community groups that works to attract more businesses, residents and visitors to Downtown Phoenix. 

“Clean and Green works to accomplish this goal by making Downtown Phoenix increasingly clean, safe and inviting,” said DTPHX Field Services Supervisor Mark Hutflesz. 

Four years ago, Clean and Green planted 400 trees throughout the city to create more shade and increase walkability for residents and visitors. Hutflesz added that more trees benefit local businesses as well, since they encourage more potential customers to walk the city.

The 400-tree project area runs from ASU’s Downtown Phoenix Campus to Heritage Square and to the Arizona Science Center and Phoenix Symphony.

“We believe that getting more trees in urban environments is very important,” Hutflesz said.

According to the DTPHX website, more than 20,000 pounds of carbon dioxide has been removed from the air since it started adding trees to the city all those years ago. 

Not only does Clean and Green plant trees, but the team also removes fallen or dying trees to keep the area fresh and blooming. The group also works toward removing unwanted graffiti from the walls around downtown.

The team has had a direct influence on the visibility of well-known murals around the city. After artists submit their work, the Clean and Green team chooses the best and determines the perfect canvas for the art in the area.

“We [Clean and Green] are the facilitators,” Hutflesz said.

The Clean and Green Team also works with organizers of many of the events that come to downtown – such as the Superbowl Central outdoor fan fest in Phoenix that accompanied Superbowl XLIX in Glendale – ensuring the area is ready to put its best foot forward. This includes creating banners to help direct visitors during the event and helping with the post-event clean-up.

“It’s their party, but it is my backyard,” Hutflesz said.

The downtown area also recently installed four “Giving Meters.” These parking meters have become public art that encourages healthy giving in a city that has a growing homeless population.

Four local artists were chosen to hand paint the meters from a call to artists presented by Downtown Phoenix Partnership and Artlink, Inc. The meters are located on First Ave. and Jefferson St., Van Buren and Third St. and City Hall.

Funds from the meters are donated and administered by PHX C.A.R.E.S., an outreach program that helps those experiencing homelessness find services and long-term solutions. 

Hutflesz and his team are proud to play their part in keeping downtown Phoenix beautiful and clean for the locals as well as the visitors.

“We are all on the same page,” Hutflesz said. “We approach it as people visiting Phoenix for the first time.” 

For more: dtphx.org.