Spotlight: Krazy for the Kazoo

Oct. 23, 2020

Earlier this month, DENSO employees/associates from our thermal manufacturing facility in Battle Creek, Michigan, participated in the Krazy for the Kazoo Day, a community event aimed at beautifying the city. The group, along with others in the community, picked up a combined total of 72 bags worth of trash, cut down enough brush to fill over two semi-trailers (estimated to be 6,240 cubic feet of brush!), and planted 30 native plants.

Not only was this event great for the community, DENSO Spirit shined bright through the collaboration, teamwork, and Kaizen demonstrated by the associates/employees who participated.

We chatted with Jody Smith, an engineer in Battle Creek, who spearheaded the activity, to learn more about how DENSO got involved. Here’s what she had to say:

What is Krazy for Kazoo?
Krazy for the Kazoo is an annual effort to clean up streams and rivers in the Kalamazoo River Watershed, which extends 123 miles from Albion to Saugatuck, emptying into Lake Michigan. The event grew out of a successful cleanup program conducted in the Battle Creek and Marshall areas for more than 15 years. It’s spread to many other locations including Charlotte, Otsego, Kalamazoo, Albion, and others. Powered entirely by volunteers, each year they clean up many miles of the river, take care of places with illegal dumping problems, plant new trees, remove problematic invasive plants, and much more.

The cleanups take place throughout the year and are hosted by many different partners. The particular one that DENSO participated in is organized by the City of Battle Creek and focuses on locations in and around Battle Creek.

How did the opportunity to partner with them come about?
DENSO has had a strong relationship with the City of Battle Creek since operations began here. DENSO environmental staff participate in various city committees, such as the Battle Creek Area Clean Water Partners, City of Battle Creek Wellhead Protection Team, and the Sustainable Battle Creek Committee. The City of Battle Creek solicits volunteers for Krazy for the Kazoo from across the community and DENSO has been participating since 2014!
How many DENSO associates/employees participated in Krazy for the Kazoo?
This year we had seven associates/employees and three children/family members participate.

What was the day like?

It was an unseasonably cool morning with temperatures in the mid 30s when we first began the cleanup at 9:00 am. But it was very sunny and warmed up quickly, especially once we started working and enjoyed some hot chocolate provided by Mike Myszka!

We collected a large garbage bag worth of trash and then spent most of our efforts removing invasive vines and shrubs along 700 ft. of the Kalamazoo River. We completely cleared two areas along the river to provide gorgeous views from the Battle Creek Linear Path, which is a paved bike and walking path along the river. We finished by planting three native shrubs along the riverside -- a Red Twig Dogwood and two Summer Wine Ninebark shrubs.

What kind of impact was DENSO able to make on its community?
It was great to see school groups, local businesses, local government, and people of all ages come together to improve the environment. For our DENSO group, it was a fun collaboration of associates/employees from different departments and even more impactful to include some younger family members who joined!
Are you looking forward to doing anything similar in the future?
We plan to participate in this event every year! DENSO is also participating in the City of Battle Creek Police Department’s Trunk or Treat event later this month and we participate in the City of Battle Creek’s Children Water Festival every spring.