Written by: Andrew Light
The turnout at this year’s 14th Annual Mayors’ Grand River Cleanup was absolutely incredible, and the results reflect it. Over 1300 volunteers worked through the morning to eliminate trash and recycling from the river and the surrounding communities. Part of that effort took place in some of the neighborhoods on the southeast side of Grand Rapids.
With enough community support, anything is possible. As the Annual Mayors’ Grand River Cleanup has grown over the years, more and more volunteers and community partners have been able to participate in the event. This year, Seeds of Promise and their Environmental Impact Team partnered with WMEAC to expand the event beyond the riverfront and into the city’s neighborhoods.
Seeds of Promise is working to revitalize Southtown, an area that has been marginalized and disenfranchised over the years to the point of becoming “a forgotten zone”. The neighborhood is consistently hindered by low education rates and high poverty rates, which lead to higher crime rates.
Paula Collier at Seeds of Promise was the lead for the portion of the cleanup that took place in Southtown: “People need more opportunities to change the area, to redirect the energy to positive.” The river cleanup was a great opportunity to do this.
Based on the feedback Collier has received, “those who engaged, loved it”. Others who have heard about the event look forward to participating next year. There is certainly a need for participation if our rivers and streets are going to stay clean. “In this Southtown community, I would like to see Seeds [of Promise] be around for generations. We can do that with the city, organizations, and individuals supporting us”, said Collier.
Of course, the hard work is never done, and communities must continue to work together to keep trash out of our rivers and neighborhoods. “This was the first year Southtown was included in the cleanup”, Collier said, and there is clearly room for growth in the partnership. There are still streets and alleys with trash that could be picked up as more volunteers participate each year. More busses and more volunteers means cleaner streets and stronger communities. Moving forward, organizations like Seeds of Promise will prove essential to the growth of these events.
Thank you to all of the volunteers who came out for the 14th Annual Mayors’ Grand River Cleanup! Look out for new and upcoming events from WMEAC to help out our community!
Note: On October 27th, Seeds of Promise will be holding a Sustainable Women meeting. Contact Seeds of Promise for more information and make sure to check out the other work the nonprofit is doing in southeast Grand Rapids on their website!