300 Community Members Come Together for MLK Day of Service
by Karrie Quirin and Sarah Hogan, AmeriCorps Volunteer Engagement Member
Chilly temperatures in the low 30’s did not stop the community from coming out and participating in the MLK Day of Service on January 13. More than 300 community members and 20 organizations came out to clean up our precious natural resources because they recognize we all share and have a duty to protect their resources.
This special day honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who inspired so many citizens to come together and give back to their community. We enjoyed hearing speeches from Mayor Sandy Stimpson, Congressman Bradley Byrne, and local leaders Marty O’Malley from L’Arche and David Edwards from People United to Advance the Dream. Emcees Kelly and Karlos Finley closed the day celebrating our accomplishments. More than anything else, this event showed that our citizens truly care about giving back to our community and love our beautiful local waterways.
The event lasted all morning with seven different sites across the Three-Mile Creek Watershed - both around Tricentennial Park and an additional kayak cleanup site at One Mile Creek, a small tributary of Three Mile Creek. Our efforts resulted in more than 200 bags of trash and 35 tires collected from all sites! What a huge effort!
Why is this important? Believe it or not, Three Mile Creek was once the city’s primary drinking water supply and also served as a place where churches and families used to hold religious baptisms. Now, we find these creeks blanketed with all types of environmental issues including litter, sewage spills, and stormwater runoff. It’s our job to make a difference by restoring this significant waterway to our city’s history.
Mobile Baykeeper, along with several community partners, created a campaign to address litter in One Mile Creek, a primary drainage spot for much of the stormwater runoff from downtown Mobile. The creek flows into Three Mile Creek and ultimately Mobile River and Mobile Bay.
Good news - we’re headed in the right direction! Last August, we received a federal grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to implement a marine debris removal project on One Mile Creek and help Mobile move toward a “litter-free Mardi Gras.”
You might be asking - what does this have to do with Mardi Gras? Well, because One Mile Creek receives a significant amount of runoff from the storm drains located downtown, it also gets inundated with Mardi Gras beads, moonpie wrappers, plastic toys, and other items thrown in parades and left on the ground.
Along with our grant partners (The City of Mobile, Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, Thompson Engineering, Marine Debris Interceptors, and Gulf Coast Containers), we’ll be working to protect and restore One Mile Creek while also educating the public on the impacts of Mardi Gras litter to our local waterways over the next two years. On the MLK Day of Service, our One Mile Creek volunteers were outstanding and helped us make significant progress toward our goal of cleaning up the creek.
The best part? You can become involved in this effort too! With Mardi Gras season upon us, we want you to enjoy the celebration just as you always have but this time without the litter! Remember that any time Mardi Gras toys, beads, or trinkets are left on the ground, wash into storm drains, and eventually settle into local waterways like One Mile Creek.
Help us keep the momentum going from MLK Day and join us for our next One Mile Creek cleanup on Saturday February 24! Together, we can restore One Mile Creek and help Mobile move toward a litter-free Mardi Gras. #LitterFreeMG