Changing places, Changing lives
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Director of Outreach
617-628-9988 or email@example.com
Executive Director, Groundwork Somerville
Clean-up Starts Here!
Concerned Youth Partner with Government Agencies in Local River Restoration
Kenilworth Park, Washington, D.C., October 22, 2010—
In response to an urgent call to action by environmental groups and federal agencies that have prioritized efforts to clean-up the Anacostia River, on Friday, October 22nd, Groundwork USA brought 70 youth from communities all across the country, including two representatives of the National Park Preservers from Groundwork Somerville, to participate in a comprehensive restoration project along the river. These young people were on hand to show their concern by getting involved in trash pick-up by the river, water quality testing, and trail improvement at one of the Anacostia River’s six known “toxic hot spots” near the Eastland Gardens neighborhood of Kenilworth Park. The youth work with Groundwork USA and its growing network of local Trusts in 19 cities and towns across America to revitalize and restore their cities and waterways, and joined Groundwork Anacostia Trust members, other adult leaders and concerned citizens in Groundwork’s watershed service project.
On hand were EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water Mike Shapiro, and David Lloyd, Director for the Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization, who have both served as longtime partners of the Groundwork USA initiative, as well as National Park Service Deputy Director Mickey Fearn, a longtime champion of meaningful youth environmental engagement and hands-on learning. Each senior official spoke alongside several Groundwork USA representatives, Groundwork youth employment program participant Edward Bell, and DC’s Department of the Environment Director Christophe Tolou, to kick-off the 1 p.m. event. At the same time, the EPA celebrated its 40th Anniversary and the agency’s launch of the inter-agency Urban Waters Partnership Initiative with this event.
As a result of strong Federal agency partnership, support for establishing Groundwork was delivered through a unique interagency agreement between the National Park Service Rivers Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) Program and the EPA Brownfields Program. To date, NPS staff has provided ongoing technical assistance and program support to the Groundwork USA Initiative, while EPA has provided funds and technical assistance through its Brownfields Program. This support has catalyzed the establishment of new trusts in distressed environmental communities across the country, all of which face a preponderance of overlapping challenges including environmental, economic, and social justice issues.
For more information about Groundwork USA, where its local Trusts are located and what kinds of local projects they are involved in, check out our website or contact Kate O’Brien.
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Cooperative, partnership-driven efforts on the ground, like those driven by Groundwork USA, are improving the environment and quality of life in distressed neighborhoods by directly engaging youth and residents in the planning, transformation, and stewardship of their own communities across the country. The organization’s national youth program, the Groundwork Green Team, places an emphasis on hands-on engagement and learning about natural resources both in their communities and beyond the urban metropolis.
Mickey Fearn, Deputy Director of Communications and Community Assistance, says:
“You can’t take city kids out and show them the grandeur of nature and then return them to the city without giving them any tools for improving their own neighborhood. Groundwork USA, with assistance from the NPS and EPA, gives youth the opportunity to learn and serve by providing them with the structure, knowledge and tools to help revitalize their own communities and engage with their local national parks. This event is just one of many ways Groundwork USA is engaging youth in hands-on stewardship of their own special places.”
This year, for the first time, EPA’s Office of Water is also contributing to the interagency agreement to advance Groundwork USA’s efforts to reconnect communities to their urban waters. With this support, Groundwork USA will document and share examples of the challenges and successes that have emerged from its urban rivers work across the country.
This unique event is part of the larger annual National Assembly and Youth Summit held by Groundwork USA each year. The gathering is meant to provide an opportunity for Groundwork practitioners and youth from across the network to learn from one another and share strategies for addressing issues common to the distressed communities in which our trusts are located, including brownfields and abandoned vacant lots, unemployment, food insecurity, and limited access to quality parks and open space.
Maggie Super Church, Chair of the Board of Directors of Groundwork USA, notes that in its efforts to engage the public in each of its challenged communities, the Groundwork program has a documented history of success in leveraging significant funding from all levels of government and private sources. “All of our Trusts are required to document the value of their improvements,” says Super Church, “and it is one of the main reasons that EPA looks to our organization as an example of what can be done with good management and the dedication of staff and volunteers in the non-profit world”.
Groundwork USA is a national network of non-profits working on the ground to transform community liabilities into quality neighborhood assets. For more information about this service project or about the Groundwork USA network, please contact Kate O’Brien, Director of Outreach and Resource Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org.