It starts with individuals. One person can influence the larger community. This is how Richmond local Linda Mills feels about inspiring environmental action within the watershed. When it comes to keeping the watershed and river system clean, there has been a huge surge in local citizens wanting to do their part. The Chesapeake RiverWise Community program, sponsored by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay focuses its attention on educating citizens on threats to the watershed while at the same time providing feasible solutions for tackling those threats. Through empowering landowners to improve the health of their watershed, the program encourages communities to develop a personal commitment to environmental stewardship. There has been a consistently positive response to the education that RiverWise puts forth. The community is latching on and learning how to use this information for the advancement of healthier neighborhoods.

Those who have implemented RiverWise “best management practices” on their property are no strangers to inquisitive passersby. Multiple homeowners have expressed how frequently others stop to ask about their yard – or simply compliment on its beauty. During the implementation process, homeowner Mary Boyes noted that walkers enjoyed watching the progress of her property renovations. Homeowners especially like to use these instances as a time to spread awareness of the program and educate their neighborhood friends about the importance of the practices they are implementing to reduce polluted runoff into the bay. More often than not, these homeowners act as the Alliance’s personal spokespeople – singing the praises of the program and influencing others to take the time to research how they too can get involved. In many instances, what began as one house on the block participating in the program lead to the entire block getting involved. These environmentally conscious blocks set a new standard for the neighborhood and the city to follow. The local homeowners are ecstatic to lead their community by example and understand the importance of the ripple effect within the community. Those who received help from the RiverWise program are always happy to promote the organization.

While the program is currently seeking additional funding for future projects, the community has not lost interest in improving the quality of their watershed. Individuals have acknowledged that the Alliance has done a great job at making the process simple to follow. While Mills speaks of neighborhood friends who are eager to take advantage of the potential future funds, she has faith that individuals can make change on their own without wait for the organization to make the first move.

Interested in leading your neighborhood in the quest for a cleaner watershed? To request your own RiverWise home assessment, please fill out a pre-assessment form: