More Than Just A Stream Cleanup
Every year between March and the first week of June, tens of thousands of volunteers come together to clean up their local communities as a part of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s Project Clean Stream (PCS) —the largest trash cleanup initiative in the Chesapeake Bay region! For over 15 years, the support provided by PCS has sustained the cleanup efforts of volunteers and groups, both big and small, throughout the watershed. PCS cleanup events receive support with free gloves, trash bags, first aid kits, safety vests, signage, and assistance coordinating the logistics of their cleanups. The support provided to volunteers since the inception of PCS has resulted in the removal of over 7 million of pounds of trash from our watershed; all of which would have eventually contaminated the Bay or our drinking water.
Despite these great achievements, PCS is not simply a trash clean up, but even more importantly a capacity builder and catalyst for watershed stewardship among groups and individuals alike. The support provided by the Alliance allows participating groups to focus their efforts on organizing multiple cleanups in their communities, recruiting more volunteers to participate, and engaging and educating volunteers during these cleanups. Throughout the years PCS has supported dozens of groups to expand the quantity, size, attendance, and scope of their cleanups, while instilling a culture of stewardship each spring. The diversity of these groups is impressive, including boy/girl scout troops, grade schools, colleges, houses of worship, government agencies, businesses, riverkeepers, green teams, HOAs, youth groups, non-profits, and much more. These groups formally partner with the Alliance and are referred to as a Coordinator Organization. As a means to provide comprehensive support to these Coordinator Organizations, the Alliance provides a small financial stipend at the conclusion of the PCS program based on the number of events and volunteers coordinated by each organization. This stipend is intended to help these organizations sustain their trash cleanup efforts while increasing their capacity to coordinate more trash clean up events and engage more volunteers within their communities.
Similarly, PCS has empowered hundreds of individuals to step up and coordinate a trash cleanup event in their neighborhood, at their children’s school, at a local park, at their house of worship, at their place of work, or anywhere else they know where a trash cleanup is needed. These individuals, referred to as Site Captains, receive the support necessary to focus on the most important aspect of PCS: fostering healthier and more sustainable relationships between volunteers and the local stream or river. A trash cleanup event offers a unique gateway to engage, educate, and inspire volunteers to make connections between their lives, trash, and the environment. Through these experiences, positive behavior change relating to trash and our watershed is realized among volunteers, fostering environmental stewards in the process. The lessons and experiences shared among volunteers in a community clean up is often the catalyst needed to foster ongoing stewardship and the formation of an informal community volunteer group. Through the support of PCS we strive to empower individuals and communities to create a culture of stewardship they can sustain and grow into the future.
We recognize not everyone has the time or inclination to be a Site Captain and organize a cleanup event, many simply wish to volunteer in or near their communities at an existing cleanup event. With a recent refresh of our PCS website, we have made finding and registering for a cleanup event easier than ever. All of the cleanup events registered through PCS are populated on an interactive map of the watershed and displayed on our website. This format is a huge improvement over years past and helps interested volunteers find events based on where they would like to volunteer, when they are available to volunteer, and also which groups they would like to volunteer with. Use the following link to visit the Project Clean Stream website and see upcoming cleanup events in your area! Be sure to check back periodically as more events are registered each week throughout PCS season.
Project Clean Stream supports anyone or any group that wants to organize a cleanup event in or near their community. Regardless if you have never led a cleanup event before, Project Clean Stream can help you take the first steps to get started! If you would like to know more about Project Clean Stream and how to get involved as a volunteer, Site Captain, or Coordinator Organization, please visit our website at allianceforthebay.org, or contact Ted Wolfe, Project Clean Stream Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.