The worldwide company Cisco allows their employees to spend a week volunteering for a non-profit of their choosing and Will Frayser, my nephew: OUR LUCK chose LEAD Agency! This is his week volunteering and he will still receive this weeks' salary, getting paid to do good deeds by a company reaching out into communities to lend a hand! Cisco develops, manufactures and sells high-tech products you probably have in your house or office.
LEAD Agency has a Cisco router but they have fleets of employees who are producing networking hardware, IT services and equipment used in telecommunications. So Cisco is big and Will is doing work and works with others doing the behind the scenes that we all use to make our lives operate into the decades to come.
Maddie, a LEAD Agency volunteer from the past and her friend are bringing their bicycles on Saturday to ride our Recycle Tar Creek Bike Ride and Rally. It is a 5 mile ride right through Miami over the unmarked Tar Creek bridges. Why would we do it? Just checking to see how our creek is doing as the anniversary of 40 years of BAD WATER approaches this fall. Let's peek over the edge, let's look for fish and frogs. We will see if her notorious tainted rust color has left stains again after the latest flood waters have receded. Will Frayser had seen Tar Creek when he was a little boy, but had no recollection of it as he peered at it just yesterday, but I remember and know it looks the same now as it did when he was half his height and age.
It is estimated to take another set of decades to get this place cleaned up, making it look like we are actually STUCK IN THE MIDDLE of the cleanup. Our 21st National Environmental Conference at Tar Creek will be held September 17 and 18 at NEO in the Student Union. We are reaching back to find some of the people who first made actions here and are asking them to share what they did and why it was important to them then to do it. Many of who we might have asked have passed on, forty years is a long time to most of us. You will have memories and probably questions about what all happened and why it is taking so long to get on with it.
Our native flowers are thriving in our Community Garden, the Spiderwort Tradescantia obiensis and the wild Bergamot Monarda fistulosa have finished. but the Black-eyed Susan's, Rudbeckia hirta, the Purple Milkweed Asclepias purpurascens which looks pink and the Blue Vervain Verbena hastata which looks purple to me are blooming, both will soon be standing nearly 6 feet tall and making a stand for the incoming butterflies. They of course will stop at the welcoming butterfly center, taking a sip of water and visiting the Blazing Star Liatris, milkweed and periwinkles the Boys and Girls Club kids have planted with June Taylor this season and fed with fresh banana peel.
The tall grasses, the lambs quarter, marigolds all popping up from the seeds they left behind last year and the kale and sage are coming up from the seeds they dropped this year. But sprinkled in between these are the usual garden variety vegetables and the spreading ever-bearing strawberry plants, you can see a variety of volunteers who make sure our Community Garden thrives.
We celebrate both the garden and the volunteers at our summer Garden Parties. Mark your calendar, the next one will be August 1, with music and the Pile it All On Salad, but until then, stop by carry a bucket of rainwater to a thirsty pumpkin or choose your favorite and baby it this summer. The rains have stopped and they all got spoiled.
There was a surprise this week, our garden actually grew. What? Yes, we had a section of our garden we had never been able to use because of the lead contaminated soil. We had covered it with sheeting and bounded with railroad ties, with a warning sign made by one of our Youth Activists to NEVER USE RR ties in a Garden. If you call the DEQ Hotline number 800-522-0206, you can get action. That is what we did, and all of that BAD DIRT is gone and they took the railroad ties, too! Clean soil was brought in and we are planting corn and cantalope, of course.
It takes work to loosen that new freshly packed soil but volunteers are doing it and it is happening. Perhaps the challenges seem too great, but the small spaces we have around us can be improved, whether by our own work, or with the volunteers who choose to help, or when the Superfund Program brings in dirt movers in hazmat suits.
Changes can happen and the rewards can be beautiful and the butterflies are free.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim