Thursday, May 1, 2014

Ecology Action

Today's post comes from an NCCC project sponsor, Ecology Action. Their organization sponsored Earth 4 earlier this year. 

Earth 4 celebrates Day of the A
 with Ecology Action
During the months of January-March of this year, Ecology Action was fortunate enough to be chosen as a project sponsor for an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) team at our newest project, Circle Acres. Circle Acres is a living model for the remediation of urban Brownfields into ecological preserves and educational community assets that Ecology Action is currently developing. For over 40 years, we have been at the forefront of recycling activities in Austin, and today we find ourselves once again pushing the boundaries of resource conservation by incorporating the recycling of contaminated and underutilized land into our mission goals.

A member of Earth 4 removing
dead tree limbs
The Earth 4 team arrived, and was tasked with implementing the first phases of our remediation and public access efforts at Circle Acres. They absolutely rose to the challenge. The team lived on site, camping in tents, cooking all of their meals in an outdoor kitchen, living the work that they were committed to completing every day. During their 8 week stay, they built over 5 miles of natural trails laying more than 600 cubic yards of mulch, installed informational kiosks, removed roughly 6,000 lbs of litter and debris from adjacent watersheds, and worked with the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department to label hundreds of storm drains in the surrounding neighborhood with water quality awareness signage. 

Earth 4 team leader Liz sawing dead
tree limbs into manageable
pieces for removal
The sheer magnitude of work that they were able to accomplish was nowhere nearly as important as the sense of community that they brought to the space. Circle Acres was once a landfill and an illegal dumpsite before Ecology Action begin the long process of remediating and restoring it. It was a highly hazardous place in the middle of a traditionally marginalized neighborhood called Montopolis, with very little access to safe outdoor recreation. The Earth 4 team’s presence was a breath of life that made Circle Acres welcoming to area residents. Since their stay, the site is used daily by families as a peaceful and quiet walking retreat and by area children as a natural wonderland and playscape to explore while discovering nature.

Earth 4 sorting recycling at Ecology Action
What is incredible though about the sense of community that the Earth 4 Team left behind at Circle Acres is that they are part of a legacy of AmeriCorps involvement in the East Austin neighborhood of Montopolis, where the site is located. In the early years of the War On Poverty, AmeriCorps VISTA founder, Sargent Shriver, participated in the creation of a bus line that would connect the community (at that time referred to as “Poverty Island”) to the greater Austin area, so that residents would be able to commute to better jobs. As we work towards the completion of the first phase of Circle Acres’ development, we continue to see the positive effects of the Earth 4 team’s presence, and look forward to cultivating the deep and important roots that AmeriCorps has in our community. 

Thank you to Ecology Action for sharing their story! If your organization is interested in sponsoring an AmeriCorps NCCC team, please visit:
Brought to you by AmeriCorps NCCC, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service.
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