Advocacy. access. action
The group’s cleanups have an impact beyond mere beautification. As “Riverkeeper” Mike Bolinder explained, their goal is to provide information policymakers need to make the right environmental decisions for the future: “All of the trash gets sorted and weighed (a process we call characterization) and the data is used for policy making. When somebody asks, ‘how is the 5 cent bag fee working?’ for example, we have data to give an accurate answer.”
Anacostia Riverkeeper is a relatively small group with big goal: a fishable, swimmable Anacostia River. Long-time residents of DC who may be tempted to scoff, take heed: Thursday Night Kayaking and Friday Night Fishing are happening here and now. As of late March, the organization’s Clean Waterways volunteer program has removed 13,696 pounds of trash. Riverkeeper also trains River Watchers, community members who monitor and report pollution in the Anacostia (“River Watcher” superhero suit and cape not included).
The organization’s most striking quality—aside from its cheerful dispatch of endless amounts of garbage—is its collaborative approach. When you speak with anyone from the group, other organizations roll into the conversation like currents in the river: Anacostia Waterkeeper Alliance, Groundwork Anacostia River DC, Earth Conversation Corps and the Cheverly Green Infrastructure Committee to name just a few.
“We work hard to form lasting partnerships with groups that have complimentary skills and assets,” said Bolinder. “The collaborative effect can make one idea grow into literally thousands of volunteers, tens of thousands of hours of sweat equity and millions of pounds of trash being removed from a hurting waterway.”
With its manifold projects, talented staff and committed community partners, Anacostia Riverkeepers is truly living up the mission stated front and center on its website: “Advocacy. Access. Action.” (Continue to Part 3)
About the Author: Tara Campbell is a crossover sci-fi writer living in Washington, DC. She volunteers her time for literacy organizations such as 826DC and the Books Alive! Washington Writers Conference. Follow her on Twitter at @TaraCampbellCom.