TOIL, TURTLES & TRIUMPHS: DNA VOLUNTEERS HELP CLEAN UP RIVERBANK (BY JIM WALKER)

The DNA was represented at the river cleanup by from left Mike Butler, Marcy Siebert and Jim Walker (Photo by Jim Walker)

The DNA was represented at the river cleanup by from left Mike Butler, Marcy Siebert and Jim Walker (Photo by Jim Walker)

Inspired by a surge of wine-lubricated camaraderie and carried-forth on a wave of rabid altruism, members of your DNA Communications Committee ventured out at the crack of noon on a sunny and chilly Jan. 30 – as volunteers assisting with the post-flood riverbank clean-up at Mud Island Greenbelt Park. 

The clean-up was organized by the Memphis River Warriors and Memphis City Beautiful, the latter supplying all tools, bags and gloves, and some 40 volunteers diligently picked up trash and other debris left behind by receding flood waters. Marcy Siebert, Mike Butler and this writer represented your DNA well at this event, getting in early and getting the most villainous trash, including plastic, styrofoam – and mud-filled bottles and cans, each weighing-down collection bags at about a pound.

Cyndy Grivich Tucker (left) and Marcy Siebert (right) discuss the river cleanup (Photo by Mike Butler)

Cyndy Grivich Tucker (left) and Marcy Siebert (right) discuss the river cleanup (Photo by Mike Butler)

Cyndy Grivich Tucker of Memphis City Beautiful said her group joins with the Memphis River Warriors in around six river clean-ups each year. She added that Memphis City Beautiful organizes other clean-ups all over Downdown Memphis.“I love Memphis,” she said. “And I like to get out and show people that there are other things to do here than the typical...This is the good stuff.” She added that Memphis City Beautiful was established in 1930 and was the first beautification commission in the US. “Green started here,” she said proudly.

Colton Cockrum, Ed.D., Director of QEP, Academic Coaching & Support Services at the University of Memphis, explained that the Memphis River Warriors were created in 2011, right at the height of the big flood. Begun by a
group of University of Memphis college students, this organization plans monthly clean-ups of McKellar Lake, the Wolf River Harbor and the Mississippi River. “I think one of the things that makes this organization unique is that it’s the largest river clean-up organization in the US that is run by college students. To-date, the Memphis River Warriors have picked up over 130,000 pounds from Memphis’ waterways and have worked with over 3,000 volunteers.”

Volunteers of all ages helped pick up trash and other debris at the river cleanup (Photo by Mike Butler)

Volunteers of all ages helped pick up trash and other debris at the river cleanup (Photo by Mike Butler)

Though the clean-up only ran from noon to 2 p.m., your DNA volunteers worked industriously during that time and saw the effect in a wide swath of pristine riverbank behind them. Even so, they took time to appreciate nature – in
particular, the lovely views of the Mississippi and bridges, and the discovery of a turtle sunning itself on a rock. 

And after their hard, yet satisfying and beneficial work, your DNA crusaders continued on to their next mission: lunch and beers at Tug’s – which just happened to be a few steps away. 

It was a day well-spent on any level.

Another riverbank clean up will be scheduled soon, and an even bigger DNA participation is hoped for. Join us. For more information visit http://memphiscitybeautiful.org and  http://www.memphis.edu/driven-by-doing/riverwarriors.php.

Thanks Mike: Beyond his efforts during the clean-up and after-beers, DNA Communications Committee member Mike Butler (of http://www.one901.com/) contributed some photos for this story and gave our efforts first mention at his blog on Feb. 1.