Fostering Engagement in the Cottage Grove Neighborhood Through Community Involvement in Riparian Cleanup to Enhance Stormwater Quality

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WRRI Project;20-01-S

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NC Water Resources Research Institute


This community engaged project with residents of the Cottage Grove neighborhood in East Greensboro addressed environmental justice concerns with unnamed tributaries of South Buffalo Creek that pass through a former landfill containing incinerated waste. Many communities of color have, over the last century, experienced the destruction of historical landmarks, erosion of social ties through urban renewal projects, and challenges to health by environmental hazards. This project involved the residents and children of the Cottage Grove community through in collecting oral histories of long-time residents, conducting surveys, volunteering during trash/litter clean-up days (also including university student and environmental groups), and finally in citizen-science stormwater data gathering. Twice monthly we meet with residents and community leaders. Youth environmental education included virtual summer camps, environmental justice literacy lessons, and an Earth Day challenge week. We held quarterly community workdays with over 242 volunteers the neighborhood, local universities, other environmental groups, and AmeriCorps. More than 250 bags of litter, a dozen shopping carts, bicycles, strollers, car seats, fire extinguishers, and other miscellaneous debris have been removed from the creek. We collected oral histories, surveys, and historical documentation instrumental in bringing $356,000 in additional funding to environmental justice activities in the neighborhood including a three-year Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award.