Get Involved: Environmental Empowerment
These eco-focused organizatons beautify our city, protect our natural resources, and help us become responsible citizens of the Earth
Being green is no longer simply the “hip” thing to do; it’s the right thing to do. And our earnest efforts to do our part—planting a tree, dutifully recycling, helping in a community garden, carpooling—help create a more desirable place to live, now and in the future. Here are three organizations that are invigorating, beautifying and protecting the city we call home and how you can lend a hand—and in some cases, a green thumb!
Gateway Greening began in 1984 as a way to increase access to freshly grown food for residents in the inner city and to provide education in outdoor classrooms for schools in underprivileged neighborhoods. Now, it continues to lead community food initiatives, civic greening and education and wellness programs. Once armed with tools and know-how, citizens and students are empowered to maintain the more than 120 gardens and landscaped areas that Gateway Greening supports.
Through October, Gateway Greening seeks volunteers to help with Urban Roots, a greening project that beautifies the medians on Market Street and Tucker Boulevard Downtown. However, volunteers are always welcome year round to help in one of the community gardens or with Gateway Greening’s youth programs (gatewaygreening.org).
An arm of the Missouri Botanical Garden, EarthWays Center focuses on conservation and sustainability for the future. While the Missouri Botanical Garden aims to preserve specific plants and celebrates horticulture, EarthWays Center approaches preservation by helping people adapt their lifestyles to lessen their impact on the environment. EarthWays Center provides greening advice and resources for households and businesses and works with students and educators on topics like recycling, air quality and energy efficiency.
This fall (September 24), EarthWays Center will host its annual Green Homes Festival, an event featuring sustainability workshops and presentations, a green marketplace and an informative tour of some model green homes. This event requires many hands on deck, and volunteers are needed to help in all aspects, including planning, ensuring registration goes smoothly, organizing tours or assisting vendors in the green marketplace (earthwayscenter.org).
Great Rivers Greenway
In 2000, an initiative called “Clean Water, Safe Parks and Community Trails” got the green light from area voters, and the Great Rivers Greenway District was born. GRG works to provide an interconnected system of trails, parks and greenways in St. Louis and surrounding areas to create a region that is a more desirable place to live and visit. The project, which has since become a model for other cities looking to act on similar initiatives, will include more than 45 gorgeous greenways when complete.
Going hiking, biking or strolling on one of GRG’s trails? Trail users are encouraged to give feedback by documenting an outing and submitting their photos to GRG’s website. Because there are miles of uncharted territory on many of these newly minted trails, this feedback helps newcomers check out the trails online before they make their own journey. What’s more, when each new greenway project is in the works, GRG invites members of the community to help with development (greatrivers.info).
A landscape that Gateway Greening supports
Photo credit: Courtesy of Gateway Greening