As The Watershed Project prepares for the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at the Richmond Greenway on January 15th, we reflect again on MLK’s legacy and how important his birthday has become as a national holiday marked by community service. It is a fitting tribute to his life, and a powerful way to remember his work and the ultimate sacrifice he made in service to the Civil Rights Movement. Action is love personified. What we do matters.
The Watershed Project invites you to be a part of this year’s annual day of service and community celebration on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday January 15th, 2024. We are partnering with Urban Tilth, California Volunteers, and many other local community organizations to bring everyone together to continue to beautify the Richmond Greenway. In the spirit of carrying on the work of local hero Lillie Mae Jones and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., The Watershed Project is happy to keep up this tradition of service and community-building along the Richmond Greenway.
This year, join TWP at two sites along the Richmond Greenway:
Unity Park – Join our team to help maintain and beautify our bioswale, pollinator garden, and urban shade trees by removing weeds, mulching, and much more!
Volunteers will meet and register at Unity Park then be directed to their specific project location based on whatever activity they are interested in.
Educational tables, music, and fun activities for the whole family will be taking place at Unity Park throughout the event. Make sure to stop by The Watershed Project’s table to say hello to our Education Team to learn more about all of our projects, and make native plant seed balls to take home with you!
Sign up to join TWP at Unity Park here: https://x.gldn.io/e/fs258M8lxFb
Pullman Portal – Join The Watershed Project at Pullman Portal where we will be working to maintain our bioswale, remove invasive weeds, spread mulch, plant trees, and much more! TWP will be hosting local and regional volunteer service groups at this location to foster a sense of place within our community, beautify this stretch of the Richmond Greenway, and honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s memory.
Sign up to join TWP at Pullman Portal here: https://x.gldn.io/e/vc50oGOYyFb
At all of our sites, TWP will provide gloves, tools, water, and light refreshments. Please bring your own reusable water bottle if possible. Wear sturdy closed-toed shoes and clothes that can get dirty. This event will take place rain or shine.
Parking is limited at both sites, so we recommend carpooling, biking, or using public transit. Please arrive early to ensure you have time to park, register, and enjoy refreshments and coffee before the event.
Please see below a schedule of the event:
9am – Work starts at all sites along the Richmond Greenway.
11:30am – Work at all project sites wraps up, and volunteers are encouraged to go to Unity Park for a free lunch and accompanying community celebration.
12pm – 1pm – Join The Watershed Project and other community organizations at Unity Park for a moment of silence to honor Dr. Martin Luither King Jr., listen to community activists and representatives speak on the impact of MLK Day, then celebrate our accomplishments with live music, free lunch, and educational booths and family activities.
Do you have questions, or want to get involved? Email us at email@example.com
The Watershed Project is hosting this Community Climate Action Day in partnership with California Climate Action Corps, a program of California Volunteers, Office of the Governor.
A Brief History of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Updated from an earlier post by Kat Sawyer
A movement is made of many people working together. Within that work, one person can rise up and serve as a catalyst and leader, but they are always a part of something bigger. While many people worked to challenge Jim Crow laws in the 1960s, MLK’s impact was transformative. He was a brilliant thinker, writer and leader. What set him apart was the conscious strategy to use non-violence in the struggle for civil rights. This should never be confused with passivity. It required incredible discipline, and I still marvel at the strength and fortitude it took to meet hate with love.
Imagine the courage it takes to stand up to people who want to hurt you with your hands at your sides. The resistance to the natural inclination to fight back physically when under attack is extremely brave, and stood in stark contrast to the ugly aggression that segregationists showed the world. The Civil Rights Movement, with MLK at the helm, laid bare the racism in this country and shamed white Americans into supporting civil rights enough to pass anti-discrimination laws that marked a turning point in the nation’s evolution. As racism and discrimination continues to take old and new forms today, it’s all the more important to celebrate the fact that Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired the world with his wisdom and dignity, and this country was forever changed because of his life.
Honoring Local Hero Lillie Mae Jones
Each year, The Watershed Project honors the legacy of a local hero who fought for years to improve access to and bring beauty to a former industrial wasteland that today has been transformed into the beautiful and unifying Richmond Greenway–Join us! Lillie Mae Jones, a woman just a few years older than MLK, had a vision for her city and followed it through with action. In 1968, she began advocating to turn the former Santa Fe railroad tracks into a community greenspace with pedestrian and bicycle paths, and filled with community gardens, benches, and other amenities for all to enjoy.
Lillie organized and planned for years, and her work inspired others to join and support her vision. Through hard work, constant dedication, and decades of effort and organizing, the abandoned railway line was transformed first into a trail, and then into the Richmond Greenway and adopted as a public park by the City of Richmond in 2011. The Greenway continues to be a vibrant public space with many community organizations, including The Watershed Project, taking stewardship of areas in a collective effort. The Watershed Project created a timeline of Lillie and her work, which you can find here, and continues to be committed to unity and community leadership for a more peaceful and green future.
The Rails to Trails Network and TWP’s Iron Triangle Urban Greening Project
And did you know that the Richmond Greenway is part of the Rails-to-Trails network, where old railway land is converted to greenspace across the United States? What was once a right-of-way for the Santa Fe Railroad is now a pedestrian and bike trail for Richmond residents. Local nonprofits have adopted parts of the Richmond Greenway to create gardens and parks that provide an urban oasis where people can walk and ride bikes through the city apart from busy streets. The Watershed Project has played a role in the Greenway’s transformation over the years by creating swales and rain gardens. For example, TWP’s Iron Triangle Urban Greening project is an add-on to Unity Park.
The Watershed Project’s Iron Triangle Urban Greening project (ITUG) stretches from 16th – 20th Streets on the Richmond Greenway and features an engineered bioswale to manage stormwater runoff in a more natural way. When it rains, water flows down the streets into drains and pipes that run along the Greenway’s edge. ITUG’s green infrastructure aims to slow that water down and provide areas for it to percolate into the ground instead of being piped to the San Francisco Bay. Swales, rain gardens, and bioswales reduce flooding and help our city behave more like a sponge in rain events. These special landscapes clean and filter stormwater before it flows into the drainage system while providing natural habitat for a healthier urban environment.
The Watershed Project created two large landscapes for the ITUG project – a 200-foot bioswale stretching from 17th to 18th Street and a 150-foot swale from mid-18th to 19th Street. Many people helped TWP plant 15 trees and hundreds of plants and grasses, lending a hand during big events like MLK Day and Earth Day or planning special volunteer days with their school or place of work. Community greening offers people a chance to do something tangible that improves the urban environment, strengthening the ties between cities and the natural world. Transforming a space takes time, but establishing a consistent presence and effort is an essential part of the process!