Since 2011, The Watershed Project has participated in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service celebration on the Richmond Greenway. Last year the event was virtual due to the pandemic, but this year once again, the Friends of the Richmond Greenway (FORG), a collective of community-based organizations which includes The Watershed Project, organized community service projects at the Richmond Greenway. Over the years, thousands of volunteers have worked shoulder to shoulder on the Greenway to honor Dr. King’s legacy of service to our nation and his tireless pursuit of justice for all. We draw inspiration from his words to continue building this green oasis in the heart of Richmond: “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
The Richmond Greenway has come a long way since it was first envisioned by local leader Lillie Mae Jones. 25 years ago, the Richmond Greenway was an abandoned railroad track. Now native plants line the Greenway trail, attracting the eye and pollinators with their colorful blooms. Trees provide welcome shade and fresh fruit. Kids and youth play in pop-up parks and playgrounds. Bioswales and rain gardens reduce flooding and filter out pollutants from stormwater. A big highlight for The Watershed Project was completing the bioswales stretching along the greenway from 16th to 20th. This project took nearly 10 years to complete, from the design phase to construction, and planting. We couldn’t have done it without the help of hundreds of volunteers who helped with planting, mulching, weeding, painting a mural, and more.
Recent rains have brought new life to the plants in the bioswales, including weeds. So last Monday on MLK Day of Service, we got support from amazing volunteers to help with weeding, trash pickup, and other maintenance tasks at our bioswale near 18th St. and Ohio Avenue. We also had a table at Unity Park to share information about the Richmond Wellness Trail project, which will provide a much needed safe pedestrian and bicycle route from the Richmond Bart Station to the Bay shoreline. The completed trail will pass through Unity Park on its way through downtown Richmond, lined with trees and other plants that filter stormwater.
This year’s MLK Day brought a much needed sense of joy, hope and unity. We are so grateful for not only the folks who helped us at the bioswale, but all the people who participated in the various other projects near Unity Park. It was inspiring to see what great things can be accomplished when we all work together.
As Dr. King said, “Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great because greatness is determined by service… You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.”