A Striving Community Heals Itself While Re-birthing a Natural Wildlife Habitat

NPR recently reported on the story of youth at the Southeast D.C.’s Valley Green housing project, who started a project more than 20 years ago to clean up an Anacostia tributary and transformed their own lives in the process.

As reported by NPR, “‘Those were some serious times, rough times,’ recalls Burrell Duncan, who was among the first volunteers.

The choices facing kids in Valley Green in the early 1990s were stark. ‘You could be three things,’ Duncan says — ‘a drug dealer, a killer or you could play sports.'”

Between 1994 and 1998, members of the group, who dubbed themselves the Earth Conservation Corps, raised and released 16 bald eagles. They named the eagles in memory of their friends who had been killed in street and drug-related violence.

Said one, “We wasn’t supposed to live to see the age of 21 … We was just as endangered as this majestic bird.”

A cocaine dealer who found his way to the Earth Conservation Corps more than two decades ago is now a licensed falconer – one of only 30 African-American falconers in the entire U.S., as he tells to schoolchildren when he visits them in their classrooms. He teaches kids to face their fears as part of a D.C. police program called Youth Creating Change, which works with at-risk youth to help them get a job and get involved in community service.

At the same time that youth in the Earth Conservation Corp are being built up themselves, they are also helping to rebuild a historically polluted and overlooked wildlife habitat.  On the day that NPR interviewed them, the group was building the bones of a new osprey nest – welded out of decommissioned firearms seized by the D.C. police.

The Earth Conservation Corps has a website, with a Live Eagle-cam.

I took this photo this morning of ECC Headquarters at the Diamond Teague Pier.

My family and I recently took a trip down the Anacostia, where we spotted several bald eagles along the way. If you would like to take your own trip, contact the Anacostia Riverkeepers to arrange a free tour (supported by the D.C. 5-cent plastic bag tax), and enjoy the beauty of the emerging wildlife, and the hope inspired by the ongoing renewal of nature and community.

Photo credit: Nicole Boucher

 

 

Girls on the Run is building the next generation of female community service leaders in inner cities and around the country

 

You may have already known that Girls on the Run encourages young girls- especially in the inner cities- to take charge of their lives and cultivate healthy relationships.

You might not have realized, however, that each Girls on the Run team creates and executes a local community service project.

For example, one group has raised more than $10,000 to help their school crossing guard – an Ethiopian native who fled his home country where he was enslaved as a child soldier- to cover medical costs associated with his prosthetic leg to help him walk without pain. Other groups are raising money for MS, collecting money and supplies for local hospitals, donating to homeless shelters, and countless other projects. Here’s to the next generation of girls and women leading and supporting their communities!

Dementia Sufferers Find Joy and Purpose in Community Chorus

According to scientific studies reported at livescience.com, Alzheimers sufferers often retain their love and appreciation for music even other parts of their brain are failing.  In fact, experts say, music can “awaken” Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, triggering emotional memories and words that have been forgotten.

Taking advantage of this phenomenon, the Giving Voice Chorus of Minneapolis, MN is a chorus that brings joy, well-being, purpose and community understanding to people with Alzheimer’s and their care partners.  Its goal is to “celebrate the full potential of people living with dementia.”

Check out this heartwarming video of the chorus and some profiles of its participants.

The group has expanded to 3 separate independent choruses and is reportedly being “inundated” with inquiries from around the nation from people who want to start similar programs in their communities. The group provides resources and a toolkit on its website for those who are interested in starting one.

Even as humanity continues to uncover more information and preventative approaches to Alzheimers and dementia, it is comforting to know that fun and fulfillment is still possible even for people with dementia, and for their hard-working and loving care partners.

Anyone can be someone’s hero. :-)

Man rescues cat from London Docks

Cat-astrophe avoided — the moment a passer-by saved Felix the cat after she fell into the Thames. 😺

Posted by BBC News on Monday, May 1, 2017