From Tragedy to Hope: Sierra Club Serves on 9-11
On the ninth anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the Sierra Club joined partners, members and supporters across the country to Serve Outdoors in honor and remembrance of those who tragically lost their lives or their loved ones on that tragic day in 2001, the 9/11 first responders who heroically risked their lives in the rescue effort, and all who continue to serve our country everyday both at home and abroad. On the National Day of Service and Remembrance, Serve Outdoors events took place at over 100 locations in 36 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. These events were part of a new Sierra Club initiative to encourage volunteerism that strengthens our communities and protects our environments.
Serve Outdoors is a youth-led project, and youth were out in force on Saturday the 11th to show their commitment to their communities and the natural world. Headliner events took place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C., and featured – in addition to lots of young people – special guests like Mayor Michael McGinn of Seattle, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Superintendent of the National Mall & Memorial Parks in Washington, DC, John Piltzecker. Across the nation, volunteers cleaned up beaches, worked in community gardens, created outdoor classrooms, performed trail maintenance, pulled weeds, organized bike-a-thons, and more.
Here are just a few of the highlights:
New York City, NY. In partnership with Get Dirty NYC!, the Horticultural Society of NY, community residents, youth leaders, Sierra Club members and partner organizations came together to carry bags of soil, fill garden boxes and plant seeds in an urban farm located on the roof of a green building that provides services for women and children exiting the shelter system in NY State. In a community that has little to no green space, the urban farm provides a place for residents and youth to learn about nature and horticulture, and gain access to fresh vegetables, a scarcity in this part of town. Local farms like this one as well as community gardens help communities learn about food sustainability and nutrition and in turn create healthier communities. Read more.
Washington, DC. Sierra Club joined the Department of the Interior, Veterans Green Jobs, the Earth Conservation Corps and volunteers from the greater Washington area at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial on the National Mall for a Serve Outdoors project. Volunteers spread out across the Memorial and along the Tidal Basin to participate in landscaping and beautification projects. Volunteers also had an opportunity to participate in a Raptor program and learn more about water pollution and scarcity concerns both locally and globally. The event also provided participants an opportunity to learn more about our 32nd President, FDR, whose legacy of encouraging service through the Civilian Conservation Corps lived on in the hard work of the Serve Outdoors volunteers.
Seattle, WA. Serve Outdoors in Seattle brought together youth and adults under blue skies to work on invasive species removal at Hamm Creek. The restoration effort underway at the Creek was initiated by Jon Beal, a veteran who made it the last cause of his life to save this important watershed for salmon. At the event, volunteers had the opportunity to hear from Jon’s widow, Lana Beal and some students from John Muir Elementary School who explained how their experiences getting outside and serving outdoors have helped them become leaders in their communities. Sixth grader, Iana Johnson said, ‘We are not leaders of tomorrow but leaders of today and are here to show our gratitude for those who have served and continue to serve.’ Loren Blackford, Sierra Club Foundation Chair and New York City resident spoke about 9/11’s impact on NYC and her own life and family. Mayor Michael McGuinn called for folks to go back to the days of 9/11 when we were truly ‘one America.’ It was a day of remembrance that also turned into a day of celebration for all.
San Francisco, CA. Serve Outdoors San Francisco brought together youth and adults and was kicked off with a moving rendition of the National Anthem, sung by Yulia Van Doren – a local opera star. Following a moment of silence, Sierra Club Conservation Director Sarah Hodgdon addressed the crowd on what it means to Serve Outdoors and the importance of service and protecting our great lands. She also spoke to the current generation’s commitment, enthusiasm, and dedication to serving their communities and improving our present and future. The sun peeked out just as the beach cleanup began and participants scattered across Ocean Beach with gloves, trashbags, grabbers, and lots of smiles. Some had the opportunity to don special suits and paint the seawall. And after covering miles of beach and collecting 20-plus bags of trash (plus a small aquarium), all participants enjoyed a healthy lunch, sponsored by The North Face.
Los Angeles, CA. Hundreds of young volunteers from all over Los Angeles County joined together to repair and enhance the iconic Stanford-Avalon farm in the heart of South Los Angeles on 9/11. Mayor Villaraigosa dedicated a plaque in commemoration of September 11th, together with members of the Los Angeles Fire Department and community farmers who have helped turn this brown lot into a farm. Sierra Club partnered with Los Angles Conservation Corps, the Corporation for National & Community Service, and many other local groups to make this event a success. In addition, young leaders gathered at Griffith Park, Los Angeles’ largest green space, for a native plant restoration and hike.
Statewide, NM. In New Mexico, Sierra Club partnered to co-host ten Serve Outdoors events including trail maintenance in Santa Barbara Canyon in Penasco, construction of an outdoor classroom at Bataan Memorial Park in Silver City, and the transformation of a courtyard into a nice sitting area and garden in Albuquerque.
Thank you to all of our partners, especially the Children & Nature Network's Natural Leaders Network for helping us make Serve Outdoors such a success!