Cleaning Up Oakland: A goal at ORP

Cleaning Up Oakland: A goal at ORP


Cleaning Up Oakland: A goal at ORP

Today, in the 88 degree weather, we began our lifelong mission (as a group now) to tackle one of Oakland’s pressing issues – trash. It was a hot day, and while we encountered challenges, we also learned valuable lessons… mostly about staying out of the sun. Here’s how it went:

Preparation and Supplies

First, our team gathered the essential supplies: gloves, masks, trash bags, a skateboard (really helpful), hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and a map (google maps… but whatever). Fortunately, one of us stumbled upon trash Pickers at the dollar store and without hesitation, we cleared the shelf. We were well-equipped and ready for action. I definitely left the house two or three times before I finally made it off my own block with everything I needed to make this mission easy. Next time will be a breeze… (hopefully a literal breeze).

The Trash Problem: Water Contamination

The question loomed: where does all this trash end up? The answer was clear – in the water. We all understand this problem, but how can we prevent it on an individual level? At ORP (Oakland Regrowth Project), we strive to take actions that yield immediate results for the community and the environment. Our focus for this trash mission was clear: cleaning up areas at risk of water contamination.

In many Oakland neighborhoods, underground creeks lead to storm drains, which ultimately flow into these creeks. These hidden waterways are home to a diverse range of wildlife; everything from rainbow trout to various bird species. Furthermore, Oakland is fortunate to have Lake Merritt, which connects to the estuary and the vast ocean. Surprisingly, both the creek drains and the lake have become heavily littered, even in neighborhoods where you’d expect more attention. Tackling Oakland water contamination is a scary thought but one that we think requires public attention rather than passive acknowledgement. 

A Successful Day of Cleanup

Our efforts felt immediately fruitful. We successfully cleaned up several areas around Lake Merritt, including the recently fire-damaged animal wildlife center, the streets surrounding the boathouse, and a few grassy areas on the east side of the lake. With the right equipment, it turned out to be a relatively easy task. The satisfaction of seeing the immediate results made our efforts all the more rewarding.

These areas have been our own personal playground for years, and it’s only natural for us to protect them for everyone’s enjoyment. As we worked, we received thanks from kind-hearted walkers, and we were even approached by a dedicated community member named Fidel, who introduced himself as the manager of “Adopt-a-Spot,” a local organization with a similar mission. It was a successful day for ORP!

Future Goals: Expanding Our Impact

Looking ahead, our mission continues. We aim to clean up other areas containing natural water sources that haven’t received as much attention as Lake Merritt, which is undoubtedly central to Oakland. Our commitment extends beyond cleanup; we’re eager to develop solutions to prevent these areas from becoming recontaminated such as encouraging public accountability. Stay tuned to see how we innovate our website to become something more than just a clothing store (an effort to feature and fund local artists…which you should also check out in the meantime). Thanks for reading!

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