Street Stewardship Event
For months a committed group of Surfrider volunteers from the Portland Chapter have been helping with the Green Streets Stewardship Program, which is a program of the City of Portland that gets volunteer groups out in the community, cleaning up their neighborhoods, and local bioswales. Bioswales replace traditional stormdrains but instead allow stormwater to be cleaned by the plants in the bioswale. The stormwater then percolates into the ground instead of flushing through our stormwater system and eventually into local streams and rivers. Bioswales are a key component of Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Gardens program and Know Your H2O, and are crucial at capturing and reducing urban runoff before it pollutes the coast. “Green Streets volunteering is a lot of fun," said one Surfrider volunteer. “Its a chance to help out my neighborhood, hang out with friends, and have a lot of fun on a Tuesday night. Walking around as a big group there are a lot of laughs and stories, as we pick up trash along the way."
Street Stewardship How to:
Find out if your City has a green streets stewardship program, if not, work with them to start one or get permission for the Chapter to assist with bioswale and stormdrain maintenance once a month.
- Suggested bioswale activities include picking up trash, removing leaves and debris, and occasional weeding and watering. Alternatively, work with you city to assist with stormdrain stenciling.
- Review Portland’s sample Green Street Steward Maintenance Guide for safety information and maintenance tips.
- Sign and accept the Green Street Steward Disclaimer. Then obtain the appropriate insurance for your event from Surfrider HQ.
- Select an area to adopt and get going!This activity is essentially taking our beach cleanups up the watershed. If there are not many bioswales in your City yet, you can still start a street stewardship team! Trash and debris near stormdrains end up in the ocean, so capturing it up the watershed will pay off later. Furthermore, starting a street team once a month will increase your awareness of the benefits of bioswales, will make you a better advocate for green infrastructure improvements such as bioswales, and will help draw the attention of policy makers to this crucial issue.
- Equipment needed: Vests, buckets, gloves, rakes that collapse, and trash pickers. Work with your City to see what they can provide.
- You might want to arrange to have dessert or some type of social element following the maintenance event to allow activists to socialize and discuss.
- The Portland Chapter has found that doing these maintenance events on a weeknight, the week after their regular meeting at a set time results in the best turn out.
As a Green Street Steward, you will be partnering with your City to help with simple activities like picking up trash and debris and making sure curb openings and overflow drains are unobstructed. This keeps stormwater and pollutants out of our streams, rivers and ocean while maintaining attractive streetscapes for your community and improving the health of our watersheds!
Some of the most important times to check on a bioswale or stormdrain are before or after a storm event when heavy rains can cause trash and debris to collect around curb openings and drains, preventing stormwater from entering the facility. If you have only a few minutes to spare, you can help ensure the facility functions by removing any trash, debris, and leaves from curb openings and overflow drains.
Please be aware that maintaining a Green Street requires additional safety awareness not encountered in your own landscape or garden. Care should be taken at all times to make yourself safe and visible to vehicle and bicycle traffic. Please read and follow the full instructions in the Green Street Steward Maintenance Guide.
As a Green Street Steward, please be aware of the nature of the activities in maintaining and caring for Green Streets; read and follow the safety instructions below:
- Make yourself visible! Wear bright-colored clothing and / or a safety vest.
- Since Green Streets are next to the street, take extra caution and be aware of passing bicycles and vehicles.
- Wear sturdy shoes and thick gloves to help protect you from broken glass, sharp objects, environmental pollutants, and other obvious or concealed hazards.
- Conduct your activities during daylight hours, avoiding peak traffic times.
- Do not have children less than 10 years of age work with you; children 10-17 years of age must be accompanied by an adult volunteer. Keep in mind that adult supervision is critical when working within the street environment.
- Don’t leave your tools unattended - keep them out of the street and off the sidewalk so they don’t pose a hazard to pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle drivers.
I have read this disclaimer and the safety information in the Green Street Steward's Maintenance Guide and I understand the potential risks involved with maintaining a Green Street. I agree not to hold the City of XXXX or Surfrider Foundation responsible for damages or injuries that may occur as a result of my participation in the Green Street stewards program and the activities I perform. I understand my participation is completely voluntary and I do not expect compensation of any kind for my participation.