Rockin’ the Rivers
This month, the Public Health Student Association has pledged to participate in the 1st annual “Rockin’ the Rivers” River Cleanup. On October 24th the Memphis River Warriors, the Wolf River Conservancy, Memphis City Beautiful, and Clean Memphis will come together to host possibly the biggest and baddest river cleanup in the MidSouth. This event will focus on cleaning up the city’s waterways in an effort to better our city and environment. The cleanups will begin at 10am at Nonconnah Creek, McKellar Lake, and the Wolf River, with an after party held at Wiseacre Brewery.
Registration can be found at www.cleanmemphis.org/events.aspx.
Memphis River Warriors
Learn about the Memphis River Warriors
I was lucky enough to be a founding member of this group during my undergraduate career, when the Memphis River Warriors consisted of 30 of our closest friends and whoever else we could strong-arm into giving us their Saturday morning. We considered our technique to be more “guerilla warfare” and less “___ attack plan”. There was no “Memphis River Warriors” flag to lead us to victory yet. We were a rag tag group of students fed up with a problem and with just enough gumption to actually do something about it. We had an advisor that believed in us and partner organizations that wanted to fund our dreams. Our group cared little about established methods of practices and the “best” techniques of gaining community support. Instead, we lived and breathed river cleanups. We blasted everyone on social media and in real life with the sad problem we had all been ignoring – our river was a wreck. In the first 2 years, our volunteers picked up over 50,000 lbs. of trash from the Mississippi River. 100,000 lbs. came and went and still we weren’t finished. As of Fall 2015, the Memphis River Warriors have held over 25 cleanups, with 2800 volunteers and 115,000 lbs. of trash collected.
My time with the Memphis River Warriors was ultimately what convinced me to pursue my MPH. I loved the feeling of uniting people over a common good and actually making a difference in the world. I strengthened my leadership skills, learned how to apply for grants, and saw just what a little hard work can accomplish. I was blown away by the goodness of people, by the possibility that together we might actually be able to fix this after all.
The Warriors have spent their weekends fighting trash for the last 4 years, and they are nowhere near slowing down. This event looks to be the biggest in the Warrior’s illustrious career, garnering support from other local organizations such as Clean Memphis, Memphis City Beautiful, and the Wolf River Conservancy.
Author: Cheyenne Medlock, MPH Student & Co-Founder of Memphis River Warriors