MLK Day of Service Inspires Hundreds of Volunteers to Work Together to Strengthen our Communities
Volunteers across different sites in the Watershed work on a variety of environmentally-focused projects

Across the country on January 15, 2018, community members and neighbors participated in a national Day of Service to honor the memory and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The PWI is proud to highlight some of our community partners in the Watershed who organized activities that beautified our green spaces, increased our food sovereignty, strengthened our environmental sustainability, and fostered a deeper sense of shared community.

In the Hilltop neighborhood, for its 3rd Annual Beloved Community Food Sovereignty Day of Action, Hilltop Urban Gardens (HUG) organized teams of volunteers in support of their mission to develop systems for Food Sovereignty and create racial and economic justice. HUG is a member of the Just and Healthy Food Systems COI. Teams of HUG volunteers helped build new gardens for HUG’s Urban Farm Network by filling beds with soil and woodchipping paths for the upcoming planting season. About 150 energetic volunteers participated, ranging in age from seven months to people in their 70s. Students from universities throughout the Watershed also helped out. UW Tacoma, University of Puget Sound, Pacific Lutheran University, Pierce College, and Evergreen State College were all well represented. Volunteers came from the neighborhood, Puyallup, Lakewood, and all along the I5 corridor; including members from the awesome organization Black Nurses Rock who helped distribute HUG’s brochures and do outreach to the neighborhood. Volunteers worked on four sites building new garden spaces, painted HUG’s new office space, made Garden art, and at a seventh site, transplanted strawberry plants. In all, volunteers moved 19 yards of soil and seven yards of woodchips. (One 8-ft truck bed equals one yard.)

HUG’s founder Dean Jackson said it was important for this day to be about action in support of Dr. King’s vision for communities that take care of each other. “It was great to see people making really sweet connections while getting a whole lot of work done! Our communities are under attack and one of the things that HUG is very effective at is action towards our mission. We consistently hear that our work provides hope and inspiration at a time when it is very needed."

At the same time HUG volunteers were working together in Hilltop, Pierce Conservation District (PCD), and Industrial Stormwater COI partner, continued its DePave Puget Sound work near the "Y" junction at S 46th St and S Yakima Ave. Like all DePave sites, this particular location was nominated by Pierce County community members. PCD teams had previously removed over 3,600 sq. ft. of pavement here and replaced it with trees and shrubs. This change equated to removing 86,400 gallons of stormwater that is infiltrated through the site annually, improving water quality by filtering pollutants before they run off into Puget Sound.

The work on this site was completed in 2016, and for the next three years, PCD is tasked with maintaining the site into plant establishment. This is where the volunteers and their work was so crucial on Monday. PCD saw a healthy turnout of 65 people come out on Monday to help lay down soil and mulch, take out weeds, and remove trash. About half of the volunteers were students from University of Puget Sound (UPS) participating via their Community Plunge MLK Day of Caring event. Joining the UPS students were a few long-time PCD volunteers, about five State Farm employees, and students from Lincoln High School, many of whom are part of the JROTC program.

Check out these photos of the volunteers in action:

Thank you to all the organizers and volunteers who spent a winter morning with neighbors and friends to make our Watershed a more vibrant place. We hope to see you again next year!


Many thanks to Hilltop Urban Gardens and Pierce Conservation District for sharing information about their MLK Day of Service events.

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