Earth Day: Our Day of Giving

Sunday is the Day of Giving for Mobile Baykeeper’s “Make a Difference Month”.  Today is even more special because it is the day of celebrating our beautiful Earth and God’s gift to us.  Today, we ask you to think about your gifts to the world. Last Friday at our Helen Wood Park volunteer event, we encountered the most amazing woman with the most wonderful set of friends and family members.  To honor her husband’s passing, the family asked folks to donate to The Nature Conservancy and the 100-1000: Restore Coastal Alabama partnership work in lieu of flowers.  Linda Harman shared an incredibly special letter her daughter wrote to the recently deceased Max Harman – husband of Linda and father to three amazing children.  I asked her to let me post it [on the blog] as an inspiration to each of you who reads this. 100-1000 Letter to Dad 2011-6-7.

The BP Oil Disaster of 2010 – just two short years ago – made many of us realize that our beaches may not just always be there for our children.  I have never had such an eye opening experience as the day my 2 ½ year old son with his big blue eyes and blonde hair asked me, “The beach is over, Mommy?”  At the time, oil was washing ashore regularly and the well hadn’t yet been capped.  He just wanted to go to the beach for the day.  I worried about his ability to spend the summer there as a 12 ½ year old (and beyond) bobbing in the waves by day and floundering at midnight.

So many things are different two years later and we still have tons to do to rectify the BP Oil Disaster and prevent any future disasters, but one thing is sure – we are all a lot smarter about how important the health of our beach is to our happiness (and economy, quality of life, etc.).

In planning for Earth Day, Mobile Baykeeper wanted to give the community something useful, simple, that would give you peace of mind and an ability to create a lasting gift to your families.

We proudly announce The Swim Guide app (www.TheSwimGuide.org) as our gift to the community.  This smartphone app is a fantastic way to give you direct information on the quality of the water at your favorite beach.  The Swim Guide is also a way for YOU to give back to your family by ensuring the beach is safe and healthy before you load up the beach bag, towels and sunscreen.

I want to be the parent Max Harman’s daughter describes to my son Coleman.  This is the least we can give back to future generations and, to be honest, to our parents.  Please use this app, this guide to safe beaches to create beautiful memories for your families.  Instill in your children a longing to be outside in God’s creation, to celebrate and cherish life and nature.

The Swim Guide is an app for iPhone®, iPad®, iPod touch® and Android (2.1 or higher) that makes it easy to explore and enjoy our waterways and beaches in Mobile and Baldwin counties.  Mobile Baykeeper, a fifteen-year-old nonprofit environmental organization with over 4,000 members, is the 3rd organization in the United States to launch this free app, which was developed by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper.

Utilizing bacteriological monitoring data collected by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), Swim Guide is an easy way to check on water safety.  This free app helps you find your closest beach, know at a glance which ones are safe for swimming and share your love of beaches with your friends. Here are the app’s benefits:

  • Find your closest beach using list, map, or search tools
  • Discover a wide variety of beaches, ranging from city parks to nature preserves
  • Identify at a glance which beaches are safe for swimming (Green) and which are unsafe for swimming (Red) in real-time
  • Get walking, driving, or transit directions to the beach of your choice
  • Bookmark beaches for easy access
  • Invite your friends to join you at the beach using Facebook, Twitter, email and SMS text messaging
  • Report pollution or environmental concerns

Make a difference this Earth day, for the world, and in the life of a child.

100-1000 Letter to Dad list 2011-6-7

Sunday: Volunteering

Hey there! Ready for Challenge #1? Today we are challenging you to volunteer! It should come as no surprise that a non-profit organization is advocating for increased volunteerism. There are hundreds of good reasons to volunteer, so rather than overwhelm you with a lengthy list,  we are going to share three ways that volunteering benefits the environment. Then read on for a whole slew of opportunities to get involved in your community this month, both in Coastal Alabama and around the country.

  1. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to learn and experience something new. The more you learn about your community and your environment, the more you care. If you care about something and have a personal connection, you will work harder to protect it.
  2. Volunteer hours save money. Volunteering your time frees up resources for other uses, which increases the work that an organization can do.
  3. When volunteers turn out in force to contribute to a project, their commitment of time and effort sends the message to the community, to local leadership, and even to the whole nation, that this work is important to them.

For a real life example of all of the above, look no further than the 100-1000 Restore Coastal Alabama volunteer oyster reef building project of January 2011. Over 500 volunteers turned out on two of the coldest January days that Coastal Alabama has ever seen. Volunteers came from all over the country, and we made the national news! Check it out here.

This is also a good time to mention that the 100-1000 Restore Coastal Alabama project is far from over. Keep checking back with Mobile Baykeeper and 100-1000.org for our next oyster reef building event!

Here are some more great ways to get involved:

  • For Alabama’s coastal counties, check out our Volunteer Opportunities page (see above).
  • To find volunteer events and positions throughout the United States, check in with HandsOn Network, or your local chapter of HandsOn.
  • For events that strive towards increased sustainability in our environment and in our communities, check out Wiser Earth, The Social Network for Sustainability. Search for events near you as well as other resources about getting involved and making a difference.

Don’t just take our word for it. Get out there and make a difference! Let us know where you volunteered, what you liked about the experience, and, if you get a chance, snap a picture and send it in. Bonus points if you convince a friend or family member to join you!