Monday, April 20, 2015

Dodder Day 2015

It's difficult to believe that a full year has gone by since my first River Dodder cleanup last spring. I wrote my first published Irish newspaper article covering the cleanup and, of course, blogged (and bragged) about it here.

Since then, I've become more active in the planning of the various Dodder events with the volunteer community organization Dodder Action. To promote last week's cleanup and show the impact only a few volunteers can have in a short time, I got together with a few other Dodder Action members under the main bridge in nearby Donnybrook to gather up what we could on only a short stretch of the river. We collected quite a mound.

Donnybrook River Dodder Rubbish 2015
Donnybrook River Dodder Rubbish

A photographer from Irish newspaper the Herald stopped by to grab a story and a few photos. After the quick-clean for the photo shoot, I did some fishing and caught some great images of a heron catching and eating a large eel near a trashed motorcycle dumped over the river wall.

The event was a rousing success, as always. Hundreds of volunteers hauled out tons (and tonnes!) of litter, landfill spillover, dumped household appliances, and metal from the river. The stretches that I worked at Orwell, Donnybrook, and Herbert Park looked great after just a few hours' work from a small-but-dedicated group of local volunteers.

I got to know many of the neighborhood people, and they got to know each other, as we worked side by side caring for our shared resource. Everyone shared their stories about the river and how they use it, and I was playfully asked more than once, "I'll bet you didn't grow up on the Dodder, did you?" To which I could answer, "Nope, I grew up on a slightly larger river in North America – the Mississippi."

I found a nice letter to the editor in the Irish Times from a representative of the Dodder Anglers – another river-loving local club – praising not only the efforts of Dodder community residents, but local cleanings led by concerned volunteers around the country.

It is inspiring to see so many people in local neighborhoods gather to care for their local resources, be they rivers, trails, lakes, or parks. With so much isolationism and "It's not my responsibility!" sentiment around today, it's refreshing to hear a resounding, "It's not mine or yours, but our responsibility to keep our local treasures just that – treasures to be passed on."

If you are local in Dublin and would like to get involved in Dodder-specific activities, see Dodder Action's website for more information. If not, take this opportunity to find local community action groups in your own neighborhood and get involved. If you can't find one, start one! Government authorities are great for building community resources, but no one knows better how to care for their own neighborhood like good neighbors.

River Dodder Heron
River Dodder Heron

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