The day begins to wane as you watch the vibrant sunset from the comfort of your trusty canoe, allowing the sun’s fleeting rays to warm your soul. As you paddle along you take note of the tiny turtle family sunbathing amidst a floating log on the nearby bank, and the rhythmic lull of the flowing river as the bow of the canoe bisects the current. You begin to comment on the perfection of the pristine panorama you are beholding, but what is that in the distance obstructing your view…a pile of tires? Unfortunately this has happened to me and many others across the world as we face an epidemic of illegally dumped tires in our lovely waterways, parks, roadsides, and just about anywhere imaginable. As un-anesthetically pleasing as this may be, abandoned tires cause far worse problems to our environment and health. With a little education and effort we can eradicate-or take steps to prevent- the tire pile-up by recycling, re-purposing, or reusing these tires in new and innovative ways.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll keep the intro short on this one. It’s always satisfying to look back on another year of adventures, Team Green’s 19th year to be exact, and take some time to think about the people we’ve met and the places we’ve been. To celebrate the year that was, here are our 20 best adventure photos from 2015:
As we make our way around the seven-mile bend along the Narrows of the Harpeth, a candid herd of cattle wade in a pool to our starboard unbeknownst to their masses dilapidating the river bank; the discord between Man and Nature is but a faint echo in the wind. It’s a Sunday, and today, we are in God’s country.
However, as a local resident of this slice of heaven we call the greater Nashville area, a strange and bizarre phenomenon has become the reality of what we call home. Somehow, as insiders, we have become the new outsiders.
That’s right. Next time you venture out into the local night-life, ask around. No one actually seems to be from Nashville anymore, all of the “hot spots” are turning more and more into tourists destinations. There’s even a name for us. People are starting to refer to us as “Unicorns,” or “Gems,” far distant connotations from the more blasé local cognomens, such as “Townie” or “Native.”
But what’s important about this anomaly is that while the onslaught of bachelorette parties and the immigration of Chicagoan hordes continue, we Unicorns find ourselves wading in the cool streams of Tennessee’s waterways, just like the cattle we encountered along our journey.
Venturing further downstream, however, the cracking of a dried root system breaks off the elevated embankment to our port bow, reverberating a sound along the channel like thunder before a storm; a sure sign of erosion, as well as a foreboding reminder of how precious our surroundings truly are.
Insomuch as the local community has been infiltrated by people who think they know Nashville, so too have our local waterways been impeded upon. The unnatural erosion occurring along many of Tennessee’s waterways is, nevertheless, a seemingly unavoidable by-product of an ever increasing demand for real estate and agriculture.
The serenity of our rivers and streams can be maintained, however. And with the help of local initiatives, such as the Harpeth River Watershed Association, its magnificence will continue to prosper. But as more and more people continue to enjoy the niceties of Nashville’s backyard, the importance of environmental education must come into play in a way that is as beneficial to the community as it is the environment.
Let’s work together to maintain our magnificent natural resource by protecting our gem and teaching greater Nashville, the new Nashvillian community, and future generations what the Harpeth River means to us.
Until next time.
Guest Post by: Rhett M. Wallace and Charles H. Watkins IV
(Harpeth River Watershed Assoc & TENN4 Productions)
The Harpeth River Watershed Association (HRWA) in middle Tennessee is dedicated to preserving and restoring the ecological health of the Harpeth River and its Watershed. Their work leverages the scientific and technical training and experience of their staff and advisors with the efforts of a diverse corps of volunteers who are crucial to every aspect of their programs. Learn more about the HRWA and their work here.
Missed Team Green’s Harpeth River Cleanup two weeks ago? We removed 38 tires and a truckload of trash from an 8 mile section of the river! Check out photos here, and get involved in our next river cleanup on Saturday, July 18th along the Buffalo River here!
The weather has finally heated up, school is out, music festival season is in full swing, and we’re spending almost every weekend doing something on the water. Taken together, all of these individually awesome factors can only mean one thing: summer is finally here! In honor of the most fun season of the year, we’ve decided to build on last year’s inaugural Summer Adventure Playlist with another collection of hand-picked tracks to accompany your adventures near and far.
In honor of Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival coming up next weekend, here’s a list of artists you can both check out at the festival and listen to on our favorite local independent radio station, Lightning 100!
Wilder Mind, Mumford & Sons: The quick back beat on this song makes it a great option to throw on in the car on the way to your next adventure. Mumford’s illustrative lyrics and new-found electric guitar riffs will keep you rockin’ all summer. Let’s hope this title track to their newest album will help you explore your “wilder” side.
Delilah, Florence + the Machine: You can never go wrong with the booming vocals of Florence Welch, especially when she’s singing summer-appropriate lyrics like “I’m gonna be free and I’m gonna be fine.” The slow buildup gets you pumped, making this a great song to start a morning run with.
Hang Loose, Alabama Shakes: An oldie-but-goodie off the Shakes’ first full-length album, the classic riffs and funky guitar work are perfect for an afternoon on the beach or a float down the river. If this song doesn’t help you “put your worries on a shelf,” then I don’t know what will.
She’s Only Happy in the Sun, Ben Harper: The title really says it all with this one. The acoustic guitar and laid-back vocals make for a great campfire or beach song, or maybe something to chill out to during a long hike or canoe float.
The Party Line, Belle & Sebastian: Upbeat, funky and catchy, “The Party Line” is poised to be this year’s version of last summer’s “Safe and Sound.” You can hear this one right now on Lightning 100, and it’s sure to add some energy to just about anything you do to get active over the next few months.
Red Eyes, The War on Drugs: The driving but subdued upbeat nature of this song makes it great for cruising around in the car on the way to your next adventure. The song’s slow buildup will leave your foot tapping, and it makes for a great running tune, especially during those early-morning long runs when you need a little extra push to get you going.
Wherever is Your Heart, Brandi Carlile: If you haven’t discovered Brandi Carlile’s most recent album, The Firewatcher’s Daughter, then you’re definitely missing out. Upbeat and full of wanderlust-y phrases, this song, the first single off the album, will make you want to get up and dance, sing, and do some traveling too!
Rye Whiskey, Punch Brothers: A good ol’ fashioned summer drinking song, this is a great track to throw on while you’re sipping an adult beverage on the porch. Featuring powerful, fast-paced banjo throughout, this song is also great to pump you up while you’re out and about this summer trail running or training for that next race.
River Water, Moon Taxi: Another track featuring a clearly summer-centric title, this song will make you want to kick off your shoes and hop in the nearest body of water. With lyrics like “all we heard was the sound of the wind through the trees, and all we felt was the chill off the water in a breeze,” you really can’t go wrong with this one on your summer outdoors playlist.
Uncatena, Sylvan Esso: A little slower and down-beat, this deeper cut from Sylvan Esso’s self-titled debut album is a great song to put on a little later in the evening, and would make a great soundtrack to a stargazing session on a warm, clear summer night.
The Minutes, Smooth Hound Smith: There’s something about this song that makes you want to drop everything you’re doing and travel. The fast (and incredibly gifted) guitar work on this one makes it great for running, cycling, or just about any other workout! The rest of this up-and-coming band’s first full-length album features a great mix of fast and slow tunes, offering plenty of diversity for those who want to explore.
All the Time, Bahamas: These long summer days kind of make you feel like you have all the time in the world, even if you don’t. The slow beat on this track will help draw out the days, making this a great song for those relaxed canoe trips or stand up paddleboard sessions.
Need an adventure to test out this playlist (or your own) on? Check out our event calendar and join us outdoors this summer!
-Matt (Team Green’s Events Coordinator)
If you’ve ever spent any time in Nashville during the summer months, then you know that our local waterways are a vital piece of the outdoor recreation puzzle here in Middle Tennessee. From canoeing or kayaking on the Harpeth, Piney, Caney Fork, or Buffalo Rivers, to paddleboarding and boating on Percy Priest Lake, to fishing in or hiking along one of our many local creeks, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy the abundant bodies of water in and around Nashville. Even the Cumberland River is experiencing a resurgence in recreational opportunities of late, with projects currently underway to expand non-motorized boat access near LP Field and Downtown.
Despite the excitement that many Nashvillians feel as summer approaches, bringing with it the promise of long warm days on the water, little time is often spent thinking about the work that must be done to keep our waterways clean and healthy for all to enjoy. As an organization that loves to get people on the water as much as possible, we know that recreational use of local streams, rivers and lakes is a privilege not to be taken lightly, and that we need to do our part to make sure that we can continue to have access to waterways that are clean, safe, and beautiful long after we’ve paddled them. For that reason, we work year-round with several local partners to clean, protect, and maintain our cherished blueways. Here’s a little more on some of the great groups we join forces with and how YOU can get involved with the work we’re doing:
Cumberland River Compact
The Cumberland River Compact is the leading organization promoting increased water quality and health in Middle Tennessee, as they care for the entire Cumberland River Watershed, including the river itself and its many tributaries. Their work ranges from hands-on volunteer efforts like tree and rain garden plantings, stream cleanups, and dam removals, to educational initiatives like their River Talks series, which is aimed at informing the public about all aspects of the health of the Cumberland River Basin. They have made great strides in improving the long-term wellbeing of the watershed, and they continue to promote increased community engagement to further this goal through their active management of the Nashville Adopt-A-Stream Program and other ongoing programs. We adopted our very own one-mile section of Mill Creek through this program in the summer of 2013, and have continued to maintain that area through multiple cleanups every year. The Compact even hosts fun events like the annual Dragon Boat Festival on the Cumberland River to help raise awareness about water quality issues and fund their work, providing Nashvillians with a fantastic opportunity to have a great time while supporting the health of our local waterways. We have our own Dragon Boat team every year, and would love for you to join it!
Bridgestone Americas’ Tires4ward Program
Since it’s inception in 2012, Bridgestone Americas’ Tires4ward Program has aided more than 350 community cleanup events and recycled nearly 100,000 tires from streams and rivers across the United States. Part of Bridgestone’s larger efforts towards sustainability (called their One Team, One Planet initiative), the Tires4ward program seeks to promote a waste-free tire industry by repurposing or recycling one used tire for every new tire they produce. Bridgestone partners with local organizations in communities across the country to collect spent tires for free from cleanup events, making their tire collection services open to any and all who need them. We have directly partnered with this program for the last two summers, pulling more than 100 tires out of the Harpeth, Buffalo and Caney Fork Rivers during our annual summer canoe floats. Keep your eyes on our calendar for summer cleanup opportunities to be posted soon!
Hands On Nashville’s Waterway Cleanup & Restoration Program
In the immediate aftermath of the May 2010 flood, a huge community-wide effort was made towards restoring and cleaning up homes and businesses that had been damaged by record-high water levels, but little attention was paid to the damage done to some of our more minor local streams and tributaries. Seeing a need for a concerted recovery effort, Hands On Nashville created the Waterway Cleanup & Restoration Program to help clean up the debris that was left in Nashville’s waterways long after the flood waters had receded. Over the last four and a half years, local volunteers have participated in hundreds of cleanups around Davidson County, removing some 285 tons of debris from our waterways big and small, helping to restore these vital ecosystems to pre-flood conditions or better. This program has been so successful that the cleanup phase of the project is now complete, allowing Hands On Nashville to concentrate their efforts on promoting the long-term health and resilience of our streams through efforts to plant more trees to strengthen riparian buffers (a vegetated area that lines waterways, protecting it from the impact of nearby land uses) around the city. These plantings have continued to take place into this spring, providing a great opportunity for you to get involved! Other local organizations, such as the Harpeth River Watershed Association, also host regular tree plantings in riparian zones, so be sure to check out ways to lend a hand and do your part with either of these great programs!
So this summer, when you’re out paddling a local river and enjoying a cold brew, take some time to thank the dedicated volunteers who help maintain our waterways and keep them pristine. If you can, pick up any litter you see along the way, and maybe future paddlers will take some time to thank you too!
– Matt (Team Green’s Events Coordinator)
According to one recent study, Nashville ranked just 29th among the 50 largest cities in the United States for recreation opportunities. While it’s no surprise that peer cities like Denver and Portland ranked ahead of Nashville, it did come as a bit of a shock that Nashville was ranked behind cities not necessarily known for their outdoor and recreation cultures, including Cleveland, Detroit and Kansas City. It should be noted that the study used certain metrics like public beaches per capita, which might put Nashville at a disadvantage (and cities like San Diego at a clear advantage), but factors like music venues per capita were also taken into consideration, which would definitely help to give Nashville a boost relative to other metro areas around the country.
While Nashville certainly has plenty of room to improve in many ways, especially when it comes to things like creating more access points to utilize the Cumberland River as a recreational asset, Davidson County continues to make great strides towards being a regionally- and nationally-recognized recreation hub. Here’s a list of our top 5 reasons why Nashville is a great city to get outdoors and be active:
1. The Greenway System
Whether you’re a walker, a runner, a cyclist, a rollerblader, or just about anything else, Nashville’s greenway system is a great resource for local outdoor recreation. If you’re not familiar with them, greenways are “linear parks and trails that connect neighborhoods to schools, shopping areas, downtown, offices, recreation areas, open spaces and other points of activity,” and are “often located along natural landscape features like streams, rivers and ridges, or along built features, such as railroad corridors and scenic highways,” according to Greenways for Nashville. With more than 65 miles of greenway trails in Davidson county, it’s no surprise that upwards of 90 percent of Nashvillians live within 2 miles of a greenway access point. The best part? They’re completely free and open year-round!
2. Great Local Parks
Nashville is fortunate to have access to an abundance of high-quality parks. Ask anyone around town where their go-to place to get outdoors is, and you’re sure to hear a lot of the same answers. Percy Warner Park, Radnor Lake State Natural Area, and Centennial Park (and Sportsplex) are all common favorites among locals, providing space for walking, running, hiking, festivals and races, and other beloved community events. Places like Bells Bend Park and Cane Ridge Park (in addition to Warner Park) offer access to mountain biking trails, and dozens of other parks across the county feature everything from tennis courts and golf courses to baseball diamonds and basketball courts, providing recreational outlets for just about anyone. In total, Nashville has 108 parks and 19 greenways, adding up to more than 12,000 acres of accessible open space around town. Current projects like the renovation of Riverfront Park on both the east and west banks of the Cumberland continue to add park-based amenities to Nashville, with features like a dog park, river access, and a 6,500 seat amphitheater soon to be open for use.
3. Tons of Local Waterways
For a landlocked city, Nashville has access to a plethora of water-based recreational opportunities. If you’ve spent even one summer living here, you know that it gets HOT, so taking some time to get out on a lake or river is key to keeping cool. Whether your activity of choice is grabbing a canoe and floating one of Middle Tennessee’s scenic rivers, like the Harpeth or Caney Fork, or hopping in a boat and spending a day on Percy Priest or Center Hill Lake, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy the water in Nashville. Other opportunities include plenty of fishing and swimming, a growing stand up paddle board culture, and Nashville’s annual Dragon Boat Festival on the Cumberland River (seriously, check it out if you never have – it’s a blast! Here are some pictures from when we raced in it last year.).
4. Our Growing Cycling Community
Did you know that Nashville is one of only 18 cities in the United States with a population of 500,000 or more to be recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a Bicycle Friendly Community? Over the last decade, Nashville has made a ton of progress in becoming a safer city for cyclists of both the commuting and recreational variety. Nashville has more than 140 miles of designated bikeways across the county, including the 26-mile long Music City Bikeway, which links Percy Warner Park on the west side of town to Percy Priest Dam on the east side. Nashville has also invested heavily in its BCycle bikeshare program, providing affordable access to bikes for both residents and tourists in the downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods. The BCycle system currently features 25 stations and 225 bikes, with plans for five more stations to be installed in 2015. In the two short years since the program’s inception, more than 50,000 BCycles have been checked out!
5. Our Close Proximity to Nearby Recreation Opportunities
If the outdoor amenities in Nashville proper aren’t enough to keep you busy year-round, then it’s fortunate that Nashville also happens to be surrounded by incredible outdoor and recreational opportunities that are just a short day trip away! Within a 2-hour drive are plenty of world-class rock climbing destinations, including King’s Bluff in Clarksville and T-Wall and Foster Falls near Chattanooga. There’s also an endless number of nearby backpacking and hiking trails that make great weekend getaways, including the Cumberland Trail System, Savage Gulf State Natural Area, and Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Nashville is also the end point of the historic Natchez Trace Parkway, and is just a few short hours from sections of the Appalachian Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the thrilling whitewater of the Ocoee River. Seriously, there are so many recreational resources in close proximity to Middle Tennessee that there’s no way they can all be covered here, so you’ll just have to do some exploring yourself!
Itching to get active in Nashville? Join us for one of our upcoming trips! We’re heading to Frozen Head State Park on Saturday, January 31st for a backpacking trip, and we’ll be at Climb Nashville for Indoor Rock Climbing every Tuesday now through the end of March!
– Matt (Team Green’s Event Coordinator)
Here at Team Green Adventures, we love being involved in the Nashville community as much as possible. From hiking local trails to canoeing nearby rivers, maintaining a close relationship with Middle Tennessee and the people and organizations that make it unique is vital to our identity as adventurers. Part of our duty, then, is to give a little back to the place we call home by lending a hand to help keep it a little greener, a little cleaner, and a little healthier.
We partner with great local organizations year-round to get out and volunteer, and we thought right now would be a great time to reflect on all we’ve done so far, and to thank all our volunteers for helping make change happen this year! Check it out:
This year, we partnered with Hands On Nashville, the Nashville Tree Foundation, and Belmont’s Massey School of Business to plant more than two dozen trees in local neighborhoods.
We teamed up with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee to distribute more than 24,000 pounds of food to 112 families in need, sort nearly 11,000 pounds of food in their warehouse, and pack more than 2,500 backpacks for hungry schoolchildren.
Speaking of schoolchildren, we took part in Hands On Nashville Day again this year, helping to beautify Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School by planting greenery and cleaning up the landscaping around one of Nashville’s most innovative public schools.
We partnered with Bridgestone Americas’ Tires4ward program, paddling more than 25 miles of local rivers to remove 55 tires and 50 bags of trash from our scenic waterways.
We joined forces with the Cumberland River Compact and Hands On Nashville to clean up multiple sections of Mill Creek, including our very own mile-long adopted section adjacent to the Mill Creek Greenway. Over the course of 3 cleanups, we removed 62 bags of trash and tons of other large debris from the waterway.
We worked with both Hands On Nashville and the Nashville Food Project in their community gardens, helping to provide access to healthy food for Nashvillians in need.
We helped out at multiple Habitat for Humanity builds, working towards providing eco-friendly and affordable housing options for low-income families in Middle Tennessee.
We even lent a hand to Ferrell Hollow Farm Senior Horse Sanctuary, helping them prepare for their annual fall fundraiser so that they can continue to care for horses that have been neglected, abused, or are suffering from disabilities.
For a quick little summary of everything we’ve done, check out this cool infographic!
Last but not least, we want to say a huge THANK YOU to all of our volunteers who helped make these projects possible over the last 12 months. It took 272 volunteers a grand total of 1074 man hours to accomplish everything listed above, and we couldn’t have done it without all of you! We’re so thankful to have such a dedicated group of people who help us make Nashville a better place, and we can’t wait to continue to lend a hand to our friends and neighbors in 2015!
– Matt (Team Green’s Event Coordinator)