Community Partner Spotlight: Cumberland River Compact

Community Partner Spotlight: Cumberland River Compact

Here at Team Green, we love working with local non-profits and other community partners to create high-quality and engaging events that range from free workshops to volunteer opportunities. This week, we sat down with Carolyn Wright, program and event director of Cumberland River Compact, who we partner with on the yearly Cumberland River Dragon Boat Festival. Check out what she had to say about Nashville’s most beloved source of water, and how we can get involved as a city:

“The Compact started in 1997 when environmental advocacy work became the new trendy thing, and a man named Vic Scoggin came along. Legend has it that one of our current board members used to be a private detective,” said Wright. “One day, he was out filming someone polluting the river, and then this crazy guy swam by. He tracked him down, and the man was Vic Scoggin. To help raise environmental awareness for it, he swam the whole length of the Cumberland River. That’s nearly 600 miles.”

Very soon afterwards, Scoggin ended up assembling an environmentally-conscious group of Nashvillians, and thus began Cumberland River Compact.

While the primary mission of Cumberland River Compact is to “enhance the health and enjoyment of the Cumberland River and its tributaries through education, collaboration, and action”, this is by no means a boring feat. Every year The Compact hosts the annual Dragon Boat Festival, which entails teams of organizations, corporations, and individual groups paddling across downtown Nashville’s riverfront in colorful Dragon Boat fashion.

“Team Green has a boat in the race every single year now,” said Wright. “They’re The Team Green Giants and it’s always so great to see them show up all hyped up and dressed as a team with their Green Giant drummer-mascot.”

This event is Cumberland River Compact’s largest fundraiser, and a huge opportunity to get people out on the water. This will be The Compact’s 9th year holding the race, and there are annually over 1,000 paddlers, 50 race teams, and 8 Dragon Boats. Each Dragon Boat holds 20 people, and has a drummer of its own to lead its team forwards with a solid paddling cadence.

Everyone is welcome to come, dress up, bring their kids for a bunch of activities, and be merry. This year’s Dragon Boat race will be on Saturday, September 12th at the East Bank Landing.

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We love putting a team together for the Dragon Boat race every year!

To help work towards their ultimate declared mission, Cumberland River Compact breaks their work down into three categories: teaching, protecting, and connecting.

The Compact is all about protecting the Cumberland River through advocacy, and that begins with education. This is especially true as the city of Nashville gains approximately 82 new Nashvillians every day, according to The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Elite. With such growth, it is imperative that we proceed accordingly, and teach our younger generations to do so as well.

“It really affects our work here because with that many people coming, we have to have a louder voice,” said Wright. “It’s great for Nashville when we create new infrastructure, but we have to remember and actively live like it. The more people that come, the more that our resources will be stressed.”

A prime event to promote their theme of education is the annual Catfish Rodeo. This is a yearly free festival for kids and families to learn to fish, see some booths, and have some fun with over 1,700 lbs of catfish at Sevier Lake in Shelby Park.

Right next to educating the people who make use of the river, Cumberland River Compact’s most common form of advocacy is the physical protection and up-keeping of the river, its streams, and the surrounding land.

“Team Green adopted a stream!” smiled Wright. “Groups can go online on our website and, through us, can adopt streams. Then, these groups will have their own quarter-mile segments that they can have to clean up and take care of.” Team Green’s adopted section includes a one-mile stretch of Mill Creek near Ezell Road Park and the Mill Creek Greenway, and we’ve done 5 cleanups to date on that section.

Mill Creek 1
After 5 cleanups on our adopted section of Mill Creek, we’ve pulled more than 100 bags of trash and other debris from the waterway!

Stream adoptions, tree planting, and rain gardening are just a few of the ways that both groups and individuals can get involved and do some of the grunt work that keeps our beloved river clean and healthy.

“After all, we use and drink the water that comes from the Cumberland. Might as well take care of what we have to put in our bodies,” said Wright.

The last, and certainly not least, principle of The Compact is to connect with people while helping others to connect.

Over the years, countless organizations, businesses, and people walking down the street have been able to form partnerships, friendships, traditions, and an overall stronger community for Nashville as a city through the work of Cumberland River Compact.

“To anyone who’s looking to be outside more, or help the community, or do something with their weekend, I definitely say check out our website because everything you could want to know about volunteering will be there,” said Wright. “We have a new recreation map on our website in the resources area. If you’re looking for anything to do around Nashville, check it out!”

Cumberland River Compact’s website is http://cumberlandrivercompact.org/ . You can also get involved by helping out at Team Green’s next stream cleanup, coming up on October 4th!

– Aziza Cunningham (Lightning 100 Summer Intern)

A Journey Along the Harpeth

A Journey Along the Harpeth

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.

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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.

Carpe Diem,

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!

5 Projects that are Making Nashville a Better Outdoor City

5 Projects that are Making Nashville a Better Outdoor City

If you’ve been keeping up with our blog over the last several months, then you know that we’ve got a ton of love for all that Nashville has to offer when it comes to getting outdoors. From parks and greenways to waterways and festivals, Nashville provides residents with an almost endless supply of excuses to step outside and enjoy nature. Though Middle Tennessee is a fantastic place to be for recreation lovers of all types, that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement! As a city, we’re constantly thinking about the next steps to take to continue to support active outdoor lifestyles. Here are five projects on the horizon (or closer) that are helping to make Nashville just that much better for people who love to get outdoors:

1. Davidson Street Multi-Use Path (Coming July, 2015)

Over the last several years, Nashville has made great strides toward becoming a much more bike-friendly city. In 2012, Nashville was recognized as a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community (TM) by the League of American Bicyclists, and as of last week, Nashville now has 16 Bicycle Friendly Businesses (TM), including us! If our cycling community is to continue to grow and thrive moving forward, then there certainly needs to be an increase in infrastructure to provide riders of all ability levels with safe and accessible routes across the city. Thankfully, city officials have recognized this need and acted accordingly, recently announcing a multi-use path to be installed along Davidson Street near Shelby Bottoms. The path enhances the existing Music City Bikeway by implementing a paved path for both pedestrians and cyclists that would range between 8 and 12 feet wide and include protective bollards and wide striping to increase user safety. The path will increase connectivity between Downtown, LP Field, Shelby Bottoms, and existing neighborhoods in East Nashville, and is a fantastic resource for commuting and recreational cyclists alike!

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Concept drawing of the Davidson Street path, via Nashville.gov.

2. West Riverfront Park and Amphitheater (Coming July, 2015)

If you’ve set foot in SoBro recently, then you know how hard it is to miss all the construction going on in what is becoming one of Nashville’s fastest growing commercial districts. Sitting prominently on a long-blighted piece of prime riverfront property (this site was once the home of Nashville’s Thermal Transfer Plant), the soon-to-be-completed West Riverfront Park will provide an incredible array of amenities for Nashvillians to get outdoors. Most notably, the park features a gleaming 6,500 seat outdoor amphitheater, giving the city a much-needed mid-size concert venue. The lineup for the inaugural season at the newly-named Ascend Amphitheater was just released last week, featuring more than a dozen shows ranging from Eric Church and Grace Potter to Widespread Panic and Old Crow Medicine Show, offering a little something for every musical taste. The site will also feature a dog park, outdoor wi-fi, more than a mile of greenways and paths, basketball courts and so much more, providing SoBro with access to a ton of much-needed resources to enjoy the outdoors right in the heart of Downtown.

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Rendering of West Riverfront Park and Amphitheater, via Nashville.gov.

3. East Bank Landing (Coming Summer, 2015)

Though West Riverfront Park has been getting most of the press recently, there are big changes happening on the other side of the river as well. East Bank Landing is currently under construction adjacent to LP Field and the Bridge Building, tucked in near the eastern end of the Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge. When complete, this small park will feature increased green space and shade trees, several benches, a picnic area, and a floating dock for the General Jackson. Perhaps the best feature for local outdoors enthusiasts, the renovated space will also include direct water access for launching canoes and kayaks, providing another access point to what has been a historically under-utilized Cumberland River. East Bank Landing also acts as an addition to the existing open space in nearby Cumberland Park, making for several acres of contiguous green space along the increasingly resident-friendly eastern bank of the river.

4. oneC1TY (Ongoing, some elements now open)

Tucked into a historically nondescript lot north of Centennial Park, the oneC1TY project is quickly becoming one of Nashville’s most talked about developments, and with good reason. Part of the larger redevelopment of Charlotte Avenue into a “healthy corridor,” oneC1TY seeks to become a hub for health and wellness both indoors and outdoors. The project will feature tons of sustainable elements, like a shipping container village (playfully named C1TYBLOX) full of health-oriented businesses, as well as highly-efficient office space for groups like the Tennessee Orthopaedic Alliance. oneC1TY will also play host to several public outdoor elements, like walking paths, a lake with a picnic area, an amphitheater for music and other performances, and sand volleyball courts (which are already open). Overall, the project is aiming to be a LEED-certified sustainable neighborhood with both residential and commercial components, and its main goal is to be a center for innovation and collaboration on all things health and wellness in Nashville.

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Concept plan for a portion of the oneC1TY site, showing abundant outdoor space adjacent to the 28th/31st Avenue Connector, via Cambridgeinc.com.

5. Centennial Park Renovation (Phase 1 due in May, 2015)

One of Nashville’s oldest and most recognizable parks, Centennial Park has long been a cherished outdoor spot for many locals. Since 1897, the park has provided Nashvillians with access to walking and running paths, abundant green space, a small pond full of wildlife, gorgeous gardens, and a full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon among other amenities, all in the heart of Midtown! Though the park has long been a staple of Nashville’s recreation culture, an increasingly vibrant and growing user base has spurred on the need for renovations. Construction began late last summer on Phase 1 of the project, which includes a permanent amphitheater for the Musician’s Corner concert series and enhanced parking and landscaping near the Parthenon, among other components. Future phases will provide park users with access to a stream flowing through the park, the renovation of existing monuments and addition of new sculptures, the installation of a playground, and so much more! The Centennial Park Master Plan outlines all of the changes happening throughout the park, and provides a snapshot into how incredible the park will be for all of Nashville when it’s complete.

All of these great projects have got us beyond excited to get outdoors as the weather heats up this summer, and we hope you’ll join us! Check out our calendar to find ways to get involved. Do you have a favorite local project going on that we missed? Feel free to add it in our comments section below!

See you out there, Nashville!

– Matt (Team Green’s Events Coordinator)

Clean Water for All!

Clean Water for All!

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!

Dragon Boat
The Cumberland River Compact’s Dragon Boat Festival is one of our favorite annual events, and is probably the most fun way to support healthy waterways in Middle Tennessee!

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!

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We pulled more than two dozen tires out of the Harpeth River during our first canoe float last summer!

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!

mill creek cleanup
Volunteers helped clear this small mountain of trash from Mill Creek in just 3 hours during our Waterway Restoration Project with Hands On Nashville in June of 2013.

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)

Do-It-Yourself Flood Prevention

Do-It-Yourself Flood Prevention

With all the snow and ice we had last week across the southeast, it seemed like everyone was talking again about the possibility of flooding here in Middle Tennessee. Anyone who has lived here five years or longer certainly has vivid memories of the May 2010 flood, which saw much of Nashville and the surrounding area under several feet of water. While the threat of something similar happening again anytime soon is pretty low (the 2010 flood was a 1000-year flood, meaning water levels that high are only likely to be seen once every thousand years, or that it has a 0.1% chance of happening in any given year), even the threat of high water prompts a worried reaction from most Nashvillians. Just this week, the Mayor’s Office released its long-term plan for protecting downtown from flooding, with the installation of additional flood walls and a pumping station set to happen in coming years. With all that in mind, here are a few things you can do at home to help ease flooding issues, no matter where you live!

1. Plant Trees

In the event of heavy rain, the banks of local creeks and rivers are often the most vulnerable places to flood damage, as they are the first places to bear the brunt of high water levels. Planting trees with strong root systems along waterways helps to prevent erosion and keep rivers and streams from widening during heavy rains. Though erosion is usually gradual, banks can erode very quickly in the event of severe flooding, causing significant damage to nearby property and creating a major threat for adjacent homes and businesses. Even if you don’t live near a waterway, planting a few trees still helps to mitigate flooding risks, as a thick tree canopy works to absorb rainfall and slow the flow of rain water into rivers and streams. Basically, you can’t go wrong planting a tree, so get out there and do it!

River Swale bank erosion
Planting trees can help prevent erosion like this along river banks. (via soil-net.com)

2. Install Rain Barrels

You may not know it, but Nashville is actually one of the rainiest cities in the United States, seeing more than 47 inches of rainfall in an average year, good for 10th on the list. If you’ve got a rain barrel (or two, or three, or…), then you don’t have to let all this perfectly good water go to waste! An inch of rainfall on 1000 square feet of rooftop produces roughly 600 gallons of water, and if you have a way to collect some of this water, you can use it around the house as you need it. Rain barrels most commonly come in 55-gallon sizes and can be placed below any gutter to collect runoff from your home. They’re pretty easy to install, and once you’ve got one set up, all you need to do is attach a garden hose to your barrel at any time to utilize the water you’ve collected to water your plants, wash your car, and more. Barrels can often be found on Craigslist, and can also be bought from our friends at the Cumberland River Compact, allowing you to support a good cause while you save some money on your water bill as well! If you’re the creative type, you can get crafty with your rain barrel and decorate it to make it double as nice piece of art for your yard. With spring rains just around the corner, there’s no better time to invest in a rain barrel!

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A decorated rain barrel featuring some flamingos! Note the spout at the bottom left where you can attach a garden hose. (via galleryhip.com)

3. Create a Rain Garden

If you’ve got a real green thumb, then planting your own rain garden is a great way to prevent excess water runoff while also beautifying your yard. According to the Rain Garden Network, a rain garden is a “shallow depression that is planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses.” These gardens can vary in size, shape and plant life, but should be placed near runoff sources like downspouts or large paved areas to have the greatest overall impact. Because rain gardens are sunk into the ground, they act as natural collection places for water during heavy rains, preventing that water from flowing into storm drains and local waterways, which can occasionally be overwhelmed during especially large downpours. By limiting the amount of runoff flowing down roadways and into storm drains, rain gardens also keep rain water cleaner, as this runoff often comes into contact with gasoline, oil, and other contaminants as it flows over paved surfaces. These gardens can be great landscaping features for your yard and are great educational tools as well!

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(via watershedcouncil.org)

Lucky for you, we’ve got a handful of opportunities coming up for you to learn more about rainwater and to do your part to protect Nashville from future flood damage! On Wednesday, March 4th, we’re partnering with Urban Green Lab and the Cumberland River Compact to host a rain barrel workshop, and we’ve also got local tree plantings coming up with both the Harpeth River Watershed Association (on March 14th) and Hands On Nashville (on March 21st). See y’all there!

– Matt (Team Green’s Event Coordinator)

Upgrade your Water: Make Staying Hydrated More Fun this Summer!

Upgrade your Water: Make Staying Hydrated More Fun this Summer!

Anytime you sweat, your body is giving you a gentle reminder that it is time to drink some water. Team Greeners are an active and outdoorsy bunch, making it even more important for us to prioritize hydration. When we hike, bike, or paddle on the lake for extended periods of time, we must bring water along to rehydrate. When you’re having fun it can be easy to forget to take care of your physical needs, but as heat and humidity rise it becomes more vital to hydrate and replenish with water. If you skimp on water, then fatigue, headaches and dehydration are just a few of the downsides that you are likely to experience. It is a general rule that men should consume about 3 liters of water a day, while women should drink 2 liters of water daily.

Amber Robertson, a Nashville-based certified holistic health coach, gave several reasons why someone may need to drink more than the suggested daily dose:

Consume more water if you:

  • Live in a hot climate
  • Are in a high altitude above 8,000 ft.
  • Exercise frequently
  • Experience sickness with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Have a bladder infection or UTI
  • Are pregnant or breast feeding
  • Frequently drink alcohol

When we’re told to drink a specific amount of water, why is it so difficult to reach that number? Water can be fairly boring, making it easier to grab a tea or coffee, or even worse, a sugary energy drink or soda. Amber offers three of her favorite easy-to-make fruit-infused waters. These cooling drinks will make drinking water more fun, and you won’t have to think twice about consuming more of this important beverage. Try one of Amber’s refreshing recipes: Sliced Cucumber & Mint Sprig, Sliced Mandarin Orange & Blueberries, or Strawberry, Lemon & Fresh Basil Leaves.

Water-Group-1024x1024Another tip to keep in mind is that there are easy ways to consume more water without actually drinking water. Summer produce, such as cantaloupe, peppers, watermelon, zucchini, cherries and peaches are fruits and vegetables with high water content. Amber’s Sweet Peaches and Ricotta Toast is one recipe that will help you consume even more H20.

peaches2-1024x864Drinking water is not only important to prevent the negative effects of dehydration, but adding a little more water to your diet can also increase your energy, promote weight loss, flush out harmful toxins, improves skin complexion, and prevent cramps and sprains!

We understand how important it is to keep our bodies in proper shape in order to stay active and energized. Every Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. Team Green meets at Centennial Park for sand volleyball. Our event sponsor is Real Water, an alkalized water infused with negative ions, which is proven to increase cellular hydration more so than acidic, positively-ionized purified waters. Join Team Green for sand volleyball to try this refreshing water without interrupting your active lifestyle!

– Kate (Team Green’s Summer Intern)