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.

Dragon Boat 6
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!