The University of Colorado Boulder’s Environmental Center, partnering with the university’s Environmental Health and Safety Department, hosted a clean-up of Boulder Creek on Saturday at Scott Carpenter Park. Volunteers participated in a healing circle and ritual led by a local indigenous leader, Andrea Nawage, before splitting into small groups to pick up litter along Boulder Creek.
“I came [to the clean-up] because I saw the opportunity, and I missed volunteering,” said Vanessa Maybruck, a graduate student at CU.
Community members, including CU Boulder undergraduate and graduate students and Boulder locals, gathered at 10 a.m. to participate in the clean-up. The event was organized by CU Boulder’s Climate Justice Team (CJT), an organization that works to create alliances with groups and individuals that are involved in climate justice research and programs.
“Cleaning up trash is a simple yet powerful way to take action and to be cognizant of our waste production. Pairing a clean up with a healing circle and water ritual led by Andrea Nawage will further foster community and our relationship with the land,” said Jacob Baca, a member of the CJT.
Saturday’s event was the first of five featured events for the Climate Justice Leadership Alliance program, which aims to provide participants with the knowledge and skills to advance environmental and social justice efforts. The final event in this series will be a closing circle led by Andrea Nawage in either November or December, depending on the weather.
The clean-up began with volunteers seated in a circle around an altar prepared by Andrea Nawage. She then gave a land acknowledgment, honoring the indigenous tribes that have inhabited the land for centuries. She spoke of generational healing through awareness and reconnecting with the land.
“If we start to see the Earth and the land in relation to us and how we function, the way that we treat the Earth would be completely different,” said Nawage.
Led by Nawage, participants took turns sharing their relationship with the water and how they could make a difference. Many participants shared newfound feelings of gratitude for water.
To end the healing circle and water ritual, Nawage invited volunteers to gather offerings of flowers, berries, cornmeal and tobacco and walk down to Boulder Creek. On the bank, Nawage prayed and sang a song. Participants then threw flowers and tobacco into the water as an offering and sprinkled berries and cornmeal onto the banks.
Volunteers then received gloves, trash bags and grabber tools and split into small groups. The groups walked east and west along the banks picking up trash in and around Boulder Creek.
“I like cleaning up. It’s something that — the idea of cleaning up the city, the town’s waterways, a coast, always pops into my mind, and anytime that it pops up in my email, I say yes,” said Alina Mateo, a graduate student in the chemistry department at CU Boulder.
The clean-up ended around 2 p.m. when volunteers reconvened and took a few dozen bags of trash to a nearby dumpster.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Celia Frazier at firstname.lastname@example.org.