A celebration of the volunteer efforts behind a decade of beautification projects in Swift Current was marked during the 10th annual Go Green Friday on September 21.
The annual Go Green Friday initiative by Stark & Marsh, in partnership with Innovation Credit Union and the City of Swift Current, dates back to 2008 when it started simply as a creek side clean-up effort. It has since expanded into a major partnership which tackles beautification projects, as well as planting trees and shrubs, at locations throughout the community.
“The milestone is kind of unique because when you start a project I don’t think that you really think that something like this is going to go for 10 years,” explained Stark & Marsh CEO Elden Moberg.
“To get through 10 years is pretty exciting. And I think the initiative has really grown. And the City has taken advantage of it now. The projects that they put in place for us are real good. They’re a lot more strategic I think in what they’re doing. They’ve learned from it through the years. And now they know they can rely on it.”
There is a healthy dose of community pride which goes into the projects and attracts growing numbers of volunteers. This year, a group of approximately 150 volunteers took on a dozen community projects.
“Annually, just for our team, it gives them the opportunity to do something in the community and something that they can be proud of because it’s something that’s ours as Stark & Marsh, and now with Innovation Credit Union, that really no one else is doing.”
And, through the success of the initiative, there are a series of identifiable Go Green project areas around Swift Current.
“Now you can drive around town and you can see the things you were working on, and the things that you laid your hands to. I think for people that’s important…knowing that you’ve left something behind is important in people’s lives. This is just a small way that we can all do that.”
Moberg also saluted the dedication of the volunteers for helping them have such a positive impact.
“To get people back they have to feel good about it,” he said. “So to keep the staying power there has to be a calling card to it. And I think that feeling that you’re helping the community, that you’re actually making a different, is key for people and that’s why they keep coming back.”
The efforts of the Go Green initiative coordinated by Stark & Marsh has allowed the Swift Current Creek Watershed Stewards to complete a series of important projects over the past decade.
While during the early years of Go Green they used volunteers simply for creek bank clean ups, they have been able to tackle more in depth initiatives in the past few years.
Kevin Steinley, Executive Director of the Swift Current Creek Watershed Stewards, said the work has evolved into true watershed stewardship initiative.
“Over the last number of years we’ve worked to have projects that will do more than just clean up. They improve the creek, help reduce erosion on the creek bank, and work to beautify the City. And also improve fish and wildlife habitat within the City.”
During this year’s projects, one group of volunteers completed work on a Rain Garden Site adjacent to Regier Honda.
In case of a large rain event, the site will slow down storm water before it reaches the Swift Current Creek, helping reduce sediment and erosion, which helps maintain the integrity of the creek bank. The work will help improve water quality going into the creek, as the project helps filter out a lot of pollution.
“Five years ago the Watershed Stewards did some water monitoring, checking on water quality at a spot just down from that site, and found that water quality wasn’t bad but it could be a lot better.”
Steinley said by slowing the water, it will not only help sediment from reaching the creek, but will also help recharge the aquifer by assisting the ground to absorb the water.
A second group of volunteers worked at a site behind Connaught Drive near Ashley Park Community Hall, and they planted native trees on a site which had been previously been over run with the invasive species Common Burdock.
“We’re hoping to revegetate that site along the creek bank and reduce erosion.”
“That’s one of the things that we’ve really tried to deal with is reduce the invasive weed species as a part of our stewardship. As we get more invasive weeds it reduces our native plants, and it also reduces the effectiveness of the creek area.”
He hopes that the projects have a ripple effect for city residents who notice the work during their use of the Chinook Pathway.
“We’re hoping that as people are using the pathway they will see it and realize the stewardship that’s there, and then do things they can do themselves in small projects to improve the creek and the area around the creek.”
“The Creek is a very important integral part of the City, and the City is a very integral part of our watershed.”