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National Wildlife Federation Celebrates Earth Day 2021 in Birmingham

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John R. Hilliard, Councilor, District 9, (center) participating in a neighborhood cleanup.
By Jacqueline Gray Miller

Earth is an exceptional place. It’s our home. Home to diverse people and cultures, plants and animals, and deserves to be celebrated every day of the year. It’s been over 50 years since the first Earth Day (1970), when people around the nation took to the streets to use their voice to drive change for the health of the planet. In celebration of Earth Day in Birmingham 2021, we asked our partners about simple actions we all can take to benefit the planet.

PROTECT VILLAGE CREEK

Village Creek is the largest urban watershed in the State of Alabama. It runs 44 miles through the City of Birmingham and Jefferson County. It starts at Roebuck and goes through East Lake, North Birmingham, Thomas, Moro Park Ensley, South Pratt to Bayview and into the Warrior River. “As part of our efforts to protect Village Creek, the Village Creek Society hosts cleanups. We remove trash that can enter the storm sewer systems through curb inlets, located in parking lots and along roads. One of the most common ways trash reaches the creek is through the storm sewer system,” said Yohance Owens, Village Creek Human and Environmental Justice Society, Inc. Executive Director. To learn more about their next efforts to protect Village Creek, visit www.villagecreeksociety.org

RIDE YOUR BICYCLE MORE

Cycling has also been proven to be an extremely effective way to alleviate stress, reduce anxiety, clear your mind, and improve your mood. Bicycle riding uses minimal fossil fuels and is a pollution-free mode of transport. Bikes reduce the need to build, service and dispose of cars. Bicycle riding conserves roadway and residential space, thereby providing opportunities for less concrete and more plant life in urban areas.

PLANT WITH A PURPOSE

While you can’t host a potluck with friends and neighbors right now, you can get outside in your own yards and garden spaces while practicing physical-distancing. Now is a great time to make a plan to create a wildlife habitat garden. You can plant a natural buffet to attract beautiful birds, bees and butterflies to your yards and balconies. Even a small space, with the right plants or supplemental feeders, will invite colorful wildlife.

INVESTING IN BIRMINGHAM 

“Today, Earth Day is widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to change human behavior and create global, national and local policy changes,” said Simone Lightfoot, Associate Vice President of Environmental Justice & Climate Justice.

In 2018, Birmingham City Councilor John R. Hilliard, District 9, connected to America’s largest education conservation organization to create direct opportunities for Birmingham residents. To date, partners include Build UP, the East Thomas Neighborhood Association, Ensley Reimagined, Pneuma Gallery, Slade Land Use, Environmental and Transportation Planning, LLC, and the Village Creek Human & Environmental Justice Society, Inc.

Many of the nation’s most significant environmental challenges and opportunities are in our urban centers. From increasing air and water quality to updating housing and transportation infrastructure, the possibilities are endless to improve the environments where people live and decrease pollution and create local jobs. The National Wildlife Federation is committed to addressing the priorities of urban communities.

Simone Lightfoot serves Associate Vice President of Environmental Justice & Climate Justice for the National Wildlife Federation. She oversees the organization’s Birmingham grant efforts and can be reached at (313) 585-1052 or lightfoots@nwf.org