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From the September Newsletter (9.28.15)
Testing the Soil for Green Infrastructure

Earlier this month, a team of EPA hydrologists and soil scientists visited Proctor Creek as part of the national Urban Soils Assessment, a research initiative aimed at informing green infrastructure development. The team collected soil cores at 13 locations in the watershed and used specialized tools to measure how water moves into and through the soil. Little is known about urban soils, and the goal of the research is to characterize urban soils and help city planners design green infrastructure to address environmental challenges related to stormwater. While they were in town, the researchers also visited a 4th grade class at M. Agnes Jones Elementary, a group of 2nd graders from Woodson Elementary, a group of Clark Atlanta students, and Greening Youth Foundation’s Atlanta Youth Corps to discuss hydrology and soils. In total, the research team has collected samples and tested soil hydrology in 11 cities around the country and plans to use the information they gather to: (1) provide soil management options that support successful use of parks and green spaces for green infrastructure; (2) assist city planners in creating healthier, more sustainable communities; and (3) offer guidance on using green infrastructure to visually enhance city landscapes and improve quality of life for city residents and visitors. For more information about the Urban Soils Assessment click here.

A Resident Forum for Engagement in Proctor Creek

On the first Friday of every month, residents from northwest Atlanta communities surrounding Proctor Creek come together to discuss the watershed. This resident-led forum, called the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, creates an opportunity for watershed residents to learn about Proctor Creek and plan activities that promote their mission: to restore, revitalize, and protect the ecological health of the Proctor Creek watershed and the quality of life of all its people. The Stewardship Council was first formed in the fall of 2013 through a collaboration of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, Community Improvement Association, and ECO-Action. Since then, they have attracted the attention of numerous government agencies and partner organizations and empowered residents to engage in Proctor Creek. Approaching their second year in operation, the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council formally registered as a nonprofit organization this month, helping institutionalize their efforts and strengthen their capacity. The Council is currently developing their strategic plan for the next 3 years and encourages anyone living or working in the watershed to attend a meeting or contact one of their co-chairs (Na’Taki Osborne Jelks – 404-825-3872 and Tony Torrence – 678-663-1858). Visit their website by clicking here.

Decentralized Community Gardening with GLEN
Vegetable gardens are popping up around the upper watershed neighborhoods as a new community gardening program begins to grow. The program, called Gardens’ Link Empower Neighborhoods, or “GLEN,” began in June with a focus on helping residents establish vegetable gardens at their homes. So far, four new gardens have been established at residents’ houses and apartment complexes and a new community herb garden has been established. To help coach the new gardeners on keeping their plants healthy and productive, GLEN’s Rosario Hernandez stops by the home gardens once a week to answer questions and share tips. The GLEN program is an initiative of Historic Westside Gardens, a community nonprofit established in 2009 to address disinvestment and food security while acting as an incubator for urban farmers in Vine City and English Avenue. Through GLEN, the new home gardeners are linked to Historic Westside Gardens’ two community training gardens located at 280 Elm Street and at 104 Vine Street where they learn urban farming techniques from experienced growers. Historic Westside Gardens plans to help establish two additional home gardens through the GLEN program by the end of the year. For more information about GLEN, click here or contact Gil Frank at 404-308-1899. (photo courtesy of the GLEN project)

From the August Newsletter (8.20.15)
New Water Monitoring Gauges Courtesy of USGS and USEPA

Thanks to funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), Proctor Creek is about to get two new US Geological Survey (USGS) water monitoring stations. The new stations will gather ongoing hydrology data from the creek including precipitation, gage height (aka water level) and discharge (aka flow rate). USGS currently operates one monitoring station in Proctor Creek at James Jackson Parkway, and they are working with USEPA to identify locations for the two new stations. Data from USGS’s water monitoring sites are collected every 15 minutes and posted in real time on the agency’s website. The data is used for a wide array of things ranging from assessing long-term water flow trends to issuing weather warnings during storm events. Information gathered by water monitoring stations in Proctor Creek could even help measure the effectiveness of future interventions implemented to manage stormwater. The two new stations are expected to be installed by October. In the meantime, for current data from the station on Jackson Parkway, click here.

Prescribing Fresh Produce at Good Samaritan
On an acre in Bankhead once covered in kudzu and tires, the Good Samaritan Urban Farm has been a rapidly growing success and a GoodSamaritanFarm (50) (800x600)model for holistic healthcare. Established in 2013, the farm sits behind the Good Samaritan Health Center on Hollowell Parkway and is operated through a partnership between the health center and the Southeastern Horticultural Society. Good Samaritan Health Center serves people who have the least access to healthcare and are at the highest risk of having serious undiagnosed and untreated health issues, and the urban farm is part of Good Samaritan’s unique FoodRX program. Through FoodRX, healthcare providers “prescribe” vouchers for farm produce to patients at a significantly reduced cost, giving patients access to the healthy food they need.  So far this year, they have provided over 1000 lbs of fresh produce directly to patients and local families in need, and farm works with Georgia Food Oasis and Meals on Wheels to distribute food as well. Produce from the farm is also available for purchase at Good Samaritan’s farmers markets on Thursdays (3-6pm) and Saturdays (8:30-11:30am). The farm’s project manager, Chris Theal is a member of the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council. For more information about the farm click here

From the July Newsletter (7.9.15)
Citizen Scientists Gain Watershed Training

CWP_Training1 - Copy (598x800)In early June, the Center for Watershed Protection and West Atlanta Watershed Alliance hosted a training with eight Citizen Scientists in Proctor Creek on how to identify potential pollution sources in the watershed. The group learned to look for potential pollution sources on land using “Hot Spot” field forms and in the water by looking for signs of contamination at locations where stormwater enters the creek. City of Atlanta staff also joined the group and shared information about the City’s process for inspecting properties for potential pollution sources and how citizens can report any problems they may find in the watershed. These groups will continue to work together to improve reporting forms and empower watershed residents to more easilCWP_Training2 - Copy (600x800)y identify and report pollution sources in Proctor Creek. The initiative is one of three Proctor Creek projects selected last year for funding through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Urban Waters grant program. For more information about identifying sources of urban watershed pollution and other resources, visit the Center for Watershed Protection’s resource library by clicking here. (photos by Deb Caraco)

Brownfield Assessment Opportunities in Proctor Creek

The City of Atlanta is helping facilitate redevelopment of brownfield sites in Proctor Creek and 12 other priority areas through a recently launched Brownfields Assessment Program. Brownfields are properties whose redevelopment is hindered by the presence – or potential presence – of environmental contamination due to past industrial or commercial use. Common examples include closed gas stations, dry cleaners, Brownfield (764x800)or industrial facilities. Under the Brownfield Assessment Program, the city will provide no-cost Environmental Site Assessments for select brownfield properties, with a focus on sites that will be redeveloped in the near-term and will serve as catalysts for further redevelopment within the city’s priority areas. Nominations for sites to be assessed are being accepted on a rolling basis, with the first round due on July 31, 2015. To complete a nomination form, which includes details on site eligibility,click here. For more information and to visit the program’s website, click here. The program is funded with a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program and will end on September 30, 2016.

New Park Underway at the Atlanta University Center
will Feature Green Infrastructure Elements
A new greenspace is under construction at the Atlanta University Center (AUC) and will incorporatAUC-Greenscapee green infrastructure. The Brawley Greenscape and Pedestrian Parkway project will create a multi-use space outside the Robert Woodruff Library and include a rain garden to help capture and manage stormwater. Designed with substantial feedback from students and AUC staff, the new space incorporates several elements of sustainability while creating new opportunities for outdoor learning and events. The project also demonstrates a growing focus on sustainability at the AUC. In addition to the new greenspace, other initiatives currently underway on campus include a program to incorporate green infrastructure into student curricula and aneffort to transform the AUC and surrounding communities into an EcoDistrict. When the library’s new Brawley Greenscape project is completed this fall, it could be the first of many projects to come to the AUC. For more information on the new greenspace click here(image rendering produced by JB+A, Inc.) 

From the May Newsletter (5.5.15)
Groups Team up for Earth Day in the Creek

EarthDayGroupThis Earth Day, forty-five people donned boots and work gloves and spent the afternoon in Proctor Creek near Boyd Elementary School, removing litter and invasive plants. The work day was co-organized by Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Community Improvement Association, Park Pride, Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, and West Atlanta Watershed Alliance. The groups were joined by Build-Up and the Turner Foundation for the afternoon. In total, the team pulled out over 750 lbs of trash, cut back English Ivy, removed Chinese Privet plants, and chatted with elementary students about the watershed. Many saw wildlife including fish, tadpoles, snakes, butterflies, crayfish, and birds while they were working, and it was a beautiful day in the creek. To see more photos, click here

National Park Service Awards Grant to Atlanta for New Park on Proctor Creek

The City of Atlanta has been selected to receive a $280k grant from the National Park Service to help establish a new 9.2 acre park on Proctor Creek near the Bankhead MARTA station. The park will be built through a collaboration between the City, The Trust for Public Land and the Emerald Corridor Foundation, who have hosted many visitors to the site over the last few years. Phase I of the park is expected to include a pedestrian and bike trail, benches, adult fitness stations, children’s play stations and unstructured spaces for picnicking and play. Emerald Corridor Foundation Executive Director, Debra Edelson explained that once the necessarry funding and permitting steps are complete, the City, Emerald Corridor and Trust for Public Land plan to further engage community members to determine the park’s final design. Once established, the new park would be the first in a series of projects to create the Proctor Creek Greenway, an initiative to create a continuous greenspace along Proctor Creek from Maddox Park to the Chattahoochee River. For a full press release from the City of Atlanta click here

Groundbreaking at Lindsay Street Park
Construction of the English Avenue neighborhood’s first official park has begun and will include restoration along a Proctor Creek tributary. As part of The Conservation Fund’s Parks With Purpose program, the park is a collaborative product from many community leaders and partner organizations. State Representative Able Mable Thomas first called attention to the site as a potential park in 2009, and the next year Park Pride worked with numerous organizations GreeningYouthto facilitate a community “Vision for Green Infrastructure” that included the park. Since then, The Conservation Fund (TCF) has acquired land for the park and worked closely with groups such asCommunity Improvement Association and West Atlanta Watershed Alliance to engage community priorities in the design. Now that permits have been issued and construction has begun, TCF is working with Build-UP, Community Improvement Association and Lifecycle Building Center to remove a vacant building at the park and to train residents in deconstruction. They have also partnered with Greening Youth Foundation to train and employ four youth from English Avenue and Vine City to build the park (more in the October Newsletter). The Conservation Fund hopes to continue working with community partners to replicate this model in the future and establish additional greenspace throughout the area. For more information, click here

From the April Newsletter (4.7.15)
Georgia Build-Up, Workforce Development Serving the Watershed

Thirty-two residents from the the upper watershed neighborhoods of Vine City and English Avenue have been hard at work in their
communities through a new workforce development program called Build-Up, founded through a partnership of GA Stand-Up, BuildUpCleaningDrainCommunity Improvement Association and the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency. The initiative focuses on helping people, who have been unemployed for several years, reenter the workforce. Participants gain experience and certifications in topics that include jobsite safety, deconstruction, CPR/First Aid, and more. Among their projects, the Build-Up team has cleaned stormwater catch basins, collected hundreds of pounds of trash and tires, and marked stormdrain manhole covers with stickers that say, “No Dumping – Drains to Stream.” For more information about Build-Up and their work, click here. (Photo by Tony Torrence)

Proctor Creek Water Sampling Courtesy of Student-Scientists

Every Thursday, second graders from Westside Atlanta Charter School (WACS) take a water sample from Proctor Creek as part of the Neighborhood Water Watch (NWW) program. The students began sampling the creek in 2013 with the help of parent and NWW volunteer Jessa Boutte. Every week, Jessa takes a group of students to collect a sample from the creek and brings it to Chattahoochee Riverkeeper for testing. The experience helps students learn about WACS 3.12 (13)environmental science, and their data is a great resource for monitoring the health of Proctor Creek. So far, the students’ data has already helped identify and stop a sewer spill that occurred last year. Using the students’ data, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper was able to find the spill and alert the Department of Watershed Management who fixed the problem. A wad of “flushable” wipes had clogged a sewer line upstream causing it to overflow (video here). The student-scientists will continue to track water quality in Proctor Creek as part of an ongoing project curriculum through their eighth grade year. Be sure to check out their data any time at: www.chattahoochee.org/nww (Scroll down and click “Proctor Creek at Kerry Circle”)

Green Infrastructure Forum at Spelman College
Green infrastructure is an approach to water management that mimics natural systems, and examples include things things like redirecting rainwater from roads to feed raingardens and using pervious pavement to allow water to percolate into the soil. On March 17, ECO-Action and Spelman College hosted a community forum to discuss potential for using green infrastructure to manage GreenInfForum1stormwater at the Atlanta University Center (AUC) and in Proctor Creek. Over 70 people attended the forum, which included presentations from Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Watershed Management, students from the AUC campus, and several community and nonprofit organizations. Following the presentations, attendees formed small groups to brainstorm ways of promoting green infrastructure practices on the campus and beyond. The event was the first in a series of community forums that ECO-Action will be organizing as part of a grant they received from the EPA Urban Waters program last year. For more information about the forum click here.
Learning from Revitalization Efforts in the Bronx River
On March 24, thirty Proctor Creek community members and stakeholder partners attended a conversation with Alexie Torres-Fleming, a community organizer and urban planner from the South Bronx, NY who co-founded the Bronx River Alliance and the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance. The story of efforts in the Bronx River is one of successful collaboration to protect and improve the river as a resource for its surrounding communities. Ms. Torres-Fleming shared the story of revitalization in the Bronx River and lessons that can help inform efforts in Proctor Creek. She AlexieTFMtg1 - editedstressed the point that, though it was difficult at times, collaboration across community groups, nonprofit organizations and government agencies toward a shared goal was essential in realizing success. She explained that in the Bronx River, successful collaboration came when representatives from the different organizations and agencies got to know each other as people. Overall, the conversation made it clear that many lessons can be learned from efforts in the Bronx River, and that successful revitalization in Proctor Creek can come from positive collaboration in the watershed. You can read reflections on the conversation from Dr. Yomi Noibi (ECO-Action) by clicking here. And, to see an interview with Ms. Torres-Fleming telling some of the Bronx River story click here.

From the February Newsletter (2.26.15)
Residents Improving Parks in the Watershed

Neighborhood groups have been hard at work improving their parks in the Proctor Creek watershed. In the Lincoln Homes neighborhood, the Friends of Lillian Cooper Shepherd Park secured a grant from Park Pride and worked with the City Department of Parks to install brand new playground and exercise equipment. The Friends of group is also planning a park workday and ribbon cutting event in April.Meanwhile, in the Carey Park neighborhood, neighbors have been working to improve a forgotten park that was brought to the attention of the City Parks Department last fall. Neighbors have formed the Friends of Watkins Park and secured a NPU grant to hire a troupe of goats and clear invasive plants that had overtaken the park. The group is next planning to add a park bench near a MARTA stop by the park and is enthusiastic to make future improvements. (Photo by Keith Sharp)

Groups Share Comments on City Permit

Earlier this month, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) held a public hearing to collect comments on a draft permit for the City’s combined stormwater and sewer systems (CSS). Mandated by the Clean Water Act, the permit sets requirements on the treatment and release of water from the City’s combined sewer system into waterways. Many organizations working in Proctor Creek shared comments at the hearing and in writing including: Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, ECO-Action, Metro Atlanta Urban Watershed Institute, the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, the Southern Environmental Law Center, and West Atlanta Watershed Alliance. Examples of recommendations made at the hearing include ensuring that the revised permit uses consistent terminology, that it clearly defines how overflow events will be measured, and that it includes provisions to notify downstream users if an unpermitted release occurs. Now that the public comment period for the permit has closed, EPD staff are reviewing comments while making any necessary revisions to the draft.

Proctor Creek Water Quality Update
West Atlanta neighborhoods have been teaming up with Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (CRK) to test water quality in Proctor Creek since 2010. These tests help CRK trackers find pollution sources and notify the City of Atlanta, who has been responsive in making necessary repairs. CRK staff and community members test for several parameters including E.coli bacteria, which is measured in MPN (“Most Probable Number”). Ongoing tests show that after many years of degradation, water quality in Proctor Creek is finally starting to get better. Residents testing the creek at a site near the Bankhead MARTA station, for example have seen E.coli levels drop from an average of 2200 MPN (in 2010) to 734 MPN (in 2014). Atlanta’s other urban streams average around 300-600 MPN, and the level designated by EPA as safe for “primary recreational contact” (i.e. swimming) is 126 MPN, but we’re moving in the right direction. You can keep up with all the test results at www.chattahoochee.org/nww. There’s more work to be done in Proctor Creek; contact Mike Meyer mmeyer@chattahoochee.org to help with the sampling effort. (Article contributed by Mike Meyer)

From the January Newsletter (1.7.15)
First Proctor Creek River Rendezvous a Success

On November 22, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance,Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, Georgia Adopt-A-Stream, and others hosted the first Proctor Creek River Rendezvous. Over 70 volunteers met at the Grove Park Recreation Center, learned about water sampling, and set out in teams to measure water quality at more than 40 locations throughout the watershed.The event was an opportunity for groups and volunteers to connect, explore the watershed, and learn how to collect and test water samples.  Data from the Rendezvous will be used to take a one-day “snapshot” of water quality in Proctor Creek and its streams and tributaries.  River Rendezvous participants and others will come together again early this year to review the day’s findings.

Presentation of Proctor Creek Community Health Survey Findings

The Proctor Creek Community Collaborative Health Survey has brought citizen scientists together with public health researchers to look at indoor air quality in homes in Vine City and English Avenue.  In early December, community researchers and Emory public health professionals shared findings from the project at the Higher Ground Empowerment Center in Vine City. Among survey findings, the team identified mold inside homes as a potential health threat to residents. The group has scheduled a follow-up meeting on Jan 22 to discuss actions to prevent and reduce mold (details on calendar below). The health survey is a collaborative project of the HERCULES Center at Emory’s School of Public Health and ECO-Action, with involvement from residents of English Avenue and Vine City, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council, Community Improvement Association, and many other partners.  Survey findings are available by clicking here. Further information about the collaborative is available by clicking here.

Groundbreaking on Atlanta BeltLine’s Westside Trail
On November 12, Mayor Reed and city leaders broke ground on the Westside Trail section of the Atlanta BeltLine. The 3 mile trail section will run from Adair Park up to Washington Park with connectivity to multiple neighborhoods in between (including 7 neighborhoods in the Proctor Creek Watershed). Targeted for completion over the next 2-3 years, the Westside Trail will be the largest expansion of the Atlanta BeltLine to-date and will include connections to several schools, parks, and the future Urban Farm.  Construction is expected to begin over the next couple months.  Click here for ongoing information about the Westside Trail.

From the November Newsletter (11.21.14)
Watershed Photo Mapping Project Launched

At the end of October, West Atlanta Watershed AllianceCommunity Improvement Association, and community researchers kicked off the Proctor Creek Watershed Photo Mapping Project.  Through the project, ten community researchers have been trained in digital storytelling and are now capturing photographs from around the watershed using the PhotoVoice method.  In the next phase of the research, participants will identify and map neighborhood-level environmental health indicators.  Through this project, community researchers are working to elevate the watershed’s strengths and assets and initiate critical dialogue on environmental and human health challenges and needed policy changes.  The Proctor Creek Watershed Photo Mapping Project is funded in part by the Georgia River Network, the Emory University HERCULES Environmental Health Research Center, and Environmental Community Action (Eco-Action). (photo by Na’Taki Osborne-Jelks)

Good Shepherd Agro-Ecology Demonstrating Urban Food Production

Located on Lawton Street in the West End, the Good Shepherd Agro-Ecology Center is dedicated to increasing ecological sustainability and social justice in the food and agriculture system through public service, education, and research.  A model for urban food production, the Agro-Ecology Center sells produce to Atlanta restaurants, and the farm itself serves Proctor Creek by acting as a vegetative buffer, increasing water infiltration, and slowing erosion.  The Center’s permaculture techniques also improve soil health, water retention, and overall agricultural yields.  Earlier in November, a group of students from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy visited the Agro-Ecology Center and had a chance to participate in ecological restoration efforts onsite and learn about food justice within the Proctor Creek Watershed.  The farm is managed by Eugene Cooke, Nicole Bluh, Imran Battla, and community volunteers.  For more information visit facebook.com/GoodShepherdAgroEcology (photo provided by Good Shepherd Agro-Ecology)

NGOs, Government Representatives and Residents Discuss Proctor Creek Communication Strategy

On November 6, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 4 Office of Environmental Justice and Sustainability, Water Protection Division, and Brownfields program facilitated a strategy session on communications in the Proctor Creek Watershed. The meeting was the beginning of a process to strengthen communication and coordination of activities in the watershed among residents, NGOs, academic institutions, government representatives, and other leaders. For more information about this ongoing conversation on strengthening communication and building partnerships in the watershed, contact contact@aboutproctorcreek.info

Honoring Shaheed DuBois
Community leader and watershed resident, Shaheed DuBois passed away on November 13.  His leadership and service touched many organizations and initiatives in Proctor Creek and helped pave the way for positive change in the watershed.  Shaheed will be remembered as a champion of West Atlanta and Proctor Creek, and for his smile, open handshake, and commitment to his community. (photo by Mike Meyer)
From the October Newsletter (10.31.14)
Greening Youth Foundation Working to Improve Parks and Proctor Creek Visibility

The Greening Youth Foundation’s Atlanta Youth Corps (AYC) has been hard at work in the Proctor Creek Watershed lately.  AYC’s Westside Crew, contracted by The Conservation Fund and Park Pride, will help beautify Lindsay Street Park and Vine City Park and increase the visibility of Proctor Creek in Maddox Park.  The initiative is part of Greening Youth’s work to nurture environmental stewardship among youth and young adults, and expose them to conservation careers.  Through the Atlanta Youth Corps, youth gain training in urban conservation, agriculture, construction, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship while working on projects in the neighborhoods where they live.  To learn more about the Atlanta Youth Corps and the Greening Youth Foundation, visit:http://www.gyfoundation.org

Clark Atlanta Students Engaging in Green Infrastructure Study with ECO-Action

In July, ECO-Action received an Urban Waters Small Grant from EPA to develop a green infrastructure curriculum with Clark Atlanta.  Through the initiative, ECO-Action is working with Clark Atlanta Professors Olu Olatidoye and Charles Richardson, to incorporate principles of green infrastructure into their respective Environmental Engineering and Consumer Behavior classes, with a special focus on stormwater management.  So far, around 52 students have been engaged in the curriculum, and ECO-Action has conducted further outreach to extracurricular student groups.  The curriculum is designed to be interactive, and students will have an opportunity to learn directly from Proctor Creek community leaders and residents.  For more info, visit: http://eco-act.org (photo by Lynne Young)

Georgia Environmental Protection Division Cleanup on a Section of Proctor Creek
On Friday, Oct. 24, Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) organized a cleanup along Proctor Creek in the Grove Park neighborhood.  Staff from City of Atlanta, EPA Region 4, and community leaders also participated, collecting trash, debris, and about 430 tires discarded in and near the creek.  For more info on GA EPD, visit: http://epd.georgia.gov (photo by Tami Thomas-Burton)

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