On December 14, we braved the cold temperatures and threat of sleet and held our Day of Action. Earlier in the month, we met with Karen Zeiter from the Rock Creek Conservancy who told us three ways to help Rock Creek: advocacy; action; and education. Our second graders were bubbling with ideas. “We should go back to the Columbia Heights farmers market like we did last year and tell them about pollution!” “We should write letters!” “We should pick up trash.” “We should build a rain garden!”
And so the Day of Action was born. A group of five students got together and began building a flyer to pass out to neighbors. We brought in an expert, Aletheia, who was the General Election Director for the Obama reelection campaign in Pennsylvania. She taught us how to knock on doors and coached us through writing effective pitches.
On the Day of Action, we worked with Ms. Yamamoto to build a rain garden on our campus. We dug holes and planted native plants that like to live in very wet spots.
Then, we headed out to knock on doors. Armed with maps of our neighborhood, scripts, and our flyers, students knocked on doors to tell their neighbors about water pollution in Rock Creek. They urged their neighbors to pick up trash on the street, explaining how stormwater pollution in our neighborhood leads to pollution in Rock Creek. They also talked about combined sewer overflow and how excess rainwater leads to the overflow of raw sewage into Rock Creek.
Mason did his entire pitch when he leaned that the woman at the door spoke Spanish. Taking a deep breath, he persevered, and started over, saying his pitch again, this time, in Spanish.
One of our community values is courage. At the end of the day we agreed: it took a lot of courage to go to the homes of strangers and advocate for Rock Creek. We also agreed that it felt powerful and exciting!