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Why I Sweep: ‘A love unconditional’

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This is one in a series of guest blog posts about Riverkeeper Sweep, our annual day of service for the Hudson, involving dozens of shoreline cleanups and planting projects on a single day. Be part of the next Sweep, October 17, 2020 – Visit


There is a lot we can learn from rivers, lakes, streams, oceans … any and all waterways on this planet.

Everything is connected. A river may be at the heart of a community, but it knows no boundaries – it continues to flow. The flow carries it into the next community, and another, before it eventually reaches the ocean. And that ocean? It merges with another ocean.

We may try to manipulate these water bodies or even take ownership of them and give them names and boundary lines, but at the end of the day, we know we can never truly possess them – only care and respect for them. A love unconditional.

What makes me feel connected to the river is the fact that we are all linked to it. We live along it, we enjoy its beauty, we make memories. The same river can have millions of memories clustered on its shores – each memory as unique as the rest.

These memories are bookmarked in our minds. We remember how the sun glinted off the waves, or how the air was lightly fragranced with the smell of salt, or how, whether it be skyscrapers or the mountains looming over the water, a majestic feeling is released from the heart.

These beautiful memories come with the privilege of having clean and safe water bodies to live near. Nothing is memorable or unique about pollution and abuse of our waterways.

When we disrespect and neglect our waterways, we are disrespecting and neglecting ourselves as well as each other. We are all connected through these living waters, and initiatives such as Riverkeeper Sweep serve as helpful and important reminders that we are responsible for keeping these connections flowing.

We must hold each other accountable and take steps toward learning to become better stewards of our environments. Because if we act locally, we are making changes globally. We are influencing others to join us in learning, growing, and taking better care.

Seeing firsthand all of the amazing and hard work that goes into organizing the Riverkeeper Sweep is both humbling and empowering. The staff are extremely knowledgeable and supportive, encouraging involvement from volunteers throughout the Hudson Valley. You meet others who are interested in educating themselves and taking the necessary steps toward making positive changes.

Riverkeeper Sweep is the essential reminder that we are united through these bodies – water bodies – and it is up to us to take action and keep these connections flowing.

Top photo:
Hanging out with my family by the Bronx River.

Middle photo:
Water Quality Monitoring for the Bronx River Alliance.

Photo at right:
Cleaning up the Bronx River during Riverkeeper Sweep.

Erin is a Membership Manager at Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson and is leading the Tuckahoe: Bronx River Cleanup at Parkway Oval Park during Riverkeeper Sweep 2020 on October 17.

Tell Gov. Hochul to block invasive species at the Erie and Champlain canals
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