22 Jun Results for the Urban River Challenge Are In!
In March, Friends of the Los Angeles River challenged Friends of the Chicago River to rally the most volunteer support both online and in person for their 2011 urban river cleanups, and THE RESULTS ARE IN.
Part One – The FACEBOOK FACE-OFF stretched from March 1 to May 20, and Friends of the Los Angeles River captured the prize with an increase of 492 “Likes”! Friends of the Chicago River increased their Facebook audience by 259. Both Facebook pages are continuing to grow, creating more robust, educated, and connected river constituencies. Both groups are excited to implement the tools of social media to serve the local environment.
Part Two – The VOLUNTEER COMPETITION pitted the 22nd Annual La Gran Limpieza: The Great Los Angeles River Cleanup against the 19th Annual Chicago River Day. Underdog FoLAR fought hard under a beautifully sunny California sky featuring Mayor Villaraigosa plucking trash from a kayak as host of the Mayor’s Day of Service on the Los Angeles River. Large-scale event support from the City of Los Angeles and the We Serve LA initiative added a heightened level of press coverage and community participation to the 14-site county-wide cleanup effort, bringing 3600 volunteers to the riverbanks from Encino to Long Beach. FoLAR supervised the extraction of a grand total of 25 tons of trash from the Los Angeles River in three hours. Despite FoLAR’s valiance and a soggy Saturday in Chicago, Los Angeles was no match for 65 Chicagoland sites and Midwestern tenacity, which won a clear victory for Friends of the Chicago River with a grand total of 3900 volunteers. From Lake County to Calumet, Friends of the Chicago River mobilized groups and individual volunteers to remove garbage, pull non-native plants, and build fish habitat.
Two Big Winners – The Urban River Challenge utilizes the trend of social media to boost volunteerism and environmental awareness. Both organizations are awed by the volunteer force, the dedicated site captains and coordinators, and the truly heroic corporate and in-kind sponsors and community partners who facilitate the monster-sized efforts each year.
“Both sides played for keeps,” said Lewis MacAdams, President of Friends of the Los Angeles River, “and both sides won. But the big winners were the Rivers themselves. We look forward to expanding this thing to include Rivers from all over the U.S. – trash free nationwide in 2012.”
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