Guest Post: Project Ubuntu Spends the Week with Save the Sound

Today’s guest post comes from Daniel Becton who spent the past week working with Save the Sound:

From August 2012 to August 2013, I’ll be spending one week in one community in every state and Washington, D.C. The purpose of my trip, Project Ubuntu, is to visit, support and celebrate organizations dedicated to building positive community through dedicating their own time, energy and skills. My trip will take me 16,000 miles on the road and by plane to Hawaii and Alaska as I celebrate 51 unique groups of service-minded individuals.

Over the past two and a half years I have raised funds and lined up partners for the project, and I came across Save the Sound through a group they have worked with called Calling All Crows, which organizes service events for the bands Dispatch and State Radio and their fans. This week I visited with Save the Sound and learned about their exciting work to protect the dynamic estuary known as Long Island Sound.

Calling All Crows Cleanup at Long Wharf with Save the Sound and State Radio before State Radio’s concert at Toad’s Place in 2009

Three important themes have emerged as I strive to connect organizations like STS together through an invisible network of good will: accessibility, mobilization and community. Save the Sound truly embodies all three, and that’s part of what makes it such an effective, worthwhile cause:

Accessibility: Due in large part to outdated dams from old mills throughout the state, Connecticut’s many rivers that connect to the Sound are frequently blocked. As a result, fish such as the river herring cannot travel upriver each year to spawn. The situation is so severe that before intervention around 99 percent of the river herring population disappeared, which affects all levels of our integrated ecosystem. Save the Sound works to create access for fish into the rivers, rescuing nature’s pathways for migratory species.

Newly installed fish ladder at Wallace Dam on the Quinnipiac River
Photo: Leah Schmalz

Another important strategy of Save the Sound is to preserve public access to beaches and the water. This means policy work to keep private interests from developing and monopolizing areas along the coast, and it also means working toward the prevention of sewage being dumped into the Sound. Outdated sewage treatment facilities in places like Bridgeport and New Haven mean moderate or heavy rainfall often results in waste reaching the water, beaches closing, and the aquatic habitat heavily polluted.

Press conference celebrating the defeat of Broadwater in 2008

Mobilization: Save the Sound works with partners like the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to come up with the scientific resources to address the issues facing the Sound. Then STS takes the crucial next step of mobilizing volunteers, policy makers, funds, and workers to take action. Science and concerned citizens alone struggle to change the course of human behavior; Save the Sound empowers them through implementation expertise. In this manner STS plays an all-important role, mobilizing tools and resources to make a real difference on each project.

Community: Perhaps the most important work of Save the Sound, in my opinion, is that which brings us together. From the creation of coalitions to the organization of volunteer opportunities to their holistic approach to environmental restoration, STS seeks to transcend perceived divisions such as environment vs. economy, public vs. private or right vs. left.

Volunteers at Seaside Park in Bridgeport during this year’s International Coastal Cleanup

Instead, through their work we see at every level that everyone stands to gain through preserving the natural brilliance of the Long Island Sound, and that there are effective strategies for every problem which ultimately benefit all parties involved. From the American eel that support the aquatic food chain to the fishers who stock restaurants along the coast, we are all interconnected and truly interdependent. That makes Save the Sound’s mission not only admirable, but vital for us as a community of people and as part of the vibrant and diverse ecosystem that supports us.

Daniel Becton is the creator of Project Ubuntu and is currently on the road with the project. The mission of Project Ubuntu is to visit, celebrate and support people in one community in every state and Washington, D.C. who embody “ubuntu” through their commitment to service, and to inspire a wide-ranging audience to engage in service themselves. Previously, Daniel volunteered with City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley and spent two years with City Year London as Civic Engagement Team Leader and Recruitment Officer while planning the project. He studied Philosophy, Music and Women’s Studies at the University of North Carolina, and has a master’s degree in Gender Studies from the London School of Economics.

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