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Cleaning Up, Coming Together

Clean-up Programs Crucial for Helping Conserve Ecosystems, Protect Wildlife, Reduce Water Pollution and Beautify Natural Surroundings

Cindy Grantham moved into Hall Park in northeast Norman in late 2014, mostly due to the beauty of the area.

“I fell in love with the green spaces, lake and trails here,” she explains. “I am so grateful for the Hall Park citizens who came before us, many who are long gone, that helped preserve the natural beauty of this neighborhood.”

Preserving the natural beauty of our neighborhoods, green spaces and natural surroundings is an important responsibility that offers many benefits for the community. Community clean-up programs are more than just a way to remove bothersome litter and debris. These efforts are crucial for helping to conserve ecosystems, protect wildlife, reduce water pollution and improve the appearance of our natural surroundings. Collaborative clean-up efforts also develop a sense of community, connect like-minded neighbors and help preserve our environment for the next generation.

Making a Difference in Hall Park

Cindy remembers being invited by to help clean up one of the Hall Park lakes during her first spring in the area.

“It was a miserable, wet and cold March day,” she recollects. “Three of us got into my neighbor's paddle boat and went from shore to shore, soaking wet, exhausted and having the time of our lives while we picked up trash along the entire lake shore. That one extraordinary effort to take ownership of the cleanliness of our lake became my passion.

“Once I started picking up trash, it became hard to ignore litter wherever I saw it. So, from there, I started picking up trash throughout Hall Park during my daily walks with my dogs. My Lab mix, Minnie, will now head toward trash and point it out.”

In Hall Park, the most successful neighborhood clean-up event to date took place in January 2020, with more than 15 volunteers picking up over 300 pounds of trash along Robinson and 24th Avenue Northeast.

“Once you start cleaning up an area, you start noticing the natural beauty all around you and there is a sense that you are helping the flora and fauna survive,” Cindy adds. “One of the best parts of my involvement in Hall Park's beautification efforts are the friends I've made. There are truly wonderful people all over Hall Park who I would never have met had I not been involved with our neighborhood clean-up efforts.”

Making a Difference at Lake Thunderbird

Even if your neighborhood doesn’t offer an organized clean-up event, there are still ample opportunities to help make a difference in the world around you. One example is the annual Lake Thunderbird Workshop and Clean Up, organized by the City of Norman.

“Lake Thunderbird is impaired due to sediment and nutrients. Because it is impaired, its watershed has a Total Maximum Daily Load placed on it for sediment and nutrients, and citizens can help protect our water quality,” explains Michele Loudenback, Norman’s stormwater program specialist.

“Norman, Oklahoma City and Moore are required to meet certain milestones and do certain activities in order to improve the water quality of the lake. Two such activities are educating the public and encouraging them to participate in the effort to make it better. The Lake Thunderbird Watershed Workshop and Clean Up Event does both.”

Depending on the weather, this annual event attracts an average of 50 attendees who are educated about water pollution, stormwater pollution and the ways that they can protect water quality in everyday life.

“This is a huge boon for the environment because when people are educated about ways to help, they tend to do them,” Michele explains. “When we perform a trash clean-up around Lake Thunderbird, we remove trash and other debris that would likely make its way into the water.” 

The annual event educates participants on Lake Thunderbird’s history, the current state of water quality and how the citizens of Cleveland County can make a difference in their daily life. In addition, other groups, community organizations and civic agencies share volunteer opportunities.

“We all have to work together to protect and improve our water quality,” Michele adds. “People who participate not only make a big difference for their community, but they also have fun.”

How You Can Make a Difference

Citizens who are interested in the annual Lake Thunderbird Workshop and Clean Up can contact Michele at michele.loudenback@normanok.gov or 366.5435 to be added to the event’s email list. Information is also available by following the City of Norman on Facebook.

Although Hall Park holds a yearly clean-up event, the litter never ceases, and the best way to address it is to pick it up before it gets into the green spaces.

“My advice to others who may want to organize a clean-up is to find like-minded individuals in their neighborhoods and just ask them to help out,” Michele advises. “Start with your Homeowners Association and publicize it on a neighborhood Facebook group or the Nextdoor website to recruit volunteers.”

“I believe stewardship of the earth is the most pressing issue facing the younger generations, and there is no place like home to start caring for your earth,” Michele concludes. “So, when volunteers show up with their children, I am so thankful for what these parents are modeling for our future generation.”

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