Early in November, American Littoral Society staff spoke at the 10th Annual Delaware River Watershed Forum about the lessons learned from our Restoration Corps (aka R-Corps) Summer Work Experience program.
The forum, held November 3-4 in Philadelphia, PA, focused on celebrating the successes of the past 10 years and looking ahead to the next 10 years of working to protect the land and water of the Delaware River Watershed.
The event was hosted by the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed, which is comprised of more than 170 organizations (including the Littoral Society) working in the four states that span the watershed. The conference put special emphasis on ensuring equitable access to the benefits of a healthy watershed for underserved communities. Members of the Coalition had the opportunity to share their work on this collective endeavor, as well as discuss ways of learning from each other’s successes and challenges.
Tim Dillingham, the Littoral Society’s Executive Director, led a session on debunking myths about who, where, and why people use sections of the Delaware River. He also spoke about the S.A.F.E. (Swimmable, Accessible, Fishable, and Equitable) program. Supported by the William Penn Foundation, the S.A.F.E. program aims to improve water quality in the 27-mile stretch of the Delaware River flowing past Philadelphia, Camden, Chester and Wilmington, while also developing a “Road Map” to improve community health, job creation and public access (e.g. swimming and paddling) in the targeted area..
Delaware Bayshore Conservation Coordinator Zach Nickerson spoke about lessons learned from our Restoration Corps Summer Work Experience program, including our efforts to increase participation by members of the Cumberland County communities in which we work. R-Corps is a green jobs training and service program for high school and college students that teaches participants to build and restore the natural environment through shoreline and habitat restoration. The Littoral Society coordinates R-Corps programs from both our Delaware Bay (NJ) and Jamaica Bay (NY) offices.
Finally, Delaware Bayshore Program Director Lucia Osbourne discussed a new DEIJ Lens and Screening Tool that all members of the coalition will be able to use going forward to frame their work. The screening tool is designed to help effectively integrate the concepts of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice (DEIJ) into our work and to create a common language around what DEIJ looks like in action.