Published on January 19, 2020 in the Las Vegas Optic.
The Gallinas River Park collaborative is all of us. It is mothers, fathers, children and grandparents; it is young folks and old fogies; it is families and singles. Together we make up the community that is the GRPC.
And each one of us has a unique gift to contribute to the community’s success. When you lend a hand, offer your knowledge, donate your resources, even in a small way, it makes a difference. And the pride you enjoy is deserved. In the short history of the GRPC, a workshop, funded and organized with expert assistance, represented a critical moment. A mammoth push to spread the word and encourage attendance preceded it and the results were gratifying. It was an intensive, three-day immersion in Gallinas River ecology, politics and history, and it produced conceptual drawings of what the future river park would look like. An intangible benefit was its demonstration of the meaning of collaboration – a gathering of a broad cross-section of individuals and organizations who, after lengthy deliberation, resolved to work toward a common goal.
Much progress has come about since the workshop. The GRPC has received more grant money for various projects. One was the restoration of a half-mile of river just south of Bridge Street. It can be viewed as a pilot project to show what can and should be done to return the river to a healthy state and restore its historical appearance, width, depth and shape. Also receiving funds was the design and installation of the first of many interpretive signs along the River. This was part of an educational project carried out in 2018 and involving West Las Vegas High School students. Still another very important undertaking recently funded is the production of “shovel ready” drawings which will specify the planned improvements, additions and alterations for the Park and make new grant money for them possible.
All of this is exciting and encouraging, but grant money does not generally pay for all labor or administration. Neither does it pay for on-going maintenance of the Park or for promotional activities. Since its inception, the GRPC has been an organization of mostly volunteers. Early on, it was volunteers who met and brainstormed and then acted to organize. Later, it was volunteers who spread out over the town and distributed workshop publicity, spoke at public gatherings and buttonholed likely participants. Volunteers both led and provided the labor (and continue to do so) for clean-up efforts.
When a grant was secured to pay for restoration of the river south of Bridge Street, it was volunteers who planted many of the native species called for in the restoration plan. In 2018, a volunteer coordinated the construction and installation of the bat houses now standing along the river near Prince Street. They lined up donated materials, volunteer labor and the high school shop classes at Robertson and West to build the houses. West High School students raised money for trash cans. Volunteers designed, constructed and installed the new kiosk on the river bank at Bridge Street. Yet another volunteer began writing a monthly op-ed for the Optic that promotes the activities of the GRPC.
The GRPC has an e-mail list of all the people who attended the workshop and all the people who have since exhibited interest. It needs one or more individuals to take over the maintenance of the list and use it effectively to inform and invite. (email firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the list).
The GRPC has an idea for a WEB page that could serve as a clearing center for persons interested in volunteering, or to provide current information on what projects are underway or what ongoing task needs help. It needs one or more individuals to design and launch such a page and then maintain it. The GRPC sponsors a clean-up-the-park day once a month. While an individual has taken on the task of organizing the park clean-up, many volunteers are needed to provide the labor for this ongoing project.
The San Miguel County Master Gardeners have volunteered to design the landscaping around the newly installed kiosk near Bridge Street. They need help when work begins in the Spring. Some, so far unimagined, jobs might include work for a photographer, an artist, a poet, a researcher, craftsmen of various fields (woodworking; metalworking; fabrics, to name a few) and all visionaries.
The GRPC meets monthly at 2pm on the third Friday in the ground floor meeting room of Hewett Hall on the Highlands campus. It wants to see you. You may not know what you can or want to do and the GRPC might not know yet how it can best employ your skills – but come anyway. The way to find out is to attend and listen to discussion of work in progress, and discover where your gifts meet the GRPC’s needs.