by Sarah Parvaresh, Communications and Operations Intern
The following feature is in conjunction with America Recycles! Day, a national day to educate people about recycling and to encourage families and businesses who do not recycle to start doing their part. Former PeopleFund client Ecology Action has expanded their definition of recycling to Circle Acres, a site in Austin that was once an illegal dumping ground now turned into an educational and ecological haven.
Austin has a long history of embracing anything weird and off the beaten path, and in the case of Ecology Action’s Circle Acres project, sometimes the city goes a little further off that path than usual. In 1969, a group of UT students became inspired to organize the city’s first Earth Day Celebration after attending the Round Earth Conference; soon after, Ecology Action was formed and sustained by volunteers who wanted to promote environmental issues and solutions. As the organization’s popularity grew it became an established non-profit, rented out a space on East 9th Street – which became a responsible recycling location in the city – and continued to promote environmental issues.
Ecology Action has expanded again, moving out of its corner on 9th Street and into a new home near the Montopolis Neighborhood of Southeast Austin. At their new home, Circle Acres, Ecology Action now focuses on restoring the former landfill-turned-illegal dumpsite back into the beautiful and diverse landscape that it once was. The 9.7 acres of land is covered by a range of forest, wetland, and grasslands that have unfortunately suffered through years of destruction and abuse. Continuing the work of their predecessors on the site, the Rhizome Collective, Ecology Action has spent several years trying to bring the area back to its former glory. They have been working with local experts and the AmeriCorps NCCC to use inexpensive but effective techniques to remove waste and clean up the area.
As part of their Ecology Action Center for Sustainable Futures, one of Ecology Action’s main goals for Circle Acres is to get the community involved and educated on environmental issues, telling the unfortunate history of this area to educate people on the harmful effects of dumping. But they also want to tell a story of hope, to prove that we can learn from those mistakes and help reverse some of the damages. The Ecology Action staff invites anyone to stop by Circle Acres and lend a helping hand or learn more about the life cycles of materials, food, water, and energy. Specific building plans and what you can do to help can be found on their webpage: http://www.ecology-action.org/circleacres/. With more help, Circle Acres will transform back into the beautiful, healthy, and clean landscape that it once was and become another iconic destination spot for Austinites to enjoy.
Ecology Action has also been working with Rachel Adams, Catherine Gavin, and Igor Siddiqui of the Field Constructs Design Competition to showcase temporary art exhibits by local, national, and international architects, artists, and landscape designers. Each exhibit displays a unique message about an ecological issue, and the public can enjoy all four exhibits from November 14th through the 22nd. To catch a glimpse of the designs and what the creators have to say about them, visit Field Constructs at http://fieldconstructs.org/.
Although the recycling center on 9th Street is now closed there are still plenty of recycling resources in and around Austin. For those seeking places to responsibly recycle their materials, Ecology Action has listed many sources for the Travis County area on their website: http://www.ecology-action.org/recycle/.
Do your part and help Ecology Action in keeping Austin weird and beautiful by recycling responsibly!