For the last two years, Miami Waterkeeper has had the pleasure of hosting Temple Beth Am (TBAM), a full-service synagogue in Pinecrest, FL, for their annual Mitzvah Day Event - which provides a series of environmental and social activism projects for community members to take part in. In February 2020, Miami Waterkeeper hosted a cleanup at Virginia Key for last year's Mitzvah Day.
Morningside Park is a waterfront park located at 750 NE 55th Terrace, Miami, FL 33137
For Mitzvah Day 2021, TBAM joined Miami Waterkeeper for a coastal cleanup at Morningside Park this past Sunday, March 14th! The Temple Beth Am community who joined us also included the Temple Beth Am’s Social Justice Teen Fellowship, which is an action-oriented program for 11th and 12th-grade students in the Jewish community that examines social justice issues.
Temple Beth Am group holds up trash collected along the shoreline and around Morningside Park.
The event included conversations about the state of our Bay and how nutrient pollution is a major threat to its health. We discussed the significant contributors to nutrient pollution, including septic tanks, sewage leaks, stormwater runoff, and fertilizer.
The TBAM participants also completed a “Scavenger Hunt,” which encouraged all members to look out for certain debris items and complete tasks that generated conversation around recreation, marine debris, human impact, water sampling, and biodiversity. Some examples included the following tasks:
- Mangroves are home to important animals called invertebrates. These animals do not have bones, instead, they often have a hard outer shell (exoskeleton) and are important species to ecosystem food webs. Take a photo of an invertebrate around/inside the mangroves!
- Find a grassy area that seems to be cut and landscaped. This grass is typically monoculture (containing only one species) and may be treated with fertilizer. A little fertilizer isn’t bad, but too much of it, especially during the rainy season, can cause excess runoff of nutrients into our bay and cause eutrophication. This leads to harmful algal blooms and other water quality problems. Take a selfie with your group in the grass!
Some marine debris items collected among the group included a pillow, candy wrappers, bottle caps, and lots of microplastics. Overall, we had 33.5 lbs of trash collected! The Social Justice Teen Fellowship teens shared that they were surprised by the amount of trash in the park, especially the microplastics. After our cleanup, we had an in-depth discussion about individual and collective responsibility for keeping our world clean and spoke about the intersectionality of all social justice issues and climate justice, especially in Miami.
Thank you, Temple Beth Am and Social Teen Fellowship teens, for keeping our waterways swimmable, drinkable, and fishable water for all!