by Mariah Parker, Multimedia Editor
On Saturday, Sept. 10, a group of about thirty-five students and faculty met at Owen Park to participate in a cleanup of the Swannanoa River.
During the four-hour endeavor, Wilson students cleared trash and debris from a three-mile stretch of the Swannanoa River. The team also sampled and analyzed the water of the Swannanoa at various locations.
Saturday’s effort, led by Theatre professor Graham Paul, represents the first step in the Swannanoa River Project, which aims to reclassify the Swannanoa according to federal water quality standards.
The river is currently registered as a Class C waterway and unsafe for human recreation.
“We found a fridge door, tires, and car parts [during the cleanup],” said junior Samantha Stewart, who helped lead the trip as a part of Graham Paul’s first-year seminar class.
Students worked in collaboration with Friends and Neighbors of Swannanoa (FANS), ArtSpace Charter School, the Swannanoa Valley Museum, and other organizations in the local community.
“Our hope is that communication and understanding between the college community and its neighbors will grow,” says Paul. “We want our students to understand and help solve some of the problems confronting their neighbors along the river that connects us.”
As a part of the Swannanoa River Project, Warren Wilson students will also participate in the upcoming “Mill Around the Village” with the Swannanoa Valley Museum. Participants will listen to and record the stories of local residents, particularly stories relating to the Swannanoa River.
“After Saturday, I feel I have a stronger personal attachment to the Swannanoa,” said Stewart. “It physically connects us to the community, and before, I had no idea how far that connection spanned.”