Everybody loves to take in Moab. But how often do we give love back?
A new organization on Facebook is aiming to facilitate a platform for just that.
“Moab Love” is an effort to clean up waste in Moab and the surrounding areas. The concept is simple – community members are invited to gather once a week at a designated location, based on suggestions, and volunteer one hour of time cleaning up trash and sorting recycling. Facilitator Jojo Matson said she hopes the opportunity sheds light on the positive impacts that can come from one hour of collective efforts.
The first meetup was on Wednesday, March 21, but the weekly event will now be held on Thursdays.
“I figured I would only get a small group of friends to help, but it turns out that Moab actually cares a lot,” Matson said.
Resford Rouzer was one of 20-some community members who showed up to the first cleanup, which targeted the bike path behind World Famous Woody’s Tavern.
“After just the one hour, the entire bed of my truck was full of recycling and trash,” Rouzer said. “We sorted the recycling in reusable bags and then we brought all the trash to Monument Waste. They let us bring all the trash and metal out there for free.”
Monument Waste is just one of several entities supporting Moab Love’s mission.
Henderson Construction is donating orange vests for volunteers. Moonflower Community Cooperative donated trash bags and reusable onion bags for recycling. Canyonlands Field Institution is donating use of its passenger van to make cleanups more accessible and efficient. Moab Love is also working with the support of the Tool Shed and the nonprofit Respect the Desert.
“I really want people to give suggestions on areas that need help,” Matson said. “I also hope that Moab Love can be a space for anyone to facilitate other cleanups outside of the weekly one.”
Local brewer Seamus Cronin heard about Moab Love through social media, and joined the Facebook group.
“I thought that it was nice to see a call to action – a community-based stewardship of our environment,” Cronin said.
Cronin attended the first cleanup and said he was surprised by the diversity of filth right in the heart of town.
“I think once awareness is brought to how dirty places can get … the response will increase,” he said. “At the time, hanging with friends and cleaning up was fun. I didn’t really realize the impact it had until I walked my dog down there the next day. It was obvious what a mess we cleaned up.”
Matson said she hopes the effort expands past the community out onto the river, trails and event locations.
“With this influx of people who are enthusiastic about helping, I know we can continue to be impactful,” she said.
Matson said she would like to see an increased environmental awareness in the tourism industry – one that engages the event organizations to facilitate cleanups, as well as the local community.
The next cleanup event will be Thursday, March 29, giving attention along the road between the Ken’s Lake campground and Spanish Valley Drive between 6 and 7 p.m. Details on group transportation are to be determined and can be found in the “Moab Love” Facebook group. The following Thursday will focus on an area near Klondike Bluffs.
Work gloves are provided but limited – volunteers are encouraged to bring their own pair, as well as a vessel for water.
“I think Jojo saw a problem that needed to be dealt with and she did an excellent job communicating that to the public and making a fun solution,” Rouzer said. “I’m excited to continue joining in the effort.”
Cronin said he wishes he was able to attend the meetup again this Thursday, but that he and Clay Cole will be playing tunes for the crew to clean up to on radio show “Heartbeats” from 4 to 6 p.m. on Moab’s Community Radio station, KZMU, at 90.1 and 106.7.
Volunteers do “power hour” trash sweeps in town and surrounding areas
“At the time, hanging with friends and cleaning up was fun. I didn’t really realize the impact it had until I walked my dog down there the next day. It was obvious what a mess we cleaned up.”
When: Every Thursday
Where: Next cleanup: Thursday, March 29, along the La Sal Mountain Loop Road between the Ken’s Lake campground and Spanish Valley Drive from 6 to 7 p.m.
Information: www.facebook.com/groups/1744844165580928/; 515-509-8273