Shining the Green Light in 'Hub City'

Compton, Ian Somerhalder, Big Sunday, cleanup, Earth Day

Today’s guest blogger is Edward Murphy, secondary education coordinator at Heal the Bay

April 27, 2012

Throughout April, as we here at Heal the Bay celebrated Earth Month, I got to spend time with my favorite students and community groups in Compton at their events. Compton is living up to its nickname, “The Hub City,” as it’s the center of so much good, green activity.

As a teacher and community advocate, my favorite part of this job is watching the ‘click’ happen in students' faces as they begin to see their neighborhood in a new light, a particularly green light. Better than that? The moment when I get to watch students begin to see themselves as a “light bearer,” championing that new greener perspective and getting to see what a difference their two hands can make. And over the past week spent at green events in Compton, I got to witness students transforming into eco-champions.

First, on the Friday before Earth Day, "Vampire Diaries" star Ian Somerhalder and his foundation spent some time with Compton High School’s Recycling Club in their outdoor classroom, where he got to hear just how committed they are to the health of their campus and community. Ian and students discussed greener passions, keeping the neighborhood clean, and how students can transform the campus space with just a few hours of commitment and a few drops of perspiration.

To finish off the event, the Ian Somerhalder Foundation presented the students with a grant to help along the building of their outdoor classroom, providing them resources towards a new vegetable garden. I wish I could describe the look in their eyes, but I’ll just let you see for yourself.

The next day, I got to hang out with the most gregarious and passionate woman to walk the pebbles of Compton Creek, Rhonda Webb, at Compton’s Earth Day event. From trees to recycling to gardening to green event planning, many came together to share information with the community about how they can be part of making their neighborhood more environmentally-driven. In Rhonda’s words, never has there been this kind of energy in Compton, and it was refreshing for her – and for me too -- to be able to celebrate Earth Day for the first time within the city. Kids heard the word from our fellow environmental education groups, such as Tree People, and in turn taught their parents who strolled by our tables. Clicks everywhere!

So the word for this Earth Month, at least for me, was “growing,” as the spirit of cleaner streets and cleaner creeks is growing in Compton, and they are growing strong! With their lights a shinin’, those same students, as well as Rhonda and other members of the community, are going to put their hands to work to work to bring health back into their community and come out strong on May 6 for the Big Sunday Cleanup at Compton Creek.

Find out more about Heal the Bay's wide range of classroom opportunities.