Gullah/Geechee CREATE: Coastal Debris Removal Engaging Artists through Environmental Cleanups
About the Project
The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, in partnership with the Gullah/Geechee Nation, Gullah Geechee Chamber of Commerce, and Gullah Preservation Society, will be starting the Gullah/Geechee CREATE program to work with Gullah/Geechee and Black artists in South Carolina to upcycle marine debris into works of art through.
This community action coalition focuses on partnerships across Gullah/Geechee communities in South Carolina and will result in multiple community-based clean up efforts across coastal communities in South Carolina. The marine debris collected at these events will be converted into artwork by local Gullah/Geechee artists. Subsequent events will then be organized to showcase the art installations, in concert with marine debris education opportunities.
The showcases resulting from this project will support marine debris prevention, outreach, and education, as well as the importance of a healthy environment. These events will also raise community awareness of local organizations that implement cleanups and how to get involved, community science opportunities, and organizations that work to preserve Gullah/Geechee cultural heritage.
By incorporating marine debris into artistic and educational showcases, the project team will convey to attendees the idea of reclaiming harmful things we’ve put into waterways and turning them into beneficial learning opportunities for community members.
Funding was recently provided through the NOAA National Sea Grant Office to initiate this program. With these resources, the Consortium and partners will:
- Identify hotspots of marine debris through community conversations and available data
By utilizing marine debris data already collected through the Consortium’s Beach Sweep/River Sweep program, data entered into the NOAA Marine Debris Tracker, and the local ecological knowledge (LEK) of Gullah/Geechee community members, the project team is leveraging existing Sea Grant and partner investments and capacity.
- Engage with local artists to co-produce plans for educational content and marine debris logistics
By engaging with artists throughout the project and being that the project is led by community-based organizations, the team is building local coalitions and partnerships to identify and actively address marine debris prevention and removal at the community level. This also provides technical support to local (art) businesses.
- Organize community-based cleanups and collect and share data on types and quantities of marine debris removed
By building a local coalition to directly engage community members in cleanups and in data collection, the project team will enhance community literacy around marine debris.
- Organize and host art and education showcases
Through these showcases, the project team will use creativity to enhance community literacy around marine debris through informal education.