In the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, Clean Ocean Action sees an opportunity. As the Jersey Shore makes its comeback, the environmental advocacy group promises it will be there to help now and in the future while shepherding in a movement of responsible restoration.
The organization recently announced a new year-long program called Waves of Action. The program was launched to respond to immediate and ongoing needs of coastal towns impacted by Sandy.
With a slew of events already scheduled throughout the year, Waves of Action is hoping to pair willing volunteers with communities that still need digging out, habitats that need restoration, and forums designed to provide education about a sustainable future coastline.
Clean Ocean Action Executive Director Cindy Zipf said the overarching goal of the Waves program is to help the Jersey Shore recover and return to the tourist destination it’s long been. But, she said, the program is not only designed to aid in the shore's comeback, but to see it come back as a greener, bluer place.
“Recovery will be a very long and challenging road,” Zipf said in a release that followed the announcement of the Waves of Action program. “It is essential to rebuild better with environmental stewardship and resiliency and provide resources and support to keep the momentum going.”
The group is kicking off its year of events with a Jan. 19 cleanup that will see hundreds of volunteers deployed to towns throughout New Jersey, mostly in Monmouth and Ocean counties.
According to COA Education Coordinator Tavia Danch, the upcoming event, called “Clean-up, Clean-out,” has attracted more than 1,300 volunteers. In many instances, clean-ups at various shore towns are already full, though some with available openings do remain.
People still want to help, said Frank Lawrence, a volunteer who has worked primarily with Sea Bright. But the direction they should take is unclear. Waves of Action will help organize and connect volunteers with work that needs to be done now and in the future, he said.
“We did have large numbers of volunteers streaming into town on an ad-hoc basis early on,” Lawrence said during a recently teleconference. “But as we well know, cleanup will take years. We need a commitment going forward.”
Waves of Action includes 12 events, one each month. After early events of cleaning up beaches and providing help to homeowners still struggling to rebuild after Sandy, the program switches back to the education and advocacy COA is known for.
Action’s first four monthly events include cleanup or environmental remediation leading up to May’s “Back to the Beach” event, which will include parties and fundraisers designed to welcome locals back to the shore.
In the months that follow, the program includes education efforts that focus on familiar COA pursuits like water conservation, climate change, coastal resiliency and a healthy restoration of New Jersey’s coastline.
An ancillary goal of the Waves program is to allow COA to build its coalition network. Zipf said there are a number of issues that need to be addressed and help is needed from as many people and as many organizations as possible to make it happen.
As the Shore is restored, Zipf said, there’s a desperate need to make sure it’s done the right way. While the rush is on to get back to normal, advocacy work is needed to make sure the state and its counties and municipalities don’t sacrifice water quality and established environmental protection measures in their zealotry to rebuild.
Waves of Action includes the following events:
- Jan. 19 – Clean-Up, Clean-Out
- Feb. 23– Helping Hands at Home
- March 23 – Bringing Back our Ecosystems
- April 27 – 28th Annual Beach Sweeps
- May 18 - Back to the Beach
- June 22, July 20, August 17 - Healthy Habitats, Water Conservation and Energy Efficiency
- Sept. 21 – Education for the Future and Long-Term Recovery
- Oct. 19 – Fall Beach Sweeps
- Nov. 13-15 – Education for the Future
- Dec. 7 – Waves of Action Conference and Awards
For more information about specific events or to register, visit For the Shore at fortheshore.org.