Happy Friday! Megan here.
First things first: This issue is sponsored by Terra Shepherd Boutique & Apothecary.
- Terra Shepherd carries thoughtfully curated fashion, beauty, and lifestyle products that are good for you, the environment, and the people that produce them. Owner Sara Jamison wants to make it easy for you to find beautiful products that align with your values. Visit their shop in Downtown Sioux Falls or shop online here.
Weather check: Heckin' wimdy
This weekend, you'll get smart about water quality with Friend of the Big Sioux River Travis Entenman, learn about a new pilot program to help unhoused people avoid unneeded interactions with police and see how a pandemic-era mental health support opportunity is expanding. Plus, don't miss our Earth Day event guide and some Super Simplified Stories.
And now, news:
Get smart about water quality with Travis Entenman
Our Earth Month sustainability series is made possible by the support of Friends of the Big Sioux River. They're celebrating Earth Day with a new release of Big Sioux Brew and river clean-up events throughout the watershed. Learn more about their mission here.
Travis Entenman is director of the Friends of the Big Sioux River, an organization that tracks water quality and advocates for policies that prioritize keeping the river clean. We sat down with Travis as part of our ongoing sustainability series to talk about why water quality is important.
How did you ‘get smart’ about water quality – i.e. what in your background or in your own research/activities prepared you for your role with Friends of the Big Sioux River?
Growing up in South Dakota, I’ve always had a passion for our natural environment.
- But it took me going to graduate school to get my master’s in environmental law and policy to really understand the issues we’re facing.
- After graduating, I had incredible mentors that helped me understand and navigate the environmental issues we face in South Dakota.
We’re all about simplicity here. Can you describe the work Friends of the Big Sioux River does in 10 words or less?
We’re on a mission to change the way we all think about our relationship with our river.
What’s something people most often misunderstand about water quality or Friends of the Big Sioux River? (And, if you could politely correct them, what would you say?)
The Big Sioux River was not always full of E. coli and did not always look like chocolate milk.
- We used to enjoy a crystal-clear river that was upwards of 8 feet deep.
The river is really the reason westerners settled this area and gave us the conditions to be an agricultural powerhouse. It’s also the reason we’re investing millions of dollars in new development along its back.
We’ve always treated it as an asset but haven’t given it the respect it deserves, as you can see in its pollution levels.
How culturally responsive street teams want to help keep people out of jail
Simplified: South Dakota Urban Indian Health (SDUIH) is launching a pilot program next month to bring street teams to directly help people in need – and hopefully avoid situations that escalate to where they're arrested for low-level crimes. Meet the Wo'Okiye Project.
Why it matters
- The Wo'Okiye Project was born out of the MacArthur Foundation's Safety and Justice Challenge – an effort to reimagine local criminal justice systems and reduce the overall jail population.
- The goal of the Wo'Okiye Project is to give people an alternative to calling police when they see someone in need of assistance. The focus is largely on people with housing insecurities, but it's not limited to that group.
- When you look at the unhoused population in Sioux Falls, Native American people are disproportionately represented. SDUIH hopes that by having their organization – whose staff is 70% Native American – leading this effort, they'll be able to build trust and really make an impact in helping people.
"Approaching healthcare and community work and all of these things with a cultural lens and those Indigenous values has created relationships and trust that no other health organization or community organization has been able to do to connect with folks," SDUIH CEO Michaela Seiber said.
Tell me more: How will the program work?
And isn't the city doing the same thing? More on that here.
Super Simplified Stories
- TenHaken to kick off 100 miles challenge. Mayor Paul TenHaken is inviting the public to join him on a challenge to run/walk/bike/whatever at least one mile per day for 100 days. The challenge kicks off 9 a.m. Saturday at Levitt at the Falls, and runs until July 31. You can learn more and download a mile tracker here.
- Apply to be on the Mayor's Youth Council. The city extended the deadline to apply for the council – an opportunity for students to give input on decisions being made by the mayor and the city. More details here.
- Make-a-Wish gets major donation. Ty Eschenbaum, on behalf of the Ty Eschenbaum Foundation, donated $100,000 to Make-A-Wish South Dakota & Montana on Thursday.
This fund is now helping more people take the first step in mental health treatment
Simplified: A fund established during the pandemic as a resource to help people afford mental health care has broadened its reach via partnerships with Sanford, Avera and Falls Community Health. Here's what you need to know about Operation Hope.
Why it matters
- Operation Hope started in 2021 using federal pandemic relief funds. The goal is to help people overcome any barriers to taking the first step in seeking out mental health care.
- Since it's launch, it's helped more than 150 people connect with mental health resources, and there's still $300,000 left in the fund.
- Initially, Operation Hope worked just with The Link triage center downtown, but this year it expanded to also include partners at Falls Community Health, Sanford Health and Avera Health. And, importantly, people can access the fund through the Helpline Center by simply calling 988.
"It's just immediate relief that my staff hears – a sense of relief and gratitude that we hear over the phone," Helpline Center CEO Janet Kittams said of people's reaction to learning about Operation Hope.
Tell me more: What kinds of things does Operation Hope fund?
And what happens next for the program? More here.
Stuff to do: Earth Day edition
Happy Earth Day! We've got a special sustainability-themed event guide to celebrate this week, so find a friend and give back to the planet with these activities.
- Seedlings at the mall. Stop by the Empire Mall on Saturday to celebrate Earth Day with crafts, activities, games and snacks. Kids will get a seedling to plant, too. Details here.
- Clean the green. Help clean up the Big Sioux River Greenway on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Stop by one of a few participating locations to sign in and help pick up trash, or you can pre-register here.
- Rally for sustainability. Rally with SoDak 350 to be a voice for a sustainable Sioux Falls on Saturday. Walk from Fawick Park to City Hall to call for change in the Sioux Falls sustainability plan. Details here.
- Seeds for the bees. Stop by Rose and Eugene Presents on Saturday to make DIY seed bombs. Make one for $2 or three for $5, and all proceeds will go to support SoDak 350 and climate action. Details here.
- Hike and explore. Take in the beauty of nature at Family Park with a guided hike on Saturday at 1 p.m. Registration is $10 per participant, and you can find more details here.
THIS AND THAT
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