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05/08/2023   •   Written By Thomas Braaksma

Community is crucial at Iron Galaxy. Under our own roof, we take great care of our internal community of developers. In the communities where we live and work, we like to play an active role in making the world we share a better place. To help encourage our employees to pitch in, we provide Volunteer PTO for people to unplug from their day-to-day work. Sometimes, we’ll even organize events so that we can have a greater impact together. Our first outing this year took place on the Chicago River.

On the cusp of Earth Day, members of our Chicago Studio partnered with Urban Rivers to help clean up the waterways that make our city beautiful. Employee Success Coordinator and event organizer Sara Helwink told us “It's called The Wild Mile and will be the first-ever floating eco-park of its scale in the world. This event is a perfect example. While collecting trash from the Chicago River doesn't sound that extravagant, with this amazing group of people and awesome cause, we had a blast!”

The goal was to use kayaks to gather trash not reachable without getting wet. Our team assembled at the Chicago Kayak launch across from Goose Island – a well-known brewery and lesser-known actual island in Chicago. They suited up with life preservers and got a crash course in kayaking before they entered the water. On the river, they experienced wildlife like herrings, ducks, and turtles. You’d think they would steer clear of the hustle of the city, but with the floating gardens, a cozy habitat is created for them. The team found lots of lost treasures on the riverbed, including school photos and bike tires.

The clean-up exercise came with some life lessons. Executive Assistant to the Co-CEOs, Claire Taylor said “It was awesome to see all the trash we were able to remove and hear directly from the Urban Rivers staff how our actions directly impact the ecosystem of the Chicago River.”

Technical Designer Tom Newsome added, “Volunteering with Urban Rivers fills that niche type of work that's measurably effective, educational, and full of surprises with what you might dig up floating on the edge of the riverbed.”

Claire and Tom both reiterated how much they appreciated the Studio facilitating the event. Tom said, “As someone who volunteers often, I hear firsthand how hard it is to get extra hands from 9 to 5 and letting employees take that time is awesome!”

Claire spoke on the importance of the day. “By offering a Volunteer Day, it demonstrates that Iron Galaxy understands that making an impact and giving back to our communities is essential. I greatly appreciated that the volunteer day was completely organized by IG so it was easy for me to take time out of my busy schedule to give back to the city.”

The day on the river was a success and we are looking forward to more events that help us express our values and the value we can add to our communities. Volunteer and Studio Operations Coordinator Shannon Fox may have said it best: “IG's culture is incredibly supportive. It is not confined by the walls of the Studio, but it extends to the city we call home.”