Friday, October 22, 2010

Clean City: The Power in Numbers. Litter

Litter Picking is an All Season Sport.  

The Power in Numbers.   

People under age 15 are least likely to litter; people under the age of 25 are most likely to litter when in a group; and, people over the age of 25 are most likely to litter when alone.

     A group of young men racing into Lake Champlain then standing in a circle listening to the group’s leader drew some attention at North Beach recently. Forming a line in waist high water they began to run in straight-line formation and cheer as they went. In swift revolutions and short intervals, the person in the back stepped out of the line and with encouragement from the others raced forward past the row of men still running in line, to reach the front and become the new leader. At the same time, the previous leader dropped to the back of the line. Running behind others and not falling behind must have been tough enough. Stepping out of the draft and pushing through the waves alone at a faster pace than the rest of the men to take the leader position must have required a great deal of stamina and raw energy.

     What a wonderful model of a group of people working together, sharing the burden and reward of leadership, of follower, of being one encouraged, and being one encouraging others.

 Watching them one could almost feel the current and swirl of water created by their combined movement. Yet the water quickly covered their wake as if they had never been there as soon as the last man in line stepped forward. Nothing behind them looked different than before they passed.

     For these men the reward is in renewed and increased strength through frequent physical exercise. Another gain is in each individual’s sense of accomplishment, sense of belonging, sense of being a part of a group pursuing common goals. Encouragement and support are sometimes necessary components in keeping a group of people motivated to continue to move forward in the face of adversity and challenge particularly when the results of much hard work seem transitory at best.

     One reason our spring Green Up Day is successful is the single day focus and shared workload by many volunteers working together.

 Many attest to the reward of not only seeing the difference their work accomplished but also the camaraderie of working with others on a common goal. 

Fall is also a great time to remember the green up spirit and remind ourselves we do not live in a trashcan.

"Just before the death of flowers,
And before they are buried in snow,
There comes a festival season
When nature is all aglow."
- Author Unknown

     Litter takes away from that glow.

     Consider taking your turn in front of the line, moving through your neighborhood picking up litter one day or more a week. Maybe someone will watch and be encouraged to join you; they might follow you and even rotate the lead role with you. Soon there may be a string of folks walking and running through the streets, bag in hand picking up litter, enjoying exercise and sharing encouragement with one another in a common goal of servicing their community one piece at a time.

Other essay postings:
      Ø  Why are we tolerant of trash?: