Musings of a recovering...

10-7-2023: Another good day for trash

A small group of us wandered southeast from Fox park and had little difficulty finding trash. The real difficulty on these outings is not succumbing to the weight of recognizing the neighborhood's/city's/country's problems as we walk, talk and occasionally grab bits of trash.

As we walked past scenes of obvious neglect with trash and broken bits of modern life scattered, the question of whether our efforts are in vain was raised. My take: trash is just a proxy for the problems we see. It's a physical manifestation of the apathy and despair that I/we aim to challenge.

We stopped a couple of times to sweep broken glass and each time encountered people living next to the glass standing outside. In the first case, a young man made considerable efforts to act as if we didn't exist and walked back towards his garage without verbally engaging. We swept and gathered the glass and a fellow trasher loudly voiced incredulity that no one living close by had already swept the broken glass. I'm reasonably confident the man inside the garage heard the remarks.

Shaming has rarely proved to be a reliable motivator in my experience. This was a small but real missed opportunity for outreach and inclusion for our efforts. I can't and we can't 100% control the group's reputation, but instead of saying hello, meeting another neighbor and encouraging participation, we passively shamed and gain nothing; not even gaining a stronger chance of future participation from the man.

At our second glass pickup, the neighbor living closest to the broken glass was outside washing his car. As we worked to de-glass and de-trash the ground outside of his fence, he acknowledged us, offered verbal support, was offered an opportunity to join and wished us luck as we left. Fostering communication, including more neighbors and encouraging more action can be done. I look forward to doing it again soon (Next week?)