Yesterday, a group of determined volunteers met at the City of Aiken’s Carolina Bay (What’s a Carolina Bay? click here) to do battle with that perennial municipal foe, litter. If you’re thinking, “What is this, another story about people picking up trash?” well, the answer is yes and no–read on, please.
At 2:00 PM a dozen cars were parked in and around the bay’s parking area off Price Avenue across from Virginia Acres Park (a.k.a. Odell Weeks park) and the engagement was underway. What began as an orientation tour for a newly hired employee of Aiken’s local newspaper, the Aiken Standard, ended, on Sunday (Feb. 20, 2011) with a public wilderness area’s return to looking like it was supposed to look. Of course it took the 20-30, or so, volunteers almost two hours to remove a dozen large trash bags full of accumulated litter that had made the trails and the bay’s shore line look more like a long neglected stretch of country road than the pristine wilderness area that it should have been.
OK, you say, so the answer to my question is “yes?” What about the “no?” Well the “no” is this: One new employee of one of our area’s papers saw something that she thought just wasn’t right. And, she wrote about it. Her editor apparently agreed she had something, and another article appeared in that paper (as did one in glowbass.com) inviting anyone who might care to help with the cleanup to show up. And show up they did. And the result is a clean public facility that is more than just a bit more enjoyable to use than it had been a few short days ago.
Along with Amy Banton, the reporter who set the ball rolling that has yielded one good result, so far, her editor and young members of his family also made themselves a part of the volunteer group (for the next few days, click here to see Amy’s article.) A number of environmental activists were there as were a number of people who work in environmentally relevant fields. Public employees were there. A few “dog walkers” were there. Volunteer ages ranged from around five to around 75. But for the expected lack of one group of “citizens,” it might be said that the volunteers represented a good cross section of this city’s population. The missing group was, of course, the litterers.
There is another result that has yet to be accomplished. That result is involved with the burden placed on Aiken’s public servants–like Richard Pearce, City Manager, and Glenn Parker, Parks and Recreation Director (click here to go to Aiken Parks and Recreation’s site), both part of the cleanup crew–to try to come up with ways to keep this newly restored park clean. Problems like the one with this Carolina Bay are not solely found in Aiken, that’s for sure. Cities, towns, and smaller designated areas across the whole of the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA,) from Augusta on down to our Petticoat Junction have to deal with the problem of litter on a daily basis. If Richard Pearce and Glenn Parker manage to come up with some fresh, workable ideas that will help change those who did not show up for the cleanup into the good citizens they might become, those ideas will be more than welcomed across the entire CSRA.