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What does new year have in store?
Keep Liberty Beautiful
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I am pretty optimistic. I still make New Year’s resolutions every year even though I have a poor track record on following through. I really believe that I personally can create positive change in my life and I often have. I also believe communities can create positive changes by taking the right steps. It would be pretty hard to do this job at Keep Liberty County Beautiful if I did not believe that.
I know that it can be easy to be cynical about issues like litter and waste reduction. I run into people every few days who are, but there is no doubt that public education and volunteer involvement can invoke change. Plenty of communities around the nation create cleaner, more attractive, healthier and safer neighborhoods every year. So can we.
I am sharing an excerpt from a book, “The Great Neighborhood Book,” by Jay Walljasper. He does a much better job than I can at sharing how clean up campaigns can set the stage for bigger environmental improvement:
“Any American growing up the 1960s or ’70s remembers the motto: Don’t Be a Litter Bug. You couldn’t miss it on billboards, television commercials, and magazine ads everywhere. Yet widespread cynicism greeted this early effort to clean up the environment, especially Lady Bird Johnson’s pioneering campaign to ‘Beautify America.’ Humans, after all, had been tossing junk onto the ground since Neanderthal times. Why would they stop now?
But, surprisingly, it worked, and litter declined dramatically in a short period. Indeed, the Beautify American campaign helped pave the way for the ecology movement a few years later, and it is now pointed to by sociologists as conclusive evidence — along with smoking bans in public places and pet owners’ commitment to scooping up their dogs’ poop — that longstanding human behavior can be altered through spirited public education campaigns.
The focus of the litter bug campaign was on personal responsibility. It wasn’t until the late 1980s, when President George H.W. Bush was trumpeting the value of volunteerism, that the emphasis shifted to picking up other people’s trash— as witnessed by the sudden appearance along many American highways of signs announcing that a particular stretch of pavement was being kept clean by, say, ‘the Muntz family’ or ‘Local 169 of the United Electrical union.’ And that effort was successful, too, as garbage disappeared from many roadsides.
These strategies will also work in the streets around your house. Make a habit of bringing a bag along on walks, so you can pick up soda pop bottles, wind-blown newspapers and whatever other junk accumulates on the sidewalks. Hint to your friends that they ought to do the same. The next step is to expand the cleanup into a neighborhoodwide project, sponsored maybe by a convenience store or fast-food restaurant, which are probably responsible for a good share of the litter in your area.
In Urbana, Ill., Earth Day was celebrated one year by cleaning up Bone Yard Creek, which netted tons of trash. The creek was notoriously polluted, going all the way back, legend has it, to an Indian graveyard along its banks. (Hence, the name.) But the clean up campaign prompted people around town to think of the creek differently, and soon government authorities began to enforce anti-dumping laws, which had been ignored for years because nearly everyone viewed the bone yard as an open sewer.
In Baltimore, neighbors were worried about the fate of Mount Vernon Place, a four-block inner city park that was neglected and little-used. They organized a group, Friends of Mount Vernon Place, to revitalize the park. One of their first projects was sponsoring several clean-up days in the park. This helped launch bigger things, such as a flower market, a book festival, and greater attention from park district maintenance crews.”
Mr. Walljasper is right. When a community commits to change, it can happen. Let’s make a resolution to take the steps necessary in our communities and neighborhoods to improve the places where we live, work and play. It is a resolution that we can all keep for 2010 and one that we can all benefit from.
More upcoming KLCB events that need your help or participation:
• Through Jan. 9: Bring One for the Chipper. Plan now to recycle your Christmas tree after the holiday at any recycling drop-off center or solid waste convenience center through Jan. 8, or bring your tree on Jan. 9 between 9 a.m.-1 p.m. to the old hospital site and receive a tree seedling and vegetable seeds.

For more information on Keep Liberty County Beautiful programs, contact Swida at 368-4888 or
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