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Citizens Against Litter

July 2006 Newslitter

In this Newslitter: Redd Up web site; Obstacle removed; Super in anti-litter; Just part of the routine; Young Judaea; UJF plans Squirrel Hill, Homewood clean up; Citizens Against Litter, South Side; Citizens Against Litter, Glassport; Centre Avenue street seen; Garbageville of the month; Dapper Way needs attention; "I Litter" awards; Litter "tearer-orist" returns; Dumpster Alley is still a dump; Other Garbagevilles; An Inconvenient Truth; Ask Mr. Litterman

Redd Up web site

Pittsburgh has another thing that most cities don't have -- a web site devoted to clean up efforts of litter and blight in its neighborhoods. The site -- http://redduppittsburgh.com -- had its official debut Friday, June 9. It's the phase one version. It will get better, more information, more facts and figures, and more progress from the Mayor's Office and from the neighborhoods to make Pittsburgh one of the cleanest cities in America. Please visit it. The Mayor wants your comments.

Obstacles removed

The waste container that was planted on the street on Summerlea for a long, long time has been removed. The litter-collecting, stagnant-water-collecting, homemade "no-parking here" barrel that was becoming a permanent fixture on Clyde Street has also been removed from the street. Thank Public Works and Councilman Bill Peduto.

Super in anti-litter

Pittsburgh, great in football, has some catching up to do in the NFL (Not for Litter) league with Seattle. This city is very clean. This volunteer, visiting for a week, picked up some litter. Does this single act qualify Citizens Against Litter as a national program? Or are we stretching the point?

Just part of the routine

First day back home. Cleared voice mall calls. Cleared e-mails. Breezed through the mail. Grabbed plastic bags and on the way to breakfast picked up litter on Copeland and Walnut. Just part of the routine.

Young Judaea

Young Judaea, a youth group associated with Hadassah in the Pittsburgh area, is talking with Citizens Against Litter about a special on-going relationship. One goal is to have a program beginning September 10. Conversations began June 2. This is a partnership that could involve 50 to 60 kids. Lee Selkowitz directs Young Judaea in this area.

UJF plans Squirrel Hill, Homewood clean up days

The Community & Public Affairs Council Environmental Subcommittee of United Jewish Federation, taking on a number of environmental issues at synagogues and Jewish organization buildings, is planning a community fall clean up day. UJF said Shalom Pittsburgh and the Urban League will conduct clean ups in Squirrel Hill and Homewood. The effort will be coordinated with anti-litter groups in these neighborhoods. A planning meeting has been set for July 10.

Citizens Against Litter, South Side

The South Side neighborhood is known for supporting large annual community clean ups with dozens of eager residents. Now, the neighborhood has taken another giant step forward by forming a Citizens Against Litter volunteer group to control litter on a regular basis. Sarah Alessio, organizer, says there are 11 volunteers so far, including volunteers from WYEP. "As volunteers sign up," explains Sarah, "they are assigned into different zones, like in Shadyside." Let us hear from you if you want to sign on.

Citizens Against Litter, Glassport

Just might happen. Last July, sisters living in Glassport talked about starting an anti-litter group like we have in Shadyside. The project was delayed. This e-mail was received several weeks ago. "Well soon after," the e-mail said, "I was sent to Erie for a project. I'm happy to say that the project is now over. While I was away Glassport started a community action group and I'm going to be the clean up organizer. Thanks for the encouragement."

Centre Avenue street seen

At 8 a.m. on June 6, I went to Hillman Center. I saw litter. Two pieces in particular. One a black halter; the other a brown bag from a bagel shop. When I walked past the same spot -- four hours later -- the halter and bag were still there. Two trash containers -- probably costing hundreds of dollars each -- were within 20 feet of the litter. By that time the fresh litter had become old litter. I guess if I hadn't pick them up and canned them, the litter would still be there.

To make things even more ridiculous, seeing me picking up, a passerby says, "Good idea" and keeps walking. Picking up other litter nearby was the furthest thing from his mind. Another guy, sitting in a bus shelter with three empty soft drink cups and other litter around him, chimes in, "That's awful because there are two cans right here." He didn't pick up either, except to pick himself up to catch the next bus.

Citizens have choices. One is to keep insisting, "Don't pick up other people's litter because we'll be picking up after them forever." Or, "Before we drown in litter and live in filth, change your own attitude to positive and pick up other people's litter for your sake and the Redd-Up-the-city sake."

This is not a case of hazy choices. It's a case of being lazy. Leave the mess for someone else. "Picking up litter is beneath me," too many people believe.

Garbageville of the month

The Carlyle Arms Apartments at Centre and Negley is one of those places situated in a bad spot. That corner gets a lot of traffic -- cars, buses and people. There's a bus stop on one side and a Giant Eagle across the street. The property has bushes on three sides that collects and hides plenty of trash. All that being said, there is no excuse for this sight for sore eyes.

A Citizens Against Litter volunteer who had been cleaning in the area around the Carlyle Arms is up in arms over conditions there and wrote a letter to the owner. This volunteer believes, like we all do at Citizens Against Litter, that people who care must pick up for people who don't."

"Being quite tired of looking at the mess", he wrote, " I returned and picked up nearly four bags worth of litter [from your property]. Additional rooting around could have easily added another. In comparison, my litter route, which encompasses the area bounded by Negley, Ellsworth, Aiken and Centre, usually nets about three bags of litter. Your grounds were easily the worst I have seen during my year-long tenure of picking up litter."

The volunteer went on to say, "Your apparent lack of pride in the appearance of your property is quite disappointing. I hate to think how long the mess would have persisted had I not taken action. Please consider stepping up the level of car that you devote to your grounds."

Dapper Way needs attention

Ron Graziano, Chief, Bureau of Building Inspection, and Guy Costa, Director of Public Works, received letters June 13, from Councilman Bill Peduto earmarking a serious problem in our neighborhood.

"A resident of Shadyside contacted my office about an overgrown vacant lot and a garbage strewn shortcut between Dapper Way and Centre Ave," the letter read. The vacant lot is located between 5535 Centre Avenue and the Carlyle Arms Apartments (See item above).

"We are told that the lot is overgrown with trees, weeds, and dog waste and is a breeding place for rodents and insects. The "shortcut" is a well-traveled route to the Giant Eagle (across the street) and is filled with garbage."

(Note: That mess will be eliminated, probably by the time you read this Newslitter.)

"I Litter" awards

Hands down. The winner of this month's "I Litter" Award is Pittsburgh Deli Co. No other business or organization came close. Pittsburgh Deli advertising flyers littered Walnut Street. Flyers were also picked up on Negley, Ellsworth and Centre.

True the number of businesses and organizations getting "I Litter" awards has been dropping over the past months. This could mean promotion budgets are leaner, business litterers are kinder to us or the fliers aren't getting results. This month's award winners are:

Litter "Tearer-orist" returns

Orange Alert. Red Alert. Magenta Alert. Shadyside is under a "tearer-orist" attack. The litter "tearer-orist" is back. The evidence was on the street before a volunteer came to the rescue and picked up on Ellsworth Avenue. The "tearer-orist" is extremely dangerous. When he tears up one piece of litter he creates much more litter, as much as 30 times more. Too bad we don't have the means to offer a big reward for his capture.

Dumpster Alley is still a dump

In last month's Newslitter, merchants with dumpsters in the alley behind their businesses on Walnut Street committed to cleaning up their on-going mess and keeping the alley cleaner. It's the middle of the following month and there's no improvement. What do you say, people, are you going to be the problem or the solution?

Other Garbagevilles

How's it going on Howe Street? Not too good. The row of houses from 5525 to 5533 Howe pulls down our neighborhood. Garbage cans in front yards and messy conditions generally. Shame. Shame.

An Inconvenient Truth

Thanks to Barbara Grover of the Squirrel Hill anti-litter volunteers for sharing her views about Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth. "I encourage you to go see it and take as many friends, neighbors, relatives, as you can," she writes. "The evidence is so compelling that even the most skeptical should be convinced that we MUST do something immediately and collectively." She writes:

"Basically the movie is a compilation of parts of a talk he (Gore) gives throughout the USA and other countries about Global Warming and Gore's thoughts about what he has been trying to do about it for the last 40 years. He has incredible photos of the receding glaciers (e.g. 1963 photo vs. 2004 photo), lakes going dry, deserts increasing, graphs of average temperature of the planet over a few hundred years, amount of CO2 emissions over the last 100 years or so, the potential climate changes that will occur if/when the ocean conveyor belt (warm and cold water movement in the ocean which include the Gulf Stream) changes direction or STOPS, the reduction of various species around the globe essential to human needs, etc. His visuals are incredible. Technology at its finest! It is well done!"

Barbara ends with this Margaret Mead quotation: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

In our own small way that's what Citizens Against Litter, now picking up momentum in many neighborhoods, is trying to do: change some things in Pittsburgh.

Ask Mr. Litterman

Q: A Howe Street resident wants to know, "Is there any initiative for the police to issue litter citations?"
A: I'm sure there is legislation permitting police to issue litter citations. I don't think it's done very often. I think a person would have to wave litter in front of an officer and challenge the officer to issue a ticket before it will happen. The other reason you'll get for non-action is the police are too busy fighting real crime to mess with the small stuff.

Q: What's with the couch in the 5800 block of Howe Street? It's been on the curb for two weeks?
A. I can only tell you what I was told about a similar situation on Copeland Street. Large items like couches are picked up and hauled away on a regular basis according to a printed schedule. The resident should have checked Public Works before placing the couch at the curb and creating a Garbageville. The resident at 5533 Howe Street has done a similar thing. We'll see how quickly it was picked up and report on it in the next Newslitter.

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