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Citizens Against Litter

June 2007 Newslitter

In this Newslitter: Our new mission; Help is on the way; This just in; Trib Against Litter; PG against litter; Pittsburgh makes "World's Cleanest" list; House makeover; Liberty School: "Walk our talk"; P.S. Liberty School follow through; Homewood-Squirrel Hill-Point Breezes breeze along; Elegant Ellsworth's getting there; Visitors showplace; Guess what?; Central Northside CleanUP/PlantUP report; Brookline's 1st lineman against litter; Very good Verona; "I Litter Awards"; Garbagevilles; Ask Mr. Litterman

Our new mission

Citizens Against Litter began picking up litter in Shadyside three years ago. This was our plan. We divided the neighborhood into 17 zones and placed a greater emphasis on cleaning residential streets than on cleaning business districts. We now have more than 70 volunteers in our group. Some pick up litter regularly; others do it occasionally. Because of this effort Shadyside is a cleaner neighborhood and has shown the way for many other neighborhoods to follow its lead.

Our mission has progressed to the next level: "To inspire people throughout the city and region to collect litter and connect neighborhoods."

Help is on the way

With nicer weather here now and more people enjoying the shopping, restaurants, bars, coffee shops and socializing on Walnut Street, a call to Councilman Bill Peduto helped restore the twice weekly trash removal from overflowing trash cans. He is always there for Shadyside.

"I have asked some residents to keep tabs on the most problematic locations", Bill said. "If you would be so helpful to put the call out to your e-mail list and solicit their help in identifying the worst locations (by address or intersection) throughout my district, I will also follow-up by moving trash cans to solve the problem. Also, if any one knows of locations where the trash cans are not being used, we could move them to better locations."

Do you have some suggestions? Send them to and we'll pass them along

This just in

Fresh from our email inbox comes this bit of good news from Dan Gilman, Chief of Staff to Councilman Peduto:

"Please be aware that at the Councilman's request, Public Works will start picking-up the garbage an additional time (either Saturday or Sunday morning) to avoid overflow from weekend activity."

Trib Against Litter

A number of Pittsburgh Trib employees have been volunteers in Citizens Against Litter in Shadyside for several months. They pick up litter when they can even though they don't live in Shadyside. The Trib is working on a deeper commitment against litter and a first project is being planned for June. Citizens Against Litter applauds the support of the Trib.

PG against litter

One of the most passionate anti-litter residents in Shadyside is responsible for eliminating a big problem in our neighborhood and in others. Up to now, the Post-Gazette has been using a distribution company to distribute its "Weekly Shopper." The problem has been that many of the rolled-up shoppers end up as rolled-up, unopened litter. Our neighbor, let's call him Just Jim, e-mailed us with some great news.

"I spoke to another Just Jim, manager of direct mail at the P-G. He'll shift the rolled-up weekly ads that we all pick up as litter, to direct mail (in our mailboxes). It may take 2-3 weeks for this shift to occur in 15232 & 15206 zip codes."

Pittsburgh makes "World's Cleanest" list

Almost lost in the news last month that Pittsburgh is the Most Livable City again (one listing) and one of the most polluted cities (in another listing) was the announcement by Forbes magazine that Pittsburgh is among the Top Ten Cleanest Cities in the World. Minneapolis is ranked fifth in the world but first among U.S. cities. Pittsburgh shares #10 with Boston and Lexington. Impressive.

Don't get too excited, though. Specific criteria deal with recycling efforts, waste control, transportation infrastructure and energy generation and regulation... nothing is mentioned about cleaning up blighted neighborhoods and everyday litter. Redd Ups were not on their radar screen.

House makeover

Do you remember reading, almost a year ago in this newsletter, about the dumpster parked in front of the house at 721 Negley Avenue? The dumpster was there for months on the front lawn of a dumpy-looking house. We wondered why neighbors didn't protest because it looked so out of place on that street for so long. The dumpster was finally removed with the intervention of city officials. Brother, you should see this property now. The house exterior has been rehabbed. It's freshly painted. The lawn is sodded. Shrubs adorn the property. No trash. No litter. Just nice.

Liberty School: "Walk our talk"

"I would like to personally respond to the May issue of 'Shadyside Newslitter' concerning the comments 'Hope for Liberty School'," e-mailed the principal.

"I was unaware of the community's perception and concern for litter build-up around and on our school property. My custodians and students/staff do take pride in our school and school grounds foremost for our daily involvement on the school campus but also for our neighbors/community residents.

"I recognize our students and staff on occasion can be a bit careless but it is surely not intentional. I will definitely support the efforts of our community and surrounding residential neighbors. We will 'WALK our TALK' and I encourage ongoing dialog with community residents if we are not maintaining our commitment to our neighbors and businesses in Shadyside.

"Please be reminded that our campus is used by the community daily and on weekends and often we arrive back to our campus on a Monday morning overwhelmed with the garbage, newspapers, bottles, food packaging and complete disregard for landscaping. With this in mind, I will continue to make every effort to increase the awareness of my staff, students and parents for the community's expressed concerns."

Ms. Jorie Murphy
Principal, Liberty Elementary School

P.S. Liberty School follow through

"I reiterate," the principal said in a follow up e-mail. "We will assist our community and, in fact, our third graders have already begun. Last week, Homeroom 3rd grade 109 assisted in grounds clean up. They were cleaning to ensure that our campus would be environmentally friendly and had their pictures taken at the front entrance of our school. I will get back to you to inform 'Newslitter' of Liberty's future plans."

Homewood-Squirrel Hill-Point Breezes breeze along

This neighborhood coalition, debriefing its Redd Up in April, has decided to continue its Collecting Litter and Connecting Neighborhoods mission with the same five communities -- Homewood, Squirrel Hill, North Point Breeze, South Point Breeze and Park Place.

The fall Redd Up is scheduled for the October 12-14 weekend. About 1,000 adults, teens and young school children took part. "We are pleased with what we have accomplished," said co-chairs Aliya Durham and Boris Weinstein. "We want to concentrate on strengthening the connecting relationships of our coalition and look for ways other than the litter clean up to demonstrate neighborliness."

Members of the coalition will reach out to consult and advise other neighborhoods.

Elegant Ellsworth's getting there

Elegant? No. Cleaner? Yes. Citizens Against Litter spent some time on Ellsworth Avenue between Shady Avenue and Spahr Street on Monday, May 7. This stretch is like a "no-mans land." There are no houses or businesses on this part of Ellsworth. The result is litter accumulates, mostly empty drink bottles, newspaper sections and tissues. It's the usual everyday litter. This stretch gets a lot of traffic, both vehicles and pedestrians going to and from the Busway. For certain, it will be littered again but for now call it Clean Ellsworth, not quite elegant as yet.

Visitors showplace

Also on that same Monday, that stretch of Ellsworth was used by out-of-town visitors. The following e-mail was received the next day:

"Yesterday I escorted a group of distinguished scientists by foot from the Holiday Inn to Casbah on Highland Avenue (taking Ellsworth Avenue)," wrote a Shadyside resident. "We didn't see a bit of trash. The group was greatly impressed with the beauty of the city and I was pleased to see clean streets. This type of exposure is great for the city. Thanks!

"Before you know it, Ellsworth Avenue may become a showplace for visitors more often."

Kathryn, a Citizens Against Litter volunteer

Guess what?

What house recently designated a Historic Landmark, in Shadyside no less, goes on our Garbageville list this month?

If you guessed -- but I'm sure you didn't -- the Ashley-Spencer house at 920 St. James Street, you are right. I imagine a Historic Landmark can be a Garbageville, too, if the owners prefer that title along with the other.

Central Northside CleanUP/Plant UP report

"Thanks to all who helped make our first two CleanUP days a success! This is yet another reason why I love this neighborhood; because people are so willing to get involved, volunteer, and help to make this a better place to live.

"Our list of accomplishments from the Earth Day CleanUP on Apr. 21, and the First Saturdays CleanUP on May 5 include:

"Special thanks go out to The Mexican War Streets Society for providing the munchies, soil, mulch and plants; The Central Northside Neighborhood Council for gloves, bags, water, etc.; Moxie DaDa for organizing the City Steps clean up; PA Cleanways for providing help with the City Steps clean up and various supplies, and all the neighbors who donated tools and labor. Also, thanks to the gentleman who cleared the lots on Monterey. Congratulations to everyone who helped!

"Next UP: Saturday, June 2, we are going to continue with our litter clearing efforts and plant annuals at Mechanic's Retreat Park. We will meet as usual at 10 a.m. at Mechanic's Retreat at the corner of Buena Vista and Jacksonia for coffee, tea, bottled water and pastries, then we will get to work. Hope to see many of you there!"

John Engle

Brookline's 1st lineman against litter

"I just came in from picking up four bags of garbage on Brookline Boulevard. I organized a successful Earth Day. We cleaned up two city parks, our business district, service alley and some trash vortexes at certain intersections. We hauled in over 90 big bags, 30 tires, and all sorts of other junk. Day to day clean up projects have not been formalized as yet.

"We gave away four nifty nabbers to known litter fighting diehards that helped on Earth Day. They use them to pick up litter. I know for sure that two women are using them when they get a chance to go out and walk. I'm still having trouble convincing people that those who care have to compensate for those who don't.

"The big hurdles are time and volunteers both for litter picking and running our organization. We are few and the issues many. I pick up more than 150 bags a year. At least three or four a week, but it never lasts very long. A couple days at most.

"I ride my bike through your part of the city quite a bit and it looks pretty good. The business district in East Liberty is bad much of the time I go through. It's clean in Shadyside. East Liberty is disaster. It gets clean again heading into Highland Park.

"We adjourn for the summer, but maybe in the fall you could come up again and rally the troops. I like when I can get hold of a real salesman like yourself to champion the cause and make something look fun!"

Keith Knecht, on Brookline's First Line against Litter

Very good Verona

"Verona will be holding our 2nd cleanup of 2007 on Saturday, June 9 (just in the U.S. Open)," writes LeaAnn Grill.

"Our first cleanup was in April with 25 people turning out to pitch in. We collected many, many, bags of trash and held a lunch consisting of donated pizza along the riverbank afterwards.

"We have formed a Garden Club and will begin planting in green spots throughout our community while encouraging business owners to help maintain their outside areas. So far we have had nothing but positive response from everyone.

"You can bet that Verona is still in the Redd Up Game, thanks for asking!"

LeaAnn Grill, Verona Community Action Group

"I Litter Awards"

Some businesses and some non-profits are as irresponsible as some residents and passersby for the litter on Shadyside streets. Here are some whose litter in the form of fliers we can identify. All get "I Litter Awards" this month.


For those who need to be reminded, Garbagevilles are houses, buildings, streets, alleys and places that look awful because of litter, garbage, caked on leaves, and other stuff. As we walk the neighborhood picking up litter we also finger Garbagevilles. You can't miss them. Here are some this month:

Ask Mr. Litterman

Q: What is the most littered street in Shadyside?
A: Hands down. It's Centre Avenue from South Millvale to Highland.

Q: What four-street square is the most littered in Shadyside?
A: Ellsworth-Holden-Summerlea-Maryland (includes Alder Way)

Q: What's bugging you now?
A: Two things. Clogged sewers that flood streets during and after downpours. And newspaper boxes (especially the ones lined up on the side of National City Bank on Walnut) that are not very pleasant to look at.

Q: You're retired now. Are you working for the City? What are you doing?
A: I'm picking up litter, but not for the City...for you.

Recent Litter-ature

A complete list of past Litterature is available in our archives.

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