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Citizens Against Litter

July 2013 Newslitter

In this newsletter: Our mission; First 1/4 million words; Zero Litter enforcement; Support for Zero Litter; Great (?) minds think alike; 8 schools in Redd Up Zone program; Thank you Lawrenceville; 500 Deloitte volunteers on Impact Day; River Sweep attracts 500 volunteers; Run litter run; Tennis players do their share; Fall Redd Up signups underway; Become a Citizens Against Litter volunteer; Adopt a place; Adopt a Redd Up Zone; Litter extra in Fineview; Report mailbox graffiti; "I Litter" awards; Garbagevilles; Important phone numbers; The last word

Our mission

Our mission is to inspire people throughout the city and region to collect litter and connect neighborhoods.

First 1/4 million words

This month marks eight years, three months, 99 issues and 250,000 words of Citizens Against Litter newsletters written and published by Mr. Litterman and Jake Krohn. The first issue was May, 2005. Several thousand people now receive the "Newslitter." We estimate the pass-a-long readership to be three to four times more. All "Newslitters" can be viewed at http://www.citizensagainstlitter.org/news/. Here are some excerpts from our first issue:

Where's the litter (in 2005)?

March 18th was the beginning of the end for litter on the streets of Shadyside. Imagine, in five weeks 19 volunteers have removed "old" litter -- the stuff that has been around since winter -- from about 70 percent of Shadyside. Keeping "fresh" litter off streets and under control becomes the community's ongoing challenge.

A lot of people are helping. Merchants on Walnut Street have their street looking terrific. Keeping the Ellsworth and Centre Avenue business districts litter-free are projects. It also shows that people may be littering less, and many homeowners are bending and using brooms and dustpans more.

Active and passive litterers

There are two kinds of litterers. Active litterers throw stuff out windows and drop stuff on streets, gutters, and grassy places. Passive litterers walk out their front door and refuse to bend to pick up litter that is on and around their property.

There are two kinds of anti-litterers. Active anti-litterers pick up litter regularly. Passive anti-litterers talk, talk, talks about how disgusting litter is but don't pick up a piece of paper.

People must care

Citizens Against Litter is a volunteer group that believes that people who care must clean up for people who don't. Our short-term goal is to make Shadyside as close to litter-free as possible. The longer-term goal is for other neighborhoods to follow our lead.

Litter hot spots (in 2005)

Every street gets its fair share of litter, but these may be among the hardest hit.

Ask Mr. Litterman

Q: Mr. Litterman, can you estimate how many cigarette butts are on Shadyside streets?

A: With 100 to 200 butts per block and 600 blocks total, there may be somewhere between 60,000 and 120,000 butts gracing our neighborhood.

Dispatches from the litter front: Recycle that litter!

Jake Krohn, Zone 6 volunteer writes:

"When I go out, I usually pack several blue grocery bags along with my usual white bags. As I pick up litter, I separate the throwaway materials from the recyclable items. It's amazing how much litter consists of plastic, glass and aluminum. Finding a place to deposit the blue bags is sometimes a challenge, but knowing that I'm keeping additional garbage from going to a landfill makes it worth the effort."

Zero Litter enforcement

Now let's forward to the present. Like most cities, Pittsburgh has litter problems. It comes in four ways:

What should be done about our litter problems?

The time has come for Pittsburgh to push beyond neighborhood Redd Ups. This is a challenge for our next mayor to start a whole new initiative -- not just tweak a hand-me-down version from Mayors Ravenstahl and O'Connor.

Our next mayor needs to make Zero Litter, with an emphasis on "enforcement," his priority. Pittsburgh needs an all-out fresh effort to dig out the roots of our litter problems. Please, though, not city-wide at first. Too much. Too fast. It won't work.

Start in one or a few neighborhoods with a focused. affordable one-year program that brings together a committed mayor who directs his staff, Public Works, Bureau of Building Inspection, Public Safety, Urban Renewal Authority, Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority, City Council, magistrates and concerned others to strictly enforce ordinances, enact new ordinances as needed, issue warnings, write citations and collect fines.

A well-managed test of Zero Litter would work, providing there is a no-nonsense strategy of goals, studies, and best methods that holds agencies accountable, encourages neighborhood participation and provides for ongoing outside oversight. The key is commitment: The next mayor must make Zero Litter enforcement a top priority.

Support for Zero Litter

Referring to opinion piece in the Post-Gazette, Cono Cormus writes in:

"Great words Mr. Weinstein!

"As someone who is deeply involved with the Redd Up program, I have to say, I would welcome any kind of increased positive, pro-active involvement by the city. They do a great job providing DPW (Public Works) haul-off services but litter is the end-product of a process and it is by treating the process, not the end product, that we get good 'bang for the buck.'

"If there is one place the city could really help, it is dealing with the dreaded ABSENTEE LANDLORD.

"These individuals are quite well-heeled, and come from the nicest Fox Chapel and Bethel Park neighborhoods. I don't believe for one minute these individuals would allow properties in their community to exist in the deteriorated condition of their lots and structures in the city.

"Individuals who allow vacant lots or buildings they own to fall into disrepair or become trash-strewn need to be forced to either step up to take care of their property or else partner with the city/county/etc., perhaps allowing access to the property and making a donation to its maintenance rather than pay a fine.

"This may involve holding people's foot to the fire, as it were, but these are the individuals who have the resources to make positive changes on their property, but choose not to. I don't think it will be very challenging to sort out the poor and elderly who own dilapidated properties because they have no choice, and the LLCs with anonymous names who hold dilapidated properties because they want to sell the land and pass the demo and rehab expenses onto the next owner

"Likewise, landlords who have their handymen come to do work on rental properties need to be held accountable for their handymen. Too frequently, they are from out of the area, and think that a local vacant lot is an ideal dumping site for brush or construction waste. If there is no accountability for this, the practice will never stop.

"I think if we prioritize our effort -- targeting dumping by commercial actors and absentee landlords who are able but unwilling to maintain their properties -- we can lick the majority of the problem in a very short time. These individuals produce a vastly disproportionate amount of urban blight AND they have the resources to make pursuing them remunerative.

"As someone else taking part in the fight, thank you again for all your efforts, Mr. Weinstein! Each of us does our little part, but together, I think we can make ZERO LITTER PITTSBURGH a reality."

Great (?) minds think alike

George Peters, Jr. writes in from Baltimore:

"I love what you have to say Boris. Your ideas and sentiments very closely parallel mine over here in Baltimore. They are so similar in fact that just over a year ago I founded an organization named Zero Litter that works to activate neighborhoods and empower them to bring about city wide change, one block and one neighborhood at a time. I can't emphasize enough how hard it is to make a real and lasting change without the unwavering support of your mayor. Maybe next time I'm in the 'Burg to catch a Steelers game we can talk trash over a few beers. Good luck, lord knows that we are both going to need it."

8 schools in Redd Up Zone program

Melanie Pfeiffenberger of ServePgh shares some news:

"We have eight schools involved with the City's Redd Up Zone program: Grandview Elementary, Pittsburgh Arsenal K-8, Pittsburgh King PreK-8, Pittsburgh Greenfield Academy K-8, St. Rosalia Academy, St. Benedict the Moor School, Pittsburgh Science & Technology and Pittsburgh Sterrett. Our schools have engaged 444 student volunteers and have collected over 930 pounds of litter over the past school year."

Thank you Lawrenceville

From the mouth of Mr. Litterman:

"What's been happening for a number of years in Lawrenceville is sensational.  Another great Pittsburgh neighborhood rising to the top.    "There probably isn't enough kudos to go around because so many people have been involved in the master planning, day-after-day oversight and execution.   "The recognition coming Lawrenceville's way is certainly deserved.  And thank you for the neighborhood support for the work that we do that strengthens the Citizens Against Litter movement: People who care must clean up after people who don't."

500 Deloitte volunteers on Impact Day

Across America in 80 communities, thousands of Deloitte employees participated in over 800 projects in the 14th annual Impact Day on June 7. Five hundred employees were in the Lawrenceville neighborhood last month working with 25 non-profit groups. Pittsburgh Cares helped coordinate projects.

River Sweep attracts 500 volunteers

More than 500 volunteers worked at 24 sites throughout Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties several weeks ago in the annual Pennsylvania River Sweep. They collected more than 40 tons of debris, including 50 tires, along the Ohio River, according to sweep coordinator Betsy Mallison.

Run litter run

Matt Wholey sends this dispatch from neighborhood zero:

"I ran the 2013 Pittsburgh Marathon. It runs through my neighborhood [Shadyside]. In the following days I picked up the litter on the three blocks where I walk my dogs. The picture I sent you represents the litter found in just those three blocks. Given that a marathon is approximately 524 city blocks, one can multiply this picture 174 times to get an idea of how much litter is left on the ground heading for our streams and rivers. Just imagine a book with every page a photo of this litter, 174 pages long, and titled "The Litter of the Pittsburgh Marathon." Entering an event does not give one a license to litter. It's illegal, and it's gross. Keep up the great work."

Tennis players do their share

Jim O'Brien, writer of dozens of sports books, sends in this idea:

"I was playing tennis at Baker Courts in Upper St. Clair and between games I had everyone go on a police call inside and outside the courts to pick up all the empty bottles, aluminum can tops, and whatever and thought of you. Some people just don't get it. I think, as cities go, that Pittsburgh is a dirty city and it should be so easy to correct that situation. Get the men and women out of jail for recreation breaks and have them pick up the litter. Earn their keep."

Fall Redd Up signups underway

Neighborhoods, groups and communities are months away from picking up litter, planting trees, tending to gardens and engaging in beautification projects but many are early signups for the fall Redd Up and Pitt Make a Difference Day weekend Oct. 25, 26 and 27. Among them are:

Pittsburgh: Adult Probation Day Reporting Center, Allegheny CleanWays, Allegheny West, Arlington, Allentown, Banksville, Beechview, Beltzhoover, Beautify Banksville Road, Bloomfield, Bon Air, Brightwood, Brighton Heights, Brookline, Bull Elephants, California-Kirkbride, Carrick, East Hills, East Liberty, Elliott, Fineview, Friendship, Garfield, Glen Hazel, Hays, Hazelwood, Homewood, Jail Trail, Larimer, Lawrenceville, Lincoln Place, Lower Hill, Knoxville, Manchester, Mexican War Streets, Middle Hill, Mt. Washington, Mt. Oliver, New Homestead, Overbrook, Perry Hilltop, Pittsburgh Parks, Polish Hill, Schenley Heights, Shadyside, Sheraden, South Side Flats, South Side Slopes, Spring Garden, Stanton Heights, Strip District, Summer Hill, Troy Hill and West End.

Allegheny County: Aspinwall, Brentwood, Collier, Dormont, East McKeesport, Etna, Harmar, Hollow Oak Land Trust, McKees Rocks, Friends of North Park, Leetsdale, Moon, Mt.Oliver, North Versailles, Penn Hills, Pine, Port Vue, Rosslyn Farms, Shady Side Academy, Sharpsburg, South Park, Friends of South Park, Stowe, Verona, West Homestead and Wilkinsburg.

Beaver County: Aliquippa, Beaver.

Washington County: North Strabane, West Pike Run.

Sign up your group at info@citizensagainstlitter.org. It's not too early to circle the date on your community calendar.

Become a Citizens Against Litter volunteer

Be a joiner. When you give us your name, email address and neighborhood/community you want to volunteer with, we will connect you with a contact. Email info@citizensagainstlitter.org or boris.weinstein@verizon.net or call 412-688-9120.

Adopt a place

If you're like Mr. Litterman, you probably have a place you go to regularly. My place is Schenley Oval where I walk the track three or four times a week. Overlook Drive gets a lot of play from cars and buses, walkers, runners, tennis and soccer players, disc tossers, sun bathers, picnickers and families. Overlook Drive ends up with lots of litter as people pile in and out of their vehicles. Mr. Litterman adopted this place -- his place -- about a month ago. After his exercise walk, he grabs his picker upper, gloves and plastic bags from his car trunk and spends another 20 to 30 minutes picking up trash. Think about doing the same in your regular place away from home.

Adopt a Redd Up Zone

Looking for a worthwhile neighborhood project? Businesses, corporations and groups are invited to adopt their own Pittsburgh street or zone and agree to pick up litter at least four times a year for two years. There are more than 76 adopted zones in this city program, engaging 1,500 volunteers with over 2,000 service hours that have collected 20,000 pounds of litter. Visit http://www.servepgh.com for information and an application form.

Litter extra in Fineview

Mindy Clairmont writes in with this helpful information:

"The Pittsburgh Post Gazette 'Sunday Extra' Edition (a mini newspaper wrapped in a tan plastic sleeve) has been appearing on the sidewalks in front of many Fineview homes for the last several weeks. If you do not want it, you must contact the Post Gazette @ 800-228-6397 and give them your address for removal.

"They have set up an 'opt-out' program, and it is the only way to make them cease this unwanted delivery.

"If you see papers being left at abandoned properties, please contact the Post Gazette with those addresses too. The Sunday Extra edition is being targeted to households who currently do not subscribe to the paper. Unfortunately, when left outside and not picked up for days or longer, it is nothing short of littering.

"Please contact the Post Gazette and let them know how you feel about this practice. Take pride in our neighborhood and others will too."

Report mailbox graffiti

Pittsburgh Postmaster Joseph Meimann urges citizens to be proactive and call the Postal Service directly at 412-359-7845 to report mailbox tagging or boxes in need of repair. Help the postal service by giving them specific information of locations and crossing streets.

"I Litter" awards

Advertising and promotional materials turn into litter in Shadyside and elsewhere. Businesses and sometimes non-profits are often responsible when they put their business on Shadyside streets. There's less of this going on. June's litterers are: Post-Gazette Sunday Extra and Pesaro's Pizza.

Garbagevilles

Garbagevilles are houses, buildings, streets and places that are a mess. Some because of litter; some because of unswept leaves; some because of trash and junk on their property. Some because garbage cans sit in the front of their houses. Many because of the absence of lids on garbage cans and open waste containers. Some of these Shadyside Garbagevilles are always a mess. This is an incomplete list of course.

Important phone numbers

Need to contact the city about something that's been bothering you, like potholes and graffiti? Call the 311 Response line (alternate number is 412-255-2621). Your request will be logged and sent to the proper department. Want to contact someone directly? The following list may help.

The last word

Remember. Rome wasn't redd up in a day either.

Recent Litter-ature

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


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