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Citizens Against Litter

June 2013 Newslitter

In this newsletter: Our mission; One man's opinion; A second opinion; Call it "Tactical Urbanism"; Weigh in; Feedback; More feedback; Double irony; Rethinking at Graffiti Watch ; Is Pittsburgh a "smart city?"; A vote for multi-tasking; Fall Redd Up signups underway; Become a Citizens Against Litter volunteer; Adopt a Redd Up Zone; Report mailbox graffiti; "I Litter" awards; Garbagevilles; Important phone numbers; It pays to pick up; The last word

Our mission

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

One man's opinion

These comments were sent to Citizens Against Litter by a Pittsburgher, born and raised here, who moved to California in 1975; moved back in 2008; and is on his way back to California.

"I applaud Citizens Against Litter's continued efforts on behalf of the people of Pittsburgh, but I must tell you that part of the reason I'm moving away from Pittsburgh is because I find it to be the filthiest city I have ever seen and I have seen many. For a population that seemingly has such pride in its city, the people of the Pittsburgh area sure don't show it. And it will always baffle me how Pittsburgh ranks so high in the most livable cities lists that come out every year. The people making those lists must be blind. All I can say is keep up the good work."

A second opinion

His words hurt. And I disagree. But this disappointed expatriate who dumped on Pittsburgh was certainly right about us having a litter problem. There are four culprits:

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 Luke Ravenstahl and Bob O'Connor.

Our next mayor needs to make Zero Litter his priority. Pittsburgh needs an all-out fresh effort to dig out the roots of our litter problems.

Please, though, don't take this citywide 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, his staff, Public Works, Bureau of Building Inspection, Public Safety, the Urban Renewal Authority, the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority, City Council, magistrates and concerned others to strictly enforce ordinances, enact new ordinances, issue warnings, write citations and collect fines.

Like Citizens Against Litter, which was started ten years ago in Shadyside and now involves thousands in the city and beyond, Zero Litter could start in one or two neighborhoods. Then it could be evaluated, improved and rolled out to more neighborhoods.

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

Call it "Tactical Urbanism"

I shared this Zero Litter approach with an associate who wrote back to say:

"Simply accepting litter as the cost of doing business as a bustling city is not acceptable, but trying to get a handle on some kind of zero-litter policy all at once is simply too much. There's a movement afoot called "tactical urbanism" that seeks to make small, incremental improvements to city living through cheap, quick, iterative processes. I think Citizens Against Litter is a fine example of that. Having leadership that recognizes the utility of that experimental model's mind-set, while also having the power to move larger players to action in a couple of target areas would seem to be a good logical next step."

Weigh in

Citizens Against Litter is interested in your comments/opinions. Email info@citizensagainstlitter.org and/or boris.weinstein@verizon.net or call 412-688-9120.

Feedback

Betty Kripp, from the South Side Slopes weighs in:

"Boris, I thought your op-ed in the PG last week was terrific! Hope Bill Peduto takes note as your idea is spot on. I want to give you an update on the action plan that the Outreach Committee of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association has put in place. After doing a survey and finding out that trash problems were right up there with parking woes, we wrote a plan that focuses on four strands:

  • Messaging
  • Communication
  • Continued cleanups
  • Collaboration

1) "Our message is 'keep trash out of sight, in cans with lids.' Very straight forward, nothing cute. We received a grant from the Birmingham Foundation to buy items for distribution with that message as well as an ad in the local community newspaper and anything else we can think of and afford.

2) "We are resurrecting the famous ZONES! Walkabouts will commence very soon and we will go door to door with information about the SSSNA and also distribute items with the message about trash storage. A communication system, using zone leadership, is planned.

3) "Cleanups will continue, of course, but will be directed by a different SSSNA committee. We will work closely with them, however. Zone communication will be critical.

4) "We have plans to contact landlords (will look into the Sheraden improvement campaign to see if we can learn something there), universities (will look into the Pitt and Oakland Planning and Development program for some help) and the Pittsburgh Public Schools (perhaps in partnership with Missy Rosenfeld from the DPW). We will be meeting with Candice Gonzalez, from the Mayor's Office next month and, of course, we'll keep (Councilman) Bruce Kraus in the loop. We also have communicated with Bill Klimovitch from DPW Environmental Services as we developed the plan.

"Those are the highlights. We think of it as a five-year plan. It will take some time to change the way many think about trash. It would be fabulous to have some help from the Mayor's Office down the road. Thanks again for the article."

More feedback

"I just finished reading your editorial entitled "Zero Litter". I agree 100%. I couldn't have said it better myself. This city is filthy; the only areas filthier than the city are the suburbs, especially the airport corridor. I just don't understand."

Another: "I am spotlighting the political signs that appear in May and November and may remain from May to November and November to May. Some municipalities have a "remove on sight" policy and some do not. My community has an ordinance that is not enforced. They claim that this free advertising is political speech. I have expressed my opinion at a council meeting and the local newspaper has written about this issue. However, the government ignores their ordinance. Do you have a suggestion about addressing roadside political trash?"

Another: "Great op-ed in the Post-Gazette today. Paddle Without Pollution, of course, wants to continue to work with the City and whoever the next mayor is on this issue. Bill Peduto was kind enough to come to our benefit dinner last year and he mentioned that he grew up along Chartiers Creek, so we know that he cares."

Lastly, from Avrom Shlomie (a Yiddish student): "Zar guten spiel en em paper. Shalom and gai mit mazel."

Double irony

The phrase "Redd Up" is getting a workout. Two mayors used the phrase to rally residents to clean up the City. Next, our next mayor used the phrase this spring in his campaign to clean up City Hall. Now, Citizens Against Litter suggests our next mayor redd up Redd Up with a Zero Litter program.

Rethinking at Graffiti Watch

"After six years of vigilance and work of a dedicated group of volunteers and supporters who have worked to prevent and remove graffiti from the South Side it's time to catch up and refocus our mission. This also requires seeking fresh ideas and energy of new volunteers to help sustain our mission".

To this end, Graffiti Watch is sponsoring a potluck dinner and discussion of ways to keep the South Side free of graffiti on Thursday, June 6 at St. Casmir's Church (Larkins Way at 22nd St.) at 6 p.m.

The announcement continues: "This will require increasing prevention activities in each of the 10 zones of the South Side. Additionally we will discuss ways to support the effort to reduce trash and litter on the South Side. The meet and eat is open to neighbors, friends, relatives who care about the South Side."

Is Pittsburgh a "smart city?"

Diana Nelson Jones of the PG reported:

"In Pittsburgh last week, Mitchell Silver, the chief planning and development officer for the city of Raleigh, NC, said the cities that stay or become vibrant are already planning to meet the needs of a very different country by 2050. The smart cities understand the sense of urgency 10 years before it is urgent.

"Silver spoke at the annual summit of the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, a non-profit planning organization, that brings together community development specialists and advocates to share strategies that move cities forward. People came from throughout the region, including Cleveland and Baltimore, to discuss how they do transit, bust-up poverty pockets, manage storm water, employ innovative housing strategies and maintain community in the face of population shrinkage."

A vote for multi-tasking

Between handshakes at the EMS-turned voting station at Shadyside's Filbert and Elmer on Election Day, Dan Gilman, candidate and soon to be District 8 city councilman, was all business. Observing two clogged storm sewers, Dan called either his office or PWSA to dispatch a crew to remove accumulated dirt and litter clogging the opening.

Fall Redd Up signups underway

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

In 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, California-Kirkbride, Carrick, East Hills, East Liberty, Elliott, Fineview, Friendship, Garfield, Gen 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, 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.

In Allegheny County: Aspinwall, Brentwood, Collier, Dormont, East McKeesport, Etna, Harmar, Heidelberg, 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.

In Beaver County: Aliquippa, Beaver.

In Washington County: North Strabane.

Sign up your group at info@citizensagainstlitter.org. It's never 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; visit http://www.citizensagainstlitter.org/volunteer/ or call 412-688-9120.

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 75 adopted zones in this city program. Visit http://www.servepgh.com for information and application form.

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. May's litterers are: Post-Gazette Sunday Extra, Harry & Carol's Pizza and political and judicial candidates in the May primaries. Let's hope they remove posters and lawn signs that have become litter.

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.

It pays to pick up

John Maggio of Dormont, a persistent litter fighter, spent some time the morning after the Dormont Pub Crawl picking up litter. In addition to the four bags of litter he took away from West Liberty and Potomac was a $10 bill. John says it pays -- some -- to bend and pick up litter.

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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