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Citizens Against Litter

March 2013 Newslitter

In this newsletter: Our mission; Citizens Against Litter started as "a bright idea"; Spring Redd Up is next month; Sign up for a Redd Up Zone; Alley oops; South Hills Village & Banksville Road; Report mailbox graffiti; "I Litter" awards; Garbagevilles ; Important phone numbers; Spreading the word; "Reasonably tall" volunteer wanted; must be comfortable with squirrels & litter; Business stinks; The last word

Our mission

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

Citizens Against Litter started as "a bright idea"

It feels like ages ago, but in 2002 Mr. an idea was presented to to Councilman (now Mayor) Bill Peduto. It was for a one-neighborhood plan in Shadyside that could become the model for a citywide program driven by a network of community volunteers committed to rid the city of litter and trash. Mr. Peduto was among the first to endorse the idea.

The Shadyside anti-litter plan is being reprinted because last month Keep America Beautiful recognized Citizens Against Litter's Boris Weinstein as its 2013 Iron Eyes Cody recipient. Here's a look back at our beginnings.

INTRODUCTION

Pittsburgh, like so many other cities, has had a hate affair with litter for a long time. Fortunate cities, like Toronto, don't have litter and don't have the problem.

As far back as World War II, Pittsburgh may have been a dirty city because of working steel mills and air pollution, but, during those years, Pittsburgh's streets were practically litter-free.

Materials of all kind were scarce. They were collected off hills, valleys and streets and recycled for the war effort.

Years later, a property owner said in a letter to the editor. "I've been cleaning up other people's messes for most of my 52 years and I'm tired of it." Other individuals, community groups and Pittsburgh mayors are in the same boat. They are tired battling litter. They are convinced that Pittsburghers need an attitude adjustment.

Until that happens it's hopeless, they say. To them, it's like rowing upstream.

The frustration for all of us is that we know how important a life without litter is for the city's well being and its appeal to insiders and outsiders. We need clean communities and a clean city for us to feel good about ourselves and to help attract new businesses, new residents and tourists.

In another letter to the editor, a Pittsburgh-proud couple was showing off the city to friends from Easton, PA, who commented that Pittsburgh is a beautiful city. "Later," the couple said, "we were walking in Squirrel Hill. We saw lots of litter in front of businesses, homes and bus stops. Here we were showing off our lovely neighborhood, and we were embarrassed by the filth." For this couple once was not enough. A second visitor, a former resident, told them she was thinking about returning here to live but said, "You wouldn't find this trash on the streets of Seattle."

By now, we should have learned one thing about litter. And it's not rocket science. Keeping litter off the streets is a day in and day out job. As hard as it is to accept, people have to be passionate about litter. It will take an army of citizen volunteers to keep their own neighborhoods clean because the city doesn't have the funds to do it for them and there isn't enough private money around to do it either. Citizens serious about litter do a fantastic job one day and have to redo their work the next day and every day.

When unveiling his 1998 budget, Mayor Murphy said the biggest complaint he received was that the city is dirty. That should tell us that there are many that are passionate about litter.

Barbara Cloud, a newspaper columnist and former fashion editor, has been one of them for 35 years. She ended a column about four years ago with the line, "Our streets look like pig sties."

What follows is a proposal on litter. Not to win the war against litter, but to fight the war. Day-by-day. Block by-block. Community-by-community. It is based on this concept:

THE CONCEPT

Citizens Against Litter is intended to be a citywide initiative that will reach into other communities. At first, however, the initiative would be limited to a single section of the city. Volunteers in their own neighborhood would commit to collecting litter from their own streets.

Each volunteer would be assigned a block and be responsible to keep it litter-free on a regular basis.

Imagine a situation that finds volunteers, day in and day out, removing cigarette butts and packs, pizza boxes, pop cans, candy and food bags and wrappers, and other garbage from sidewalks, curbs, bushes and grassy places.

Imagine the difference this will make when litter is picked up regularly over a period of time.

Imagine the attention this will create when residents see how serious their neighbors are about clearing litter and keeping it cleared. They, too, will want to get involved.

Imagine how contagious litter cleaning can become when a volunteer group grows literally into a small army.

Imagine the pleasure and pride that will grip a neighborhood when streets are clean.

Imagine where this could lead.

CHAMPIONING THE CONCEPT

This initiative will not happen by itself. It requires support from different places.

A company from the private sector is needed to be the sponsor and become the primary mover, possibly recruiting other companies to back the initiative.

A major medium is needed to adopt Citizens Against Litter as a public service cause.

The city councilman whose section of the city is directly involved is needed to support the efforts of residents. [Mayor Bill Peduto was that councilman.]

The City is needed. It will not be asked for financial support. It will be asked to endorse the initiative and provide and enforce those services and laws that will keep streets clean.

Community action and volunteer groups are needed to help recruit volunteers.

Community business associations are needed to keep their own properties, sidewalks, curbs, and garbage/trash areas litter-free on as frequent a schedule as citizen volunteers.

TARGET SHADYSIDE

Shadyside is recommended as the section with which to begin the Citizens Against Litter initiative. Why Shadyside? Shadyside is one of the city's most diverse communities with:

VOLUNTEERS NEED VERY LITTLE

Supplies. This army travels light. Volunteers require few things. Garbage bags (with logos), gloves, pickup devises, weed diggers, brooms, possibly shovels.

Incentives should be considered. Local merchants could be approached to provide "litter bags" (or "litter bucks") of free items and discounts as an appreciation for their participation.

Recognition could come at a unique litter-free private street fair event. Volunteers would be introduced and recognized. Food would be displayed on tablecloths spread on the street "that is so clean you can eat right off it".

Communications could come to volunteers in the form of a newsletter, called "The Newslitter." [Hey, that's us!]

THE CITY'S ROLE

Endorse this volunteer litter initiative starting with the Mayor. Direct the Mayor's Service Center to work closely with the volunteers and respond to calls to the litter hotline.

A "CAN'T MISS" INITIATIVE FOR PITTSBURGH

At a time in the life of Pittsburgh when most capital projects to keep us "world-class" cost hundreds of millions of dollars, along comes an initiative that is the biggest bargain in the city's budget. This initiative is a drop in the financial bucket and worth a fortune to boost local pride and Pittsburgh's global image. The sponsor of this "can't miss" initiative will benefit greatly for its contributions to the present and future Pittsburgh and to its citizens.

Everyone is against litter.

Spring Redd Up is next month

Dates for the Spring Redd up are Friday, April 25 through Sunday, April 27. Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22.

However, many communities do their cleanups at other times. For example, Duquesne University student volunteers will work with South Side Flats, South Side Slopes, Hill District groups (Middle Hill, Lower Hill, Crawford Roberts, Bedford Dwellings and Schenley Heights) and Uptown on Saturday, April 12.

Citizen Against Litter's participation goals remain ambitious but we've reached them in the past. Mr. Litterman is looking for 250 city neighborhoods, outside communities and groups to sign up and recruit as many as 15,000 to 20,000 volunteers. Based on past results, reaching those goals could result in the removal of more than 250 tons of litter, trash and several thousand tires.

Following are committed participants that we know of. We're pass the 150 mark with two months to go. Is your community among the committed? Let us know.

Pittsburgh: Alcoa Volunteers, Allegheny CleanWays, Allegheny County Adult Day Probation Program, Allegheny West, Allentown, Alpha Phi Sorority (CMU), Arlington, Arlington Heights, Beechview, Bedford Dwellings, Beltzhoover, Bloomfield, Bon Air, Brighton Heights, Brookline, California-Kirkbride, Carrick, Chartiers, Citizens Against Litter, Crafton Heights, Crawford- Roberts, Downtown, Duquesne Heights, Duquesne University, East Allegheny, East Carnegie, East Hills, East Liberty, Elliott, Fairywood, Fineview, Friendship, Friends of the Riverfront, Garfield, Glen Hazel, Greenfield, Hays, Hazelwood, Highland Park, Homewood, Knoxville, Larimer, Lawrenceville (3), Lincoln Place, Lower Hill, Manchester, Mexican War Streets, Middle Hill, Mt. Oliver, Mt. Washington, New Homestead, Oakland (4), Observatory Hill, Paddling Without Pollution, Perry South, Pittsburgh Cares, ServePgh, PA Resources Council, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, Polish Hill, Ridgemont, RSVP (Pittsburgh Cares), Schenley Heights, Shadyside, Sheraden, Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum "Love Your Memorial," South Point Breeze, South Side Flats, South Side Slopes, Spring Garden, Spring Hill, St. Clair, Squirrel Hill (2), Stanton Heights, Summer Hill, Swisshelm Park, The Academy School, Troy Hill, Uptown, Westwood and Windgap.

Allegheny County: Aspinwall, Bellevue, Brentwood, Carnegie, Collier, Dormont Borough, Duquesne, East McKeesport, Etna, Friends of North Park, Friends of South Park, Forest Hills, Heidelberg, Hollow Oak Land Trust, Indiana, Leetsdale, Mt. Oliver McKees Rocks, Monroeville, North Versailles, Oakdale, PennDOT, Penn Hills, Port Vue, Sharpsburg, South Fayette, South Park, Stowe, Tri-County Trout Club, Verona, West View, White Oak, Wilkins, and Wilmerding.

Beaver County: Monaca, Independence Conservancy and Patterson.

Butler County: Butler City, Center (Aliquippa) and Penn Township.

Washington County: City of Washington, Cross Creek and Mingo Creek (Nottingham).

Westmoreland County: Academy Hill Historic District (Greensburg), 8th Annual Latrobe Corridor Cleanup, 9th Annual Great Ligonier Cleanup, Bolivar, Darlington, Laughlintown, Loyalhanna, Rector, Stahlstown, Unity, Waterford and Wilpen.

Sign up for 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. Visit http://www.pittsburghpa.gov/servepgh/reddupzone/ for information and an application.

Alley oops

A watchful Shadyside resident writes in:

"Addition to the Garbageville list: The alley on left side of Bruegger's on S. Aiken. The store has been there for quite some time and up until about a year ago, the alley was always clean. Something changed and it is now almost always a dump (and does a disservice to the make-a-wish pink pig.)"

South Hills Village and Banksville Road

Jim O'Brien from Upper St. Clair checks in:

"Boris, congratulations on the recognition in Charlotte. Good for you. Pittsburgh needs to work at being clean and taking pride in it. The P-G and Trib should get behind clean-up campaigns. The median strips and small islands near South Hills Village are inundated with debris, especially cigarette butts. And weeds. Also whatever happened to the clean-up campaign on Banksville Road? It's back to being a mess from Dormont to town."

Report mailbox graffiti

Pittsburgh Postmaster Joseph Meimann invites citizens to be proactive and call the Postal Service 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. February's main litterer is the Post-Gazette Sunday Extra.

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 Garbagevilles in Shadyside 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.

Spreading the word

Mr. Litterman spoke to the Port St. Lucie, Florida Rotary Club in February. Gary Smith, a former Oakwood resident and founder of People Serious About Litter (http://peopleseriousaboutlitter.com/) in Port St. Lucie, arranged the engagement. Gary has returned to Pittsburgh the past two years to pick up litter with Mr. Litterman. Once a Pittsburgher always a Pittsburgher.

"Reasonably tall" volunteer wanted; must be comfortable with squirrels & litter

Michael Jehn, Squirrel Hill Litter Patrol volunteer, is looking for someone to fill some big shoes. He writes:

"Our Squirrel Hill spring cleanup is scheduled for Sunday, April 27 (more details to follow!) and we are hoping to find a volunteer who would be willing to play Murray the Squirrel, our official Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition mascot and a familiar fixture at events over the past few years. We are looking for someone who is:

If you've ever wanted to be a litter-fighting squirrel, contact Michael Jehn (michaeljehn@gmail.com) or Barb Grover (bdgrover1@verizon.net).

Business stinks

A little birdie told me that the name of the yacht belonging to the Waste Management CEO is "Business Stinks."

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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