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Citizens Against Litter

September 2016 Newsliter

In this newsletter: Our mission; Mayor O'Connor died 10 years ago; Redd Up born; Squirrel Hill Redd Up leader passes; More state $$$ for Neighborhood Assistance Program; Volunteers needed for Allentown project; Playing the IF game; More kudos for Dumpbusters; October's Redd Up/Pitt MADD huge again; Report mailbox graffiti ; "I Litter" awards; Vacant lot eyesores; Important phone numbers; Caught littering; No good deed...; Graffiti at national park; The last word

Our mission

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

Mayor O'Connor died 10 years ago; Redd Up born

Around here, Pittsburghers have been redding up litter voluntarily in their own communities for 10 years. Our Celebration of Clean has become the thing to do in the spring and fall. Below, in fact, is information about thousands of us in over 100 communities making plans for this fall's Redd Up and Pitt Make a Difference Day on Saturday, October 22. Redd Ups are why Pittsburgh is a cleaner and nicer place to live. Redd Ups have contributed greatly to all the positive things being said about Pittsburgh today in the national press.

Ten years ago on September 1, 2006, Mayor Bob O'Connor, who "invented" Redd Ups as we know them today, died at age 61 of brain cancer. Pittsburghers miss Bob O'Connor. He was a good person and a good public servant who loved being our mayor. He was mayor for only 185 days before becoming ill. High on his agenda was making Pittsburgh a cleaner city and reducing the number of blighted buildings. The mayor was looking forward to making a big-to-do about our Redd Up with national media during the All Star game in Pittsburgh on July 11. Sadly, five days before the game he was hospitalized.

Best thing we can all do to remember Bob O'Connor is to keep redding up. It's become a way of life around here.

Squirrel Hill Redd Up leader passes

Bicky Goldzser, a towering citizen of Squirrel Hill, died August 2 in her Florida home. She was 92. Among her many contributions in community service was her early participation in the city-wide anti-litter movement. Bicky was a founder of the Squirrel Hill-Homewood-North & South Point Breeze Redd Up coalition that won a public affairs award in 2006 for program excellence from the National Jewish Council. As many as 1,000 volunteers participated in these four simultaneous neighborhoods cleanups twice a year when Redd Up was getting started.

More state $$$ for Neighborhood Assistance Program

During its public hearing in Pittsburgh last week on increasing funding for the Neighborhood Assistance Program, members of the State House Finance Committee indicated that it will recommend doubling the budget from $18 million to $36 million, the first increase since the successful program started in 1971. This program benefits communities in many ways -- business creation and commercial development, housing, workforce development and blight remediation. Legislators heard testimony from representatives of Homewood, Wilkinsburg, Connellsville and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, UPMC and Highmark.

Volunteers needed for Allentown project

The Clean Pittsburgh Commission (CPC) in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC), Allegheny CleanWays and the Hilltop Alliance will be tackling blighted homes in Allentown on Saturday, September 10 from 10 a.m. till noon. This will be done through a pilot project of the PRC called Artistic Board-Up.

Artistic Board-Up is a neighborhood revitalization initiative that transforms vacant, city-owned properties through creativity and community engagement. Boarding up these homes is the first step in making them safe, but Artistic Board-Up takes the process a step further by having volunteers painting images of doors and windows on the boards to give the impression that the home, while abandoned, is still cared for. Vegetation and illegally dumped debris will also be cleaned up from these properties.

With the guidance of the Hilltop Alliance, PRC was able to focus in on six homes (63 Beltzhoover Ave.; 615, 616, and 618 Excelsior St.; and 22 and 46 Millbridge St.) in a small section of the Allentown neighborhood that are currently owned by the City, but will be acquired by the Mount Washington CDC in the fall of 2017. The CDC will maintain them with the sole purpose of finding a developer or homeowner who will refurbish the properties in accordance with the community's specifications.

On Saturday, Sept. 10 the CPC and PRC will lead a group of volunteers to complete the board up project on the six homes in Allentown. For more information or to volunteer please email saraha@prc.org or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/prc.org.

Playing the IF game

Think about this tidbit from a recent issue of "This Week in Litterland" newsletter. "If the Chicago Park District didn't have to spend $4 million a year cleaning up litter it could redirect the funds to plant 6,000 trees, rebuild 30 playgrounds, rehab 130 baseball fields or tennis courts and 80 baseball diamonds, or build four new artificial turf football and soccer fields." My question is, "Would Chicago or Pittsburgh or any other city redirect funds?"

More kudos for Dumpbusters

Several weeks ago WPXI-TV News featured the untiring work of Joe Divack of Allegheny CleanWays. A TV viewer passed along some excerpts of what was said.

"Tired of seeing Pittsburgh's wooded areas littered with debris, one man took matters into his owns hands and created a group now known as the DumpBusters.

"We have a very old-fashioned idea that Pittsburgh's woods should look like woods," DumpBusters founder Joe Divack said.

"Divack and his DumpBusters are on a mission to uproot mounds of garbage growing on illegal dumpsites in Pittsburgh.

"This is our passion. This is what we're devoted to. This is something that's not everybody's cup of tea," Divack said.

"For one thing, it's hard work in often difficult terrain. People are dumping remodeling debris, lumber, furniture, shingles, old toilets, old water heaters, Divack said.

"Divack founded DumpBusters, now part of Allegheny CleanWays, six years ago after getting fed up with the junk he saw littering empty lots and hillsides.

"I woke up one morning and said to my wife, 'I'm gonna go clean up some areas...that have been bothering me for years,' he said.

"DumpBusters volunteers have since cleaned up hundreds of illegal rubbish heaps in the city, moving an estimated 200 tons of garbage annually.

"People create their own ghettos"

From Alan Ankney of Pitcairn, a one-man army trying to make his community cleaner.

"Since I failed to ignite a borough-wide team to keep Pitcairn a litter free zone, I'm still concerned that litter continues. I do enjoy reading your (Citizens Against Litter) newsletter. I have concluded that PEOPLE CREATE THEIR OWN GHETTO.

"Also, after reading (about trash at City concerts), I wonder if volunteers would (do more good) walking around the parking lots with trash bags and grabbers, instead of waiting till after the concerts for (Pittsburgh Public Works) to do their thing. (Concert goers) picking up peoples' trash might make a bigger (impression and influence others) taking more responsibility themselves to dispose (of) their trash properly. I do like the citations being given to those creating the mess.

"Thanks for your newsletter. It is very encouraging that there are people out there trying to create a better and cleaner place to live."

Fall Redd Up with Pitt MADD volunteers huge again

This fall's Redd Up with Pitt Make a Difference Day on Saturday, October 22 will have more than 100 groups. The event could attract participation in excess of 10,000 people, including more than the 3,500 Pitt student volunteers who participated in 2015. The office of PittServes at the university manages the PMADD event which involves over 70 Pittsburgh neighborhoods and Allegheny County communities. Citizens Against Litter assisted Pitt in managing the event when it began in 2008. Pitt's event has become one of nation's largest MADD community service projects. For information contact pittserves@pitt.edu or call 412-624-1065. Misty McKeehen is Director.

Among signups for the October Redd Up and PMADD event in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County neighborhoods and groups are: Beechview Urban Gardener Group Yinzers, Bon Air, Brighton Heights Citizens Federation, Brookline (South Pittsburgh Development Corp.), Carrick Community Council, Chartiers, Community Alliance of Spring Garden and East Deutschtown, Duquesne University, East Allegheny, East Liberty Trash Warriors, East Pittsburgh Economic Development Corp., Fairfield Lane Assoc., Hilltop Alliance, Friends of the Riverfront, Garfield, Homewood, Lawrenceville United, Lower Hill, MLK Community Gardens, Morningside Area Community Council, Mount Oliver/St. Clair Block Watch, Mount Washington Neighbors on the Mount, Perry Hilltop, Polish Hill, Shadyside, Sheraden, South Side Flats Community Council, South Side Slopes, South Oakland Neighborhood Group, Spring Hill, Stanton Heights Neighborhood Assoc., 31st Ward Action Group (Hays, Lincoln Place, New Homestead), Troy Hill Citizens, West End Organizers, Windgap and Uptown.

Allegheny County neighborhood and group signups are: Collier, Dormont, Duquesne Trashbashers, East Pittsburgh, East McKeesport, Etna, Fox Chapel, Heidelberg, Hollow Oak Land Trust, Mt. Lebanon, Penn Hills' Crescent Hills Civic Assoc., North Versailles, Scott, Sharpsburg, South Park, West Homestead Volunteer Fire Dept., West View, Wilmerding and Verona in Progress Community Group.

Report mailbox graffiti

Pittsburgh Postal Service 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 nonprofits are often responsible when they put their business on Shadyside streets. There's less of this going on. August's top litterer continues to be the distribution of the Post-Gazette Sunday Extra free advertising circular.

Vacant lot eyesores

From a Letter to the Editor that was published last month in the Post-Gazette under the headline: "Clean Up eyesore vacant lots if uncaring owners won't." It was written by Cindy Toth of Hazelwood.

"Brian O'Neill's Aug. 3 column "The Phantom House of Dunlop Street: a Deed Undone" got me thinking about all the vacant lots around the city that don't get the care they should. Some have turned into absolute jungles or, worse, garbage pits. (Here goes.)

"For the people who do take care of their homes and yards and pay their property taxes it's a slap in the face.

"Case in point: I live in Hazelwood and there is a mess of a lot across the street from my home. The property was purchased years ago when the women who lived there passed away. There were renovations done, but before anyone could move in there was a fire that leveled the house to the ground. The lot is overgrown and filled with trash. When I contacted Councilman Corey O'Connor's office to complain, I was told the property owner had been taken to court and fined multiple times for not taking care of the property.

"This process is very frustrating. The owner is fined. He is unresponsive and difficult to reach, the process drags on and the lot stays in the condition it's been in for the last five years. Nothing changes--so we are stuck in this cycle.

"With Hazelwood being one of the "hottest" new neighborhoods (Pittsburgh Magazine), wouldn't it be nice if the city could get an organized crew of guys to go around and take care of these eyesores? It would be a guaranteed full-time job. It probably will never happen, but I can dream, can't I?"

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.

Caught littering

This incident was reported in a recent issue of "This Week in Litterland" newsletter. "In England, a litter enforcement officer was caught on film flicking a cigarette butt on the sidewalk. She will be disciplined and fined, but not dismissed. She should have extinguished her ciggy butt under her shoe and put her litter in her pocket. It's what smokers do all the time. Right?"

No good deed...

An associate of Mr. Litterman reported back from his vacation to Denmark:

"While I found the city of Copenhagen to be tidy, I did bring back to the states the honor of being yelled at by a royal guard for my efforts to help keep the city clean. While walking through the square at Amalienborg palace, a piece of litter caught my eye. I walked over to pick it up, and in the process of doing so, a very loud guard from across the square took notice of my action and gave quite a shout. Apparently I got too close to a window at the palace or something. His booming voice caught the attention of everyone passing through the square, and, litter in hand, I waved to the guard and carried on."

Graffiti at national park

Closer to home in West Virginia there's this article that appeared last month in the Tribune-Review.

"The National Park Service is looking for those responsible for spray painting graffiti along the New River Gorge National River.

"The Park Service says in a news release that the vandalism occurred at a scenic overlook on the Long Point Trail. The statement says the graffiti measures nearly 8 feet in length, is about 2 feet tall and contains the inscription 'AW (heart) TK'.

"The maximum punishment for the vandalism is six months in prison and a $5,000 fine upon conviction."

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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