I’m up at 4:30 AM, prepping for the day ahead. I gather my supplies, running over my checklist:
I’ve got a cooler with water, energy bars, spare pair of dry socks, poison ivy block, mosquito repellent, first aid kit, trash bags and a wheelbarrow. Trash bags and a wheelbarrow?
I’m not planning a hike in the woods or a cross country trek. I’m preparing for a community clean up. I also have volunteer waivers, a sign in sheet, a banner sign, grabbers, buckets, and a strange sense of excitement.
You can trust me when I tell you my long-suffering husband, known to some of our friends as “Poor Bill”, is not feeling that same sense of excitement. Actually, he’s not feeling much of anything right now because he’s still sleeping soundly. One of the unwritten, unspoken rules of cohabitation is that when dragging your partner along on some excursion in which he or she does not want to participate, make it as painless as possible.
I think it works to my advantage to have the truck loaded with supplies and be ready to leave before I wake him with that soft, special phrase: “GET UP! WE’RE GOING TO BE LATE!” This works much the same for me as it does for a drill sergeant. We startle the hapless recruit into panic and action. I’m kidding about the “startle” part. “Poor Bill” doesn’t get startled. He’s stoic about the whole ordeal. It’s easier to get cooperation when the forecast is not for the high nineties or there’s no snow on the ground, but he usually comes along without much protest.
We work nearly every weekend. I rationalize this for “Poor Bill” by reminding him that he sits at a desk eight hours a day, five days a week and adds another 10-12 hours sitting in the car while commuting. (What a terrible embarrassment for me, a member of the Telework Task Force.)
I’ve organized this cleanup at the request of a resident in the Birchdale Community. There’s a wooded area with a creek that has become the target of dumping. For some unknown reason, that seems to be the case in nearly every neighborhood in Dale City. I don’t mean the creek is a mystery, but the dumping site is unfathomable to me. Why would anyone dump their trash in a creek? Why do we find tires and shopping carts, bicycles and newspaper vending machines? What on earth makes anyone think it’s a good idea to dump a sofa or television down a ravine or into a ditch?
I’ve pondered these questions repeatedly. I ask the same kind of questions when picking up litter for my Adopt a Spot locations. I ask the same question when working with Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition and I ask the same question when I work with Prince William Soil and Water Conservation District. I ask my friends. I ask you readers here on Patch. No one seems to have the answer. Most people agree it’s best to educate young children regarding matters of pollution, conservation and taking care of the planet. I think most parents do that.
A better way of teaching is to engage children in an activity. They are more likely to recall the good feeling of working with a parent or older sibling and remember the reward of a job well done than if they just listen to a lecture. You can help your children become responsible human beings nearly every day in Prince William County. The time investment for an Adopt a Spot from Keep Prince William Beautiful is minimal. We ask you pick up litter 9 times a year, but the areas are much smaller than the VDOT program: Adopt a Highway . The VDOT program is great for groups and organizations, but the two mile requirement is a bit much for young children. Start youngsters with Adopt a Spot and when they’re teens, graduate them to the Adopt a Highway program.
If you need ideas or ways to connect with your community in a meaningful way, contact me: