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How East Orange Plans to Celebrate Earth Day 2010

Pre-Earth Day - April 21, 2010

04/21/10 - So far, the only mention of Earth Day activity for 2010 is from the East Orange Public Library. They are holding a "Craft Event" for juniors and teens, making crafts from recycled materials. They provide all the materials, instead of cleaning up the littered areas near the library with the kids. It's being held the day before Earth Day (4/21) because on 4/22 the teens and juniors are busy using our public library to play videogames and board games. No reading required.

Last year the city of East Orange gave out "golden" brooms. Some of the public schools sent students out to pick up litter... not in East Orange, but in Liberty State Park. But this year... nothing. It's going to be very lonely for me again as I travel about the city picking up trash and photographing our public "dump sites."

Why we NEED Earth Day

These are some Pre-Earth Day Photos taken around the city on the day before Earth Day 2010.

The city is doing its best, but the citizens of East Orange are not very helpful. Pairs of trash cans like this, which are located up and down the largest streets, are simply ignored by passers-by who prefer to decorate the sidewalk and street with their droppings, rather like human pigeons.

Inconsiderate Citizens are the cause of the debris tossed into the Central Avenue Medians, but the City has to take responsibility for poor planning and design of the wrought iron fences it placed there. Did they really imagine that accidents like this would never happen? How long will the broken fence sit there quietly rusting? Designing the fences in easily replacable sections would have made more sense.

Even City Hall is not immune to the apathy of inconsiderate citizens. The water stains on the curb show that the garden had just been watered. I hope it was an automatic watering system, because I would hate to think that any employee of the city hired to do this job would also neglect the bottles and trash scattered about the daffodils and clover. The census sign on the sidewalk was just one of several that somehow walked away from the grounds and died there like stranded earthworms.

What's so disturbing about this photo is the city trash can in the background, only a few feet from the Pay Station and its surrounding litter of pay stubs.

The crowning glory of City Hall Plaza, in sight of City Hall and directly in front of the Post Office, is this sad scene. It reminds me of Newark.

Many vacant lots in East Orange are litter free, but not this one, directly across William Street from Cicely Tyson School for the Performing and Fine Arts. Much of the litter originates from the corner store at William and Winans Streets, whose customers devour the goodies and leave the packaging here in the street.

Some modest proposals to solve the problems:

East Orange (and the State of New Jersey) has anti-litter laws, but they are rarely (if ever) enforced, especially against pedestrians, who are the main contributors to the problem.

Michael Johnson is director of the city's Department Of Public Works, and is charged with coping with this problem. I suggest that through his department, he contact every small business (like the one that contributes to the problem on the corner of William and Winans Streets) and ask them to contribute $10 per week to help solve it. The money would pay for a high school student to visit each of the business sites in the network twice a week (30 minutes at each site) and pick up/sweep up litter within sight of the business property. Another high school student would be hired to oversee ten to twenty workers, to make sure they do the job, take photographs of progress and report to the business owners and the community regularly on their progress. This could provide part time after school work for a number of our high school students. The business owners then would become part of the solution, rather than remaining part of the problem.

One person can't solve every problem, but one person can make a start.

Click HERE to see what actually happened on Earth Day, 2010

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