Earth Day - April 22, 2015
by Jim Gerrish

4/16/15 - I have checked the East Orange City Websites and calendars for some mention of an Earth Day celebration this year, but even the library is not mentioning it. It seems that I will be all alone in the city on Earth Day once again, trying to get people to spend a few moments thinking about their relationship with the planet that gives them life, and a place to pursue happiness and seek liberty.

My own ability to get around on my sun-powered electric tricycle is becoming more difficult, but I will try to be at my usual spot in the Clock Garden at the intersection of Evergreen/Sanford St and Central Avenue at 12:00 noon on Wednesday, 4/22/15. If I'm not right under the clock, I will be nearby, easily spotted by my flag waving tricycle. As usual, my mission will be to pick up as much litter as I can from these three small park gardens that the City seems to neglect, even though their location gives visitors their first (and often last) impression of East Orange.

On this image captured from Google maps on 4/18/15 I have numbered the three small park gardens. #1 is what I call the Clock Garden, #2 is divided into two parts, one with trees and one without, and would make a great place to play ball or have a picnic if it weren't so littered with bottles and trash, and # 3 has only one tree but a variety of different hidden wild flowers that make it special.

In Park #2, between Sanford Street and Cambridge Street, there are four trees covered with blossoms on this sunny April 18th, 2015. They are probably not as nice as the Japanese Cherry trees in Branch Brook Park, but they are all ours and I can ride my tricycle or walk to see them from where I live. I can see that I will have a lot of work to do picking up the bottles and litter. Why do I do it? Because no one else will.

This year I will be trading giant sunflower plants for bags of litter picked up from the city streets. The sunflower plants were grown from heritage seeds that have made the world trip to Russia and back as described in our brochure below. These are supposed to be especially tall - growing up to 12 feet high, if one can believe the source.

4/20/15 - This just in from The Alternative Press (TAP) - The Jersey Explorer Children’s Museum on Dodd Street (in the Franklin Library Building adjacent to Watsessing Park) will be having - get this - a GO GREEN Earth Day celebration - not on Earth Day, but on Saturday, April 25th. It is really just a hyped-up promotional event for NJ Jet's D’Brickashaw Ferguson to give away free copies of his 2012 book "Brick's Way: Go Green!" promoting himself, the NY Jets and some environmentalist fantasy that desperately wants to believe Earth Day has something to do with the color green - as in green football uniforms and money. I challenge you to find a review of the book on-line. It has been out three years and in all that time has been given away free by the thousands, without a single review showing up on Amazon or any of the other booksellers who can't seem to sell copies of a book that everyone else can get for free. So instead of picking up the litter in Watsessing Park so the green grass can be seen litter-free, the Museum will be filled with children listening to D’Brickashaw Ferguson read his book to them, saving them the trouble of reading it for themselves. This insanity passes as an Earth Day event in East Orange.
Please NOTE: The Jersey Explorer Children’s Museum makes no mention of this event, neither on its own Web site nor on its Facebook Page. Also, the Bridge of Books Foundation, cited in the TAP article, makes no mention of the event on its Web site. It seems TAP doesn't check its own sources of information before publishing.

April 22, 2015 - Earth Day

In spite of "gloom and doom" predictions of disasterous weather from the usual sources (which I ignore and get my weather truth from the local radar station) it is a beautiful Spring morning when I arrive at the Clock Tower, ready for work. If it had been pouring rain, I would still be here, because rain is something it does on earth. Besides, "April Showers Bring May Flowers" according to the old adage.

It seems that "someone" noticed the photo of Park #2 and cleaned out all the litter before I got there. That was a pleasant surprise, but it was also no surprise that no clean-up had been done at Park 1 or 3, and even the abandoned building behind Park 2 has piles of litter on the steps and in the alley. No, this was just a cosmetic clean up because "someone" was embarrassed by the photo, and they completely ignored the other litter spots all around Park #2.

For example, Park #1, just behind the clock, looked like this before I started cleaning it up. I am happy to report the daylillies are unharmed and are getting ready to appear as soon as the weather gets a little warmer. I noted that the same bricks are falling out of line along the front of the garden, and the same damaged metal thingee is leaning the same way it was last year, so I won't bother photographing them again. You can go back to Earth Day 2014 and see what they still look like today, without the rat holes.

After cleaning Park #1, I moved on to Park #3. It was well littered, but also covered with the tiny blue and white Corn Speedwell (veronica arvensis) flowers I first noticed last year (see inset). Yellow dandilions are also beginning to appear. Both these wild flowers are called "weeds" by ignorant gardeners who ignore the medicinal uses of Corn Speedwell on the one hand, and the delicious and beneficial uses of Dandilion Wine on the other. I have no idea what the hairy clumps are on each side of the tree. They may have been annuals planted there on purpose and will need to be removed or replaced by a city gardener.

Last year, I foolishly thought that just mentioning a serious problem with legal ramifications (think lawsuit just waiting to happen!) would be enough to get the city maintenance workers out to take care of it. It has been a whole year with nothing happening, so here is the photograph I should have taken last year to embarrass someone who works and gets paid by the city to handle such problems. Maybe it will be fixed by next year. Really, people, the bricks were a nice idea, but this is a place where paving is obviously needed rather than loose bricks. Especially when no one has a contingency plan for what to do when the bricks begin to migrate. And if you are not going to replace whatever was being held in place by those upright bolts, get rid of the bolts.

Park #3 has been cleaned (except for sweeping up cigarette butts and filters from around the outside edges - but I don't have a broom for that). I have some time left over from not having to take care of Park #2. That's when I noticed the left side of Park #3.

This left side of the brick paved walkway is part of the city's responsibility for cleaning. Last year, the large apartment building was still under construction and not yet occupied, but this year, the rich people have moved into their luxury apartments and the other side of the fence is twice as littered as "our side." If rich people can let their rich "projects" slide into slums, it is no wonder that poor people live in such appalling conditions that they have created for themselves. It has nothing whatever to do with poverty, and everything to do with ignorance and laziness. Since no one else is going to clean the city side of this rich penal colony's fence, I guess I had better do it. So I did. Please note that the side of the fence outside St. Paul's Church parking area (where there are two convenient trash cans on each side of the driveway) was completely litter free. Only the rich people who live in the luxury apartments have chosen to let their building become a slum.

This is our brochure for 2015.

Click on the Brochure to get a printable pdf file.

You'll be happy to know that not one single East Orange resident bothered to ask me for a brochure, and no one bothered to help me fill a plastic shopping bag with litter, so once again, I gave away no sunflower plants (I also had some bonus morning glory plants to grow up the side of the giant sunflower if anyone asked for them). Lots of people watched what I was doing, some came to laugh and point, but no one came to help and improve. Good luck, East Orange. I'll be back again next year on Earth Day.

Click HERE to see Earth Day, 2014

Arbor Day follows on Friday, April 24th, 2015
After last year's rejection, I have given up on
including the city on my celebration of this
"forgotten" day and will spend it working on
my own apple, cherry and pear trees at home.

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