How East Orange Actually Celebrated Earth Day 2010

Earth Day - April 22, 2010


I started bright and early, revisiting the dump sites I had photographed on 4/21/10. It did not surprise me to find them still as messey as the day before; I know that no one is the least concerned about living in a slum they create themselves every day.

It only took 15 minutes of work with a grabby stick to clean up not only this corner, but also the entire street in front of Rite Aid. Much of the litter came from the local near-by Dunkin Donuts and from bus ticket stubs, but there were also quite a few liquor bottles.

There was nothing I could do to clean up the Central Avenue Medians without endangering myself from traffic, as well as being a traffic hazard for motorists. So I left those for the city to take care of and moved on to City Hall Plaza.

It was a real treat to see two city employees already on the job, cleaning up the area in front of City Hall. These are the real heroes of the city, not the politicians in suits who work at desks inside. They told me, however, that they had only come outside to clean up today because there was an event planned for later this morning. They were only instructed to clean up the grounds in front of City Hall, so I moved on down the street to the real dump site in front of the Post Office.

This small area was so littered, it took about 30 minutes of cleaning to get it all. There is still a mound of cigarette butts and filters, but I did not have a sweeper so I will have to come back for those. Why should I want to return? I'll show you!

This is the view of that little section from the opposite side. It turns out that this small plot was dedicated as a Senior Citizen Garden in 1962. I had no idea, and I am sure few Senior Citizens know about it, because it looks like no one has planted anything there for a great many years.

The copper plaque on the rock reads: "This garden is dedicated to the Senior Citizens of East Orange in recognition of and appreciation for their contribution to the growth and development of our city. May 31, 1962."

Perhaps if the Mayor were to rededicate this ground and give it to Senior Citizens to plant, guard and protect, it would never again become a dump site. While he is at it, I am sure there are other small plots of ground like this all over the city that could be entrusted to local Seniors to cultivate, guard and protect with the city's backing.

May I also recommend that the Seniors plant fruit trees and berry bushes and not just flowers so that all may truly enjoy the fruits of their labors.

The final delight of the morning was delivered by an unadvertised and unexpected appearance of two Cicely Tyson music groups, who performed a delightful concert. The ceremony concluded with a Mayoral Proclamation of Appreciation and Respect given to musician Kenny Garrett, who did not perform. He can be seen in the black shirt, standing in the center between two Cicely Tyson musicians. The musicians in the white shirts are from the Jazz Band, and in the black shirts from the String Orchestra.

Listen to excerpts from the concert below:

This video is also available on YouTube

No disrespect to the Cicely Tyson musicians, or to Kenny Garrett, but as much as I found the concert a delight, I was completely baffled by the connection between this unadvertised, unannounced publicity event and Earth Day. There were three people in City Hall Plaza truly celebrating Earth Day; myself and the two city hall workers who had cleaned up the grounds. No one else talked about the earth, the natural environment, pollution, littering, planting trees, or any of the other subjects one would expect at an Earth Day event.

It seems to me that East Orange just doesn't understand what Earth Day is all about.

Click HERE to see what preceded Earth Day, 2010

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