Friday, February 16, 2018

Mud season

Our region has been in a serious drought for several months, but Saturday, February 10 was a wet one. Ten brave volunteers braved the rain and mud to clean-up one of Shepherd Parkway's most egregious dumping sites. Across from 411 Lebaum Steet, at a spot where the drop off is especially precipitous and close to the curb, someone a few months ago dumped what looked to be the contents of an entire apartment: sofas, mattresses, lamps, vacuum cleaners, TVs, clothing, and much, much more.  

Moving all of this up to the street required repelling backward down the treacherous slope while holding on to a rope tied to a post at the top, wrestling the items while fighting to maintain one's footing, and passing them up from one person to the next.

As the noon hour progressed, the rain grew heavier, and portions of the hill turned to mudslides. If any of us had had any sense at all, we would have quit an hour earlier. Some did. But for others it was exhilarating,  like being a kids again playing in the mud.

When we finally quit, our clothes were soaked to the skin and caked in mud. Over 1,000 pounds of household items were sitting by the curb, ready to be picked up.

Whatever caused all those possessions (many of them usable) to be dumped in the woods, it wasn't good. Can we talk about the connections between economic justice and environmental justice?

Trash in the woods are, for the most park, a consequence of poverty. Evictions- in which the human right to housing is violated for monetary gain- are common in Ward 8. When folks are evicted, and have nowhere to put their belongings, they end up on our streets for all to see, a literal airing of dirty laundry. Perhaps throwing them down the hill into the woods is an attempted avoid at least that indignity. When people are in crisis, their basic needs unmet, consideration for others and the planet becomes impossible.

Healing our natural ecosystems requires that we simultaneously heal our social fabric.Only when we stop treating people as expendable will we stop treating the land as expendable.

No comments:

Post a Comment