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Report on Adopt-A-Highway Cleanup on 280


Mark your calendar: Saturday, April 14, 2018 is the next Adopt-A-Highway Litter Pickup on Highway 280. JUST THE FACTS: Date: Saturday, March 17, 2018

Location: Highway 280 NB between Meridian Avenue and Saratoga Avenue

Time: About 2.5 hours – 9:15 AM -11:45 PM. Participants: 7 volunteers. Sabine and I were joined by veteran volunteers Crista, John, Charlie, and Diane, plus newcomer Brian.

What we collected: 43 total bags, 3 of which were recyclable aluminum cans, glass bottles and plastic bottles.

Any cash? 11¢. John found a dime and a penny. Oddities along with the trash ( ▸ A shovel ▸ A homemade doll ▸ A small white plastic fish ▸ An orange, one-eyed monster doll ▸ A small camouflage medical pouch ▸ A small flashlight (batteries still good) ▸ A metal file box containing some DVDs ▸ A small hanging ornament shaped like a snail ▸ Some laminated cards used in foreign language classes (“Tell me about this picture...”). ▸ Seven credit cards, all for the same young man. As of Sunday night, I have been unable to track him down and return the cards. 40 BAGS OF TRASH! How did we fill so many bags with only 7 people and in less time than we normally spend? We cleaned out two abandoned encampments. I had been keeping an eye on two encampments on the stretch of northbound 280 between 880 and the Winchester on-ramp – one small camp and another larger one. There were no signs of habitation, no changes in two months, just torn sheets flapping from the tree limbs. I decided it was time to eliminate the eyesores from my frequent route. Having already spent our first hour filling 14 bags in and around the Meridian-Southwest-Expressway interchange, our 7-member crew tackled these two abandoned camps. It took us a bit over an hour to get all the trash removed. We were understandably exhausted but also proud of our accomplishment. With black rain clouds forming on the horizon, we piled in our cars and went to lunch about 30 minutes earlier than usual. The larger of the two camps proved to be an education. How do you make a space habitable in cold weather? First, you dig out a space about 10 inches deep, as large as you can manage in the area you’ve chosen (we found the shovel among the debris). You fill the depression with plastic bottles, plastic bags full of old clothing, torn tarps, and miscellaneous soft objects. You cover that with a large rug followed by a layer of thin foam pads, the kind that campers often use when back-packing. You now have some protection against the cold, damp ground. Hang some heavy sheets from tree limbs and anchor them with rocks to the edges of the rung. Voila - a relatively soft, insulated, dry, living space. The bad news is we also found many containers of urine and feces, used hypodermic needles, hundreds of food wrappers and containers, as well as soiled, damp, and torn clothing. Drive along 280 NB this week and below the two sites you will see 26 full bags (23 below the large camp, 3 below the smaller one), a shopping cart and a plastic garbage can full of wood, metal and plastic debris, a mattress, and a bicycle. You can see the before and after photos here. Of course I don’t plan on doing this kind of clean-up again any time soon. Yes, it was satisfying, but it meant we had to neglect some other sections of our assigned area, which I regret. I am still so very happy I won’t have to look at those two eyesores any longer. Now if we could just get someone to remove THAT UGLY PATCH OF WHITE PLASTIC PANELS in the same area! BRIAN, OUR NEWEST VOLUNTEER Brian joined our crew via Diana, a frequent Adopt-A-Highway volunteer. They both work at the Harker School, Diana as a teacher and Brian as an administrator. Brian gave a speech to the Harker faculty recently, suggesting that they be more than just a teacher, and seek out ways to become part of the larger community. When Diana got the email I send out to potential crew members reminding them of an up-coming trash pickup, she forwarded it to Brian. He showed up on Saturday ready to roll! It appears that Brian doesn’t just talk the talk – he also walks the walk. If you have read these reports in the past you know this Saturday’s pickup was a particularly challenging one, but Brian was still smiling at the end of it, posed among the pile of full Adopt-A-Highway bags. Diana took lots of photos and will make sure Brian is properly applauded for his efforts. Even if he never volunteers again, he has set an awesome example for his faculty and students! I also would not be surprised if Brian organized a team to join us regularly to clean the Saratoga off-ramp that leads to his school. REMINDER: THE NEXT TRASH PICKUP WILL BE SATURDAY, APRIL 14, 2018. Dates in the future: May 12 and June 9 Feel free to pass these reports along to friends and invite them to join the clean-up brigade next month! We are always looking for new volunteers.


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