Speech to the Grants Pass City Council, 4/18/12
COMMENTARY | Last week, I asked our County Commissioners to order all county employees, including themselves, to pick up litter from public property for one half-hour after lunch. You got a copy of that speech by e-mail, so I won’t belabor the reasons given then; there are more reasons why you should order all of our city servants, including yourselves, to do the same.
One good reason is that it would open your eyes to the ugliness of the litter around you. One tends to ignore ugliness that is not one’s job to fix, to the point of not seeing it at all. We are busy people, rushing from one place to another when outside, and we don’t feel that we have the time or the responsibility to pick up every piece of litter along the way. I’m the same way; I do most of my litter pickup on my job, which is one of my duties, or when I’m walking my dog, and not in a hurry. One learns to see something by seeking and finding it; if you seek it, you will see it, and you won’t stop seeing it as long as it is one of your duties.
Another is that we have nuisance codes regarding weeds and litter that you cannot rightfully enforce until the city and other governments obey them. City workers have not been taught to see and pick up the smallest litter; community corrections work crews have actually been trained to ignore cigarette butts and such, to cover more ground. If management picks up litter every day, you will consciously see that small litter, and ensure that these workers are better trained. Training the miscreants among us to properly pick up litter is a priceless opportunity that we are wasting.
Indeed, with all public servants picking up litter, we can get those park workers and slaves to pull our weeds, which is the only really effective way to control most weeds in the long term, and much harder work than litter-picking. Cutting just keeps them seeding and violating code; spraying fertilizes the soil and sends some annuals into instant seed production before they die. These workers can take their weed-pulling skills home and use them on their own properties, providing positive peer pressure among the lower classes.
Last, but certainly not least, picking up litter daily will remind all of our public servants that you are our servants, not our masters. And yet, it will allow all of you to lead the rest of us by your example.