Don’T Talk Trash, Do Take Action

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Knuckleheads.

Neanderthals.

What the heck’s wrong with these people?

We’ve all had that sequence of angry thoughts as we tromp along some beautiful streamside hiking trail, festooned with plastic bags, bottles and beer cans.

Jim Estess had just such a moment, tooling along on his motorcycle past a disgusting pile of trash someone had bothered to stash in plastic bags before abandoning it along the highway.

But here’s where Jim’s reaction differed — he did something about it, beyond shaking his head in disgust.

He talked Waste Matters into placing four Dumpsters at popular weekend camping spots to collect visitors’ trash. Then the company accepted a minimal payment out of Estess’ own pocket to offset the cost of dumping the bins. The effort netted nearly two tons of trash in a single weekend.

Way to go Jim — and Waste Matters. Thanks for reminding us what citizenship entails.

Now we hope that this creative effort will set something in motion. Estess wants to start an “Adopt a Dumpster” program, which would seek individual donations of about $50 to pay for parking and then emptying a Dumpster at a campsite on a holiday weekend.

If you’re interested, you can contact Jim at: jestess409@aol.com.

In the meantime, we hope that the many people who love this community will follow Jim’s lead and take on the discarded trash that defaces the place we love so dearly. Never go hiking without a bag you can fill up with trash on your way home. Don’t let anyone trash the place, without voicing your objection. Consider hiking with a trash punji stick to snag that stray litter and some sort of a convenient way to carry a trash bag on your belt.

Of course, we also wish that the Forest Service would devote more attention to providing for trash pickup and camper education at the most popular camping and picnic sites. The Forest Service does maintain a handful of formal campgrounds, but does little to regulate the use of informal sites — like the always full Water Wheel site. The consequences of that lack of oversight can range from the catastrophic to the merely disgusting.

But as Jim showed by his example, it’s not enough to rail at the Neanderthals and fume at the bureaucrats. In the end, every citizen has an obligation to take action to re-create the community they want to live in.

Let us get a grip

Whew. The nation survived. The death squads have yet to round up the frail elderly and the schoolchildren are not mindlessly repeating brainwashed catch phrases.

Still, we cannot help but consider what a strange and disorienting state the nation’s vital public discourse has fallen into, when the president of the United States cannot speak to the nation’s schoolchildren nor present serious policy options, without catcalls from the floor of the House of Representatives.

President Barack Obama this week made two interesting speeches, one to schoolchildren, one to a joint session of Congress.

To the schoolchildren, he made sensible and inspirational observations about the value of education. Some parents and professional political fulminators tried to present that address as some sinister socialistic brainwashing. Those fears proved either unnervingly paranoid or cynically manipulative — depending on the source.

To Congress, he made a much more debatable case for the reform of the health care system. He made a strong case for the moral bankruptcy of the enormously expensive and lethally unfair system as it now exists, although citizens of good will may rightly argue the devilish details of any proposed reform.

Unfortunately, opponents in the House embarrassed themselves with boos and catcalls — and one unseemly cry of “You lie!” when the president rightly noted that clear language in the reform plans bars benefits for illegal immigrants.

We hope that this week of absurd misstatement and over reaching will represent some sort of lamented low point in a vital national dialogue. We also hope that now those on both sides of this life-and-death debate will resolve to argue the real issues, not the twisted shadows of invented hobgoblins.

Who knows, perhaps our lawmakers will learn to listen and speak with the maturity and respect of those schoolchildren.

And we will not only survive this current season of foolishness, but emerge stronger.

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