For the New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day weekend, I spent nearly six hours collecting trash from a few hundred yards of the sides of the road and sidewalks in Oakley, the neighborhood where I live, and along the entrance to downtown Asheville where the 240 expressway and 19/23 converge — only because I was tired of looking at all of it every time I passed by.
Nowadays, driving almost anywhere in Asheville and Buncombe County, one might see a plastic bag or piece of cardboard or sheet of paper on the ground or up in a tree or bush, but getting a closer look will unveil beer and soda-pop bottles, and candy and cigarette wrappers, and articles of clothing, and empty snack and food containers, metal objects and even pieces of car parts from accidents. It is a bit of an internal fight to stop the urge to walk 10 more feet collecting the continuous array of detritus.
So here is my challenge to the Asheville City Council and Buncombe County Board of Commissioners for 2017: Create a few dozen part-time jobs, and title them Street Sweeps. Pay each of them $10 to $15 per hour for 10-20 hours per week, giving them a reason to be proud to maintain the streets, sidewalks, roadsides and gutters free from all of the sorts of things I found.
Let’s recall what Woodsy Owl would sing: “Give a Hoot — Don’t Pollute … Help Keep (Asheville and North Carolina and) America looking Good!”
— Michael Harney