This week has been so inspiring, and similar to the Sanders campaign the momentum is catching. Sadly also like the Sanders campaign, you have to look for those who would try to trip up those who believe in you with false statements and facts/figures that look ominous, when in fact things are moving smoothly. However, I am not a politician and I am not running for office. I am simply trying to help create a greater sense of community while focusing on better environmental practices.
Better environmental practices include not tossing garbage in the bush, being aware of burning plastics and styrofoam and keeping the community tidy. It also involves a huge group effort. This week we had a community clean-up and the response was absolutely amazing. People actually do care about their environment. The problem is when other people do not respect it and the disrespect overwhelms us. Change is difficult and hard, behavior change is the most painful to endure, but in the end it will be worth it. I know that T. has lived here for a couple of decades and she has worked at keeping her area clean, yet people laugh at her. They see her efforts as futile and they turn around and toss garbage back into the bush immediately after she cleans it. She and I both want the same results, we just have different ways of accomplishing it. Together we may finally conquer this crazy littering problem, but it will take more than us, it will take a large number of citizens to join us and prove that it is important and that it is of value.
At the end of Wednesday we had 5 pick-up loads of garbage hauled out of the community. The biggest benefit to me was the realization just how important a community skip is. Trying to find skips became a task after the first 3 loads. We ended up getting chased away from one. Disclaimer here: In Jamaica there is not an individual garbage pick-up charge. Your taxes pay for it, so no matter what is in the skip no one is charged extra for the pick-up. I realize that this will be an on-going battle but to see just how many persons, including a local politician, came out to help was amazing. Even person’s that have only come to a couple of meetings were out there with gloves cleaning up.
The key here is that the community worked hard together and we have visible results, that in itself should build confidence in the new association. “Wi nuh jes a bag fi mouth!” Meaning we are a group of action not just words. So “Big Up Yuhself Three Hills Community”, you done real good! I expect we will need to clean up a few more times before the behavior changes really take hold, but with the Zik-V threat and the Ministry of Health blaming the people for the problem it looks as though the momentum we need is behind us and all we have to do is keep moving forward.
There is a grant proposal in the works for two new trash skips and although Mr. J and I have a bit of disagreement about the location of one, I still feel we can only build on this momentum. Next month we start a series of educational sessions on proper trash disposal and the health risks of improper trash disposal. With the local primary schools starting to collect bottles we have a potential to create a recycling program that will carry on well past my time here. That is the entire goal in a nutshell, to create a sustainable, lasting program that the citizens will continue to carry on with once I have left. I feel that we are moving in that direction and it helps fuel my desire to get out there and help facilitate things happening.