Feb. 13, 2007
By Ken Krayeske • Hartford • 2:00 AM EST
W ay back, last fall, when Thornton for Governor ruled my existence, a crew of Green campaigners joined a team of Trinity College students for the Connecticut River Watershed Council's 10th annual Source to Sea cleanup at the Park River over by New Britain Avenue in West Hartford.
I wrote a column about it way back when, but never really followed up and described what we ended up doing.
Yikes is all you can really say when you read the list. More than 44 shopping carts, 11 baby cribs, 55 automotive products (not counting the 15 or so car batteries), 23 vcrs and tvs, five tons of scrap metal, 42 bicycles, and on and on.
The best part about the newsletter, though, was the warm fuzzies that I got when I saw the diversity of groups who pitched in. The Middletown (CT) Republicans worked on the river that day, as did a squad of volunteers for Vermont Lt. Gov. candidate Matt Dunne.
Dunne's website posits that service politics is the route to engaging youth in self-government, and improving the country simultaneously. It says:
Young people are clearly more willing to serve than ever, but are completely disenchanted with the political process. Service politics is the mechanism that can bridge this gap, creating a channel wherein this generation's commitment to service can be translated into renewed participation in our democratic system.
That's part of why a Thornton for Governor crew was out there. Working alongside Trinity students from across the country and even Hungary, too, allowed us to share ideas about how we can insure that our clean-up isn't a Sisyphean task.
How to stop the flow of consumer waste into nature? Cutting excess packaging through packaging reduction acts. Putting five cent deposits on water bottles. Mandating product takebacks, like for every refrigerator Home Depot sells, they should collect one. More litter enforcement rules, like forcing companies whose names can be read on products to be responsible for their proper disposal.
The solutions exist, we just have to build on the momentum of days like Sept. 30, 2006, and turn it into political action, because once the river is clean, we need to keep it that way.