CG Column: Athens Beautification Day 2011 helped with litter, but could have been much more

Trash lies in a parking lot off High Street in Athens. Photo by CG photographer Kate Harris.

By CG Commentary Editor Lane Robbins

I participated in my first Athens Beautification Day on Saturday with the staff of College Green Magazine and was impressed with the large volunteer turnout despite the rain. But things seemed disorganized, and we could have done so much more.

The event is an annual, city-wide cleanup put on by Ohio University Student Senate, The Athens News and the City of Athens among other sponsors.

Ohio University President Roderick McDavis said 900 people registered for the event during his opening speech, the largest turnout to date. McDavis and Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl addressed volunteers in OU’s Bromley Hall in a pep-rally fashion before we went out to clean up the city.

On High Street, I mostly picked up gum, pieces of tin foil, broken glass and cigarette butts. There were a lot of cigarette butts behind Bromley. On the plus side, I also found 11 cents.

The trash situation really was not as bad as I expected. I think certain areas of town are worse than others, namely Franklin Avenue, where I currently live , or North Congress Street, where I used to live. These streets seem to have all the aforementioned trash, but with more pet waste, food scraps and wrappers.

Ironically, High Fest was also happening the same day as Athens Beautification Day, and College Green Magazine’s team was charged with cleaning up High Street before the big party. I didn’t return on Sunday to survey the situation, but things probably didn’t look too good.

After an hour of cleaning litter off High Street between Union and Washington Streets with other members of the staff, everyone dispersed. I was willing to participate in other projects because I thought the event was supposed to go until 3 p.m.; it was only 12:30 p.m. I wandered back to an empty Bromley Hall, threw out the trash I collected and turned in my work gloves. That was it, I guess.

Sure, we picked up a few bags of garbage, but everything ended so suddenly. It would have been nice to have some kind of closure — to know the event was over. I was willing to do more work, and we could have done so much more with the number of people we had. I left because everything seemed to be finished, but there was plenty of litter left on Athens’ streets.

Community service is always rewarding, but it is more rewarding when well-organized. Athens Beautification Day helped clean up the city, but it could have been much more.

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