by Diana Nelson Jones/March 26
It looked a lot worse when it was strewn all over a lot near Calvary Cemetery in Greenfield. Joe Divack made it into a neat pile recently for the public works guys to haul away.
Joe is the Clean Pittsburgh Commission's "Volunteer of the Year" honoree, and I was honored to ride along today on a little tour of illegal dumps with Joe and his 20-something co-conspirator Derek Green. They're in league to make these dumps disappear. (Find out more at www.stashthetrash.org.)
You can read a longer story about them and their great good deeds in Monday's Post-Gazette and see a video of them on the P-G web site. (Maybe one of my photos will even be used!) The okay photo of mine here shows Joe's pile... actually, I'd have to have shot a triptych to have gotten it all, and Joe said that was a small job. Joe and Derek cleared seven tons of debris off a hillside below Flemington Street.
Secluded hillsides should contribute to Pittsburgh's beauty, but so many of them are smothered in invasive vegetation -- the low-lifes of the natural world. When you're smothered by low-life plants, you don't have any defense against low-life people.
Greenfield is a lovely neighborhood that has been befouled more than any. It has 20 known illegal dumps, but the key word here is "known." The dumps Joe and Derek have cleaned in Duck Hollow are secluded. People in Duck Hollow know about them, but most people wouldn't even know how to get to that little extension of Squirrel Hill.
Apparently, some contractors do, and have for years used it as their own free landfill. Derek described the Duck Hollow hillside between the railroad tracks and the Mon RIver as "seemingly endless."
There's the "old Pittsburgh" we love and miss and the "old Pittsburgh" that we hate and can't seem to get rid of. If you're in the city and you see illegal dumping, get license plate numbers and call 311, then call me: 412.263.1626. Let's abuse the abusers.