The DumpBusters have been busy around Pittsburgh’s hillsides for several years because decades and generations of people have made the decision to throw tons of trash down them.
“Out of sight, out of mind,” wrote Myrna Newman of Allegheny CleanWays in an e-mail in which she detailed the total tonage of debris that DumpBusters crews have pulled out of hollers in Spring Hill on the North Side.
“Our DumpBusters crew finished the work they were doing on Brahm this past Saturday,” she wrote. “Brahm Street is one of three wooded hillsides that we’ve been working on in Spring Hill since December. The other two are along Gershon and Essen Street/Sunset Avenue.
“Hillsides like these in Spring Hill are wooded greenspaces that rarely, if ever, feel a human foot (other than our volunteers) and have no immediate or obvious value for people... they are the “away” that is spoken of when we say “throw that away.” Littering and dumping along these types of hillsides is endemic and chronic.”
The highly evolved people that we have become in the 21st century should never make these decisions, of course, but the cretins among us still do prefer to befoul our land instead of dispose of waste properly.
So the DumpBusters aren’t likely to dissolve for lack of work anytime soon.
Here's just a sample of the work that's been done in Spring Hill:
+ 73 volunteer hours on Brahm Street in 17 site visits removing 14,500 pounds of loose debris since December;
+ 3,200 pounds of loose debris collected off Essen and Sunset and 195 tires
+ Total number of volunteer hours: 206
Total pounds of debris: 64,410 pounds
The people in these photos have not trashed our city; they're donating their time, giving hours of their lives, to clean up after the lesser evolved among us. Walkabout thanks them, is grateful for their stewardship and is honored to live in the same city with them.
Joe Divack of Squirrel Hill is the DumpBusters’ leading man and has tackled some of these hillsides and ravines by himself. He has had lots of help, too, though.
Here’s a narrative from Joe:
“Recently I have wondered if we can do a better job of explaining the large impacts we have on some enormous tracts of neglected land where there is not much immediate human habitation, where the nearest dwellings are hundreds of yards away. You know our stats showing far more tonnage, and consistent tonnage, than anyone would ever expect of a small not-for-profit. A great deal of this tonnage represents old dumping that has a good chance not to recur, and the truth is that many of the sites we do are not easily observable. The benefit is therefore to all citizens of a locality, or a watershed, when we remove incredible numbers of old, deteriorated tires, for example. So, tell me if I have it wrong, that some of the benefit is to people downstream who never knew about the upstream trash to begin with. We are getting some nice neighbor acknowledgement from Brahm and Gershon, but the acceptance of dumping and living with dumping on those streets is such a way of life, that the cheers are a bit muted, and with a degree of confusion. It is really challenging to prepare land and neighborhoods for a higher use of land, and I continue to feel strongly that this is a part of what we do. Our land operations are literally cleaning the land for future generations to figure out a higher, healthier, more sustainable use. It’s hard to be an old rust belt city, but a lot can be done, almost every day of the year.”
Photos courtesy of Allegheny Greenways
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