Lessons from Wears Creek: don’t wait on others to make a difference

It’s easy to laud Stream Team efforts as “massive,” “animalistic,” or even “folk anthropology.” But what about “disheartening?”

Take this one Earth Day event, for instance.  the trash haul from the Serve Jeff City Cleanup on Wears Creek was impressive: about 73 volunteers rescued 2,000 pounds of trash from one of the capital city’s most prominent waterways. “Just from what I witnessed being pulled out of the stream, we removed a hula hoop, baby highchair, lots of glass (I mean LOTS), rebar, tires, and the usual fast food trash, water bottles, and cans,” says coordinator April Perry.

And while that’s awesome, celebrating these efforts wasn’t the only thing on volunteers’ minds that day. They also left a lot of trash behind. 

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Photos from the Millbottom site near West High Street and Missouri Boulevard at the Serve Jeff City Cleanup on Wears Creek.

It’s true, there’s a bit of a gloomy side to this whole Stream Team business, and the sad mood can strike newbies and veterans alike. That’s what April found when she talked with the volunteers:

“Most of them see the condition of Wears Creek on a daily basis and wonder why it doesn’t get cleaned up. They were very happy to see this cleanup scheduled and executed. But they are still disheartened by the amount of trash they just couldn’t get to since it was so abundant.”

And then April wondered, “Why so much despair?”

Any concerned citizens can adopt waterways in his or her city. If you’re reading this and interested in learning how, you can call Stream Team to get started, read about running litter pick-ups in this brochure or even attend a workshop titled, “How to Conduct a Litter Pick-up,” scheduled for later this year.

But if that’s too much commitment, hey, picking up trash can be as simple as picking up trash. 

“It’s the volunteers who help clean up these waterways,” April says.  And they don’t need to wait for the city to hold a huge event. If someone sees trash, they can pick it up! It doesn’t require 100 other people and an organizer.”

“I can’t help by think about the Lorax,” April says, “but it’s so true!”

So if you don’t like seeing trash in water, take the trash out of the water! And once you start rolling, ask friends to join in; This is how movements get started, people! And it can start right now with Stream Team.

25th-ST_Logo-Color-Final(white-center)The Wears Creek Cleanup was an Earth Day event, part of “25 Days of Stream Team,” a series of events celebrating the work of volunteers over the past quarter-century. If you missed the Earth Day cleanups, there are still plenty of opportunities to join the party and even win prizes! Why not start with storm drain stenciling, which takes place every first Saturday of each month?


One thought on “Lessons from Wears Creek: don’t wait on others to make a difference”

  1. Yes, it can be disheartening at times, but I heard a quote that really struck a chord with me. ” When you’re feeling discouraged by what lies ahead, just look back at what you’ve accomplished!”

    Well done, and the time WILL come when you can look ahead with pride.

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