Thursday, March 3, 2011

End the Litter in Prospect Park

To The Woods!

Below is the open letter I have sent to local bloggers. I also sent another query about Prospect Park litter to Parks, via the form on the their website, and we will see if this one - the 3rd - receives a response. 

I am drafting emails to Kevin Jeffrey, Borough Commissioner for Brooklyn, who, it seems, vowed publicly last October to fight litter in the park, which is promising, and to Adrian Benepe, Commissioner of Parks. 

I suspect that we will be met with one word: Budget, so we have to find ways around that. Or fix it.

Some early responses to the letter below are very encouraging, and we are hoping to engage a broad spectrum of the community that uses and runs Prospect Park.

Please get in touch if  you have good ideas or feel you can help.

Dear Bloggers and Photographers

I am a fellow Brooklyn resident and blogger and am in the very early stages and figuring out how to fix the significant and unique-in-flavor litter problem in the wooded areas of the park near and around the Vale of Cashmere and Rick's Place.

 Picture courtesy of Google Maps.

I am aware that there is significant litter in Prospect Park after major holidays and events, but I perceive this one as hidden, continuous and ignored by the official custodians of the park.

One of my first steps is to approach local bloggers to help spread a co-ordinated message, and to ask for ideas. If you feel it's a lost cause, and that litter is something we have to accept, this is not for you. I am not a natural committee animal - I just know I can't do this on my own. I need help.

These woods are a unique part of the park ('the only forest in Brooklyn' as the Prospect Park Alliance website states) and are avoided due to what I perceive as active neglect (yeah, I know) on the part of the Parks Department and the cruising activities that make this area famous or notorious, depending on one's point of view and inclinations.

Much of the nastiest litter here is sex-related - condoms, wrappers, lube, wet wipes, tissue paper, plus all the ordinary stuff: plastic bags, bottles, alcohol and non-, endlessly.

I'm not trying or hoping to stop the cruising. Although sex between strangers in public makes me skittish. But I am trying to stop the scourge of litter which makes these woods foul, sad and decrepit.

Through the blogs I would like to draw the attention of: the public, neighborhood associations, and most especially the Parks Department. They are simply not doing their job.

My point is simple: This is part of a famous public park. This amount and type of litter is unacceptable.

The conversation we need to have:

With Parks
: What is your trash policy? How is it enforced? And if a certain tree is a favorite spot for sex, put a trash can there. Then empty it. It is very easy to ID popular spots. Just look for the used condoms. And beef up sanitation patrols in the area to pick up what is left. Co-ordinate with public volunteers. Be present.
With the public: this is real woodland, and it is FOUL. Tell the Parks Department about it, and ask them to fix it. Volunteer some time for a clean up. Write to your congressperson. Visit the woods. Be present.
With the men:  Pick it up. Throw it away. In a trash can.

Preliminarily, I would like to ask those of you who are interested in helping tackle this issue to let me know. Then we can decide on a day for an organized blog blitz of information. A set piece of the bare basics and info, plus a personal take with your own pictures, on the situation. And then regular, timed follow ups. Co-ordination with local newspapers, forums and zines. I would appreciate any other ideas, too.

'Frinstance: an online petition to be delivered to the Commissioner of Parks and the Mayor, a collaborative blog dedicated to solving the problem...

I am writing to the Commissioner of Parks and the Borough Commissioner of Brooklyn. Two online queries last year went unanswered, and these will be more formal in nature.

There it is. Sign up if you dare. Click my profile picture for email.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Prospect Park's Litter

[Update, 5/3/11 Clean up on May 10th. Spread the word and come and help!

Litter Mob, May 10th, 2011, 9AM.]

Pretty, isn't it? Not much litter in sight, is there?

Lunch in the park, on a bench on one of the main drags. We were sorry that there are no benches off the main drags. It was cold, and we tried to remember all the picnics we've had together. Many of them have been cold, which is interesting. But that's another post, I think.

Afterwards, I wanted to walk into the woods to see whether there were any brave oyster mushrooms or birds around. I knew we would find the solitary men...

But I did not expect to find the massive amounts of litter. I mean, there's been litter before, there is always litter back here, away from the masses. But this was in frequent, recent clusters that I've not seen before.  Most of it is the paraphernalia of sex, as usual: wrappers, wipes, used condoms; I spared you some of the more gruesome pictures. Then lots of empty hard liquor bottles, lots of plain old 'reglar' litter - plastic, cups...It's not OK.

So one turns a blind eye, and proceeds?

I think not. I'm tired of it.

So I am considering a plan of action. Against the act of littering. Loiterers may stay, if they must. But they may not litter.

I use the park, I love the woods. They are described on the Prospect Park website as 'Brooklyn's only forest.' Because they are.

How to end the littering? For all I know this conversation is as old as the park itself. But I sense that these areas have been deliberately forgotten, neglected, turned from. And it shows.

 As we left, above the Vale of Cashmere, we saw these.

And these.

And those. They were lovely.

And that is the way it should be.

What does the Parks Department think? What does everyone else think? We will find out.

I'll be back. But first I'm going to get help: I am reaching out to local bloggers*. And if you want to help, get in touch.

*Click here for my Open Letter

Previous Prospect Park posts:

The Park via Sackett Street

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