Our Law Office Enforces a "No Trash" Zone Policy
Saturday, January 26, 2013 -- Winter "spruce up" on the Mile
Usually, we go a few months between cleaning the old Mile. But I guess the cold snap brought out some bad littering habits. So instead of waiting until March or April, we went out on a beautiful, cool January afternoon and did our two-bag duty. Today happened to be the weekend that Cobb County, Georgia also had its annual tree planting. I saw a lot of volunteers in other parts of the county planting trees, including an area nearby the Agatston Law Firm's Adopt-a-Mile, where they were planting more than 20 magnolias. Those are going to be grand additions to the area for decades to come.
We had our usual litter "suspects." Lots of beer cans and bottles, cigarette boxes, fast food this and that, soda cans, and of course you can't complete a Mile cleaning without a few plastic bottles filled with urine. I still don't quite get that one, but maybe it's just me. And for the first time we found a new (at least to us) alcoholic drink. Aluminum cans of a well-known beer-maker's margarita drink. As a lover of Mexico, I'm skeptical about a margarita in an aluminum can, which could explain why we found a few of these half-filled cans at the side of the road. But buy far this time were the discarded newspaper bag-wrappings left by newspaper carriers. That one is surprising, because newspaper companies are leaders in the recycling world. Not everyone is getting the memo! But the Mile is clean again-- clean and ready to go in 2013!
Saturday, December 8, 2012 -- Winter cleaning on the Mile
Amazing what County mowing and landscaping service will do for the Adopt-A-Mile. During the Spring and Summer of this year, due to budget cutbacks, it was rare to see the county mowing the roadways out and around Cobb County. And the Mile suffered, with tall grass hiding lots of garbage.
But this past weekend, the grass on the Mile was close-cropped and landscaped! And a by product of that was there wasn't much trash, compared at least to the summer time. Yes, there was the usual suspects -- beer bottles and cans, fast food bags and wrappers, and the isolated bottle of unidentified liquids (ugh!), but for the most part the Mile looked pretty good, especially after five months.
In a season to be thankful, and to reflect, I want to take this time to wish everyone the best of the holidays -- to you, your family and your friends. Let's hope together for peace, health, faith and family, and a very Happy New Year!
Saturday, June 23, 2012 -- The Attack of the Kitchen Garbage Bags!
I was driving home from a conference last week, and the last stretch of my commute home is on the AgatstonLaw Adopt-A-Mile. I did a double-take. The mile was a disaster! Not your beer bottles and fast food annoyances, not your political signs, or cardboard boxes.
No, this was much more. This was eight filled-to-the-top kitchen trash bags full of someone's beer and BBQ event. Just tossed on the side of the road. Bummer. Well, we got our trusty orange volunteer bags and scooped them up. Usually we'll fill 2 or 3 bags every 3 months and I'll dispose of them in my curbsite trash can. Can't do it with 7 full bags, so they are going to sit out there until the Adopt-a-Mile coordinator dispatches a truck. I wonder of the BBQ-ers will drive by again and see their trash lined up in an orange row! The mile is a clean machine again, and we're looking forward to a clean dog days of summer!
Sunday, March 18, 2012 -- Spring Cleaning on the Mile
The frost of winter is gone on the Adopt-A-Mile, and
on a beautiful spring day, we filled our garbage bags
three times. My opinion hasn't changed from any time
before -- littering and bad habits seem to go hand in hand. Except this time, we noticed that the empty beer containers were much larger! Twenty-four ounce cans and (I guess) 32-ounce bottles were plentiful. And when containers get this big, the roadways look all the worse! To our "Adopt-A-Neighbors" -- if you're going to enjoy a big 'ol beer, drink it safely inside somewhere, and then put it out in your recycling bin! Anyway, on behalf of our law offices, we wish you a Happy Spring! Enjoy the weather, and be safe. Best regards.
Saturday, November 12, 2011: Thinking About Victims Harmed at Penn State While Cleaning the Mile
The fall rendition of the law firm's mile cleaning was today, and my thoughts were with the victims alleged to have been harmed by the former Penn State University football coach. I conduct annual trainings to professionals who care, treat, and assist children who have alleged to have been physically or sexually abused. One of the topics is the "mandated reporting" statute, which is a law that requires certain professionals to report their suspicions of child sexual abuse to the proper authorities. I have blogged about "mandated reporting," and it is included in a recent post on this website's "Semi-Daily Blog." But the thing that kept going through my head today was the persistent problem, here in Georgia and across the country, of mandated reporters who fail to report their suspicions of child sexual abuse. There were two Penn State officials who were arrested in the case, apparently for their failure to report under Pennsylvania's mandated reporting statute. In Georgia, law enforcement can also arrest mandated reporters for their failure to report, by the way. While cleaning the road, I also kept thinking about what can happen when mandated reporters fail to report -- the same thing that allegedly occurred in the Penn State situation. A predator keeps perpetrating. The public now sees a gross example of this, and it rightly makes us sick. But the cruel fact is that this situation, where a predator continues to harm children when good people fail to report, has occurred, is occurring, and will reoccur time and time again across the country. We can do better. We have to do better. Mandated reporters are a first line of defense in the area of child sexual abuse and exploitation. Mandated reporting. A crucial term to know and understand. That's what I was thinking about during this fall's mile cleaning.
Saturday, July 23, 2011: The Dog Days of Trash Picking
This marks the one-year anniversary of Agatston Law's Adopt-A-Mile. I think that means we are veteran trash pickers. And like the other Trash Clean Up Days, we have some observations of litter and our little bit of adopted land. First off, large moving boxes were in abundance this time around, along with packing styrofoam. Very easy to spot, and that's the problem -- they make the roadside look terrible, and we can do better than that. Lots of plastic bottles, and it must be because of the heat. People are drinking more cokes and bottled water, and then unfortunately just tossing them to the side of the road. Secondly, it is very clear that we are in a public service crisis. It boils down to cuts in public services, as our leaders struggle to figure out how to pay for them in this difficult economy. In Cobb County, where I pick up trash, there was a recent article about Cobb County volunteers who have saved the county a couple million dollars by volunteering at the libraries, by participating in the Adopt-A-Mile program, and by participating in other programs. This is a wonderful show of citizens helping their communities, and pitching in for free. (By the way, volunteers tend to believe that they, in fact, do get "paid" for doing things for free. The "pay" is lending a hand.) But as you can see by this picture of Agatston Law's adopted mile, the sides of the roads aren't being mowed. It was difficult for Agatston Law trash pickers to even find the trash in these un-mowed areas. Scenes like this continue up and down the county's roadways, and they will continue so long as there are no volunteers to mow the grass. The county can't do it -- it cannot afford to -- just like counties all over the U.S. So you get to thinking when you're on the roadside cleaning up trash and wading through tall grass. I started thinking about our national leaders and their utter failure to resolve the debt limit situation, which has been solved, resolved, and raised dozens and dozens of times over the last 50 years. There is certainly blame to go around, but it would be nice if the side that is adamant about not raising taxes under any circumstances or for any reason would grab a trash bag, start a mower, shelve books at libraries for free, and otherwise step up for others in the community. Best regards.
Saturday, April 30, 2011: Spring Cleaning On The Adopt-A-Mile
For a trash picker like me, spring cleaning on the Adopt-A-Mile is a lot like spring cleaning around the house. Just like all that dirt and grime and dust and pollen that builds up over the the winter months, bottles and bags and cans and boxes build up on the side of the roadways. But the thing that stood out to me this time was the overgrowth from the grasses, weeds and shrubs that surround the road. Spring has indeed sprung, and as the photograph to this article shows, it doesn't look like there's anyone to mow the mile. I live in a large county -- more than 600,000 people. The vocal consensus is "taxes are bad." But somewhere in that tall grass there's a fire hydrant. And if firefighters need to one day use it, they need to be paid. And their brothers and sisters who protect and serve -- law enforcement -- need to be paid, too. And the librarians, and the teachers, and the sanitation workers, and the road workers, and the government workers -- they all perform vital services that cost money in a free society. And what about the men and women who have served heroically, over the past 10 years, in Iraq and Afghanistan? And the other military stationed all over the world, regardless of armed conflict? But when it comes to taxes, as Anonymous once said, "People who complain about taxes can be divided into two classes: men and women." For a quarterly roadside trash picker, I offer a different view. Consider the famous quote from the most famous of all U.S. Supreme Court Justices, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.: "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society." I don't endorse being taxed into oblivion. I don't endorse wasteful spending, and unearned benefits for the well-connected. But the Justice Holmes view makes sense. And pitching in for the neighborhood, and the needy, and the community, can go a long way, too. Best regards.
Saturday, January 22, 2011: First Trash Pick-Up of the New Year
Atlanta got out of the deep freeze, ice, and snow long enough for our second Adopt-A-Mile trash pick-up day. We patrol our little stretch of Cobb County, in West Cobb County, on Due West Road between Mars Hill Road and Antioch Road. This is a quarterly project, so I wasn't sure how it would look after the last trash day, on October 23, 2010. All in all . . . not too bad. It was a three-bagger instead of five like the last time, and like before, here are my random thoughts.
- This first thought is, this is fun in a I-can't-explain-it way. Get your friends, family, co-workers, and go down to the Keep Cobb Beautiful, or your county's equivalent department, and sign up for your own mile. The fun part, again in an I-can't-explain-it way, is comparing your litter "products" that you've picked up along the way.
- Not nearly as much styrofoam this time. A pleasant surprise, although fast food products were strewn about. Instead of Styrofoam, there was an overload of cigarette packs, and I'm calling out the brands of the littering smokers in order of quantity: Newport, Marlboro, and Camel. But Newport won in a landslide.
- Speaking of landslides, the fall elections may be over, but the campaign sides aren't. Five were picked up on our mile, so I know there are many still all over town. For those of you who won, and those of you who ran valiantly in defeat, it's time to pick those signs up!
- Lots of boxes, cardboard packages, paper products.
- So here's the "product" that was the consensus winner this time around. If you're eating right now, you might want to stop. I saw something that looked like an insulation product, except is was white instead of that trademark pink. I did a 360 around it, trying to size it up, and it was certainly a pretty large size. Thankfully I had my "litter pickers" on me -- those aluminum pole-looking clamps, and snagged it from a distance before realizing that it was, yes, a very large adult diaper.
Note to Due West vehicle passengers: Really? Do I have to remind you about this? Anyway, if we all pitch in, our little patch of the world is all the better. Best regards.
Volunteering for "Adopt-A-Mile" in your community is easy
I went down to the Cobb County, Georgia "Keep Cobb Beautiful" office to sign my law firm up for an "Adopt-A-Mile," because on my way to work, I noticed that our newly adopted mile tends to attract, well, lots and lots of trash. When I got to the volunteer coordinator's office, I quickly realized that people who organize volunteers are a different bunch. They go around with volunteer paraphernalia in their cars - like reflective vests, bright orange trash bags, and "litter pickers," which are long aluminum poles with a trigger at the top and clamps at the bottom. I was told that you use "litter pickers" when you don't want to trust your rubber-gloved hand to pick up certain trashy items. Volunteer coordinators also appreciate people who volunteer, when really people who volunteer, and even those who don't, should appreciate them. Volunteer coordinators are trying to make the community better, and they're trying to enlist as many people as possible. Want to join in? Simply Google "Adopt-A-Mile," then click on a few links, and you'll easily find your community's contact organization. You volunteer quarterly, four times a year, and pick up the trash on your adopted mile. They'll even install a spiffy road sign for your organization after your first trash pickup day. AgatstonLaw has adopted a road called Due West Road in West Cobb County, Georgia, between Mars Hill Road and Antioch Road. October 23, 2010 was the first trash pickup day, and I have a few random thoughts.
- I don't like Styrofoam. Styrofoam breaks, and shreds, and when there's a lot of it around, it's like picking up a moving target. Styrofoam cups and plates are the main offenders, but someone also decided to "place" his or her box and its enclosed Styrofoam for their 32-inch Samsung television by the side of the road. Styrofoam for packing the TV box is very bulky, and went a long way toward filling up one of our five orange trash bags.
- It is not possible to pick up all of the cigarette butts on the side of the road.
- Bad diets and littering goes hand-in-glove. Fast food and beer. Lots of it.
- Cleaning gullies of their trash is rewarding. You can imagine that those indented drainage gullies by the side of the road are trash-magnets. They are. But when they're cleaned of their trash, the before and after look is magical. Eyesores turn into something that is simply normal looking. And normal looking never looked so good.
- Enlisting friends, colleagues and family members makes it very worthwhile. Not to mention, it speeds up the process. Adopt-A-Mile Mission No. 1, October 2010, took 1 ½ hours and resulted in five of those funny looking orange bags filled to the brim - plus a Samsung television box!
Your community needs volunteers. Volunteers are doers. Volunteers are helpers. Isn't that what we all want? I'll report back on this page after AgatstonLaw's next Adopt-A-Mile: January 2011. And a note to Due West Road drivers: No trash, please!