On Saturday April 27th, after a lively and well- informed discussion about the problem with pollution, the Roots Group undertook a litter walk in the environment surrounding the East Scarborough Boys & Girls Club. Some of the items collected were recycled (and cleaned thoroughly by the instructors!) and will be used to create works of art. An excellent way to reuse/repurpose something ugly and make it beautiful!
Prompted by our studies of community and several comments about how much litter could be found around the Club, we started to think about how this relates to space, peace and violence. The day began with the students sharing their thoughts, words, insights and drawings onto two pieces of poster paper, one titled “Peace” and one titled “Violence”. Following this activity we had a group discussion.
Noticing that the Violence paper was much more filled than the Peace paper, Trish asked :
“Why is there so much written on the violence page?”
Neshaye: “I put the devil down because he is evil.”
Someone had written “school” on the Peace paper.
Jah-vaun: School? Why’d they put that down under peace? People are mad at school so what does it have to do with peace?
Neshaye: My school, you need a key to get in so that’s peaceful for me.
Khalia: Something that’s not peaceful — kids at school, talking about drugs, then they start drinking, they get suspended. And since they don’t remember they get mad at the school for suspending them.
Kim noticed “bank robberies” had been added to the Violence side. When asked why that was written,
Satyam responded, “it came into my head”
Sarwan added, “Two people were shot in Boston. The Boston marathon bombings”
Shelvin: “There is something else violent.. in Bangladesh, I think 300 people were killed”
Following our discussions about peace and violence, we returned to our idea of littering. Is littering a violent act? Kim showed a picture of a McDonalds cup thrown onto the side of the road. Kim asked, “Why would someone litter?”
Jahmeel: “Because there is no garbage close-by. ”
Others provided responses about how sometimes we are too lazy to find a garbage can, or that there are cleaners who will pick-up the garbage that is littered. Kim asked, “What is the problem with littering?”
Jah-vaun: “It will mash-up the environment. It will be a big pile of garbage.”
Kim showed a picture of a highly-littered area.
Nashaye: “It reminds me of downtown – Kingston, Jamaica”
Kim showed a picture of Christie Pits park, taken during the 2009 Garbage Workers strike, as well as a picture of garbage that had collected over a body of water.
Anna: “It’s where they drop off the garbage” (referring to the Christie Pitts photograph)
Jah-vaun: “They put the garbage and ship it off to sea”
Chelsea: “Isn’t there something, like, water underneath?”
Nashaye: “Animals live under there!”
Shelvin: “Litter goes from the road, into the sewer, and it ends up in the sea”
Kim displayed some statistics about how long it takes certain types of garbage to break-down. The statistics showed that cigarette butts can take from 1-5 years, and an aluminum can can take as long as 80-100 years.
One statistic showed that glass bottles can take infinite amount of time to decompose.
Jah-vaun: “How much is infinity? How many zeroes?”
Jacob: “We read a book about litter at school… a boy was sleeping and his bed took him to the future and everything was garbage and the houses were sinking in it”
Shelvin: “In the sand outside I found a broken glass bottle”
Jah-vaun: “I know what they can do with the litter – recycle, reduce, reuse”
Kim asked, “What does it mean to be an agent of change?”
Anna: “You can help pick up garbage and make change!”
This began our project for the day. We looked at various pieces of art that had been created using what some people would call “garbage”. We decided we could the same thing, if we collected garbage from around the Club and used it for art materials. The rest of the afternoon, we went out with our safety gloves and huge plastic bags and collected 7 HUGE bags full of garbage! We then sorted the garbage into two categories – usable and un-usable. Students tallied how many pieces of garbage they had collected.
Chevon and Kahlia counted as many as 300 pieces of collected garbage!