Thursday, January 3, 2019

New Year Challenge

This photograph leapt off the page and spoke to me on New Year’s Day:

Used with permission. Photo credit Jon Merryman

First piece of litter picked up for 2019. What’s yours?

The page was the Patapsco Facebook Group. The poster was Admin. Jon Merryman. I do not know Mr. Merryman in real life. A quick Google search finds a newspaper article identifying him as a “stream watcher”.  Another announces a workshop he’s giving (in 2013) to show people how to use a smartphone app to report places along the Patapsco where cleanups are needed. All in all, I think it’s safe to say that Mr. Merryman is a devoted environmentalist. 

I’d have to say that the term “stream watcher” is a pretty passive description for someone who is actively out and about cleaning up trash along the Patapsco. And I’m not just talking about a plastic bottle here and there. Mr. Merryman posts photos of mattresses, old couches, construction waste, and tires. Lots of tires. Sheesh. So many tires.

If it weren’t for Mr. Merryman and the Patapsco Facebook Group, I would have no idea about 1) the natural beauty of this area so close to us and 2) the infuriating regularity with which people use it as a free dumping ground. 

The Patapsco Facebook Group describes itself as “a group to celebrate the Patapsco from its headwaters and tributaries to the Chesapeake, and everything in between!” I highly recommend it if you are interested in learning more about this area. It’s not all about trash, really. It’s a community of enthusiasts who share information, photos, upcoming events, and even pieces of history. 

Back to Mr. Merryman’s photo. It’s a challenge of sorts. Whether we are out walking a stream bed or on our way to work or school, what piece of trash will we pick up today? Will be make sure recyclables get recycled? Will we say no to single-use plastics? Will we pass along a love of nature to our children?

So, a tip of the hat and a shout-out to Jon Merryman and all who love the Patapsco and care for it. You are teaching valuable lessons that all of us would be wise to heed. 

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