We're still at that point in the calendar that says "spring" but you keep an eye on the sky whenever you talk about an outdoors activity because "surprise" also starts with "S." That's how I was this past Saturday with a threatening sky but moderating temperatures walking to St. Vincent de Paul Place on Cliff Street to take part in the initial Clean Up the Streets for 2017.
I'm not all that expert on the history of the outreach but I know that it's the last Saturday of every month through the spring and summer and into the fall. The Last Green Valley has partnered with Norwich area spiritual and community groups to organize donations of work gloves, trash bags, and cleaning tools.
It was people power at its best. I'd estimate thirty or more folks turned out in the St. Vincent de Paul parking lot to tackle a target area of what seemed to be most of the streets in the neighborhood surrounding the kitchen and food pantry operation.
We, patrons of the kitchen and Norwich (and beyond) neighbors were there in all ages, sizes, shapes, and colors to include a young grade-schooler who came to keep her grandma company to a father and junior-high aged son from Colchester who volunteered last year and who came this year (again) with a work truck and a large flat-bed trailer.
The organizers intend to take on a different neighborhood across the city each month and from what I saw and experienced on Saturday morning there's no trash, too small or too large for them. Always in pairs and sometimes in small group work parties, we filled yellow trash bags with discarded detritus and more from sidewalks, curbsides, and streets while dreading rain that never arrived and hoping the sun would win its battle with a cloudy sky.
I tagged along with the aforementioned dad and lad and their truck and trailer and an indefatigable scout on a 50 cc moped in charge of advance reconnaissance as we worked our way down Cliff Street hauling mattresses, cabinets, a television, a recliner and one or more sofas, box springs, tables and other home furnishings onto Roath Street and what may have been the heaviest pull-out couch ever made.
We worked our past the Norwich Pizza Palace and Butch's Luncheonette making the right onto Main Street across from the old YMCA and then the next right on Park Street. Meanwhile, helping hands had fanned out across and throughout Oak, Hawthorne, Clairemont and all points in between. As organizers shared later on Facebook, in less than two hours Saturday morning we collected 2,820 pounds of trash. Yipes!
Yeah, I spent part of the rest of the weekend sore in places I didn't know I had. But with a smile on my face from being able to enjoy the opportunity to not just say I love living in Norwich but doing something to prove it, too. Next Clean Up is Saturday, April 29th. Just bring yourself, you're all we need.