By Ken Trainor
As public offenses go, littering is relatively minor. But it's still offensive and it's constantly in your field of vision, an undercurrent of chaos, unsettling to walk past — or in some cases, wade through.
Oak Park Avenue is one example. On either side of the Metra tracks and especially under the overpass, the evidence is glaring — back at us. We're living in an environment and in a town where a lot of people drop things. Throw in all the little black circles on the sidewalks from the remarkable amount of gum unceremoniously spit out, add the weediness of walkways come August and September, and you've got a … condition.
It affects your feeling about the village. It reflects badly on all of us.
It makes us look bad.
What to do about it?
Well, the village loves signs. Maybe we need an anti-littering campaign. They also love trash receptacles, but the ones on Oak Park Avenue are old and designed so the wind can sweep through the two-sided opening, sending litter back onto streets and sidewalks. Of course, there are also the free editions of RedEye, read at bus stops, then left on the benches to be blown, page by page down the street.
But as the conservatives keep telling us, you can't expect government to solve all our problems, so we probably need volunteers to address the littering issue. We may need an "Adopt a Viaduct" program, similar to those stretches of interstate highway "adopted" by Scout troops, church groups, and sundry other civic-minded organizations.
We've got myriad churches here, a plethora of Scout troops and plenty of schools, which are always trying to instill service values. We've got enough Montessori kids alone to do the job. This would be a good project for any of them. Maybe the village could spring for "grabber" tools because some of this litter looks rather … unseemly. In other words, we don't know where it's been. Gloves should also be required.
It's minor in the overall scope of village challenges, but it's also very visible. We need to spruce things up. A lot of tourists get off the Green Line at Oak Park Avenue and wander around trying to find their way to the Hemingway and Wright sites. What are they thinking about us when they see all this litter? Heck, maybe they're doing some of the littering themselves. Regardless, somebody's got to pick the stuff up, and the stuff we photographed, especially under the train tracks, has been there a while. That includes dried-up leaves, which may be there from last winter for all we know.
It's probably the same under the other overpasses in town.
We need community-minded people to Adopt a Viaduct or Adopt a Block. The village can put up a sign so your group gets credit.
It takes a village, right?