Minneapolis Park and Rec Earth Day cleanup events scheduled for tomorrow at various park locations have been postponed for obvious reasons. I took a walk along Minnehaha Creek and Lake Nokomis this morning. While the snow along the creek looks beautiful it is not what we hope for in the middle of April. The annual event has been postponed until May 12th. Maybe by then those kayaks will be out on the lake and we will see some spring flowers popping up!
Friday, April 20, 2018
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
I was back out picking up trash along the river yesterday. First trash walk for 2018. Snow is melting. Weather is approaching 50 degrees. Technically it's spring but that means nothing in Minnesota. There will certainly be more snow. Recently, my brother-in-law Bob showed me a Facebook article about folks in Sweden who jog and pick up trash. They call it plogging. https://mashable.com/2018/02/13/plogging-fitness-trend/#9YwcPXibUmqx I'm only half Swedish and I don't jog. I really only meander and contemplate life while I pick up trash. I still get all the benefits with walking, reaching, bending, and lifting. I've got a few aches today.
In addition to the usual single serving chip bags, candy wrappers, cans and bottles, there was a ton of plastic sheeting material from pallets and large chunks of Styrofoam that blows in from all the industrial businesses that are located across the road. It would be great if some of those employees had an opportunity to leave work a little early and stop by the park to clean up.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Monday morning was pretty nice for fall in Minnesota, but there is colder weather and snow on the way so if there are places to clean up before winter it's kind of now or never. There's a short path in the woods along the Mississippi River next to the James Rice playground and it was one of those places that still needed to be spruced up. Monday morning it looked like this, like you would expect a wooded path in nature to look like in the fall. But it didn't look like that just last week.
A few weeks ago during an evening walk I noticed a tent had been set up along that path. Now, the wooded trail is just below the regular paved walking path and in full view when the leaves are off the trees. I made a mental note that there would be cleanup to do at some later date. The person camping here was not there long. A day or two at most. Personally, I'm not opposed to camping in the park. Just pick up your stuff when you leave. But I get it, there are all sorts of issues related to affordable housing in the Twin Cities.
Possessions were covered but were they abandoned? I waited a couple of weeks. At what point do you start a cleanup? It rained.
I was walking by one day and noticed someone kind of poking around in the stuff. The bike and some other stuff disappeared. More rain.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
A few days later I was off to clean up some litter on my own with my new litter grabber that one of the Mill Ruin work group coordinators had given me. I had been watching a number of homeless folks over the last month or so who had been living under the Hennepin Bridge. I happened to be on the bike ramp looking over the railing at a pile of buttons in the weeds. They were blue and green plastic buttons with a note that said 'butts for buttons". I don't even know what that means and I'm afraid to google it. My camera lens had broken and I was getting a grinding noise and blurry pictures so no photo to be had. Just then a couple walked by and started heading for the homemade cardboard house up in the rafters of the bridge. They are not the first people I've notice temporarily living there over the last few years. The flat concrete area suitable for sleeping is about 25ft up a stone wall and I had been wondering how folks get up there. I had convinced myself that they dropped down from above and swung around a wire grate, but no, I watched the couple quickly and athletically scale the wall. When the guy noticed that I was watching he shouted out to me "the police know we're here and sometimes they bring us lunch". I responded with something like "I'm just watching you climb that wall and am amazed at how you got yourself up there so fast.". So a few comments back and forth and I told him if you see me around I'm just picking up litter around the river. He said they try to clean up their litter. That couple is gone now as is their cardboard house and I give them a B minus on their cleanup effort. I picked up a little trash under the bridge, not everything, but I wondered what happened to them.
Another couple of guys had been also living nearby under the same bridge but on a concrete slab right next to the bike/walking path. Out in plain sight, horribly uncomfortable, an all around bad place to sleep at night. Those folks are gone too. Litter left behind. I am just the observer and cleanup crew, but D minus for you guys. So I looked over the railing to see if the third camp right along the water was gone too. Yes, gone and a big bag of litter was wedged into the rocks below. Good job just not finished. I hopped over the railing and dragged it up. I spent about 1/2 an hour picking up stuff and left it all by the park and rec trash barrel. There is more to do but instead I wanted to walk up river a bit. I wondered what happened to everyone and then I got to thinking about something that I'd seen on Facebook from Samantha Pree, one of the candidates for city council. Basically she wondered if police were evicting homeless from places that would be embarrassing to the city as we get ready to be hosts for the Super Bowl this winter. But that seems like a long way off. But maybe that is exactly what is happening.
Further up the river I returned to work in the woods next to the kid's area at the James Rice Playground. This was my second time in the last month working that set of woods. A rough estimate is that I found about 60 quart bottles of Miller High Life (they weren't all empty) and another 40 quart bottles of gin. Most were under vines that I had to trample down to reach. I was glad to have my new litter grabbler. Resources, not just litter.
Monday, October 2, 2017
If I ever look back on this particular blog I will remember it as a day when I felt I was in danger of losing my optimism about the world and this country in particular. We've had a number of bad things happen. There's the string of hurricanes (Harvey in Houston, Irma in Florida and the Caribbean, and Maria in Puerto Rico). And then yesterday we had the mass shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas. What's a person to do when you feel like things are crumbling around us. Well, not to make light of it, but I did take a piece of chocolate cake out of the freezer. Second, look for some positive stories in the areas that interest you. Lastly, take a walk and don't give up on the idea that whatever small things we do in our community do make a difference. So I walked about 2 miles upstream north of downtown Minneapolis to see what progress has been made on the prairie garden in Ole Olsen Park.
Folks volunteering with Friends of the Mississippi have been working the river banks in this area to create a native prairie garden. The flowers and grasses provide bee, butterfly and bird habitat and reduce the amount of pollution going into the river. It has been awhile since I've been up here and it seems like the project is pretty much finished.
So what did this area look like a couple of years ago and why is this better. Most likely this area had quite a bit of crown vetch, an invasive pea family plant that has a pretty little pink flower on it. The bees probably like it just fine. So why is that bad. Well, apparently it crowds everything else out and has a short root system that does nothing to filter out pollutants heading for the river. The Department of Transportation brought it over from the other side of the world years ago thinking it was a good thing. The variety of newly planted native species have deep root systems which are much better at helping to filter the pollutants in the water that head to the river from all our streets and non porous surfaces. You know that river there is our drinking water. I didn't bring a bag with me on this walk to pick up trash. But on the way home I pulled some crown vetch and that made me feel more optimistic.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
And I enjoyed this blobby little character too. Perhaps it was painted by someone just finishing a science class on germs and diseases.
What I didn't expect to see was a grave marker a little further up the ravine away from the river. There were a series of crosses so we followed them along the path.
I walked back home and picked up bits of trash all the way to the U of M before hopping on the light rail for home. I did not take that bridge girder with me. Exhausted, but ready to find out about White Sands Beach on another day. Although this article is 4 years old, it still perfectly describes the area here.
The article's author had his views on swimming in the river too. But that was in 2013. "Not everyone in Minneapolis is a river beach person, though. River beaches are an oddball country cousin to the lake beaches. They're a little scrappier, a little less recreational, a little more hard-edged. For one, no one’s swimming. Almost everything about the Mississippi is too dangerous for swimming – if the currents don’t get you, the mercury and polychlorinated biphenyl will. The waterways along the stretch of the Mississippi River between St. Anthony Falls and the Ford Dam are generally considered “impaired.” It’s pretty common to see people recreationally fishing in the river, but it’s rare to see anyone splashing around."
A couple of days later I was on the other side of the river trying to figure out how to get down to White Sands Beach. White sand and steep just like it looked from the St. Paul side of the river just days ago.
I picked up a bag or two and carried my haul back to a Park and Rec barrel before heading home.