Every once in a while someone has something profound to say. Occasionally it even happens to a minister. It happened Sunday, May 26, 2013, at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Mobile, AL. The speaker was the Reverend Sandra Mayer who was filling in for the rector.
Rev. Mayer made points to explain her idea that "Your" hands tell the story of who you are.
She spoke of the TV show Dirty Jobs and how nasty the hands involved become.
Next she reported looking at the hands of God, Christ and other holy people in works of art throughout the centuries. Their hands were always perfect.
Then she wondered if that would have been real world?
She asked us if we had ever created anything without your hands becoming dirty and scarred?
Wasn't Christ a carpenter for thirty years? Didn't he also spend time on fishing boats, washing feet and healing? Dirty jobs and perfect hands?
What about Mother Theresa? Where did she work and what did she do? Dirty job? Perfect hands?
Their work was great and their jobs were dirty. They had to use their hands and they would have been dirty.
What do your hands show about you?
Will you use your hands to manifest your emotions and feelings to help produce good for the greater world?
That's the end of her message, and here's mine:
What about the habit of Daily Litter Walks you've been "fixin" to start?
Getting their hands dirty wasn't too easy for the holiest among us. We need more dirty hands.
Each day, at the end of "Your" Litter Walk, you will feel better in Spirit, Mind and Body. The world will be a better place.
Yes, your hands will get dirty, but gloves, soap and water will easily repair the damage.
Walking helps you become healthier. Each day you clean the land and naturally there will be less litter in the water.
You are the only one who can take that first step. What are you waiting for? Get up and get those hands dirty.
The world needs you and you can help make a difference.
Just a quick note to say how much I appreciate Rotary International sharing our efforts. Check out the blog article at blog.rotary.org
Could something as simple as widely practiced Daily Litter Walk help reduce government deficits and improve life around the world?
What would the impact be if the dots were connected and examined? Let's consider.
What if each day you and millions of your friends worldwide took a brisk walk and picked up litter along the way.
When you return home, you and millions around the world would feel better in mind, spirit and body.
With regular walks your health would improve and you need less healthcare. That would save billions.
Your community and the larger world would have cleaner land, water, healthier and more beautiful for all creatures to enjoy without government expense. Win, win, win Healthcare savings:
Daily walks improve your physical health.
While you might leave home in a less than cheerful mood I've never returned home depressed.
The walking releases positive natural chemicals in the body which make you mentally happier, too.
That means mental health would be improved for millions of citizens.
Being outside to wave and chat with your neighbors, to marvel at creation and enjoy the little gifts of life would improve the spirit of all concerned.
Therefore, the simple act of walking would mean fewer people using the healthcare system, they would need fewer drugs and their quality of life and sense of community would improve.
That alone could save billions of dollars? Environmental savings:
If millions of people pick-up the Daily Litter each day, wouldn't the environment be greatly improved? If you want clean water, wouldn't it be easiest to start with clean land? Pick it up each day before it hits the water system and wouldn't you get both? How much is spent on cleaning land and water after it's out of control with a year's worth of litter?
Wouldn't cleaner land and cleaner water mean less harm to wildlife, too? How much is spent on all phases of environmental and wildlife programs around the world? Wouldn't millions of people cleaning each day save billions of dollars here too?
Property values: If you're familiar with the "Broken Window Principle"
you can also understand where littered communities are worth less than clean beautiful ones. If you and millions of others show pride in your community by picking up the Daily Litter aren't you helping yourself and your community financially too? What can you do?
What else can you do? Encourage as many others as possible to join the effort.
What do you need? A few small plastic bags and a gardening glove.
How far should you walk? We walk five miles, five days a week over three different routes. You pick.
How often should you take the walk? Daily
Start walking and feel better fast.
This much ugly litter didn't end up in Dog River (or any other body of water) on Mardi Gras Day.
Why? A five mile Daily Litter Walk picked it up before it got there. Five days a week, five miles a day has an impact on a neighborhood. Others are joining the effort; as far away as India.
Could you be encouraging others to follow suit? Can you help spread the word?
Would 1,000 Daily Litter Walkers in your community have an impact on Clean Land, Clean Water and Obesity at same time?
Try it! You will be Leaner and your Community Cleaner.
Would Rotarians like an easy way to change the world? What if there was a project you could start today, in your own neighborhood regardless of where you live?
To implement requires no fundraising and no committee approval. Each person can take part starting today. It improves your mind, body and spirit and improves your environment, too.
The idea: Every day take a Daily Litter Walk. You will be Happier, You will be Leaner and Your Community will be Cleaner.
RI President Sakuji Tanaka described his personal community cleanup effort in the July 2012 issue the Rotarian Magazine.
The idea of a Daily Litter Walk brings community cleanup down to the grassroots level of one person and a daily routine.
Annual litter clean-up campaigns take an army because they clean once a year. Each person can clean up the daily litter if it's done on a daily basis.
I've learned through over a year of Daily Litter Walks:
- Daily walks are for the mind and for the spirit. The fact that walking improves the body is secondary.
- Each day while you are walking pick up litter along the way.
- Suggested tools: small plastic bags brought home from local merchants and a gardening glove. Some might employee a grabber too.
- Make it a routine: Make an appointment with yourself each day. Here's a routine: Five days a week, we walk five miles a day. Each day we leave at the same time and return at the same time.
- Whether you walk one block or five miles is up to you. Please do it, today, tomorrow, the next day, next week, and next year, forever. Make it your routine and spread the word.
- Each day encourage others to join the Daily Litter Walk Effort. What would happen to health and the environment if each town had a thousand Daily Litter Walkers?
- Each day you will "Clean the Land". Since cleaning the land will stop the litter from flowing downhill with the storm water, the water will be cleaner too. Buy one get one free.
- You can have an impact starting today.
- Clean land, clean water, better health one street and one person at a time.
- Does that sound like a win, win, win and a great project for Rotarians worldwide?
During our week of Daily Litter Walks, Route B is cleaned Tuesday and Thursday of each week. For years we never walked this long street, but added it to our routes in the last couple of months.
Funny that the people on this particular street litter more than the people on any of the other streets we cover. Just as discovered in NYC with the broken window idea from The Atlantic Magazine
(March 1982), this street looks worse than others in the general neighborhood. The general feel of the street is that the homes would be worth less as well. No one wants to live in a area that looks unclean.
Question: By cleaning their street for free twice a week will they notice a difference, begin to care and work to improve the value of their property?
Time will tell.
Excerpt from "Broken Windows"
by George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson
Published in the March 1982 issue of The Atlantic Magazine
Above all, we must return to our long-abandoned view that the police ought to protect communities as well as individuals. Our crime statistics and victimization surveys measure individual losses, but they do not measure communal losses. Just as physicians now recognize the importance of fostering health rather than simply treating illness, so the police—and the rest of us—ought to recognize the importance of maintaining, intact, communities without broken windows.
A recent story about the litter of plastic bags was very interesting. Read the article by Rachel Barnhart on WHAM ABC 13's website
As a former board member of a Keep America Beautiful affiliate, plastic bag litter is upsetting to me as well.
Just one plastic bag actually turned into an expanding effort to clean litter from everyone's neighborhood every day.
A Daily Litter Walk is something anyone can enjoy. It's a community service project that doesn't need anyone's approval except the individual making the descision.
A little over a year ago, on our daily morning walk, a plastic bag was blowing down the street. Knowing it would end up in a storm drain, the rivers and the bay, I picked it up.
Now I'm walking down the street with a bag in my hand. More litter is seen: what to do? Since I have a bag in my hand and someplace to put it, I must pick it up.
At the end of the walk the bag was full and I felt good because of what had been accomplished.
Next day, repeat, next day repeat. Now five days a week five miles a day a Daily Litter Walks.
One individual can clean up the Daily Litter. To clean up yearly litter it takes an army.
Here you have it. Three weekly routes are labeled A, B, C. So if you start with A on Monday and walk A, B, C, B, A. The routes that produce the most Litter are walked twice each week and the least Litter once per week. There you have it, my greatest Daily Litter Walk accomplishment of the week. Well, apart from the walking five miles a day five days a week, but it's a system and it's simple.
The whole idea is simple, inexpensive and effective. Cleaner Land leads to Cleaner Water. Clean up the Litter on the Land and you get Cleaner Water for free. By taking a daily walk you improve the quality of your life and your health. Encourage others to join you and help them become part of Lean-and-Clean, too.
Each day encourage others all over the world to do the same. Think of the impact to health and environment from such a simple idea. You never know who you might encourage to take up the idea.
This week another environmental advocate group started following the idea. She speaks to groups all around the gulf. She can add the story to her speeches to groups and others might join.
After early church on Sunday there was an opportunity to tell the story to a friend moving to Clearwater, FL. While he is retired and writing his seventh novel, he will also help coach youth sports at the school his sons attended. He said he likes to teach the younger kids before they know everything. Perhaps he could teach the kids to start Daily Litter Walks in their neighborhoods.
At the end of one year and the beginning of another, here are my observations worth sharing with you.
1. None of my other activities offers as much immediate gratification as taking a brisk daily walk and picking up litter along the way. With church, community and professional activities, meetings occur on certain days of the week or month and at certain times and places. They also depend on others and their ideas to accomplish much of the agenda. A Daily Litter Walk can start at any moment, at any place, on each and every one of the 365 days in a year. There are no limits imposed by others on you and your desire to do good and to feel good about yourself and your community.
2. Walking is good for the Mind, Body and Soul. Years ago, when we started walking, the idea was that it was for the for the body and no thought was given to anything else. In short order the Soul and Mind both told us we were wrong. Walking is for the Soul and the Mind first and foremost. The fact that it also improves the body is purely secondary. Many days I've felt less than euphoric as the door closed behind me, but I've never returned home depressed. An hour's walk each day lifts the Spirit, the Mind and the Body.
3. You can learn to express yourself and educate yourself while walking. With all manner of audio publications available, you can listen to college lectures, books or music as you walk. As a member of Toastmaster's, I've written and practiced many speeches during a Daily Litter Walk.
4. Picking up Litter along the way requires simple tools. Each morning a few small plastic bags free from local merchants and a garden glove are all the tools needed.
5. Walking gives you a chance to see things you don't see in a car. You have the chance to meet your neighbors and wave to others as they drive by on their way to work and school. You also have a chance to see who might need help getting their newspaper to their front door and who might need help getting their garbage can to the street.
6. Having a chance to witness sunrise or sunset each day is a joy for your entire being. Being outdoors to appreciate the change of weather and the other creatures in God's universe brings joy, too.
7. Everything flows downstream. Cleaner Land leads to Cleaner Water. Picking it up before it hits the storm drains helps give you both.
8. The only thing missing is you. Start today and take a Daily Litter Walk. You will be Leaner and your community will be Cleaner. Lean-and-Clean is a winner for all.
This was a very exciting week for Lean-and-Clean. More groups are becoming interested in the idea and understanding the simple concept.
This week meetings were held with the Alabama Coastal Foundation, the board of Keep Mobile Beautiful, City Council Members, representatives of the new statewide newspaper AL.Com,
Mobile County School Superintendent Martha Peake and the Mobile Business Improvement District director Clayton Ratledge.
With more and more people hearing about and understanding the idea it can only help.
Let's all continue to expand and explain the idea of a Daily Litter Walk by as many citizens as possible.
Forming the habit of taking a Daily Litter Walk will help you be Leaner and picking up litter along the way will help the community be Cleaner.
Clean Land leads to Clean Water or buy one get one free.
There is nothing to buy since you can use the plastic bags you brought home from the grocery. Get up, put on comfortable shoes, a gardening glove and start walking.
Simple ideas that will lead to you being healthier and your community cleaner. Take a friend everyday to make it even more fun.