Believe it or not, I spend more time thinking about my home community of Eagle Rock than I do about Eagle Rock real estate. Homes for sale in Glassell Park occupy my thoughts less than my appreciation of the community itself. Keeping a clean, safe community, after all, is what makes a neighborhood great.
I’ve noticed that in the midst of the chaos of modern day life, it's easy to find one’s self grappling with issues such as what is my purpose? Why am I here? What can I do to make the world better? These questions can be overwhelming, even paralyzing.
Remembering the “broken window” theory made famous by former New York City police chief, Bill Bratton, I decided to stop being overwhelmed and took a single step towards improving my community—I started picking up litter. It isn’t easy to believe that this one small step can actually can make the world a better place, but this is a task that almost anyone can perform and immediately see a positive difference in one’s surroundings.
There is a phone app, Literatti, that was created to make a record of the different kinds of litter and to count the results of an ever-growing number of people picking up a hopefully ever-decreasing pile of litter. Currently, there are hundreds of thousands of photos displayed of litter that people all over the world have picked up. It’s rewarding to see the numbers grow as more and more litter is picked up and discarded. It’s also rewarding to feel like you are part of a community of like-minded folks. There’s strength in numbers, power to the people and all of that!
You can watch a TED talk about it here.
Back to the “broken window” theory, which says that immediate removal of graffiti and fixing broken windows and other signs of urban decay can help stop the descent into worse vandalism and more serious crimes—Bratton is credited with making significant progress in eradicating New York City’s crime scourge in the 1990’s.
I can’t say for sure how large of an impact picking up litter makes, but I do know that it makes me feel better, and I enjoy driving or walking around near my home in Eagle Rock and seeing cleaner sidewalks and streets. It’s habit-forming—it’s hard for me now to see trash in my path and not pick it up—so I’ve started carrying some biodegradable plastic bags and gloves in my trunk.
On any given day in about 15 minutes I half-filled a bag with trash along a street near my house. When I drove by there a couple of days later, the street was still clean and I felt like I had actually made a small but important contribution to beautifying my neighborhood.
Our region of Northeast Los Angeles - encapsulating the gorgeous communities of Highland Park, Mt. Washington, Hermon, Eagle Rock and more - would only become more beautiful, more inviting - and more valuable - if those who live there made themselves responsible for maintaining their immediate area. And … picking up littler is a great way to burn calories!
If you're looking for your own way to help in our community, here are a few places that could get you started, or maybe I'll see you out on a walk doing the same thing as I have been:
Recycled Resources for the Homeless (http://www.recycledresources.org/) - Recycled Resources for the Homeless has serveral ways you can get involved in ending chronic homelessness in Northeast Los Angeles.
The Collaborative Eagle Rock Beautiful (http://www.cerb.us/) - In our continued efforts to "Green" the medians and parkways and preserve and maintain the Eagle Rock Canyon Trail we are always seeking volunteers and funding to support our various projects.
Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council (http://www.wordpress.eaglerockcouncil.org/) - Join their email list to see when the next Neighborhood Clean Up event is, along with other ways to make a difference in the community.
The Eagle Rock Association (http://tera90041.org/why_join_tera0.aspx) - The broad mission of TERA is to work for improvement of the quality of life in the Eagle Rock community.
What are other (big or small) ways you've been making your community a better place? We would love to hear from you!