Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bum Camps and 1 Million Pounds of Trash

Last Saturday was my work's annual Community Service Day and I was in charge of coordinating and organizing it. I chose the non-profit (the San Diego River Park Foundation) and decided to do a river clean-up.

The good news was that we had a good turn-out (staff, alumni and current students, but no faculty--boo to that) and we helped the River Park Foundation clean up its 1 millionth pound of trash.

The bad part was (and which wasn't advertised on their website) that what we were mostly doing was cleaning out bum camps and picking up trash left by homeless people).

See pictures below:

I knew San Diego had a large homeless population because of the temperate climate, but I had never seen whole tent cities like there are back in the woods by the river.
Some of the things volunteers were pulling out of there were crazy. It was a little scary and we had to make sure we buddied up because you could tell people were "home". There were battery-operated radios playing and one guy came out of his tent with his pitbull and told the volunteers to leave.
While I know we helped clean up a lot of trash that would have eventually found its way into the river, I didn't realize it was a homeless clean sweep. It's also sad to think that there's going to be just as much trash back there in 3 months.
But I guess if you're homeless you have bigger fish to fry than worrying about littering.

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