Jim Carey | The Pontiac Tribune
In Michigan, Waterford residents are getting their hands wet and fighting back against local water pollution by cleaning up the Clinton River.
The first river cleanup event hosted by The Pontiac Tribune and the Waterford Action Network (WAN) was so successful — we realized we’re just getting started!
With around 15-20 smiling volunteers from Waterford and members of The Pontiac Tribune answering the call, WAN managed to clear a half-mile swath of trash from the banks to the murky bottom of the Clinton River, just south of Highland Road near Crescent Lake Road.
Volunteers removed some 25 industrial-sized garbage bags of carelessly discarded refuse as well as several larger items — enough refuse to fill the bed of a full-size pickup truck.
Comprising the river cleanup crew’s haul were innumerable empty containers of varying sizes and states of decay; a plethora of ubiquitous plastic shopping bags; a smattering of cans and bottles; disturbingly unidentifiable pieces of clothing — and apparent evidence in logo-emblazoned wrappers that at least one person in the country still manages to choke down McDonald’s.
Of course, rivers hold many surprises, too.
One volunteer stumbled upon an otherwise brand new laptop obviously long-forgotten near the river’s edge.
A bit later in the day, a few brave souls wrested a waterlogged armchair from its oddly amphibious home (as seen in the video, above) — stirring up all the noxious scents in the process that you would expect from a river in crisis.
Although we made noticeable progress, WAN co-founder Chas Sharrard began actively planning future trash pick-ups less than an hour after he arrived.
He discussed methods for inspiring the community at large not only to participate in cleanups, but to stay current about the eco-health of Michigan’s and the nation’s myriad vital waterways.
Chas enthusiastically asserted to The Pontiac Tribune staff as we parted ways:
“This is only the beginning.”
Waterford Action Network
Activists from Waterford Action and The Pontiac Tribune hope for an aggressive sweep of the Clinton River before winter weather makes conditions prohibitive. But Chas promised there would be plenty of opportunities to stay involved — even once snow settles in for the season.
“I don’t just want to clean the river,” Chas explained about WAN’s future endeavors. “I want this group to be able to address local issues anywhere we find them. This isn’t just about water — we want to set an example for any groups like ours to take on any issues in their community.”
WAN will announce another river cleanup in the near future and hopes to move on to tackle issues like “poor roads, dirty parks, and addressing the town’s leadership to tackle issues from the militarization of police to all the recent attacks on the school district budget.”
Chas’ goal of “setting an example of how easy local activism” can be, especially when it starts organically among friends, fits flawlessly with the philosophies and missions of The Pontiac Tribune and the Waterford Action Network.
Around the time local media coverage of the Hamtramck Guerrilla Road Crew saturated the airwaves, Chas created the WAN Facebook page to begin organizing.
“It was a good example of how easy this can be” — the simple concept of a small group of friends deciding to leave its typical comfort zone by going out and just doing something, while hoping concern for the issue will snowball, resonated with Chas.
Simple and feasible solutions with immediate impact are precisely what The Pontiac Tribune enjoys highlighting — and the Waterford Action Network keeps ’em coming.
If you find this story inspiring and would like to try organizing an event in your community — even if you’ve never attempted planning something like this before — WAN would love to show you the ropes.
Help Save Waterford
For more information, contact volunteers through the Waterford Action Network’s Facebook page.