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Cleaning up the neighborhood(s)

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Chicago — Walking around any neighborhood throughout the city of Chicago, one can notice the amount of trash prevalent within any given community, though some areas are worse than others. You cannot help but ask yourself, “Why are some neighborhoods noticeably cleaner than others?”

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Coupled with this thought is the question of exactly what are the methods used within the city of Chicago, and in its suburban areas, to provide some type of neighborhood clean-up incentive that is enacted by the city but enhanced by the support and cooperation of those who live in the given community.

Litter in a community is a bigger challenge than simply trash put in the wrong place – in a place where it does not belong. A not-so-clean neighborhood implies some type of community disconnect: a lack of pride and respect for this place where you live, for its property values, and for its overall aesthetics.

Trash belongs in any number of places – the garbage, most obviously, but also the recycling bin, reuse facilities, sanitary landfills, or even some type of waste-to-energy plant. But where it never belongs is on the ground, in the rivers or oceans, or simply in the air, blowing about.

The City of Chicago is, supposedly, piloting a seven-month program for former offenders and a limited number of violence reduction strategy (VRS) participants, a program that will combine elements of a transitional-job program with intensive support and therapeutic services. The program is a job-readiness initiative designed to provide the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the demands of the transitional-job program. In addition to work experience, the participants must also receive professional-development services. These services are said to include workshops on problem-solving, communication skills, workplace literacy, financial literacy and job interview training, as well as to coordinate cognitive behavior therapy for a subset of the participants.

Residents should flood their local aldermen’s offices with calls letting them know that, yes; they too want the necessary efforts to be made to clean up the communities in which they live, house by house, block by block, each and every day, throughout the year. Most recognize that litter originates from seven major sources. Four are stationary places where people work: household trash collection areas, business trash collection areas, business and industrial loading docks, and construction and demolition sites. The other three are moving sources: uncovered trucks, motorists and pedestrians. Although many reasons are given for littering, two of the most common are not having a disposal container available, and the human element being too lazy to walk to the recycling or trash container. Although most people will agree that litter is ugly, most do not recognize the economic and legal potential for community cohesiveness in its elimination, as well as the environmental repercussions in its neglect.

A community that cleans together also clings together; cleaning up on the outside just may be one more missing piece toward putting “unity” back into the community.


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