Monday, September 28, 2015

Save the World ... from goose poop

When I first unemployed myself, I was looking for Save the World kind of endeavors. I thought that I would be valuable as a mature person to do something heroic. Like, if there were still voter registration drives in the South, that’s what I’d do. As it was, all I could think of was lying down in front of bulldozers in the West Bank, protecting olive trees and residences. That idea just didn’t get the needed traction….

So my next Big Idea was to establish a mobile long-term contraception van, like the ones that do mammograms. Sophie had awakened me to the idea of long-term – like 5 years! – contraception, and I thought, Wow, wouldn’t that make a difference in the lives of some women! And if the problem is access to the clinic, then the van could go around where the women are and provide this service.

Way back, I started volunteering with adult literacy, feeling bad for adults who missed out on learning to read. But eventually I felt that it would be best to intervene before they fell so far behind, so I started teaching at the university and volunteering in elementary classrooms. Then I started doing storytimes for preschoolers. But even that wasn’t early enough: I spent the last 5+ years working in early childhood, the formative years from birth to 5.

And you know what? That isn’t soon enough.

So I was hot for this mobile contraception van. When Colorado provided free long-term contraception, the teenage birth rate fell 40% and abortions fell 42%. Is that incredible! Think of the time this gave young women to get themselves on track. Think what better mothers they could be!
I was ready to Make This Happen. I even set up a meeting with people who could be part of something like this. They were into it. And then … I ran out of steam. My disinterest ho-hum paralysis hit. I don’t know if it was the perception that it was too big or if it would mean doing the outreach and project management I wasn’t wanting to do anymore or if I was somehow de-energized. I just drooped. That was the blah period which made me very worried about my Third Third. Would I stay like this forever?!?

Eventually, I got myself motivated. (If nothing changes, nothing changes.) I looked around for a replacement Big Idea and said, “What could I do that needs to be done, is do-able in manageable bites, and that nobody else seems to be fixing?”

That’s when I looked at the vile, filthy cesspool that the geese have turned Cuddy Family Midtown Park into. The geese are eroding the pond banks. They’re disgusting, combative, and constantly pooping. Goose shit covers the paths. And people keep feeding them! I said, “I can start to get this pile of goose shit fixed.”
Fortunately, on just my second fact-finding mission, I met Cherie with the Anchorage Waterways Council. Cherie’s big concern is the water pollution. Did you know that the pond at Cuddy Park has about 400 times the amount of E. coli you’d want in a place where people played around the water?

So slowly but surely, we’re assembling knowledgeable folks who can take a stab at this blight. Some people are wild life people worried about the health of the birds. Others are parks people who worry about the yuck factor and the erosion of the banks. Others are public information people who want to get people to stop feeding the waterfowl. And everyone’s worried about airplanes.

This is one thorny issue. I had no idea the Cuddy Park pond problem began as the solution to the Spenard flooding problem (the Law of Unintended Consequences…) So forget about “do-able in manageable bites.” More like “chew-able in manageable bites.”

Ha, it might have been easier to get a contraception van.

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