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The State of Our Environment: You Have to Look to See It

2011 July 15
New Bedford Harbor

New Bedford Harbor, MA

I don’t know about you, but the state of my environment is constantly on my mind. I’ve been told I was born with the condition. While this photo endeavor isn’t the only project I work on, it sure seems to hold relevance everywhere I turn.

Just recently, I’ve been working a few days a week out of a construction trailer alongside one of our country’s largest Superfund cleanup sites. As a community involvement coordinator for this project, I saw potential for holding walk-in office hours to answer questions and help community members learn a little more about what we’ve been doing here since 1983. Indeed, you read the year correctly.

Short of giving out free doughnuts, I’m not sure how to draw in the crowds. We’ve sent out e-mails, tweets, a news release, and left flyers for the 400+ employees at the new grocery store across the street (you wouldn’t have to throw a rock to hit it).

Buying a coffee there, I asked one of the girls behind the counter who looked to be about my age, if she knew about the cleanup activity across the way and if she knew it had to do with the harbor at the end of the parking lot.

Perplexed she replied, “Oh, not really, is THAT why all those people in the yellow vests are always coming and going?”

“Yes! Exactly!” I replied and proceeded to try and explain a little bit, but then I realized I was holding up the line.

I left some flyers hoping some might drop in after a shift, after which one of the store managers told me: “thanks for the effort, I doubt many will be taken though, mostly kids” with a sympathetic look.

Walking back across the street, listening to our equipment pumping away, I picked up yet another plastic bag tumble weeding out of the parking lot (as new a development as the market) and couldn’t help but think of the irony of it all.

At least I can say we’re doing our best to be transparent and accountable to the work we’re doing. All to give a clean harbor back to the four communities that surround it, but who is going to keep it clean when we’re done?

Jeanethe Falvey, State of the Environment project lead in EPA’s Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    July 15, 2011

    As an avid hiker I often see similar effects in the middle of nowhere.

    It never fails to astonish me how people hike some 15 to 50 KMs sometimes to sit and have lunch, to leave the evidence just where they sat.

    Sad — Keep up your work –

  2. Rachelle permalink
    July 15, 2011

    Seriously, VERY SERIOUSLY, has anyone at any of our Nation’s EPA clean up sights TRIED to connect with a REALITY TELEVISION SHOW???!!! You ALL may be surprised by the level of concern teenagers, young people and the citizens of this great nation truly have for their environments. Assuming exausted, time constrained (and gas poor) working people have leisure moments to spend becoming “AWARE of their environments” by visiting the sight of a EPA clean-up is a gross oversight of their daily worlds and abilities. Do not insult the poor by assuming that they have no interest in their environments because they CANNOT always actively participate in an awareness opportunity: perhaps it is more a lack of bravery. Reality television is truly a viable option if any of you at our EPA (someone, anyone) are energetic, willing and able to pursue this commercial connection for Millions of Americans. Awareness could be instantaneous.

  3. thomas smith permalink
    July 16, 2011

    Thank you so much in putting together this post, so much appreciated because it has helped me in my research.

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