By Linda Mauel
Ah Spring! The days are longer, the trees and flowers are blooming, and the weather is calling us to come out and do something physical. Yes, it is time to begin our spring projects! Whether building a new deck in Long Island, planting a community vegetable garden in Brooklyn, or participating in a river clean-up in Buffalo, now is the time to put the TV remote control down and get started. Really? This sounds good in theory, but in reality I would rather grab an iced tea, a good book, and lounge in the sun.
Since I did just that last year, as the saying goes, it’s time to get the show on the road. What projects do you have on your wish list? Mine includes repairing the back deck and replacing parts of my fence that came down during Super Storm Sandy. I could find a contractor to do this for me, but in this economy I think not. Instead, I think I’ll ask a few people to come over and help me rebuild in exchange for pizza or subs and cold drinks. I could use the exercise anyway and will enjoy spending the time with my friends. Hmm – this may not be so bad after all! Ok, first things first. I can’t have the gang come over and expect them to start without knowing exactly what I want. Been there – done that!
It was like the story about a team of fellows who won a contract to build a train track. The supplies were delivered; they knew where the track was to begin, where it was to end; and they had a picture of the path it was to follow. Time was money, so the contractors decided that since they were all experts and the project was straight forward, they did not need to waste time going over the details. Instead, half of the contractors took supplies to the beginning of the proposed track, the rest took the remaining supplies to the end of the proposed track, so as to work from both sides and meet in the middle. Funny thing was, once they met in the middle, the tracks did not line up. Why one might ask, since they all knew what to do and how to do it? Well, one group used metric measurements, while the other used English standard. They learned the hard way, as did I, that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!
I did not want this to occur in my back yard! I could probably live with the fence not lining up exactly as it should, but the deck was another story. So, before we meet to spruce up my backyard, I’ll have a plan drafted – with details – to share with my friends over coffee. I figure we’ll modify it based on our discussions, then be ready to begin on our agreed upon dates.
My wish to you is that while the weather is warm and the days are long, you spring into action, but do so carefully. Make a plan, then collaborate and communicate to make sure the project comes together as expected. Once done, sit back with a cold drink and enjoy a job well done. I plan to!
About the Author: Linda Mauel serves as the region’s Quality Assurance Manager. She works in the Division of Environmental Science and Assessment out of EPA’s Edison Environmental Center. Linda holds a BS in Chemical Engineering and a BA in Chemistry from Rutgers University. She worked in the private sector for 11 years then began her 20+ year career with EPA in the quality assurance program.