The View
from Here:
  Ellen Lampert-Greaux lives in Petite Saline, and when she's not organizing the St. Barthelemy film festival, or supervising the local volleyball league, or writing for various magazines, she turns her sharp eye upon local happenings.
  October'01
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   CLEANING UP
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  I don't usually get out of bed at six thirty on a Sunday morning (or any other day of the week for that matter) but when plans were hatched for an island-wide clean up on October 7, I decided I would make a special effort. And I was not alone. Approximately 100 islanders, adults and kids alike, met in the parking lot of a local bank, and when we arrived at 7:00am we were not the first one there.
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   La Rotisserie, a local gourmet deli, provided croissants and pains au chocolat, while local hardware stores and supermarkets had volunteered gloves, plastic garbage bags, and soft drinks. A convoy of pick-up trucks was ready to roll and pick up the full bags along the different routes. The whole thing had been organized (bravo!) by The News, a popular little "xeroxed" newspaper that appears every day around the island. "Manu," the editor of The News was busy handing out T-shirts with the name of the clean-up: Four Hours For The Earth. Once we were out on the roads we realized how badly this clean-up effort was needed. Thousands (and I mean thousands) of beer bottles, soda cans, and cigarette packages (not to mention the millions of cigarette butts) were found. Not to garbage bags full of smelly household trash (would you believe used pampers?), rusted fans and laundry racks, car batteries, bicycle wheels, and even a television set that had been along the side of the road for so long it had plants growing out of its back. When the trucks came along to pick up the heavy bags, it was almost hard to believe the vast quantities of trash that had been collected - especially when you realize that the trash trucks come around almost every day for pick ups and once a week for bottles and cans. All this other stuff was intentionally tossed away by stupid people who have no concern for the island where they live or the rest of us who have to live here with them. Or are we the stupid ones, willing to get up early on a Sunday morning to clean up after them? The more we collected the more futile the effort seemed, for there is no guarantee that trash won't start collecting along the roads again.
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   Bad habits are hard to cure. But we all felt good about our efforts to help keep the island clean. It made me think of the thousands of people helping with the massive clean-up in New York City, where it will take years to rebuild downtown Manhattan and restore a sense of neighborhood to the area now known as "ground zero." Oddly enough, while we were out on the hunt for trash, the United States had launched its military strikes against Afghanistan, on the hunt for the terrorists responsible for the attacks of September 11.
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   We are lucky to be safe on an island like St. Barth. The least we could do is learn to keep it clean.

  More to come,

  Ellen Lampert-Greaux


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