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“Trash Talkers” Take On Edgewood Park

by Allan Appel | Dec 5, 2013 2:10 pm

(3) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Parks, Edgewood, Westville

Allan Appel Photo A new band of energized west-siders have set out make their park safer and more beauitful by picking up one cigarette butt, one can of soda—and one discarded tire and bicycle—at a time.

The band, including young moms Youna Kwak and Dominique Diezi and their new cohort of litter picker-uppers, began that quest beneath the Edgewood Avenue bridge Wednesday at 3 p.m.

The group, which meets at a different location every week for litter picking-up patrol, is one of the Friends Of Edgewood Park (FOEP)‘s reenergized committees. The new committees formed when FOEP held a “Take Back the Park” session back in early October.  The renewed energy in part stemmed from recent episodes of violence in the park, including attacks on people riding bikes or jogging along the trails.

Kwak and Diezi took on the leadership of FOEP’s grounds maintenance team. Kwak, who is just beginning to write a dissertation on modern French literature at New York University, a little less formally anointed the group “The Trash Talkers.”

These folks are serious.

In an hour’s stroll, spiffy new tongs and bags in hand,  the Trash Talkers did a lot more than talk. They collected four big bags of garbage, including a dozen soda cans. They snapped shredded plastic wrap from the branches of trees by birds’ nests. On past walks they have hauled tires and bicycles up from the banks of the West River.

Their walk took them along the park road from the Edgewood Avenue Bridge past the dog park, along the West River, skirting the skate board park, and onto the parking lot by the hoops, and then up to Whalley Avenue and Fitch, where they righted a toppled garbage can,

The work gave them the chance get out of the house and to take in the air and under-appreciated sedate beauty of the 1910 Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr.-designed Edgewood Park.

The talkers’ babies made duck sounds in response to the mallards. Trish Loving’s Ricky was having a terrific dog’s day. The kingfishers were shrieking their way along the margins of a West River that was a little less defaced by human detritus .

Kwak called Diezi, who did the trash barrel hauling up from the river, the “brawn” of the team. Dietzi called Kwak, who niftily yielded two of the parks department-provided tongs at once, “the brains.”

Kwak is new to Westville. “Friends of Edgewood Park has been around for 30 years. It was time to make an effort to change the ethos of the park that it was unsafe or unused,” she said.

Kwak said the group picked the Wednesday 3 p.m. hour expecting young moms like herself to form most of the group. She was happily surprised to discover that older volunteers like Ed Shrager and Trish Loving had become regulars.

Shrager said he was “looking to connect to the park.”

Loving, a recently retired physician’s assistant, described herself as an old Westville lefty. She, the younger women, and Diezi waded into the brush by the river to collect cans, plastic, any discards from consumables that had been dropped along the way.

The crew members talked to this reporter as they walked, but their gazes were definitely directed downward. No scrap of paper, no soggy butt browning in the brush, was too small to evade Kwak’s tongs.

To Loving, a Westvillan since the early 1970s, the idea is simple: “A sense of more people who [pick up the trash] and walk in the park, doing various jobs, the more people will come to the park, and the safer and more beautiful the park will be.”

Both she and Shrager appreciated the tongs provided by the parks department. The Trash Talkers had ten of them. Those not in use were being safely watched by Dietzi’s baby Remi beneath his stroller seat.

When the team arrived at Whalley Avenue at Fitch Street, it spotted a municipal trash barrel that had rolled from the sidewalk area down to the river, spewing garbage along the way. Chris Heitmann of Westville Village Renaissance Alliance had alerted them by email to watch for the can.

Kwak saw the mess from the parking lot, where she was busily nabbing cigarette butts and small liquor bottles.

“This is always bad, where there’s a parking lot,” she said. She wondered aloud whether the team could handle the barrel.

But by the time she looked up, Diezi and Loving were already headed to the trouble spot, nimbly working their way down the leaf-strewn bank. The younger of the two women, Diezi, took a spill, then got back up. Loving worked her way in from the road. They put their heads down and cleaned up the large mess.

By this time Kwak had walked over and was double-tonging her way along the sidewalk by the bus stop at Fitch.  No stranger to modernist irony, Kwak commented on their having picked up trash dropped by people only to find at the end of their little journey that they now had to pick up trash that people had dutifully thrown in the can. Ah well.

Her musing was happily interrupted when Sincere Frye walked by, skateboard in hand. Finishing his homework at the Mitchell Library, he had noticed the Trash Talkers at work.

The Edgewood School 11-year-old asked if he could help. Kwak gave him his tongs, and the new volunteer descended the hill to join Loving and Diezi at the river’s edge.

“Awesome,” said Kwak.

Here’s the contact for those interested in joining the Trash Talkers or other groups working to maintain and beautify Edgewood Park.

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posted by: Hill South on December 5, 2013  2:36pm

This is absolutely AWESOME!!!!! More citizens should put their talk into action ... and this shows that with a little ingenuity, you can have a great impact on your community. I once remarked to someone who was informing me about some young people that were going to march in the Hill section for ‘cause’, that perhaps that group of young people would get some trash bags and pick up litter along the way ... that this would exemplify their commitment to ‘helping to make the neighborhood a better place’. People should also understand that if you present a positive image to young people and engage them with a positive energy (like they did with young Sincere), most times you can get them to join you.  Good Work to the TRASH TALKERS. I think next year we will incorporate something similar in our neighborhood and will reach out to the group on establishing a ‘satellite’ group in the Hill!

posted by: Stephanie FitzGerald on December 5, 2013  9:12pm

Great work, Friends of Edgewood Park Wednesday Walkers! (aka “The Trash Talkers”) 

To join the fun and find out more about FOEP, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

posted by: Dwightstreeter on December 5, 2013  10:33pm

This park is a treasure and the people in this article are heroes.

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