Earth Day comes once a year on April 22. First celebrated nationally in 1970, the purpose of Earth Day is to inspire awareness of and appreciation for the environment. A variety of activities take place across the country, including organized efforts to pick up trash. For the past several years, as part of the Minneapolis Park Board’s watershed cleanup project, Standish and Ericsson residents have picked up trash along Minnehaha Creek and around Lakes Nokomis and Hiawatha. These efforts are all well and good, according to Standish resident Roger du Bois, but not nearly enough.
Roger is on a crusade to make every day Earth Day. For the past nine years, Roger has walked three miles every day around the perimeter of Hiawatha Golf Course. He constantly sees trash on his walks. Particularly disgusting is the litter that blows up against the golf course fence and the garbage that collects where Minnehaha Creek and Lake Hiawatha flow together. Rubber air mattresses, old shoes, plastic bottles and crates, wooden beams, beer cans—Roger sees all this and more. What can be done about the litter at the golf course and around the lake—as well as along Cedar Ave., in parking lots, and at bus stops? Roger has several plans of action, starting with himself. Every other day on his walks he picks up as much trash as he can. He hopes other people will see him and start following his example. He tries to raise awareness by talking to friends, neighbors, and elected officials about the problem and by sending letters to the media and various organizations, including the Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood Association.
Roger’s other ideas include putting traps along Minnehaha Creek to collect waste. He’d like to see a “Friends of the Shoreline” group that would pick up litter regularly. Perhaps his most ambitious idea is to get the Minnesota Legislature to declare the Lake Nokomis, Lake Hiawatha, and Minnehaha Creek area a state park. In Roger’s view, state park status would make more funds available for maintenance. Roger would also like Minnesota to adopt a no-tolerance-to-trash policy similar to that of Texas. Roger, who grew up in New York state, credits his father, a Boy Scout leader, with instilling in him an appreciation for the natural environment. Roger and his wife, Doris, have traveled in all 50 states and hiked in 60% of the nation’s parks. The Lake Hiawatha/ Lake Nokomis/Minnehaha Creek area is one of the most scenic urban spots they have seen.
Thirty-plus years ago, grassroots efforts enabled the Earth Day movement to spread across the country. Perhaps the ongoing antilitter efforts of Roger du Bois and other Standish and Ericsson residents could be the catalyst to make Minnesota the cleanest state in the country!