Changing the Landscape: A Bag at a Time…A Failed Experiment?

With the recent publication of the official trailer for Midway,  I got to feeling angry about the neglect that humanity holds for such a wondrous planet!

I reflected back on my stewardship project of last year…and my hopes that three things would happen, if I chose to pick up a full to over flowing bag of litter every single day.  I thought that if people had a clean space for recreation, it might do three things.

1. It might cause other people, by providing an exemplar, to stoop down and pick up litter.

2. It may cause a shift in thinking, where people wished to maintain a clean environment because it caused some a sort of peacefulness or well being.

3.  It may cause neighbouring businesses to create stewardship opportunities and initiatives, as a way of building up community.

This is the status of Frank’s Flats today.  Soon, the water birds will be returning to nest and this is what they will find.



The Gyre

gyre [dʒaɪə] Chiefly literary


1. a circular or spiral movement or path
2. a ring, circle, or spiral


(intr)to whirl

[from Latin gȳrus circle, from Greek guros]
I went back to the location where, for three months or more, I picked up a bag of trash a day; mostly plastics and fast food containers.  While drinking my coffee this morning, I spent time watching a couple of TED talks.  They got me wondering about the landscape that I had tended.

After listening to the artist, Dianna Cohen, I then moved on to Capt. Charles Moore.  By the time I had finished these two films, I became determined to make a conscientious effort to minimize my consumption of plastic even though the globe is deeply entrenched in its production, use and thoughtless discard.

Unfortunately, when I went back to Frank’s Flats, an idyllic place for many ecosystems and a harbour for waterfowl, I found so much plastic and waste that it brought me to tears.  I just find our community so detached from its actions.  I don’t really know what steps I can take to contribute to a change.  I pick up one bag of garbage every time I visit this special location.  It is a piece of land that I hold dear.


Who Sat on That Lawn Mower? Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

April 17, 2012 9:30 a.m.  Weather: 3 degrees, chilly and grey.  I could have cried this morning when I drove over to the plot of land that edges the Shawnessy Home Depot.  It had been mowed.  No team had been assigned to pick the plastics and debris while the pieces were intact.  Patricia of the Escalation Department of the Home Depot,  in Atlanta, Georgia had informed me that the plot had been mowed…but yes, readers, you guessed it…they don’t know WHO mowed it.  I can’t imagine how the individual felt who had to sit on that mower and watch such a large amount of plastic be ripped apart…knowing full well, it would end up blowing into the pond across the road or littering miles of land to the south.  I spent a full hour picking up ripped pieces of plastic…materials that only days ago, were bags, boxes and packages.  These had blown from the road’s edge all the way down onto the slopes.

A trail of shredded plastic everywhere.

I was broken-hearted.  Whoever is responsible for this expedient ‘fix’, has had a negative effect on the surrounding area; environment AND wildlife.  Later, I will post the quantity of material specific to the mowed yard, collected on this one trip.

This is how the landscape has evolved…mowing over plastics and litter.

This film…the day I reported to Home Depot, my concerns for the surrounding environment.

This film…taken today.

It’s interesting that, in fact, plastics break down…but they just become smaller and smaller pieces.  If you can’t see the mess, you can pretend that it’s NOT there!  To prove a point, “Out of Sight/Out of Mind”, I’m posting a single photograph, without appropriate citation. I found it here.

Alberta Tar Sands/ Oil Sands

If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it. Tennessee Williams

Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

April 11, 2012 12:00 p.m. Weather: 13 degrees, windy, intermittent cloud/sunshine  Findings: I focused on cleaning up the flats of plastics again, then, up against the fence and a walk around the perimeter of the pond.  It takes much patience to pick up the straws and bottle caps.  I notice that the plastics around the water actually break down into smaller and smaller bits.  These make the picking difficult.  Time to bring in a rake.

April 11, 2012

I spoke to Eric this afternoon.  He is part of a landscaping company that is sub-contracted to sweep and clean up the litter on Home Depot’s frontage.  It’s interesting that for image-sake, the company pays someone else to make them ‘look good’.  Where the garbage is heaped up out of view of the customers, nothing is done.  “Oh”, Eric said, “that is city property, we’re told.”  I am looking forward to working with Home Depot’s team, taking on the stewardship of this grand MESS!

Eric cleaning up the Blvd. When I spoke to him, he said…”This is no easy job.”

The Home Depot Value System as Presented on the Company Website

1. Taking care of our people:

The key to our success is treating people well. We do this by encouraging associates to speak up and take risks, by recognizing and rewarding good performance and by leading and developing people so they may grow.

2. Giving back to our communities:

An important part of the fabric of The Home Depot is giving our time, talents, energy and resources to worthwhile causes in our communities and society.

3. Doing the right thing:

We exercise good judgment by “doing the right thing” instead of just “doing things right”. We strive to understand the impact of our decisions, and we accept responsibility for our actions.

4. Excellent customer service:

Along with our quality products, service, price and selection, we must go the extra mile to give customers knowledgeable advice about merchandise and to help them use those products to their maximum benefit.

5. Creating shareholder value:

The investors who provide the capital necessary to allow our company to grow need and expect a return on their investment. We are committed to providing it.

6. Building strong relationships:

Strong relationships are built on trust, honesty and integrity. We listen and respond to the needs of customers, associates, communities and vendors, treating them as partners.

7. Entrepreneurial spirit:

The Home Depot associates are encouraged to initiate creative and innovative ways of serving our customers and improving the business and to spread best practices throughout the company.

8. Respect for all people:

In order to remain successful, our associates must work in an environment of mutual respect, free of discrimination and harassment where each associate is regarded as part of The Home Depot team.

Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

March 26, 2012 5:30 p.m. -3 degrees The sky looked white and threatening…off-and-on snowflakes of the large wet variety.  I focused on one small section edging on the pond today, picking up litter that had since flown into previously cleaned areas, along the way.  I made a mere dent, but in the larger picture, things were looking better.

Here, a close-up of Max’s paw as he raised it for my wiping, upon entering the house.  He charges after the multitudes of ground squirrels that peek their heads out and then nose dive once they see him coming.  This reminds me of Chevy Chase and Ground Hog Day.  He routinely starts pawing at one of their escape routes and I can’t help but get a big laugh at the whole event!

Workin’ Dog!

Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

March 9, 2012 3:30 p.m. 13 degrees and VERY windy!  Findings: Plastic bags from every business in the surrounding area.  No witnesses to today’s journey, but I got a photo of my springtime footwear, rubber boots.

Necessary Equipment For This Job :0)

Some hockey parents were putting back beers in the parking lot as I left.  They had better darned well pick up their beer cans!

I try to leave out the parts that people skip. Elmore Leonard

The Melt is On!

Frank’s Flats: One Bag at a Time

March 3, 2012 12:30 p.m. Blue sky, with bright puffs of white cloud.  11 degrees and very blustery wind.  Today’s finds were primarily plastic bags of every size and variety.  I filled the bag quickly on the first hill because I wanted to drop it to the bin and get on with a good off-leash with Max.  It doesn’t take long to fill a bag with trash at this location.  This makes me very sad.

Day Five

Blue Skies

I felt discouraged as I passed so much garbage along the way.  I wondered if I could possibly make an impact?  One person…one bag at a time.

Long Shadows

When Max and I were heading home, we came around the edge of some trees and bumped into Frank, who was the witness to our project today.  Frank says that this is his special place in the world and that he comes here often to sit and observe the world. The place, he says, is called Frank’s Flats.  I smiled and was glad to know that someone likes the place as much as I do. Frank had the day off and so was sitting in the bright sun, sipping on a beer.  He took this close-up of Max and I.

Max and Me: Windy Day March 3, 2012

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe. Gustave Flaubert

Experiencing My Landscape: One Bag at a Time

March 1, 2012 4:30-5:30 p.m. Weather -3 degrees, completely white sky, although for a short while the sun was visible, soft and white behind thick cloud, eventually, it had no chance.  It disappeared.  The coolest thing was the silhouette of a grey blue aircraft flying past its brightness.  We met no one on our walk today.  In the end, I collected from one section of the hill, placed the bag in the bin and then went exploring, empty-handed.

Findings: MUCH insulation, plastic, two Tim Horton's cups with lids, plastic sandwich bags, 2 cardboard boxes


Nothing Much Has Changed at the Bin

Max Waits Patiently as I Pick Garbage

Something is Wrong With This Picture!


Something is Wrong With This Picture!


...and this one.


...and this.


It is Your Landscape