October 20, 2007

Edisto, Continued


I soon realized that the clean-up of the Edisto River was a task much bigger than myself. So I turned to help from the Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center - nestled on a hill overlooking the river. Beth Thomas, the executive director at the center, knows city administrative contacts as well as local civic groups. She put me in touch with Betty Stone, who works with a non-profit association, The Friends of the Edisto. I called her to discuss the litter problem in the Horne Wetlands Park and how I had written an illustrated blog about my expedition to collect trash. Her interest piqued, she vowed to go to the Edisto the following morning to pick up trash herself. Concerned about her going out alone - with copperhead snakes at the ready on steep slopes and slippery banks, I volunteered to go out again with her.
In uncanny synchrony, we pulled into the parking lot and stepped out of our vehicles at precisely the same time, armed with gloves, boots and bags. Betty was everything that one imagines in an outdoors woman, robust, with short cropped no-nonsense hair and sensible hiking boots. She was obviously more advanced at garbage retrieval than a novice like myself, having procured long sticks with spikes on the ends for hard to reach refuse. So, armed with our industrial strength trash bags and a sense of mission we set out to the river.
The riverside had plenty of trash to yeild, including still more shoved underneath the boardwalk. We chatted and picked trash for about an hour and a half. Betty told me about her group, Friends of the Edisto and how they used to organize river sweeps to clean up garbage but that the organizaton had become inactive in recent years. Our day together inspired her to jump start the organization again and organize enough clean up brigades to clear the river and maintain its beauty thereafter. We agreed that if she found the people I would work on letters to the Parks Commission and the Mayor to solicit support. I went to it straight away with a letter to the local division of Parks and Recreation. Then I hand delivered a copy to the Mayor of Orangeburg.
When I stopped by the mayor's office with my letter he not only read the letter on the spot but chatted with me about it. This is part of the charm of Orangeburg, the most underestimated town in South Carolina. Where else could one stop by unannounced and have a spontaneous chat with the mayor and be dressed in jeans and a shirt with water spots on it no less. Imagine that happening in Chicago. Buster Smith, from the Parks and Recreation office, called today as well to set up a meeting with Betty and I to make our voluteerism official, with a web link to the newly jumpstarted Friends of the Edisto. So this is what Blog action day yeilded for us - an individual action leading to civic action making a big difference for Mother Edisto. Interestingly, after reading some of the environmental blogs, I found out that they were intended as discussion rather than action. But if I had taken the "action" part of Blog action more seriously than most, I am glad that I did.

3 comments:

artsails1 said...

Hi Janet,

I love yur two paintings of the woman cleaning up the Edisto. Can you tell us more about the paintings the medium, the surface material...etc? Thanks.

I have added a ton of ART info on my blog as there is so much happening in Columbia, SC right now at:
http://artsails1.blogspot.com
See you soon;
Jean Bourque

kozachekart said...

Jean,
The paintings of the figures in the Edisto River are acrylic on sized paper. They are each 11" x 14".

artsails1 said...

They are very nice thank you for sharing them.
Jean