Thursday, April 17, 2014

Earth Day - Spring Cleaning Time

We're only 5 days away from Earth Day on April 22nd. I wanted to give you a heads-up about what's going on in town that day so you can plan to volunteer. But you know me--I have to start with a little history first.

The first Earth Day took place in 1970. It was a Wednesday, so most of the events took place the following Saturday, the 25th. In Norristown that day, students from Norristown High and Rittenhouse started in the morning at the mouth of Stony Creek and worked their way upstream, dragging debris out of the creek and cleaning the banks. At the same time, boy scout troops started cleaning the creek at Elmwood Park Zoo and worked their way downstream. The idea was that the groups would meet up in the early afternoon, but planners underestimated how big a job it would be. By 4 pm, the groups were still over a block apart--the scouts at Elm and Markley, the students just past the bridge over Markley between Marshall and Airy. I was with the students and I remember we kept a count of what we took out of the creek--24 shopping carts, over 50 tires, enough auto parts for 12 cars, and a refrigerator, not to mention bags and bags of litter, soda cans, etc. (I seem to recall the soda cans count being around 125.) We finally quit because we ran out of bags. Half the crew got poison ivy. Most of us got wet at least up to the waist. But the creek had never looked so good.

Since then, we've had only sporadic Earth Day clean-ups in town. Less than we should have. It should have been an annual event.

Time to remedy that. Next Tuesday, a group of Norristown Municipal employees will be hosting a clean up event, starting at the Elmwood Park bandshell on Harding Boulevard at 9 am, rain or shine. Staff members from each department will be at the park picking up litter, clearing flowerbeds and painting the band shell. Volunteers are welcome to join in. Norris Sales will be donating gloves for the event.

Also next Tuesday from 10 am to 1 pm, The Norristown Project and Montco OIC are hosting a cleanup on Arch Street. They're looking for volunteers to assist with cleaning up the neighborhood to help beautify the community. Volunteers are asked to meet at the OIC building at 1101 Arch Street on the 2nd floor to sign in. The group will then head out, working their way out from the OIC, picking up trash and debris. If you're interested in helping out, contact email

But, like that first Earth Day in 1970, it's a weekday. People have jobs, kids have school. This doesn't mean you're off the hook. If everyone cleaned up just the front of their own property next Tuesday after work or school, Norristown's neighborhoods could look terrific for the start of spring. I'm doing my own house. If you're a business, clean up your storefronts and sidewalks. Get together with neighbors to do your whole block. Do you have a park near you? Or a public space that needs attention? Get some friends together and clean it. Busy on Tuesday? Do it on Wednesday or on the weekend. Students, don't wait for adults to tell you what to do. Show the community you can be leaders.

If you'd like host a bigger clean up event, it's not too late. Contact for more details.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Elana, Thank you very much for such an informative blog of Norristown history. I recently returned for a visit and your heartfelt words and research made me wish I could stay and play my part in the rich, though sometimes faded and threadbare, tapestry of "The Town Of Norris". Until then I'll do the next best thing and become a member of the preservation society. Thank you again. Your passion and effort are appreciated.