Trash Talk at Phillips Creek

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Written by SOLVE Jesuit Volunteer Northwest Members Lauren McKenna and Nicole Poletto

Clackamas Middle College 10/12/2012

Broken mirrors, abandoned seesaws, rusting wheels, algae-crusted shopping carts…. Sounds like set pieces for a haunted house!  Actually, it’s just what you would normally find at Phillips Creek.

Clackamas Middle College got to see Phillips Creek themselves, and help remove some of the ghastly items from the creek, as well as do some removal of the horrific invasive Armenian blackberry’s roots.  One student worked on a blackberry root almost the entire time he was at the creek and was very proud of removing the gnarly root from the ground. Another explained that there are the same blackberries in her backyard and that she wants to remove them now.

But back to the trash talk: most of the students were horrified of how much trash (mostly food wrappers) there was at the creek.  “I don’t understand how people could just treat the environment like this!” one student exclaimed.  Unfortunately, the reality is that many still do not understand how we should care for our waterways; this one is treated like a dump.

Are these props from a haunted dump? Nope, just your average findings from Phillips Creek. Some of these things will be used in a trash-art project.

The creek is surrounded by shopping centers, streets and parking lots: the perfect recipe for witch’s-brew (polluted urban runoff washing trash into the creek).  There are also a lot of people walking through and living around the creek, leaving food wrappers and discarding “disposable” items.  There are more than just ecological problems going on here, but social issues, too, like the effects of consumerism and issues related to people experiencing homelessness. “There are a lot of teens who do not respect the creek here,” another student said, noting that hopefully, if we show others that the creek is worth cleaning up and saving, others will follow and respect it, too.

Thank you coming out and picking up trash at the creek!

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