Saturday, February 20, 2010

The SWEEP IT award goes to.......

Anyone who claims one person can't make a meaningful impact sure as sugar has never met Julian and his cohorts. I was first introduced to this fine fellow shortly after I first met his dad Tino(who I thank again for providing me this forum in the first place) and from the get go have been impressed by this "kid's" ability see and get the big picture. Shoot, I'm sure I ain't the only one who has met their share of 20-20 visioned "adults" that seem to be swinging at a pinata when it comes to the important aspects of life. Man-oh-man, this past weekend did Julian take character and decency to a whole new level. You see, last weekend was his birthday and while most think about what they can receive on these days, Julian was concerned with what he could give, it was selflessness at its finest, a jaw-dropping, tear-jerking action, and as I elaborate you'll find this isn't just lip service.

So here is this most amazing thing that happened, Julian suggested that his party goers donate some B-Day proceeds to me The Litter Guy, now if this wasn't mind-blowing enough he also decided to donate some money and gift cards himself. When Tino first called and informed me of this, to say I was blown away would not do it justice. I cried. My first thought was that there was no way I could accept this wonderful act of kindness, but as someone who has on many occasions preached the benefits unexpected spontaneous kindness, relented. None-the-less, as I stammered through that phone conversation as overwhelmed as I was, I was ten times more impressed by Julian initiative and his pals support. If these are the cats that are gonna shape our future, when were all old and wrinkly, lucky we are indeed. If I ever get bummed out and need to look for motivaton to keep doing what I do, sweeping up our city, I'll only have to remind myself of Julian's selfless actions and try to live up to the standards he sets.

I would like to personally thank Julian and his crew...Georgia and Maggie, Joseph, Timothy, Carolyn, and the Nazereth Family... Errol, Diana, Elijah and Andreas. Now on to the other business at hand, the awarding of the first(and probably only) annual Selflessness While Enacting Environmental Pride In Toronto award. Otherwise known as the SWEEP IT Award. While honorable mention is acknowledged towards the attendees of the birthday party, your WINNER IS.......(drum roll)..................Julian. Thanks for getting what I do buddy, it means more than you know or I could ever say. Your SWEEP IT Award trophy is almost done and maybe we could shoot some award presentation pics when we see each other next.

Thanks again to everyone for helping me to remember that whether big or small, a difference made is a difference made.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Littered Bit of Accountability

This week I went out and got myself a bit of learning. It came in the form of a lecture/debate at the Koffler Institute on Carbon Offset Trading.
While I've long laughed at the premise of building a few windmills justifies a couple of rich folks flying in a corporate plane, as it's only the financial elite that are able to sell carbon credits in the first place. However, there is some truth in the fact that some accountability is better than none. It is with this in mind that I've pondered using these base ideas in conjunction with the Litter Guy Project.

Now I'm definitely not talking about exchanging a coupon that would enable the user five free litters for the couple of bucks donated to the litter guys or gals to aid in their cleaning of the streets, this would be absurd, would favor the financial elite and would be too much like the silly idea of carbon credits already in place, just on a grander scale.
But what if we took their silly idea to those that cause most of the litter problem...the ones that provide the garbage, not just the ones putting it on the ground. We've all seen that grounded, gaggle of golden arched garbage that doesn't fly south for the winter or back to the point of origin, let alone to the nearest trash bin.

The clown corporation ain't the only guilty ones, there's a myriad of caffeine container casher-inners (ok, maybe that alliteration was pushing it). Or maybe in the summer the bountiful, busomed, blondes handing out their easily discarded advertising with little or no accountability.
When it comes to the companies that provide the take-out sustenance we consumers so readily covet I'm sure they'd say it's a major part of their profitability, not unlike the claims of some sammy-smog-a lot corporation when it comes to the inability to reduce harmful emissions and still stay in business, hence their reasoning for carbon offset trading.

So I say to those that claim that their hands are tied when it comes to take-out refuse (and quickly pass the blame on to their clientèle) Holland doesn't need any more windmill to be tilted at but sweet mother molson, do our streets need more people cleaning them. Whether this comes in the form of environmental tax on those most guilty of this practice of garbage marketing (we all know someone who upon seeing a discarded container, quickly went to satiate their craving at the closest store) or these companies taking some initiative to provide a cleaning up of the garbage they helped create.

While this may seem like another Litter Guy whine-athon, there is some urgency to what I say, as a guy who bares witness to the filth we trudge through on our streets on a daily basis. This practice of exposing your colourfully packaged product through litter is on the increase and will continue so as the smaller companies copy this form of garbage marketing in the form of easily scattered company logos on colourful cards that are so numerous they inevitably have the effect of that annoying T.V. or radio jingle at a much cheaper price to their company. But believe me when I say there is a cost to be had and unless we demand some sort of accountability, it will be future generations that pay that steep price.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Deus Impeditio Esuritori Nullus

"Deus Impeditio Esuritori Nullus" is a Latin phrase that's rattled around my noggin' for quite some time now. It' translates to "No God Can Stop a Hungry Man".
While this seemingly simple saying is packed with many truths only by taking a different perspective on the quote, and wondering if a hungry man should stop for god. Do we find that things are only as simple or complex as we choose them to be.

This leads me to my topic at hand, panhandling.

A practice as old as money itself is one of those things that deserves to be looked at through eyes that are not your own.
While on the surface, my work as the Litter Guy may come across as a hard-line stance against those that panhandle, by being someone who is doing something for his money as opposed to those who are presumed to be doing nothing.
I know this as fact by the response from some people that donate to my cause as well as some panhandlers themselves.

This thing about panhandling that seems to be missed by most of the populace is that it is one of the most mentally degrading jobs there is.
I know I know, hold on a sec, you're thinking it's a job? Please! That's the point of panhandlers, they don't have a job to go to.
Well, back to my point of perspective, give this one a whirl.
In a time of absolute intolerance of discrimination, i.e. sexism, racism, etc., It is however not entirely socially unacceptable to be a classist.
You have people like AM640's Craig Bromell literately calling Toronto's poor, human trash, everyday panhandlers are berated in many ways due to their current status in life. By being called a bum, leech, loser, burden on society to the point of extremes, such as mayor wanna be Jane Pitfield's desire to round them all up and throw them in the hoosegow.

Whether these demeaning acts are the result of some humans nature that by having someone worse off than you makes one feel that, well at least my life isn't as bad as that persons and therefore feeling elevated with their own lot in life is dependent on each individuals personality.

About the point on whether panhandling can be considered a job, if you consider a job is the simplest of terms, it's basically payment for a service rendered.
Those doing the paying are the bosses, those accepting the payment are employees. So picture this scenario, that probably occurs with some frequency in Toronto.

Joe Blow driving home from work, not in the best of moods due to everything from frustrations of traffic to the fact that the 1st period of the Leafs game has been missed, come up to an intersection at a red-light and sees a dishevelled person, spotting a cardboard sign that read, "NEED FOOD".

Said driver already in quite a pissy mood, that he/she would have taken home to the spouse and kids. Rolls down the window and proceeds to hurl all manner of obscenities at a person already struggling at their current lot in life. The Driver when the light turns green accelerates home feeling better at having vented the days frustrations, by elevating themselves and putting another down.
The anger was released and therefore not taken home, unfortunately more often than not, the driver remains ignorant of damage left behind in its wake.
The panhandler meanwhile feels worse about an already bad situation and didn't even receive a dime for this service rendered. While another car might come by and give a buck with more pleasant results. There's not many folks out there who would take such abuse from the person signing their paychecks.

Personally I couldn't handle such daily abuses that continue to be deemed socially acceptable and it's one of the reasons I became Mark The Litter Guy.