Recently, Ted told me a cleanup was necessary at 9th and Carlisle. I went and had a look for myself to get a better idea of conditions. I was speechless, as I had been there before.
This site in Saginaw is a perfect storm for illegal dumping. Set up against a remote section of the railway, and without homes directly nearby on either block, it is also shrouded in part by trees. We have been here before, several times. Now, there are hidden cameras up and more coming around this neighborhood. Thanks to volunteers from Dow, the community, and Waste Management, we will be tackling this site again on October 6.
I get discouraged. I think it is only natural.
Sometimes I think about a new line of work if I am honest. This was one of those moments. It is inspiring to capture our team and our community’s spirit, guts, and determination when we clean up a site like this. It is equally shattering to find it so disrespected the next season. It takes a toll on all of us.
But after the better part of a decade at the SBLC, and after five years of this sort of work added to our conservation, restoration, and land protection disciplines, I am still here. So are you, our community of supporters, and I am not going anywhere.
We are winning the war on blight in many areas, I believe. We have cleaned up way over 1,000 lots, nearly 1,500. We have seen repeat dumping slow and stop in many parts of Saginaw in which we have worked. We have slowed the progress of invasive species and overgrown weeds. We have planted millions of wildflowers. It may not be a perfect solution, but we see results, slowly but surely.
So yes, I get discouraged. I hear people push back on us that the vacant lot work in Saginaw is too far afield for a conservation non-profit. I understand. We have not stopped all those deep ecology, conservation-based, traditional, and powerful practices, though, We still protect 6,000 acres with more on the way. We still fight invasives and restore habitat. We still get kids outside at every turn. But we can not turn a blind eye to the most vulnerable communities in our region, and we are a safety net for land use problems throughout the Saginaw Bay Watershed.
We won’t give up, and we won’t let discouragement beat us. Thank you for your trust in the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy.
With hope for our community and an open heart,