Between the Lines

Between the Lines by David Lias It's been impossible to not have the importance of a clean environment brought to our attention in recent weeks.

The entire state watched with eager anticipation last week as Gov. William Janklow grappled with what we'll simply dub as the Adopt-A-Highway controversy, which had been brewing for most of this month.

The Sioux Empire Gay and Lesbian Coalition wanted to adopt a portion of Highway 38 near Sioux Falls and pick up trash in its ditches.

Such a request would mean the coalition's name would go up on a roadside sign that all of us have grown familiar with by now.

The state Department of Transportation said no, claiming the coalition is an advocacy group.

The coalition responded with a lawsuit.

Janklow, who threatened to end the Adopt-A-Highway program rather than put the state at risk of further civil action, decided a compromise would be the best solution.

He announced last Friday that the coalition will have its name on a sign for the rest of this year. But in 2002, all of the Adopt-A-Highway signs will come down.

We aren't going to argue the merits of this decision here. There probably isn't enough space on this page to present a thorough commentary from those who agree with Janklow's decision, those who agree with the coalition's position, and those who think the whole controversy was just one big mess.

This is a proper time, however, to reflect on how we treat the world around us, and more importantly, what specifically motivates us.

That large, round forehead we all possess means we've all been blessed with a large brain and superior intelligence. Unfortunately, plain old common sense appears can be lacking at times.

Many of the simplest of the creatures around us have us at an advantage. They've been programmed by nature to methodically keep their nests, dens, burrows � in other words, their homes and surroundings � clean.

They don't need to be motivated by promotional signs. They instinctively know that to survive, they and their environment must remain clean.

From time to time, we've pointed out that the best way a community like Vermillion can survive is to put on its best face.

It's a credo that members of Vermillion Beautiful, Inc. have lived by. Vermillion Beautiful, with cooperation from the city and countless volunteers, has helped organize Operation Pride the past two years.

Operation Pride has moved tons of trash and junk from within the city limits to the landfill.

Vermillion Beautiful, Inc. has planted 75 trees and 7,000 flowering annuals in the city in the past three years, thanks, in part, to a small grant from the city.

Vermillion Beautiful President Judy Clark knows, however, that more can be done.

She talks of the "broken window" syndrome which indicates that when a community appears not to care (by tolerating broken windows, trash and graffiti) then those visiting or using the community don't care, either.

Clark also revealed an interesting trait we humans seem to share (remember, we're the "smart" animals on the planet). Psychologists, she told the Vermillion City Council Monday, have observed that it's the first piece of trash that's hard to discard on a pristine street. After that, it's easy to litter. But a clean street stays clean.

That's why Vermillion Beautiful, Inc. is initiating a new campaign in the community called "Pick One."

Vermillion Beautiful is encouraging the city's residents to "pick one" piece of trash or weed as during their routine walks in the community.

The "pickers" won't get their names posted on a sign.

They won't be compelled by a lawsuit or city code to take this action.

"Pick One" is strictly a volunteer cleanup effort.

It's also a positive approach to help make Vermillion a better place to live.

We applaud this idea. It means that slowly, but surely, the litter in the city will end up where it belongs � in the trash.

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>