The lovely white carpet is all but melted. What’s left is the muddier side of our community conscience.
Back in the olden days when life was much crueler to the living, it was common practice to treat common areas as common dumping grounds.
The trash pile started on the lake as soon as the ice could bear the strain. People added to the pile all winter; in the spring, the trash was “gone.” Out of sight, out of mind.
Many lakeshore industries operated with a similar mindset; Traverse City’s highly industrialized waterfront companies used both the bay, and lots where the Open Space currently stands, as dump sites. Back then, the solution to pollution was dilution.
Woodland creatures scamper among dumped appliances and trash in the public forest; the lakeshore, too, has seen its share of litter.
In 2017, a swath of chunky broken glass was found along Good Harbor Beach.
On Tuesday, another glass carpet was found, several hundred yards long near the same locale.
Park staff called it “deliberate,” “malicious” and “mean-spirited.”
We agree. No matter the glass’ origin — a hefty wine bottle stash, raw materials for the beach glass industry — someone threw them either in the lake or on the beach.
Feeling warm sand on your feet is bliss; picking glass shards out of you and your kids’ feet (or your dogs’ paws), not so much.
This time of year the out-of-sight, out-of-mind-set comes home to roost.
A trail walk through The Commons is a dog poop minefield. Plump plastic bags of trash appear where they shouldn’t be. Vast amount of cigarette butts proclaim the world is an ashtray. Evidence may point to conscientiousness elsewhere — organic juice boxes, runners goo — and yet do-gooder trash is there among the rest.
Many complain, but few of us act. Even worse, there’s an idea of “them, not me-ishness” about it, as vocal complainers about dog poop forget their clean-up bags, and their only reaction to their dog squatting is to look around to see if anyone is looking back.
We are better than that. There are times that shows.
Back in the olden days, a bond to create a city park failed, so downtown businesses supplied people, 37 small trucks, two tractors, two steam cranes, and a flotilla of 12 boats to remove the mud, stones, debris, and concrete slabs from the bay. Historian Richard Fidler tells us that beans fueled the labor — 42 pans of them prepared by the Women’s Club.
These days, we rely heavily on “Adopt-A” programs and volunteer labor to clean up public messes.
Other agencies, like Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, Oleson Foundation and Rotary Charities have done much to improve public spaces.
But clean-ups start with messes left by the anonymous masses.
We can do our part by not being one of them, and reporting those that leave messes for us to deal with.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is looking for information about the glass breakage on Good Harbor Beach. If you know anything about it, please call Leelanau District Ranger Andy Blake at 231-326-4805 or email email@example.com.