Friday, March 4, 2005
In early December I wrote an editorial titled "Taking time out," which was inspired by an article I had read about the town of Ridgewood, New Jersey, where community leaders were urging families to slow down and enjoy time together and emphasize to their children the importance of having fun, instead of always trying to be the best. Now community leaders nationwide are expressing similar concerns. Harried families and over-scheduled children have no time to just relax and enjoy being together.
Here in Concord and Carlisle, the Concord-Carlisle Parent Initiative (CCPI), a group of parent volunteers from each of the schools in Concord and Carlisle who have been meeting monthly for the past several years, is launching a month-long campaign called March Unmadness to encourage parents and kids to pause and focus on relaxing and reconnecting with each other. It is the goal of the committee that all residents, not just parents and children, take up the call of the three Rs — Relax, Reconnect and Rejuvenate.
The March Unmadness initiative is just one of CCPI's educational programs to focus on health promotion and the prevention of risk-taking behavior by our youth. Mary Cheever, Carlisle's representative for both the Carlisle School and CCHS, reports that the group has been working on this campaign for over a year. "One of our concerns has been the alcohol problem at the high school and how to educate kids and help them resist the pressure to drink," said Cheever.
This month-long campaign in Carlisle is not a new idea for other towns in our area. Both Belmont and Bedford have embraced the ideas behind Ridgewood's citywide initiative, "Ready, Set, Relax!," and have offered ideas for events to be held in Carlisle. The campaign in Bedford is called "Being unplugged."
What March Unmadness is about is allowing children and adults to have time together where they can be supportive of one another, leading to healthier and happier individuals who are then better able to be contributing members of the community.
See the full March Madness Calendar at www.ccpi.info or posted at the
Our urban friends have a regular routine that we do not share. They carry their rubbish to the curb, where it is collected and carried off to someplace else. The ritual repeats once or twice a week.
Passing the minor detail that Carlisle has no curbs, we have no curbside rubbish collection.
That is all just as well, as my son is fond of pointing out. Simply put, there is no such place as someplace else.
Most of the rhapsodic references to Carlisle's transfer station appearing in this space have been of the swap shop — a magical place in which the most obscure objects appear and then, remarkably but invisibly, disappear. But let's consider the essential nature of the transfer station, beginning with its name.
It is tempting in a careless moment to refer to the transfer station as the town dump. Some towns actually have a dump, but in eastern Massachusetts they are the rare exception. Most towns that do not provide collection services accept waste at a central collection facility and then transfer it to a landfill, or an incineration facility — "someplace else." But the landfill is destined to fill, and the incinerator ejects airborne emissions.
By carting our waste to the transfer station, we in Carlisle at least have a more direct awareness of the process of waste disposal than we would acquire merely from carrying it to the roadside. Perhaps more importantly, on our arrival at the transfer station we are met with a wide array of other transfer options. There are separate bins for newspaper and mixed paper. Beyond are the canisters for metal cans, for plastic milk cartons, and for mixed plastic. There is a barrel for waste oil, and a box for the donation of used clothing. A compactor for cardboard. And, of course, the swap shop.
When I consider the waste that leaves my house on a periodic basis, in fact, I am hard pressed to describe with any particularity which items could not go into one of the transfer station recycling bins. The lone exception, I suppose, is food waste, but that is the lifeblood of my compost bin. Yet for one reason or another, I always seem to have a barrel for the "household waste" compactor — the one receptacle for which the transfer ticket offers only a one-way trip.
That one-way trip has consequences I prefer not to think about. Because the waste goes someplace else, I am not forced to do so. But each ton of waste carted from that compactor adds to the town's expense, and adds incrementally to the trash that will inevitably, inexorably, fill one landfill, and then another.
Why don't I recycle everything I could? Simple laziness, most likely. It takes a bit more time to separate the waste at home before carting it to the transfer station, and a bit more time to visit each of the separate receptacles once I get there. But this pales in comparison to the time I save by having so many recycling options conveniently provided at one stop. Before moving to Carlisle I had to visit three separate locations, in three different towns, and even then could not achieve the full range of recycling options served up at our facility.
True to its name, everything that arrives at the transfer station is destined for transfer to someplace else. Whether that someplace else is the beginning of its return to utility, or just a fictional "someplace else" from which it will not return, depends simply on my willingness to invest a little more time and thought in the exercise.
© 2005 The