The Everglades National Park
FIU IDH 4007

Trashy Images?

Sarah Hays
IDH 4007
Spring Semester 2007

   Alan O'Dowd, better known as the singer Boy George, was ordered to complete 5 days of community service in August of 2006. The punishment was to be trash pickup. The media went wild, and Boy George petitioned to spend the time helping teenagers make a public service announcement, hold a fashion or makeup workshop, serve as a DJ at an HIV/AIDS benefit, or do telephone outreach. The judge did not acquiesce and added, "It's up to you whether you make it an exercise in humiliation or in humility." Boy George, along with numerous photographers, hit the streets of New York. The images weren't pretty, as there were harsh words and scowls. An iconic trophy of the 80's was picking up trash.

   When perusing the video images taken the day that our class was armed with bags and gloves picking up trash, I find no harsh words and no scowls. On the contrary, you find cooperation, laughter, smiles and volunteers! Yes, there were those who came voluntarily, and when I asked one volunteer why he had come, he answered simply that he thought it was a good idea. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but there must be an explanation for all the good humor that is found in the images. Was it the scenery? Was it the fresh air? I don't think so. I sensed more positive interaction that day than other days we have collectively spent in the Everglades. I believe that we are becoming more aware of the park's importance and fragility, and therefore we were all motivated to actively make a difference. I say this also because studies show that knowledge of wetland issues is a strong influence in conservation behavior (Syme et al).

This supports the quote in our Everglades Handbook:

In the End, we conserve only what we love.
We love only what we understand.
We understand only what we are taught.

Baba Dioum

   The video shows me that we are learning, and beginning to understand and love the Everglades. The images show me that picking up trash was not an exercise in humiliation or humility, but an exercise in pride. To us that day, the trash we disposed of was our trophy.

Reference

Syme, G. J., Beven, C. E., & Sumner, N. R. (1993). Motivation for reported involvement in local wetland preservation: The roles of knowledge, disposition, problem assessment, and arousal. Environment and Behavior, 25(5), 586-606. Retrieved January 30, 2007, from PsycINFO database.

   
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