Friday, October 06, 2006

Food for my Mind

Every Friday afternoon I look forward to reading Harry Blalock's Food for Thought and Ruth Tighe's On My Mind. They are both online commentaries about life in Saipan and almost every person on island reads them (or at least hears Harry reciting Food for Thought on the radio).

Don't get me wrong, there is a lot to complain about on Saipan (trust me on this), but sometimes the bitching and moaning gets old...especially when I've had a good week.

Maybe it is because I turned 28 this week (thanks for the Red Sox hat and shirt!) and maybe because I have plans to go out with friends all weekend, but I had a pretty good week.

I think it was a pretty good week for the CNMI, too.

We're getting rid of all the junk cars on island. Only yesterday the Lt. Governor signed an MOA with Balli Steel to spend the next two years shipping junk cars off island. Balli Steel is going to sell the metal from the cars, washing machines, and fridges to markets in Asia. To make the deal even sweeter, they're doing it at no cost to the government (there will be an in-kind cost, however). In fact, part of the contract states that Balli Steel will pay $5 to the Beautification Task Force (whatever the hell that is, we're Beautify CNMI!) for every ton of scrap metal they sell.

I think that's pretty good news.

We also just kicked off Beautify CNMI!'s Anti-Litter Education Month. We are going to spend the entire month cleaning the island and educating the public about the reasons for not littering (it is UGLY, EXPENSIVE, AND ILLEGAL!)

There's a lot going on during Anti-Litter Education Month. We're restarting the DEQ Adopt-a-Beach and MVA Adopt-a-Road programs, we're identifying areas in need of beautification with a CNMI wide eyesore photo contest, and we're planning for a CNMI wide cleanup (or Destination Enhancement Day) on October 20. We're calling the event "1020 on 10/20," the kitsch being that we'll recruit 1020 volunteers on 10/20 to pick up trash, plant trees, paint over graffiti, and generally beautify our islands.

October will lead into Zero Tolerance Month, where the 20 newly certified anti-litter enforcement officers will be issuing citations to litter bugs. The MINIMUM fine is $200. Strong incentive for not flicking that cigarette butt on the ground, huh?

This is on top of our weekly beach cleanups, tree plantings, recycling activities, and other community events. We add new volunteers and new groups every week. Tomorrow morning we are going to be joined by the LEEP program at the DEQ Cleanup Brigade event at Makaka Beach. It is their first time volunteering with us. I'm hoping that they volunteer with us every weekend from now on.

I don't want to knock Harry or Ruth, I really respect them and always look forward to hearing and reading what they have to say. They talk about things that a lot of people on island are afraid to mention. They provide a priceless service.

I just had a great week. I wanted to share that with everybody.

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