New Albany Renewal

New Albany Renewal is intended to serve as a repository for ideas relevant to preserving and restoring historic buildings, cleaning up neighboorhoods, revitalizing downtown, and improving the quality of life in New Albany, Indiana.

Location: New Albany, Indiana

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Crusade to Clean Up

I recently read From the Bottowm Up: One Man's Crusade to Clean America's Rivers. This book by Chad Pregracke is the story of how he started the Living Lands and Waters organization which has a mission to clean up the Mississippi and other rivers, including the Ohio River.

This is an inspiring story that shows how much impact one person can have. Pregracke was sick of the trash the littered the Mississippi River and after realizing that no one was doing a thing about it decided to take action. When his first attempt to raise money to fund a clean-up organization didn't work out, he decided to just start cleaning up the trash himself. In 9 years the organization has grown from one man and a small boat, into a fleet of barges and workboats with a paid staff and thousands of volunteers.

The book includes the following tips:

Start Your Own Crusade: 13 Tips

1. Get involved with your cause, and not just by joining but by becoming active. Serve on a committtee, help with fund-raising, coordinate an event, do whatever you can--but do something.

2. Work with what you have at the time.

3. If you start with nothing but an idea, then there's nothing to lose. What have you really lost by making a phone call isfsomeone says no?

4. Don't expect anything from anybody--you'll just set yourself up for disappointment and despair.

5. Set high goals but realize that the bigger the goal, the more persistence, dedication, focus, and sacrifice it will take to achieve it. Big goals are accomplished only by taking small steps, and it starts with a single, small action.

6. Work as hard as you can every day and know that you can only do so much. As long as you've worked as hard as you can, then that's all you can do.

7. Plant trees. Lots of trees.

8. Your greatest weaknesses could be your biggest asset. It depends on how you look at it.

9. It's who you know, yes, but it's also who you don't know, yet.

10. Pick your battles and try to stay focused, because there are so many different problems that you could easily become distracted.

11. Don't expect the governmnet to take care of something. We are the government.

12. If you're just starting out and someone tells you to have your people call their people, say, "Okay, my mom will call tomorrow."

13. Don't forget to water your trees.

Developing Your Vision

Do you desire change in your community? Have you decided that in order for change to happen you will need to help make it happen? If you answered yes, the following is for you:

A Vision for Change
Create a vision for change by focusing on community needs.

In order to help you focus on what your vision might include, consider answering these questions:

What are the top five needs in my community?
o How do I know that this statement is true?
o Why do these needs exist?
o What project can be done to address the root causes of these needs?
o Where do I fit in to address these causes?
o What will the community look like after the project is completed?
o What will be the long-term effects of the project on the community?

These helpful guidelines for creating a vision for change are from the Girl Scout Gold Award. High school age girls earn the highest award in Girl Scouting by creating a vision for change and then developing and implementing a service project that addresses the community need they have identified. They must invest at least 50 hours in the project.

I have had the pleasure of working with many of the girls in our area who have earned Gold Awards in the past few years. It is amazing how much leadership these girls show and what an impact the projects have. Many of the adults who I have worked with on community projects don't have the kind of vision and leadership skills these girls possess.