Jim Taulman’s two Fall semester People and the Environment classes from Porcupine and Kyle joined forces on October 5, 2002 to clean up an unsightly garbage dump site on the prairie northwest of Kyle near the Badlands National Park.
The site at the beginning of the day
We saw this project as one small way to demonstrate our respect for the earth and our connection to her. We are not responsible for the actions of others, only ourselves. This course examines many global environmental problems and we sometimes tend to feel helpless to influence large issues like global forest destruction and depletion of nonrenewable resources. However, I try to emphasize that we do have the ability to exert a strong positive influence in our local communities.
Participating in this effort were Francine Running Shield, Gerard Janis, Brett Hopkins, and Corey Yellow Boy. Corey’s daughter Sierra also helped and had a great time. Mike, the manager of Common Cents at Sharp’s Corner graciously supported this project by donating gloves for all of us.
Gerard, Sierra, Corey, and Brett (Francine had to leave before I got the photo)
We were blessed with fine weather and got plenty of exercise, starting work about 9 am. Several folks had other commitments and had to leave around 1 pm, but by then we had filled over 60 large trash bags. We collected 15 bags of aluminum cans alone (175 pounds); Budweiser seemed to be the drink of choice of the people who had been using this site as their personal landfill. We also bagged tin cans, glass, and plastic containers that I turned in for recycling in Rapid City. Other trash we bagged and took to the Kyle sanitary landfill.
Trash on the trailer ready to go to the dump
and recyclable items bagged for later pickup
As we left the site we knew that we six had accomplished a lot, though a lot of trash still remains. Who knows, with more helpers we might have been able to completely restore the site to the clean prairie it once was. We all enjoyed working together, and putting in practice the attitude that it is not enough to simply do no harm to our environment, we need to try to put back more than we take, to undo damage already done.