Making A Difference

// Puyallup Tribe leads the way to cleaner neighborhoods

Tacoma’s official spiffing season ends Oct. 27 with a free Puyallup Tribal community clean. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on that day, members of the Native American community of the Puyallup Reservation are welcome to toss as much stuff as they please into rubbish containers in the parking lot behind the tribal administration building at 3009 E. Portland Ave. “Please bring your Tribal ID,” said David Whited, a planner with Puyallup Tribe, who added a warning. “We have only a limited number of containers. When they are full, we will not accept any more stuff. You’ll have to bring it to the next one!” Whited does, indeed, communicate with exclamation points when he talks clean-ups. He is part of the team that, with the City of Tacoma, cleared landslides of garbage out of the old ‘T’ Street Gulch. Cleaned, and on its way to restoration, the gulch goes by First Creek now, a translation of its original Puyallup name.

He and the tribe have built a partnership with First Creek Neighbors, who are on the long journey to restore the watershed. They have worked with tribal and Tacoma police to cut crime and boost pride in the area. They have built gardens together, and they celebrate their successes with potlucks and picnics. Saturday, they will follow the City of Tacoma’s model for rooting out blight. “Tires, electronics, refrigerators, appliances, furniture and junk are all okay!” Whited said. Note the exclamation mark and imagine, as Whited does, a city where none of that stuff hides out under blackberries, in alleys or, worse, yards. There are limits. The clean-up cannot take paint, business items, dead animals, riding mowers, vehicles or their parts. It is not the place for riding mowers, household garbage or roofing. It will not make room for the vegetation or hazardous waste that Tacoma utilities customers can drop at the landfill for free.

Citywide, the Safe and Clean program through Community Based Services has made a difference best illustrated in elephants. The 14 neighborhood clean-ups in 2011 and the 18 in 2012 have rid Tacoma of 925 tons of trash, including 7,387 tires and 73 tons of metal that was recycled. Imagine 310 elephants marching out of neighborhoods, and you have the weight of the waste. Imagine 5,064 people pitching in, literally, and you have the scope of the program’s popularity, and the reason that, though the city is cutting budgets, it is still planning 16 clean-ups for 2013.

We will mark their progress with Pothole Pig’s new colleagues, The Outta Here Elephants. From Chitwan Royal National Park in Nepal, Enid and Eleanor are Asian females, which weigh an average of 6,000 pounds. Enid is the one who is into bling. Together, they will track the success of each community clean-up in 2013. For each elephant running with our stories about the events, you will know Tacomans sent three tons of junk outta here. Busy as they will be, Enid and Eleanor have volunteered for another mission. They intend to encourage Pothole Pig to get a first name.

When: Sat., Oct. 27, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Puyallup Tribal Administration Building parking lot, 3009 E. Portland Ave.

Information or help: Call Nadine Dillon at (253) 573-7892.

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