On the morning after the July fireworks in The Beaches, where I live, I set out to walk dog walk. What I saw when I arrived was heartbreaking. An overwhelming site of discarded and disregarded garbage filled the beach. Everything from diapers to plastic straws, cigarette butts, to-go food and drink containers, liquor bottles and more.
I am a visual storyteller, a writer and an artist and been creating a "30 Days of" social media project for some time. They are always inspired by something I’ve witnessed or experienced relating to a darkness in the world. They are my way of bringing light and awareness through art and story.
As I stood on the beach that morning amidst the scattered waste, I knew I needed to do something. I decided to commit to picking up beach garbage every day for 30 days and share the visual stories online. That was Day 1 of 30 Days of Our Earth, and that morning I filled and refilled seven bags before I forced myself to move on.
I wanted these daily posts to be inspiring and positive. With a focus on garbage and a hard look at the evidence of the disrespect for our land, how could I draw people in rather than shut them out?
I brought a small figurine into my photos and crowned her Earth Warrior. Her tiny body posed with the garbage showed a perspective of the seemingly insurmountable size of the project and its subject, and at the same time she perfectly illustrated the belief that one “small” person doing their part each day does matter.
30 Days of Our Earth connected many people to each other though Instagram, Facebook and word of mouth. People shared that they were now inspired to carry a bag and pick up garbage on their walks. Yes, some responded to my posts with blame and anger and, while I understood their frustration, I was committed to focusing on the good that could come.
This was a challenging project. By Day 3, the weight of the beach garbage left me questioning how I could possibly positively sustain these 30 days. Yet I did. I thought of the city workers and that this as their job, day in and day out and wondered how they stay positive. I thought about the people who left their garbage and how disconnected they must be from themselves to act in such a way.
So, how can we come together? How can we wake up and take care of our earth, including our one small beach? How can we move from blame to inspiration and action as a community? I live with these questions and I remain hopeful, engaging in conversation with others, continuing to pick up what I can, and seeing others also picking up garbage.
Jenn Forgie is an artist, writer, playwright and actor. She is passionate about creativity, community and belonging. She creates her 30 Days of ___ social media projects to inspire awareness and positive connection with others, near and far.
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Email jennforgie [@] gmail.com