I had planned to attend at least 5 of the listed ICC, ideally in the 5 different boroughs. This involved some logistical effort, and although I did arrive at a suitable plan I ultimately failed in my goal. One of the major stumbling blocks I ran into was that many of the cleanups were organized by and for school groups. This includes the following cleanups that I had inquired about attending:
Broad Channel Park (Queens) 9/28
North Channel Bridge (Queens) 9/30
Whitestone: Francis Lewis Park (Queens) 10/3
Knapp Street (Brookyln) 10/5
The basic response to all inquiries was simply that the cleanup was for a classroom, not the general public. While at least one teacher acknowledged that they were going to a public beach and I was free to clean simultaneously, one group leader was a bit more blunt, The school is only allowing authorized chaperons to attend, sorry. I do understand liability issues exist when bringing schoolchildren into a public arena, and schools do not want some random guy lurking around for a classroom event, and I do not want to be that guy either, but this was all a bit disheartening. When listed on the NYC ICC site, it was not specified which, if any, of the cleanups were organized by teachers and thus only open to their students. It just seemed like false advertising. Moreover, while I am not opposed to including children in such efforts, why not focus similar efforts to involve adults? After all they are the ones actually responsible for buying and littering much of the mess to begin with.
Classroom document from Plumb Beach (Brooklyn) cleanup
Through my entire experience the theme of responsibility was most prominent. Who is responsible for so much pollution? Is it the companies that create it, or the people that use it? Is litter a result of the irresponsible? Who is responsible for cleaning it all? What is the responsibility of organizers to their events? Are annual cleanup events promoting responsibility? What is responsible about picking up the garbage of others? Is responsibility inherit, or is responsibility a response?