posted by Geo Friend-Lee on January 2, 2016
I am happy to join you today in what will go down in history,
As one of the greatest representations of the 3 million people in our borough,
I come to you from the cultural capital of the world,
the birthplace of the Brooklyn Dodgers, the home of the Brooklyn Nets,
With millions of annual visitors, we live in the most populous borough in the Big Apple,
And the second most densely populated county in the United States.
More than 5 score years ago the DSNY was founded as the department of street cleaning,
this gave birth to the greatest, strongest and hardest working
sanitation department that exists today.
They have gotten us through hurricanes and storms, tornadoes and blackouts,
we cannot ask any more from them, but we must ask more from ourselves.
It is 100 years later and we are still considered the dirtiest major city in the country.
But there is something I must say to my fellow Brooklynites.
It is we who hold the master key to unlock the doors into a cleaner city.
Not the DSNY, not 311, it is us.
It will be fatal if we overlooked the urgency of the moment,
I refuse to believe that we have fallen victim to the status quo and are not open to new methods, new ideas and new solutions to create a cleaner New York,
I refuse to believe that the people do not care.
I refuse to believe that the people do not care about this brutal disease,
A disease with many similarities to diabetes, asthma, cancer, and other chronic diseases,
A disease that has spread throughout our entire bodies, covering it with acne, damaging the health and beauty of our city
A disease so deep within our subconscious that we fail to even realize the effect it has on education, after school programs, youth jobs, and many other key aspects to our future prosperity,
The Littering Disease,
Yea, there are some people who will say “When will you be satisfied?
we have come a long way from my day”,
To those I say,
With rent so high, and litter piles to the sky, are we really gentrified?
Can it even be justified?
We must never be satisfied,
satisfaction can never be guaranteed, unless it comes with a lifetime warranty,
So even though today, we reap the benefits of yesterday,
I ask, why not push for a better tomorrow,
before our warranty expires?
This is why I have a Vision,
I have a vision where the streets of Brooklyn reflect the hard working and environmentally caring people who helped keep this borough alive,
It is a vision deeply rooted in the core of The Big Apple.
That one day we will rise up and live out the true meaning of “Kings County”.
The county of leaders,
We will be proud enough to look out of the windows of our apartments and just smile,
at the true beauty of Brooklyn,
The cleanest county in the country.
And this will inspire all New Yorkers to hold each other accountable for making sure that we rid ourselves of being known as “the city that never sweeps”.
We will bond together to ensure that the cleanliness of all boroughs, neighborhoods and blocks are treated equal,
and litter baskets are equally spread across the city,
I have a vision where there are no more overflowing trash bins,
people care enough to hold their trash more than 12 steps, and we are no longer comfortably addicted to the status quo, oh no!
I have a vision,
Where every block and every corner has a youth worker dedicated to keeping it clean,
Let it be clean, from Staten Island to Coney Island,
Let it be clean from Bronxville to Brownsville and Kew Gardens to Carroll Gardens,
Let it be clean from Castle Hill to Chinatown, let there be no litter left on the ground in our town.
I have a vision today,
And it’s not until this vision comes true that we can hold our heads high with New York Pride.
And when this happens we will look back at Brooklyn on this day and say,
“You have earned your crown”,
New York City will once again prove itself to be the diverse land of opportunity, where all dreams and visions can become a reality.
And this may not be in my lifetime, but when it happens all 8 million people will stand up with their “I Heart NY” t-shirts on and be proud to scream out loud,
“Clean at last, Clean at last, thank god almighty we are Clean at last!!”
Geo Friend-Lee Environmentalist/Journalist/Poet/Educator/Social Entrepreneur.