Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sex, SOLV and civic pride

Combing Barbur Boulevard’s shoulders for litter this morning as a SOLV volunteer (Quick, what does SOLV stand for?) was a not an unpleasant experience.

Note the inescapable nuancing.

Sure, I find it annoying that motorists still use the Great Outdoors as a trash receptacle. I mean, who are these people?

Well, smokers for one. At times my litter picking was a kind of cigarette butt-a-thon.

A certain litter-collecting detachment is called for at times like this. Trying to think well of these smoking litter-bugs, the best I could come up with was, “Good luck with the chemo.”

The other major littering group are fast food and soft drink patrons. Smashed cans and wrappings from McDonald’s and Subway are their tossed leavings.

Reaching for the scraps with my arm extending litter “grabber,” stuffing the waste into my SOLV bag, I also reached for more detachment, warding off junk-food thoughts of diabetes and clogged arteries,

(Still working on SOLV? Frankly I can’t think of it myself. Something to do with Volunteers, Oregon, Litter and … what?….Super? Solution? Staunchly? Stamp-out? AHHH. Stamp-out Oregon Litter, Volunteers? Oh, never mind….Back to the trash….)

Sometimes the clean-up uncovers trash of distinction, but nothing interesting surfaced this time.

Instead I retrieved:

The inevitable walnut-sized chunks of Styrofoam. Trust me, the last human creation on the planet, eons from now, will be such a moldering chunk.

Shredded plastic bags, a few mossy bottles, creased and discolored candy wrappers, most notably from Reese’s Pieces (ET go home!) and Snickers.

Some worn and discolored sheet metal and strands of banding. Ugly but probably valuable.

Cast-off hub caps, but plastic, cheap and shattered. Ah, for one of those shiny '50s VW disks.

Nothing to seize the imagination.

Once on one of these litter-gathering outings I found a pristine pair of stiletto high-heels along the much littered Multnomah Boulevard I-5 off ramp.

“Whoa!” I thought as I gripped my grabber more tightly and launched into a sex-filled fantasy laced with booze, flirtatious taunts and even noir-ish homocide.

Could such imaginings be the reason I volunteer for SOLV (Still working on it?). Or is it the nose-to-the-ground concentration, the vague reflections on chance and trash. The finicky sordidness of it all as the traffic whooshes past.

It could be simpler than that. After a couple hours’ work with two or three friends, Barbur Boulevard or Capitol Highway or the Multnomah I-5 off-ramp does look measurably better to us and to thousands of motorists.

The reward is civic satisfaction.

Anything beyond that is just so much Styrofoam frosting — or stilettos shoes.

Oh, and looking up what SOLV stands for on the SOLV web site, I find….absolutely NOTHING! They don’t know what it means either! Or, if they know, they aren’t telling, like some kind of secret handshake.

For the rest of us, SOLV is a contrivance or a state of mind (see above).

If you want to pursue the SOLV name business, fine. Let me know what your find out. I’m going to take a well-deserved nap.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Rick,

The SOLV acronym has been confusing for a lot of folk. The acronym originally stood for Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism, the name of the organization when it was founded in 1969 by Gov. Tom McCall to address litter and vandalism problems. Since then SOLV's mission has expanded to reach every county in the state and to bring together government agencies, businesses and individuals in programs and projects to enhance the livability of Oregon. Because of this expansion SOLV no longer calls itself "Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism" and has adopted the acronym, SOLV, as its official name.

There isn't a true explanation of this on the website - but a good recommendation. But it is on the bottom of every new release that goes out.

Hope this helps!

11:10 AM  

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