At the beginning of April, CMN’s High School Sustainability Leadership Cohort and the Community Environmental Scholars Program (CESP) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison met to discuss ideas for a service learning project. The CESP facilitated short sessions in which they focused on getting to know the students and the communities they came from.
Group discussions were held to determine needs within the Menominee community. CESP members narrowed the students’ main concerns to two topics; composting the food waste locally or picking up trash to make a symbolic representation of our efforts. The Trash Titan project was unanimously chosen. The two groups planned and carried out a community clean-up in Keshena on Saturday, April 16th 2016.
Below are two accounts of the project development and implementation from the SDI POSOH interns JayCee Tourtillott and Kasey Paiser.
Written by: JayCee Tourtillott
The area chosen for pick-up was along Long Lake Rd. We started at the boat landing and ended at Mallard Bay Ln., about a mile and a half was covered.
Before we began a prayer was said by my uncle Lyle Kreier, Vietnam Veteran. My Auntie and Uncle have lived on Legend Lake since the reconstruction of what it has become today. He brought a map to share that showed each lake before they were merged together. Also he brought along a picture that showed very little water in the lake, he had another one that he could not find that actually showed a bulldozer in the middle of the lake. The cultural knowledge provided was very inspirational and it was nice to share the uniqueness of the Menominee Tribe.
While picking up trash we tried to separate recyclables, as well as keep the interesting things we wanted to build TT with aside. It did not go as smooth as we had planned but nonetheless, it was a huge success. We got a big truckload full of waste, recyclables and “supplies” to help us build TT. Everybody contributed and worked very well together. It was astonishing how much trash we picked up in such a short distance.
Following the trash pick-up we went to the Sturgeon Feast at the high school. Everyone got to enjoy some down time and a feast was provided. When we left there immediately we went to the trash site on campus to separate our findings. It was pretty disgusting, we dug through each bag for what we wanted to use and separated recyclables.
CESP brought a chicken wire fence frame and some hot glue guns. First the head frame was made and covered with inside out chip bags. We split into two working areas; one for building the body parts and the other for gluing everything on. We planned on gluing various things to the wire but it did not seem to work very well so we just did the head that way. Then we found it was easier to just fill the body, arms and legs with trash.
From random trash selection to trying multiple ideas to get TT to stand, let’s just say the evening was very eventful. The day started at noon and ended at ten thirty in the evening. Due to our dedication and determination this project was made possible. Thank you all who contributed it meant a lot to share cultural knowledge and building friendships while sharing the love for the environment.
Written by: Kasey Paiser
The students and mentors had cleaned up trash for nearly two miles that day. Afterward they came back to the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) at College of Menominee Nation to build what they called the Trash Titan (TT). TT was made of just a small portion of the trash that was picked up by the students, and was displayed in down town Keshena. After TT was finished the students and mentors talked about the experience and what they found most of. They agreed that the object they found most of was beer cans and bottles, along with paper products.
Diana Macias a mentor from CESP had emailed this to the SLC in appreciation of working with our group. “This past weekend was such a beautiful experience. Thank you to everyone for their individual contributions and commitment to make this project happen. Ihulpachakatl (CESP mentor) said it best when she shared how honored she was to work with the SLC and how impress she was when the students took leadership of the project. To be called by some of the SLC members’ friends and to be asked if we can meet up again later in the summer meant everything. There was a few times during the day when I was ready to stop but I would see how hard every kid was working and I’d jump right up and stand next to him or her. To be introduced to family and asked about my goals and interest made me realize how mentorship works both ways. We both reinforce each other by telling our stories to one and another. I did not expect to become so invested in their future decisions that it almost feels weird that we may never interact again. I hope this is not true. Needless to say this weekend served as an important reminder of the significance of working with youth. Something I had forgotten along my college career at UW-Madison.”
This was my first time working with the SLC students, and mentors. My first impression of these students and mentors is how dedicated, hardworking, and welcoming they all were. This group of kids is very inspirational, and like Diana said so well that mentorship goes both ways. There was a few times during this project that I just wanted to sit down and rest, but then I would look around me and see everyone else working so hard to do something for this community. Whether they were from this area or not they worked so hard to clean up the area, and to do it as a group. This first time made me even more excited to be working with them during my summer internship, and how much I was going to learn from them and the other mentors.
I learned that cleaning up almost two miles of highway was a big impact on the students, mentors, and community members. There was a few community members that waved, gave us thumbs up, and one even stopped by the students to thank them for what we were doing. I also learned how blind I use to be to all the trash on the ground around the communities I have lived in. Now as I drive or walk that’s all I can see. Due to this I have recommended to my little brother to get a community clean up going in Pulaski.
The SLC would also like to give a special thanks to Lyle Kreier for coming and talking to the group and give a prayer before the group dispersed to clean up garbage.