Last Saturday I went for my final August swim at Broughton Beach. Broughton Beach is on the Columbia River, right behind PDX. The swimming area is long enough for a few laps back and forth. It is a place on the Columbia River where I can feel safe from heavy boat traffic. The currents are relatively gentle, and the temperature in late summer is at its warmest, in the seventies. There are usually very few swimmers, and that is quite okay with me.
But on that Saturday I noticed something very different. When I came out of the water, I saw about 30 folks walking up and down the beach, bent over, obviously picking up trash. I know that Metro has workers who have the responsibility to pick up trash. I also know that Metro is strapped for cash, and that some services can be in short supply. I wondered, Who are these people cleaning the beach? So I asked. Here is what I learned.
Two like-minded groups often get together at Broughton Beach to swim and congregate. One is called Black Swimming Initiative, and it is captained by Morgan Spriggs. Morgan’s goal is to see that Black children learn to swim and be comfortable in the water. The second group, WaterStrong, is headed by Dena Marshall. WaterStrong wants to teach children to swim and to be environmentally conscious. Both groups want our beaches to be clean and inviting. That Saturday, they joined forces to clean up Broughton Beach for the Metro.
Two things: First, thanks to both groups, not only for trash pickup on that day, but also for their larger mission. Good people are among us, we just have to look for them. Second, I know that it is also my responsibility to add my own efforts to keep our world clean and safe. And that thinking goes far beyond cleaning the beaches.
If I may paraphrase an ancient Jewish philosopher: “If not me, who? If not now, when?” If we wait for someone else to do what needs to be done, it might be a very long wait.