April 2014
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To clean up, you have to get messy

Yesterday morning, I reluctantly pried myself out of bed sometime after 8:00 in the morning to join a small army of students from McDaniel College and Carroll Community College wearing bright green t-shirts to participate in the annual Westminster Cleanup, a morning of service created to clean up and spruce up various public areas of Westminster.

I was assigned to a group whose job for the morning was to weed and spread manure in Westminster’s community garden, which is located within walking distance from campus. Other jobs I could have potentially been assigned to include picking up trash, cleaning the local cold weather shelter, painting, and spreading mulch.

At first, I was not too happy with what we’d be doing. Shoveling manure isn’t so bad–it’s practically dirt, but weeding is not something I particularly enjoy, since having a bad back makes bending down unpleasant. But the physical activity was what I had signed up for; what I hadn’t anticipated was that the guy who was supposed to bring shovels and rakes and pitchforks for us to use was several minutes late, leaving my group to stand around in the cold and pull weeds by hand. By this point, I had sworn that I would never do Westminster Cleanup again!

But things picked up once the rakes and shovels arrived. We raked the garden to get the weeds up off the ground, putting them into wheelbarrows and dumping them into a large pile in the corner of the garden, which you can see behind the guy in the green shirt in the picture. This is what the garden looked like once we got enough of the weeds off the ground:

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Westminster’s community after weeding and before manure spreading. Those buildings above the guy in the green shirt are part of Mcdaniel’s campus!

Once the weeds were up, we spread the manure across the garden as well as we could–we could have easily used more for the garden to be richly covered, but what we had covered it decently enough. It only took us half an hour to spread the manure, so after we finished that, we weeded around the perimeter of the garden. Before we knew it, it was almost 12:00, so we cleaned up and went back to campus.

The morning didn’t end up being so bad. With enough people and some creative thinking, we were able to make the garden work go really quickly. All the work we did made me feel like we had earned the free pizza we all got when we got back to campus–and I definitely earned a much-needed shower as well!

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