Click photo to enlarge
Zandile Christian picks up trash as part of Keep Dimond Clean and Green, the regular cleaning sweeps of an 18-block area in the center of the district near Fruitvale Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard.

I enjoy a good litter walk.

I am part of a volunteer group in the Dimond district of Oakland. We have picked up litter for several years, piece by piece, which accumulated to pounds and now to tons of litter every year.

We are an "Adopt-A-Spot," with the city of Oakland; our bags, vests and litter grabbers are supplied by the Environmental Services Division. About 28 volunteers now remove 12,000 pounds of litter a year from our sidewalks and gutters.

We rake leaves from the tops of storm drains. We drag abandoned car seats, chairs, tires and various other items to the drop spot. Oakland Public Works Agency then hauls away our loot, the litter that is rescued from traveling into the storm drains to Sausal Creek and eventually to San Francisco Bay.

A friend went whale watching recently and reported an example of a baby albatross chick that coughed up "mostly squid beaks from a regular diet; and also a blue plastic pen tip cover complete with the pocket clip extension; a lens from glasses; numerous other various-shape items."

Litter is destroying our environment, creeks, bays and oceans, and this circle of debris continues.

The litterbug drops litter on the sidewalk, the litter walker picks up the litter. It does not change.

As volunteers, we wear our bright yellow vests. We are not invisible, we are the litter corps, but we cannot change the habit of the litterbug, no matter how visible and active we are.


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Litter happens every day in Oakland, one of the most beautiful cities in the country. Volunteers in Dimond are committed to making a change in our district.

In the past four years, Keep Dimond Clean volunteers, a program of the Dimond Improvement Association, have removed more than 24 tons of litter from our neighborhood. Twice a week, our group of determined volunteers head out on various routes.

"Hey you," one volunteer shouts out to a litterbug, "I just cleaned that sidewalk."

La Farine Bakery in Dimond generously sponsors our group and we enjoy delicious pastries with coffee or tea, or a loaf of bread from La Farine after our walks. Stan Dodson, manager of La Farine Bakery in Dimond and co-founder of Keep Dimond Clean, works tirelessly on many projects to make the Dimond district a better place for merchants and residents.

But Dimond needs a daily cleaning and we are taking the next step to keep up with the litterbug. We are fundraising to hire a crew for litter removal in Dimond five days a week. Volunteers will continue to litter walk two days a week. Our story is at keepdimondclean.com.

The Dimond Improvement Association and the Dimond Business and Professional Association, supported by the annual Oaktoberfest in the Dimond, have made significant contributions, and we are now reaching out to residents to achieve our annual goal.

Once litter is on the ground it belongs to all of us, including residents and merchants. It is up to us to solve the litter problem in our district. This is an unusual venture of a district taking responsibility and everyone pitching in.

Some of us like to litter walk (hand raised), some of us can contribute funds. We are all in this together. If you'd like to reach me, email krussell@russell-gordon.com.

Kathleen Russell is a resident of Oakland.