Photos by Daniel Deitch
Once a month, the West Toluca Lake Residents Association (WTLRA) hosts a community cleanup event, where residents pick up “cubic tons of trash,” WTLRA President Tess Taylor says. “Trash pickup sends a message that we are interested in setting our standards high and making this a beautiful place to live. All are welcome to join!”
The group, which has an average turnout of 25 people, meets at 11241 Kling St. with gloves in hand before making their way to Riverside Drive and adjacent embankments. The idea to start this initiative came to Taylor last fall when she was walking her dog and noticed a couple picking up trash. “When I saw that, I began carrying a five-gallon trash bag and doing it too,” she says. “Coming together and working for a common purpose is deeply satisfying, especially when you see the results. Trash pickup sends a message that we are interested in setting our standards high and making this a beautiful place to live. To me, sanitation is right up there with public safety in terms of importance.”
Comparing the event to an Amish barn-raising, in which “everyone comes together with one common goal to do something meaningful,” Taylor says the group enjoys coffee and snacks in the morning together before turning their collective focus on cleaning up the neighborhood. “There’s so much frustration these days with what’s going on in the world that many people find the monthly cleanup to be very therapeutic,” she says. “If my street is a little cleaner, it’s better for everyone.”
Taylor and the group also try to help the less fortunate when they come across someone in need. “I carry cards with me that have a list of resources that people in need can utilize,” Taylor says. “It’s important to treat people with humanity, and when you raise people up, the whole community benefits.”
Representing over 900 households, WTLRA brings neighbors together to address challenges in an effective and nonpartisan way and aims to ensure every voice in the community is heard. For those interested in taking part in future cleanups, upcoming dates are March 12, April 9 and May 14. RSVPs are appreciated; please email info.WTLRA@gmail.com.