By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Boris ‘loves' picking up litter in city


Litter was the focal point of the March meeting of the Carrick Community Council.

The guest speaker was Boris Weinstein, founder of Citizens Against Litter; chair of the Clean Pittsburgh Commission; and co-chair of the Redd-Up of five neighborhoods.

He was introduced by Jean Fink, who ascended to the presidency of the community council with the resignation of Dan Derence.

She was the vice-president for three to four years, and a founding board member.

"I love picking up litter," began Mr. Weinstein, who is retired.

During his marketing career, he thought big, he said. But with litter, "I think small."

As an example "that one person can make a difference," he cited forming "Citizens Against Litter" in Shadyside four years ago when he was the only volunteer.

After writing an op-ed piece in the Post-Gazette about his efforts, he received about 20 phone calls from Shadyside residents volunteering to help.

Today, there are 70 volunteers for the 17 zones in which he divided Shadyside.

"Shadyside is cleaner today," he said of his four-year anti-litter campaign there.

Mr. Weinstein would like to "roll out" his formula for creating clean neighborhoods to other communities. He said all he needs, ideally, is three volunteers per 17 zones, or 54 volunteers, to keep a community clean.

His long-term goal is to make Pittsburgh "one of the cleanest cities in America by 2010," he said.

The next big area cleanup event will be Spring Redd Up, April 18-20. More than 150 communities — in the city, Allegheny County, and Beaver County — will participate. An estimated 100,000 volunteers are expected to take part.

Mr. Weinstein said he once received a fan letter from someone in Scotland who read of his cleanup efforts in newspaper articles on the Internet. "What Pittsburgh is doing is global," he said.

His short-term goal is that all communities conduct clean-ups at least twice a year.

His proudest achievement, he said, is "collecting litter and connecting neighborhoods." An example of the latter is the coalition he forged of Homewood, Squirrel Hill, Point Breeze, and Park Place to clean up litter.

He is also proud of having recruited a steward from each of the city's 89 neighborhoods.

He personally telephoned all 66 Pittsburgh public schools and talked to administrators about getting children involved in cleaning up after themselves.

Youngsters are the "key to everything," he said.

When an attendee, who lives on the path from Carrick High School to the bus stop, commented that he is always picking up litter from students, Mr. Weinstein said he should have a meeting with the principal about involving the students in litter cleanup.

His next project is starting a "Kids Against Litter."

While children litter, the worst offenders are business people, he said, as they won't clean sidewalks.

"I clean up Walnut Street," he said. A lot of the litter is flyers from Shadyside businesses.

"You can ask merchants to help you, but can't force them," he said.

He echoed his philosophy: "People who care must pick up for people who don't care."

To a complaint about Carrick residents who set garbage by the curb on the wrong day, Mr. Weinstein said to contact their city council member.

"Be specific so they can solve the problem," he said. Also, report the incident to 311.

Following his presentation, information was distributed about Carrick High School.

On April 3-5, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" will be performed at the high school at 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 412-885-7709.

High school commencement will take place at 1 p.m. on June 14 in Mellon Arena.

In community council news, Phyllis Bianculli was appointed the group's contact person for the Weed and Seed grant application submitted on behalf of the Hilltop communities.

With Weed and Seed programs, destructive elements like drug dealers are "weeded" out of neighborhoods while money is "seeded" for economic development.

If the proposal is chosen for federal funding this summer, it would mean the infusion into the area of $1 million over five years.

In other news, John Rudiak said Carrick will try for a mural through the Sprout Fund, a public art program to beautify neighborhoods through the painting of murals by local artists.

"The murals stop graffiti as vandals respect artists," he said.

The site of the mural would be on the side of the Vern's Electric building on Brownsville Rd.

He also informed attendees of the newly formed Carrick-Overbrook Historical Society.

The next community council meeting will be on May 14.


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