This is cool - I pass this snowcone truck ("Orleagian Snowballs") at the corner of Piedmont and Monroe every week on my way to Monday night zazen, among my other travels. I've even stopped to get one once or twice (although they're just as often closed - they're a little inconsistent in their hours). Anyway, the picture above was in today's New York Times, part of an article on how much better New Orleans exiles are doing in Atlanta than in, say, Houston. It's a bit surprising to see your local eccentric vendor in the Journal of Record.
Today, I did my part for Atlanta to be doing a little better. Tanyard Creek, a tributary to Peachtree Creek that flows about two blocks from my house, drains a large urban catchment and is subject to frequent flooding. All that pavement, no infiltration - you know the story. And when it floods, it washes down copious amounts of trash with the floodwaters, leaving it in the branches of the trees on its banks and on the grass in the park it flows through.
This morning, I took another vendor (not the snowcone guy, but someone different) who installs trash filters into stormwater manholes to the creek, and showed him a place where the streamflow narrows into one little spout, and asked if he could design a filter to catch the trash washing down the stream that would fit that spot.
He said he could, and liked the idea of trying something different. In fact, he's willing to design it, build it and install it at no cost (he's a good guy), provided the neighborhood assist with the maintenance and clean-out. I told him I'll find volunteers to do that (we're good people, too). Of course, we need to sell our scheme to the city watershed department, but I can't imagine that they would object to a plan that would solve a problem with no expense or effort from them.
Citizens all too often want to blame others for environmental problems, and demand that industry or government solve their problems for them. With this effort, I want to get grass-roots involvement in cleaning up at least one stream and, hey, if it works, we can try this technology out in other streams as well (which is what the vendor is hoping for with his promotional give-away).
There are some real challenges ahead in making this work - finding the volunteers, the actual design, getting the city's permission, site access issues, and so on. But they are the kind of problems that seem solvable if we put our head down and don't cop a defeatist attitude.
On paper, at least, this should work.