At the national level, last Saturday’s Earth Day 2017 focused on the need to recognize the scientific consensus on the human sources of climate change. While citizens of Rabun County may be divided on the legitimacy of that science, we can surely unite on the view that our economic future, not to mention our own peace of mind, is tied to our ability to “Keep Rabun County Beautiful.”
Which brings me to the local Earth Day focus: the cleanup of trash along Rabun County roads that volunteers of all political stripes engaged in on April 22. As one of those volunteers, I was appalled at the number of beer and soft drink bottles and cans and other refuse littering the green spaces abutting our highways. Dozens of volunteers contributed significantly to the reduction in this eyesore, but one morning of work can hardly solve the problem created by residents and visitors who lack commitment to the stewardship of our land and resources.
Although Georgia possesses anti-littering laws that can lead to fines of up to $1000, strict enforcement is neither possible nor desirable. A better solution is for us, the citizens of Rabun County, to police ourselves. As he tiptoed gingerly across trash in his beloved Okefenokee Swamp on the second Earth Day in 1971, “Pogo” famously remarked, “we have met the enemy, and he is us.” It is time for “us,” all the citizens of Rabun County, to act as friends not enemies of the natural beauty in our midst.
Written by Judith Cox on Rabun Gap, printed in April of 2017