Since this series began, we have been talking about our personal health and our personal responsibility toward good health. Before this series ends, we need to discuss our responsibility for a healthy community.
Look around where you live. If you live in an area of the community where the living conditions do not contribute to poor personal health, you are indeed lucky. Does that mean, however, that you can turn your head away from the sometimes-miserable conditions in which many other families live?
It is easy to say that “ people” deserve to live in neighborhoods such as these because they are root cause for the conditions. In some cases that may be true, but in too many cases it is very difficult to determine. I also know of people who have tried to have their communities more sanitary and free of disease and have gotten little help from those in the administrative and political realm.
I have probably said this before, because it is so important: you cannot have healthy people in unhealthy communities.
While we cannot tackle everything at once, I would like to suggest that we attempt to make a difference in one particular area, the disposal of garbage and other trash.
Having been born and raised in Milwaukee, I remember when you could purchase all the garbage cans that your family needed to be sure that it was sufficiently contained. Somewhere down the line, the policy changed and stated that you can only use the cans given to you by the city. There were also limits placed on the number of cans that a house could get without accounting for the number of persons who live in the house.
These cans are not enough for the average family. I lived alone for a while and could barely get by. I often found myself challenged. If the sanitation department failed to pick up the garbage for one week, I would have to put the overage in the garage, hoping it didn’t smell too badly. At times, I would also get one of my nephews to take the garbage to the city dump.
When garbage and trash collection is not controlled – be it because of the lack of manpower, various policies or snow removal – mice, rats and other vermin infiltrate our neighborhoods and our homes. These animals bred disease.
Someone might ask, “What does this have to do with health?” My response: This a public health issue. It goes beyond oneself, but must be addressed to ensure that our personal health and the health of others is addressed.
It is flawed public policy to say that everyone gets their garbage picked up once a week when there is such a large difference in the population density in various neighborhoods. Population density measures the number people who occupy a certain defined area.
If we have families doubling up and tripling up together, can you imagine the amount of garbage and trash that is supposed to fit in one container?
I know some will want to talk about those in our community who do not care about what our community looks like. However, the majority of people care, but we lack the resources and the political will to do something about it.
We need to call the Mayor’s Office and our alderpersons’ to let them know that we do care. I know that some people have done this with little and temporary results. But there is strength in numbers.
The Mayor’s budget is coming up for approval. Let’s make sure our political officials know that we do not want our garbage service decreased, we want it increased. We also want more containers per family.
If this sounds crazy, sometimes that helps. More next week………….
August 19, 2012 //
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August 19, 2012 //
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