Sunday, August 22, 2010

Well, well, well...

Many a day has passed, the night has gone by, but still I find the time to post an update on my life. After breaking my foot, enduring the blistering New Orleans heat in June, feeling useless, fighting my way off of crutches, getting my confidence back, landing a dream Round 3 project in Maine, and fretting about my post-AmeriCorps future, I'm here with a quick reflection on this whole Maine experience.

My team has been working with the Town of Sanford to develop trails, work with area youth, and get dirty in general. Below is something I wrote for our team's portfolio as we prepare to move on to the fourth and final round of the AmeriCorps year.

Sorry for the prolonged radio silence. I find it hard to explain why these things happen, so I'm not going to try.


Recently, I discovered a new level of personal filth.

It’s a feeling of perpetual sliminess, a sense that every crease of your flesh is coated in dirt and other nasty particles. For this sensation, I have only the Mousam River to thank.

Once the natural engine that drove the textile mills of Sanford, Maine, the river has fallen into dilapidation. Litter, motor vehicle runoff and other contaminants run wild in its waters. So in we came, Badger 6, gung-ho NCCC team, to save the day.

We floated downstream in canoes, two people to a vessel. The mission for the day was to hoist litter out of the river and into our canoes. Our armada dodged groping branches, hopped over beaver dams and basically just tried to keep afloat. I got scraped up, flooded out, bruised, battered, leeched, burnt, coated in vile secretions, threw out my back three times... and had a tremendously fun time.

It’s a pretty good summation of third round for me. Oh sure, it was romantic at first, but pretty soon things got real. The work has been pretty brutal at times, and more often than not I come home drained and mud-splattered. Some of our other duties here in Sanford have included ripping out entire tree stumps from the ground, digging fence holes and compacting gravel. To take a short-sighted view of things, it’s been a lot of sweat for little gain.

But then I step back and take a broader look at things. Damn... we made an entire trail ourselves, from pure wilderness to a paved walkway. We tamed a wild, town-owned lot over the course of one day. And we pulled out more than 70 tires from the Mousam River, enough to fit at least 17 whole motor vehicles. In the end, that’s a tangible level of accomplishment that many of our other projects have not presented us.

We’re hitting that point in the year when other concerns are beginning to dominate. Life after AmeriCorps looms large. We’re tired. The grind of BS that gets thrown at us from up the chain of command takes its toll. But with all that considered, we still got a fantastic amount of work done out here. That’s something to celebrate.

I’ve certainly got the stained clothes to prove it.

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