Years ago when I was a teen, I went to a store with my Dad and I vividly remember that while I was rushing, my dad was lagging, taking his sweet time. I yelled out for my dad to hurry up, but he kept stopping and stooping down.  When I stopped to see what it was he was doing, I realized that dad was walking through the parking lot picking up pieces of trash. I asked why he was doing that when he wasn't the one to make the mess and he said that if he didn't take the time to pick up the trash, chances were good that nobody would.

We didn't have a lot of money growing up and we didn't live in the nicest of neighborhoods, but ours was very well kept. Our neighborhood cleanup started with my mom. As soon as we moved into the neighborhood, my mom went to work planting flowers in the front garden, keeping the lawn mowed, and touching up the paint on the house. Our neighbors didn't instantly start mimicking my mom, it actually took two years of mom (and us) constantly maintaining our home for our neighbors to begin to do the same. By the time I left for college, my little street was one of the cleanest streets in town. And to think- it all started with one person taking pride in their personal space.

The reason I mentioned these stories about my mom and my dad is to prove a point. All it takes is one person to make a difference. I constantly hear people complain about how dirty Binghamton is and while there are some places that could use love and attention, I think the city has improved in huge ways since I moved here six years ago.

Here's the thing though- there's always room for improvement. All it takes is for one person to take two seconds to pick up garbage in a parking lot or to clean up around the outside of their house or business and the ripple effect will start. It might not start as fast as you'd like, but don't give up.  Also, if you've got kids, this is your opportunity to set an example for them and to instill in them a sense of pride, just as my parents did for me. To this day I stop to pick up trash in parking lots because I can still hear my dad's voice in my head telling me that if I don't, chances are nobody will.

If we each take the time to take pride in our personal space, and in our immediate corner of the world, imagine how much nicer our community will be one day for our kids and their kids!

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