After the first green shoots emerge, yellow is among the next colors to burst forth in the spring landscape. Daffodils turn their cheery faces to the sun. Forsythias put on their annual show. And in Ellsworth last week, yellow bags of trash appeared all along the roadsides.
Neatly bagged and ready for pickup, this trash was a welcome sight. It was collected by volunteers as part of the fourth annual roadside pickup spearheaded by the Ellsworth Green Action Team and the city. Their work was much needed and much appreciated. Ellsworth was looking, well, a little trashy.
When the winter snow melted, it unveiled the mess left behind. Plastic bags, soft drink cups, beer cans, cigarette butts and all manner of trash littered the ditches. Trash tangled in brush surrounding parking lots and flowed into local waterways. Volunteers cleaning up Card Brook April 24 pulled out 1,100 pounds of trash. Some area residents took to social media to decry the mess. Others did them one better: They took to the streets.
We salute all who have taken the time to clean up messes they did not make. You do the community proud.
Another bright spot this spring is the Yellow Tulip Project. Like the trash cleanup, it aims to tackle a widespread problem at the local level. Ellsworth High School students have joined those in other communities in spreading a message of hope and aiming to “smash the stigma of mental illness.”
It is not just the roadsides that are worse for wear after these many long months. The pandemic has taken a toll on mental health. And, according to the American Psychiatric Association, half of people with mental illness do not receive the help they need. In many cases, that is because they fear a diagnosis and treatment could cause people to treat them differently or that they might lose their jobs. No one should be ashamed of struggling. The Yellow Tulip Project plans to start open conversations about the issue.
A strong community takes care of its streets and its people. We welcome these clear signs that Ellsworth takes care of its own.