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Subway cleanup: Small groups make a difference: Editorial

Posted 4/12/17

American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead is widely quoted as saying: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that …

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Subway cleanup: Small groups make a difference: Editorial

Posted

American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead is widely quoted as saying: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

We don’t know if Middletown’s Dave Lidle knows that quote, and it doesn’t matter if he does. He, along with Phil Bennett, proved it with their actions.

OK, maybe they didn’t change the world. But they certainly had a big effect in their own backyard.

Bennett wanted to clean what is known locally as the subway, the walkway that goes under the railroad tracks along the route that Catherine Street would take if the tracks did not cut it off behind Karns in downtown Middletown.

It is a common path for people to take to get from one side of the tracks to the other. And it was a mess. Tires, trash and graffiti were commonplace sights. Historically, according to our comments on our Facebook page, it seems it’s been a issue for decades. Not even all the lights work.

It’s not even totally clear who owns it, although Amtrak pays the electric bill. They have not responded to Dan Miller’s requests for comment.

Bennett expected some volunteers to help clean up the mess on April 5. What he didn’t expect was for the cleanup to be done by the time he got there. As Miller outlines in our front-page story today, Lidle took it upon himself to get there early and get the work done.

Young moms with children use this space. Senior citizens do as well. To have a well-traveled route so close to downtown, so close to the borough hall, be littered with trash and graffiti is not something for which the borough should be proud.

It didn’t take much time for the cleanup. Lidle, incredibly, did it over the course of a morning, hauling pounds and pounds of materials up the steps — quite a feat for a 68-year-old.

There is more work to be done, like making sure the steps are solid and attacking the graffiti, as well as keeping it clean for the long term. But what a great story that these two folks who were strangers are now friends, because of a common goal to do good.

There are others out there. Remember Sharon Hoover? We profiled her September. Every morning, she engages in her daily ritual of caring for the flower beds at the Middletown Police Station at Race and East Emaus streets. The borough council recognized her efforts.

Don’t forget the second-graders in Holly Criniti’s class at Reid Elementary School, who created signs with the simple thought of “Be Kind.” They were placed throughout the borough.

We know that the world can be a depressing place. You might not feel like you can make a difference. But you can.

It doesn’t have to be a big difference or a time-consuming one.

You can start by being kind. Maybe you can find a group of like-minded people to accomplish a goal with you.

You can make a difference.

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