On a recent Saturday morning, dozens of TTU students and Cookeville residents came together to clean the wooded area, which has a small creek running through it. In two hours of work, about 50 people removed old car parts, tires, furniture and countless cans and bottles.
“There was just so much Styrofoam and empty cups and plastic bottles, cans, balls,” said Katie Barnhill, a senior journalism major from Texas. “I’m a member of SEAC. We’re just getting started and so this is our first project.”
In addition to members of the Student Environmental Action Coalition, residents of the Tree House learning village, members of the Reformed University Fellowship and the Tech Geoclub, area residents and the Cookeville Roller Girls came out to clean up the area, which sits behind several apartment buildings on North Willow Avenue. City of Cookeville engineer Tracy Meggs and TTU chemistry professor John Harwood, who also belongs to the Caney Fork Watershed Association, asked the Tree House village council to help organize the event.
“We got a lot of the trash out; it was quite an accomplishment,” said event co-organizer Andrew Smith, TTU English professor and faculty head of the Tree House. “We had more than 50 people show up, far exceeding our expectations.”
A pile of trash bags containing 1.5 tons of trash, one ton of tires, in addition to sorted recyclables, was later removed from the site by the city of Cookeville.
“It’s crazy that people just create their own landfill,” Barnhill said. “As I clean this up I can just envision this place being a park, and I think that would be cool, a sweet effort. If we could come together to clean this, we could come together to turn it into something.”