By Pascal Zamprelli
Many students moving away from home for the first time encounter a steep learning curve with respect to keeping their surroundings clean. But for the last few years, those arriving at McGill’s residences get an opportunity to take those new skills beyond the dorm room, and meet some of their new neighbours at the same time.
It happens through an annual event known as Trash Bash, a community development initiative to clean up the Milton Park neighborhood adjacent to campus, which this year will take place from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, September 6th.
“We try to introduce students to their new home, and promote values of community mindedness and environmentalism,” Residence Life Coordinator Patricia Horodysky said, “It’s a great way for students to become involved with something larger than themselves, while building a shared interest with the community.”
Trash Bash unites students from McGill’s residences and residents of the Milton Park community, along with representatives from organizations such as Santropol Roulant, SSMU, Eco-Quartier, and the Yellow Door. “It’s an opportunity for students to become acquainted with their neighbours; it gives them a nice platform in which to interact and meet,” Horodysky said. “They’re literally working together.”
Students from each residence will be divided into teams for the area between University and Ste Famille, from Sherbrooke to Ave Des Pins, and Horodysky expects a crowd of as many as a few hundred people to pitch in when they meet at the designated starting point, University Hall Residence (3473 University Avenue).
“A lot of students truly look forward to this,” said Horodysky, who has been in her position only since February but has witnessed the event in previous years. “Everyone does it with a smile,” she said, adding that awarding prizes to those who can “bash the most trash” makes the event all the more interesting for participants. “We make it fun, and they have a great time with it.”
The benefits of Trash Bash, however, go well beyond a fun day and cleaner streets; the real plus is the all-important first contact between new students and permanent residents of the neighborhood. “Students can immediately see the results of their contribution to the community,” Horodysky said, “and the community residents are able to share neighborhood concerns with students, suggesting ways that students can play a part.
” It is that spirit of cooperation and dialogue that drives the event’s success: an understanding that the Milton Park neighborhood is a shared space for which all residents – temporary or permanent – are responsible. “It’s their backyard as much as it is the students’ backyard,” Horodysky explained. “Our students realize that they have a shared responsibility in keeping their neighborhood clean.”
For these reasons, Horodysky sees Trash bash as a “community opportunity” more than anything else. “It’s great for everyone, as it promotes a true sense of partnership,” she said. “Everyone working together for the same cause is a wonderful, positive way to start the new school year.”