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Beach Cleanup Organizers Stiffen BBQ Attendance Rules

beach cleanup

Beach Sweeper president Finny Chub shows off some of the trash he collected by himself on a recent beach cleanup. Poor cleanup turnout has prompted Beach Sweepers to change the rules regarding the post-cleanup picnics. (photo courtesy of Mike Baird)

Blacktip Island’s Beach Sweepers, a volunteer beach cleanup group, has tightened attendance rules for its post-cleanup celebratory barbecue this Saturday at Spider Bight beach, a move that angered many local residents.

“You don’t get food or a beer unless you actually pick up trash off the beach,” cleanup organizer Finny Chub said. “Last month it was just me out in the baking sun for three hours. Then when it was time for the cookout, 50 people showed up. We’re calling BS on that.

“I had a whole pig roasted and three coolers of beer, and folks hit that like a swarm of locusts,” Chub said. “It was all gone before I could have any of it. From now on you’ll have to hand in a full trash bag to get a food voucher. No voucher, no BBQ for you.”

Some in the community backed Chub.

“It’s harsh, but something had to be done,” Beach Sweeper member Christina Mojarra said. “The trash collection has to be substantive, too. No, “here’s my cigarette butt,” like Dermott Bottoms tried last time.

“It’s pretty simple, really,” Mojarra said. “You want a burger? Pick up a burger wrapper. You want a beer? Pick up a bottle or two.”

Most, however, opposed the new rule

“Cleanups are a community event, a community celebration,” Antonio Fletcher said. “That’s when people come together. Finny’s creating division where there wasn’t any. Where there shouldn’t be any.”

“Now, some of us might not be out in the noonday sun physically collecting garbage, but we’re there in spirit,” Fletcher said. “That community spirit is what we’re celebrating. Or were.”

Others objected on cultural grounds.

“They called me a freeloader, and they’re damned right,” Dermott Bottoms said. “Freeloading’s a Blacktip tradition. We’re celebrating our heritage, you know. Honing our foraging skills.

“There’s givers and takers in this world,” Bottoms said. “Blacktip has a long history of taking. We’re proud of that. Mess with that, you mess up the balance that makes the island tick. Finny’s gonna have hell to pay.”

Island authorities have warned residents to keep their disagreements civil.

“There’s been two instances where household waste was dumped on the beach upwind of Mr. Chub’s house,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Anyone caught purposely littering is going to be doing some forced beach cleanup. A lot of forced beach cleanup. With no cookout afterwards.”

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Beach Plastic Henge Is Blacktip Island’s Newest Attraction

beachplastic henge

The Beach Plastic Henge, formed from discarded plastic pressed into standing-stone molds, is Blacktip Island’s newest tourist attraction. The henge stands near the small Caribbean island’s airfield. (photo courtesy of Harry Wrasse)

A Blacktip Island civic group Wednesday unveiled what it dubbed the Beach Plastic Henge, modeled after Great Britain’s famous Stonehenge, as an alternative to throwing plastic collected on beach cleanups in the island dump.

“People collect tons of plastic off the beaches, which is great, but the dump’s filling up, and the stuff’s still loose for the wind to blow away,” said Art and Nature Society Of Blacktip president Harry Wrasse. “Shipping it off island’s ungodly expensive, so, using the we figured we’d put the one-big-pile’s-better-than-a-bunch-of-little-piles theory into action.

“We settled on the scale-model henge,” Wrasse said. “Stone Age Blacktippers built henges, so it’s a hat tip to them, and to the island’s heritage. And it’s aligned so the sun shines through it at equinox and solstice. Pretty much. I mean, it shines through part of it, anyway. We hope it’ll become a popular tourist spot for photos and such.”

Island conservationists applauded the structure.

“All that garbage packed inside those chicken-wire frames really drives home how much plastic is out there,” resident Kay Valve said. “It reminds people not to pollute. That it’s also art is just icing on the cake.”

Despite its popularity, the henge is still a work in progress ANSOB members said.

“Even in the frame, and with the sprayed-on coating, the stuff still decays in the sunlight,” Christina Mojarra said. “We have big ceramic flowerpots at the base of each stone to collect any plastic that falls. We’re still working out how to handle microbeads and nanobeads, but this is a start.

“A lot of the maintenance, going forward, will be done by school kids as part of their art class,” _____ said. “Well, school kid. Little Shelly Bottoms so loves to pick at the plastic and nibble the rough edges.”

Some island residents are not pleased with the sculpture.

“It’s not art. It’s an eyesore,” Club Scuba Doo owner Ham Pilchard said. “It’s a big neon sign screaming, ‘Hey, look at our pile of crap!’ And right by the airstrip for everyone to see.

“Harry and them can pat themselves on the backs all they want, but it still doesn’t get the plastic off the island,” Pilchard said. “You don’t want to get downwind of it either. Some of that junk’s been in the ocean a while and had stuff growing on it. The smell’ll make your eyes water.”

Wrasse stressed that no marine life was harmed in making the henge.

“We only collect plastic from above the high-tide mark,” he said. “We’re not taking any living organisms from the sea.

“We have more plastic that we can handle just from that,” Wrasse added. “As more gets collected, we may do other famous world landmarks – the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall, the Coliseum. We’ll call it the Seven Wonders of Blacktip Island. And sell t-shirts and drinks.”

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