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Why I Sweep: Caring for the Hudson – a place that belongs to all

Why I Sweep

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This is one in a series of blog posts about Riverkeeper Sweep, our annual day of service for the Hudson, involving dozens of shoreline cleanups and planting projects on a single day. Be part of the next Sweep, October 17, 2020 – Visit


Sebastian caring for the Hudson

If you are like me, someone who wanders the woods, at a certain point you are met by a sign loudly proclaiming that you are trespassing if you cross an invisible threshold, that beyond some plastic sign hastily nailed to a tree lies “private property.”

These typically fill me with a mix of frustration and sadness, and my mind drifts back to the Woody Guthrie song “This Land is Your Land,” when he sings: And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.” But on the other side it didn’t say nothing. That side was made for you and me.

For me, that other side is the Hudson, a place that belongs to all. To get to that other side, I need the places in my city where I can get down to the river, public beaches and trails that are too often neglected. Sweep is a day, once a year, where we can care for those places, and in doing so, everyone who uses them.

It’s been said that the land belongs to those who care for it, and while at the end of the day river cleanups might not change the structure of the world we live in, they do connect you to a place and the river in a way that no sign can take away.

This year is harder than most, people are going through a huge amount of stress, pain and frustration. If you can’t join us, don’t worry, you’ll be there in spirit.

Hope to see you by the river on October 17.

** I do not condone trespassing. Get outside, be safe, and sweep if you can. **

Sebastian Pillitteri is community science coordinator at Riverkeeper.

More posts on Why I Sweep >

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