Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Free Leaf Bags Now Available at Ace Hardware

This scene outside Ace Hardware at the Princeton Shopping Center will bring joy to anyone who values efficiency in government. Yesterday, Sept. 26, marked the beginning of a private/public partnership, in which Ace Hardware will take over the distribution of free leaf bags to Princeton residents. The town stands to save or redirect $21,000/year--my estimate of savings from 720 hours of public works staff time that can now be devoted to other tasks. In return for storing the bags and keeping track of how many leaf bags are given to whom, Ace Hardware gains additional foot traffic. Residents gain convenience as well, since the hardware store is open longer hours and on weekends.

Even better, the idea came not from a paid consultant, but from a resident (me), hatched in that fertile bed of creativity and insight known as Princeton. My research two years ago, working off of figures provided by town staff, showed that what seemed like a nice perk for residents--40 free leaf bags per year--was actually costing the town $2/bag, four times their cost at a local hardware store.

Now, the town's cost is more like 50 cents a bag, and that cost may be getting covered through grant funding. The town, by the way, decided to buy the bags itself, rather than give away bags with the Ace Hardware logo. The transition was a bit bumpy, as the town began directing residents to the hardware store before giving the store any leaf bags. But any new approach is likely to have a few glitches at first.

Another cost-saving idea in the works is to make rollcarts available to residents, particularly those who live along busy roads where they can't pile loose yardwaste at the curb. Though leaf bags would still be available, rollcarts of the 64 or 96 gallon size have the advantage of being weatherproof and reusable, with greater capacity and mobility. The aim is to begin a steady shift towards containerization of yardwaste, which is more efficient to collect and reduces nutrient pollution in local streams. More on this approach further down in the post from two years ago.

Many people limit their view of local government to how they individually are being served. Though understandable, that narrow view cheats people of the satisfaction of larger victories, in which we all gain. This small but significant shift in the free leaf bag program is an instance of the latter.

More info on Princeton's leaf collection at this link.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

700 Pounds of Steel Recycled on the Curb

After years of living on busy Harrison Street, I finally realized I could take advantage of the traffic flow to recycle metal that might otherwise end up in the landfill.

Most of these items had previously been put out on the curb on less-traveled side streets. If no one takes it before garbage day, I gather it and set it aside until the garbage trucks have come and gone, then put it out for someone to take to the scrap yards.

Scrap steel isn't worth much these days, compared to copper or aluminum, but most of this stuff disappeared within an hour or two, and the rest was gone within two days.

Some items left on the curb are useful, like this filing cabinet that puts me one step closer to finally getting organized. And I find it hard to drive idly by while older, solid wood furniture is consigned to the landfill, like the mid-century chest of drawers that appears to need only a couple knobs and a cleaning.

This plastic sandbox looks like it would be useful for someone, but has yet to be whisked away.

And these---oops. Didn't mean to include this photo, but I do know a couple male alpacas out towards Hopewell that may need a new home soon. That would be a sight--someone walking their pet alpaca down Harrison Street.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Community Theater Opportunity

Short notice, but Onstage Seniors, a 55+ community theater group I've been in for five years, has a couple openings. I joined five years ago, with no experience, and have found it a transformative experience. More information below. Contact the director, Liz Green, by tomorrow, Tuesday, even if you can't make the info session.

Our ensemble is made up of volunteer performers, and is looking for a few new people to join our ensemble this Fall. Participation costs a small fee (for weekly classes and workshops), though scholarships are available. Each of us participates both as a performer (learning, rehearsing, and helping to develop the new scripts) and as a company member (talking with new venues, scheduling, etc). No acting experience is required! If you love telling stories, being part of a team, and serving the community, then Onstage Seniors is right for you.

If you are interested in learning more, come to a small info session on Tuesday, September 19th between 10:30am - 1:00pm. Email to sign up for that info session.

If you are invited to join the Onstage Seniors Ensemble, you will be expected to:
• attend rehearsals on Tuesday afternoons from 1:30 - 3:30 from September until June
• memorize and act in two monologues or scenes
• perform in 2-3 performances per month, within 45 minutes of Princeton, starting in January
• support the ensemble by helping to coordinate performances at libraries, senior living centers, schools, and other non-traditional performances spaces

For more information, watch the video below, or go to