Guilford plans to turn off, clean up

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
April 21, 2008

GUILFORD — With Earth Day arriving Tuesday, a group of local residents is encouraging people to help make the town a greener, cleaner place.

Guilford Turnoff Week starts today, and organizers are encouraging residents to limit use of televisions, computers and other electronics. And Saturday, Guilford Clean-Up Weekend will take place at Elisabeth C. Adams Middle School, where participants can pick up bags and gloves and get an assigned location that needs beautifying.

This is the first year organizers of the two events, both of which have occurred in the past, are coordinating their efforts.

“The combination of saying, ‘Hey, let’s not watch TV’ or ‘Let’s not play computer games — let’s go outside and help the community,’ that’s a wonderful thing, so it’s really a natural to work together,” said Doug Newman, an organizer of Turnoff Week.

He added that the goal of the event is not to expect people to completely stop using electronics for a week, but to encourage awareness of the amount of time children and adults spend watching TV and playing video games.

“These are great things — TV can be fun, computers can be great tools, but you’ve got to be aware of the time spent,” he said.

This is the third year of Turnoff Week in Guilford. It is part of a national effort through a group called the Center for Screen-Time Awareness.

The cleanup efforts have been happening for nearly 15 years, organizer Karen Strawson said. Several years ago, it expanded from “Clean-Up Day” to the weekend event.

Volunteers, many of them from the Guilford Garden Club, will run a table at the middle school from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and participants can go there for assignments. There will also be trash bins located at the middle school and at the North Guilford firehouse at 3087 Durham Road throughout the weekend, and people working individually on cleanup efforts can drop trash there.

“Both ends of the community will have something,” Strawson said. “It’s kind of the idea of neighbors helping neighbors.”

The event also provides community service credits for students who participate.

“This is a gift of found time — no one ever has any time except when you actually carve out the time,” Strawson said. “There’s a lot more than you think there is, and one way obviously is to spend time with the family and with the neighbors and with the greater community, and that’s how we tie in both of the events.”

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