Kseniya Geevskaya (Kalinina) ‘99
Irkutsk, Russia/Russia, OH
Three active men of the city of Irkutsk, Russia succeeded in motivating community members, the local government, and local businesses to follow their dream of holding an event to clean up one of the largest cities in Siberia in one day. Combining their efforts, they searched for resources to fulfill the ambitious goal under the federal campaign Let’s Do Irkutsk Eco-Logical. On September 15, their dream became a reality when 22400 citizens of the Irkutsk region cleaned up over 20,000 cubic meters of garbage.
Preparation started in February and by May organizers received the support of the city’s administration who offered their help in transportation of collected garbage and the payment of the fee for garbage storage. The organizing team was responsible for advertising for the event. Two colleagues of mine were the project leaders of the event. They just happen to also be co-founders (with me) of the non-profit organization Chelovek.i. They called me to assist them in this process along with other members of our organization and supporters. My responsibilities included producing advertising materials, distributing materials through social networking sites and at movie theaters, collecting information about illegal garbage stock spots, and information about people who are willing to help with the clean up. As a precursor to the event, I organized a test clean up on September 2nd, where 10 nightclubs and 6 partner organizations worked with us to hold an Garbage Open Air party. Popular band played, dancers performed, and free drinks were pored all with the aim of increasing public support for the upcoming event.
On the 15th 120 blocks of the city including 9 counties of the region were devoted to supporting the event. One hundred and fifty team leaders worked with the people on their block, at local schools and universities, at hospitals, and with their colleagues to lead the largest clean up in the history of Russia. On the same day Irkutsk held a music festival and performers and organizers made shout outs for the volunteers. September 15th became the largest civil action in the city and a major city holiday. The first holiday where there was almost no garbage left at the streets after it was over!
Now, our non-profit organization Chelovek.i is working to organize an ecological workshop to start the discussion of the problem of garbage in Irkutsk and Irkutsk region. The city’s administration is already on board to finance the initiative. We look forward to help our city become Eco-Logical not only by one civil action, but by changing completely the whole story about garbage in Irkutsk.