Out of sight, a homeless man cleans a river

On Saturday, artists and volunteers at the Weisman Art Museum Collective at the University of Minnesota are going to pick up trash along the Mississippi River. They will create some sort of installation to show how our everyday actions are affecting the river.

They’re led by artist Sean Connaughty, who provided a similar teaching moment along Lake Hiawatha, where he found storm drains that empty directly into the lake provide a near non-stop flow of garbage.

The volunteers should have no trouble finding tons of trash… except in this one area Connaughty says he scoped out this week. Someone beat them to it, he writes on his Facebook page.

A little story to share: I was at the River yesterday scouting the places most in need of cleanup, for our second big river cleanup this Saturday.

As I walked along I noticed how clean and beautiful the shore was. As I continued walking downriver I noticed that suddenly there was tons of garbage, where upstream there had been none.

I saw a man with a huge garbage bag full and he was picking up trash. I stopped to talk with him, getting his recommendations on the best spots to clean. He told me how he had cleaned the river for miles from Franklin Ave., down.

I asked if I could get his email or phone number. He said he’d been sleeping outdoors and had no phone or internet. I asked if he was homeless. He was. I asked him if a little cash would help. He said it would. I gave him the twenty bucks I had in my pocket and he was moved to tears. I told him he deserved so much more.

His name is Jimmy and he is a hero. Here is a pic of the stretch of river he cleaned. No one should be without a home, no one should have to live outdoors in Minnesota.