Community Cleanup at Turnbull Canyon

Lexi Valenzuela

Sunlight illuminated Turnbull Canyon as members of Community Unity helped pick up pieces of trash and clean up debris in the early morning on the trails. 

Community Unity is a newly established club on campus, dedicated to improving the environment and giving back to the community. Turnbull Canyon cleanups are just one of the projects the club is currently working on. This project arose when Professor of Philosophy Paul Kjellberg noticed a buildup of trash on the trails while hiking with his dog Rusty. 

After meeting for coffee and bagels at 10:00 am in the Hartley House, Community Unity group members walked toward the football field out the back gate, picking up any trash they saw along the way. 

“We went through the flat walking trail and crossed to the actual foothill. We picked up cans and litter from a couple of places here and there,” said Kjellberg. “It was fun and everyone had a good time. We did a pretty good job and there were a lot of trails.”

The group focused on one specific area before moving on to another trail to ensure they covered enough ground. “I thought it went well, and there’s more work to be done there,” said Community Unity president junior Kasey Vader. “I want to make this a semester project.” 

Members found various items around the trail such as paint buckets, doll heads, and a quilt mixed in among the typical food wrappings and water bottles. By the end of the cleanup, the club had filled ten trash bags of litter from around Turnbull. As it can be difficult to find a place to dispose of chewed gum or wrappers from protein bars, the club’s next goal is to place trash cans along the trails to discourage hikers from littering in the future.

Many Whittier College students choose to use the hills as a weekend activity, a place to exercise, or a reason to get off campus. “It’s a trail most of us on campus use. I know quite a few people who hike that trail,” said Community Unity Vice President junior Maggie Niemann.  “We want to clean in and around the campus. It’s good for our college community as well as the local community.”

Not only are students helping out the Whittier community by partaking in the organization’s excursions, but these events can benefit students’ personal health. “Being outdoors and being with other people… it’s a great feeling knowing you’ve done something, and it’s a good way to start Sunday morning,” said junior club member Maeve Bell. 

Community Unity will continue to have regular cleanups at Turnbull Canyon every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. If you are interested in helping clean up the Whittier community, you are encouraged to come help make Whittier a safer and more beautiful place to live. All you need is comfortable shoes.

Community Unity meets every Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. in Hartley House.