Kent Fothergill describes the Anacostia River as “a beautiful expression of our waterways.” Kent and his partner Kelly Tindall reside in Ward 5 yet the environmental work they are doing to keep the Anacostia River litter-free connects them to every community in the District.
Kent and Kelly are deeply knowledgeable about all things related to the environment. They are agricultural scientists with over five decades of professional experience between them. Although their love for the planet is obvious, you would never learn the impressive details of their resume unless you explicitly ask. When I did inquire strictly for the purposes of this article Kent replied “You don’t have to be a scientist to care about the planet.” This response reflects this couple’s lifestyle of taking care of each other and the District’s waterways.
Their favorite pastime is kayaking on the Anacostia River with their dog, named Anacostia, and removing trash from the river. They refer to this activity as trashyaking. Over time they have removed some interesting waste from the river. They have collected Bikeshare bicycles, helium tanks, fishing nets, and various forms of single use plastic.
But one pesky item that continues to contaminate the Anacostia River is tires. They told me that in one day they pulled 26 tires from the Anacostia River. Aside from the enormous amount of time and labor it takes to remove such a massive amount of tires from a river on a small kayak, disposing of them is even more challenging. The DC dump allows four tires per week to be disposed of at their site. Essentially, it would take Kent and Kelly seven weeks to dispose of one day’s worth of discarded tires. The current policy at the DC dump places a very unreasonable burden on residents to store, transport, discard trash in their effort to help keep the District free of illegal tire dumping.
When I asked Kent and Kelly what are some things DC residents can do to keep DC waterways clean, their answer was practical. They urgently asked residents to stop using single-use plastic. The microfibers in single-use plastic are very harmful to humans and animals. They encouraged residents to shift their mindsets from Earth Day to Earth Life. “It’s not about doing big things occasionally, but about doing small things continuously,” said Kent. They both agreed that picking up litter anywhere is valuable. Trash is very transient. It can start in your neighbor’s yard, then drift to the street gutter, wander to the road, and then end up in the river.
Kent and Kelly’s dedication to a lifestyle of creation care is a beautiful reminder that we all can do our part to take care of the planet.
To learn more about Kent and Kelly’s environmental work and their “trashyacking” on the Anacostia River subscribe to their blog at:
Leniqua’dominique Jenkins holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Houston and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of the District of Columbia. She has several years of policy work on Capitol Hill and in Africa, India and Spain. Currently, she works for DC City Council.