On the morning after New Year’s Eve celebration, many of the headlines in the newspapers may be related to the following question: what will the next decade bring us? Maybe a quite common thought for the first morning of the year. Something almost impossible to know in such a complex time. Maybe it would be easier to think about dreams, desires and hopes.
Leaving the news and the futuristic questions behind, that morning I decided to go for a walk. Why not? I thought it could be actually a special morning, basically because after listening the bangs of last night produced by more than half an hour of fireworks in Dresden, I expected to have a calm morning in which most of those who were partying the night before would be sleeping. The streets would be alone and quiet and moreover, from the window I saw the sky was clear and blue.
Close to the Heller settlement in Dresden, one of the largest allotment garden colonies in Germany, there is a hill called Schuttberg or Halde 1, actually Schuttberg is a German term for a mound made of rubble or out of a rubbish heap. The stockpile initially grew through the bomb debris of Dresden downtown, and a lot of rubbish and rubble were added later. From there is possible to have a panorama view of the iconic silhouette of the downtown and see part of the Dresdner Heide, the sand mine, and the Elbe valley up to the Ore Mountains. The view of the city from there were quite amazing, so it is not surprising that it is chosen by many as a point to observe fireworks, but also to use them.
On the way to the hill, I could see a big amount of remains of gunpowder on the streets, however when going up the mountain, I saw a pile of garbage that was being accumulated by some children. Vincent and Moritz, two 10-year-old friends who were walking through the area with a wheelbarrow full of the remains of the party of the previous night. Basically, hundreds of fireworks that exploded the night before (some of them were even unburned) and also several bottles of liquor. Yes, I was excited to see them, I thought that after the morning reflections, there was actually hope! I was so excited that I would have liked to have another wheelbarrow. Even without one, my partner and I decided to join the work of collecting the remains of the previous night. Other people who were passing by and who saw the kids, congratulated them and told them that they were doing an incredible job, but none stopped to join the work.
Vincent and Moritz told us that it was not the first time they were doing this work, but the third time, and that in fact, they believed that the situation had improved. They said that the last time they did this activity it took them almost 2 days to collect the garbage from the new year´s eve, and this time, the perception was that there was less than previous years.
My partner and I wondered “if all this waste was in a hill of Dresden, how would the rest of the city look like?”. And indeed, even a week later after the New Year’s celebration, some streets in Dresden were still covered by “fireworks garbage”. We did not spend the entire afternoon collecting the waste at the Schuttberg, but the feeling was satisfactory. Somehow the questions I was asking myself that morning about what awaits us this decade, had a positive response. After all, it was a good start to the year. So why not encourage this type of activity? If these children had the initiative, why not do it too? If it was fun to see the fireworks and explode them, it should be also part of the activity to have fun collecting garbage!
By Gabriela Huidobro
Photos: Martin Fink