Greensboro Atheists Adopt and Clean a Highway

The Greensboro Atheist Organization adopted a highway recently, and the work they’re doing to keep the highway clean is just pretty damn cool and deserves some positive attention.

Calvin Spealman, the co founder of the GAO, spent his morning climbing into ditches and digging out the nastiest of debris including condoms, a crack pipe, and tons of fast food garbage.

The Adopt a Highway program is important to us as a group, both because environmentalism is incredibly important — this is, for right now, the one and only planet we have. Sorry guys — no apocalypse or eventual heaven on earth or anything like that. But also because it gets us out into the community, doing our part to help those around us, get our name out there and helps people realize that we exist, even in North Carolina — even in the bible belt.

I know this type of volunteer work isn’t as “sexy” as donating blood or feeding the homeless — those things directly help strangers and we can even imagine the faces of the people who benefit from the atheists’ generosity.

But cleaning up a public highway benefits many more people in a much different way. There weren’t a lot of people there to help the GAO this time around — only four people showed up — but I hope that’s only because local atheists just didn’t know it was going on… it would be amazing to see how much work a dozen (or more!) of them could do the next time.

  • Rhodent

    One wonders if people will start going out of their way to litter in this area in order to make atheists look bad. I hope not, but it wouldn’t be the first time religious people have reduced themselves to being petty criminals in order to prove their moral superiority.

  • http://Thenaturalbuddhist.blogspot.com JohnFrost

    The thing I’d worry about is the people who will see the sign and litter on purpose.
    I mean, c’mon, if they’ll climb all the way up a billboard to spray paint it, throwing out some garbage is going to be second nature to them.

    GAO has their work cut out for them.

  • Roxane

    If that happens, I think a press release to the local paper is in order to embarrass the xian community.

  • Richard Wade

    It seems that the signs themselves are the main target of vandals. In southern California, Atheists United has had a sign along the Glendale Freeway, Highway 2 for a few years, cleaning up litter about two times a month. I’ve driven down that stretch several times, and it does not seem to have extra litter, but the sign is frequently defaced, destroyed or stolen. The state pays to have it repaired or replaced each time.

    Also in southern California, a Muslim group adopt a highway sign along the 405 freeway has also recently been vandalized.

    This may give an insight into the mind of the haters. They don’t want to make the hated group look bad with extra litter, they just want to directly injure the group, and the closest they can get to the group’s face is their signs.

  • Will

    I’ve been trying for months to get our local atheist group to partake in this but no one from the Adopt-a-highway thing has returned my calls or emails. Apparently, when they hear “atheist” they shut down.

  • Richard Wade

    Will,

    Emails and phone calls cease to exist with the click of a mouse or the click of the receiver. Write them a letter on paper. Paper physically exists. It is the material of legal procedures. It gets their attention. They have to actually do something with it, and it is riskier to try to destroy it. Send them a nice formal letter on your group’s letterhead, grammar and spelling perfect.

    Describe the problems you have encountered in trying to have your group contribute to the betterment of your community, and make one more request for fair and equal service. Make sure that you mention that copies of your letter have also been sent to the state Attorney General, the Governor’s office, the county governing board of whatever is your group’s county, and to three major newspapers in the area. Also mention your reluctant consideration of taking legal steps to correct what appears to be illegal discriminatory practice.

    That will probably have a better chance of getting positive results.

  • http://fofdallas.org Zachary Moore

    The Fellowship of Freethought Dallas has adopted a stretch of highway in Dallas, as well as a section of White Rock Lake. We’re proud to do the unsexy but necessary work of keeping our community safe and clean for everyone to enjoy.

    -Z

  • Erik

    I’m looking forward to the day when I see atheist/secular groups serving at the soup kitchen, food bank, homeless shelter, habitat for humanity builds, hurricane clean ups and even foreign service projects. I’m christian, and all I typically see is other christians and religious groups doing these things. But the need out there is great…I know it’s hard to organize people whose only connection is what they DON’T believe, but come on…our communities need the help.

  • Bronco

    People who litter are almost as disgusting as smokers who drop the butt on the ground. Littering from a moving vehicle deserves jail by night and picking up trash by day for 6 months.

  • muggle

    Bronco, especially the a-holes who toss a still lit cigarette butt out a car window, espcially in summer in the midst of a heat wave within range of dry brush. More brush fires get started this way and the ignorant unthinking uncaring assholes should get charged with arson. /rant

    Good job to these groups! Keep up the good work.

  • p.s.

    I’m looking forward to the day when I see atheist/secular groups serving at the soup kitchen, food bank, homeless shelter, habitat for humanity builds, hurricane clean ups and even foreign service projects. I’m christian, and all I typically see is other christians and religious groups doing these things. But the need out there is great…I know it’s hard to organize people whose only connection is what they DON’T believe, but come on…our communities need the help.

    Let’s ignore for a second that there a ton of secular organizations that do just that….
    There are a ton of people who volunteer individually, without belonging to any groups. Do you know what they all believe? Also, many people volunteer with schools or clubs that have nothing to do with belief or religious leanings. My fencing club volunteers at the food bank fairly regularly and we also do relay for life, and I know many of us are either atheists, agnostics, or ignostics. Sororities and fraternities also do alot of work around the community. For a non-college related example, my mom occasionally does volunteer work with her birding group (although back problems have gotten in the way of that recently.) We aren’t only defined by our atheism, and while you may feel obligated to do your good deeds in the name of a god, you have to understand that most of us see no reason to do good deeds in the name of no god. Personally, I find doing good for the sake of good much more fulfilling :)

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