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Doing Good, and Doing It Well

How do we measure commitment? Across Southern California, as the gap between public needs and public funds yawns ever wider, we are seeing new, heartening ways to measure community commitment. Not just in tax dollars allocated but in labor volunteered and equipment donated.

Many state employees have recently volunteered to take unpaid leave in the hope of forestalling more layoffs or salary cuts, and teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District loaned the district 3% of their pay to help it cope with a fiscal crisis.

But consider as well these measures of commitment: Californians have thus far donated 831,000 hours of labor as part of a Caltrans Adopt-a-Wall program. Volunteers, like Long Beach car stereo installer Tom Carney, promise to keep a stretch of freeway wall graffiti-free for two years. Caltrans supplies the paint and Carney and many other volunteers tirelessly paint over the work of graffiti vandals. And they repaint. And repaint again.

The TreePeople represent another measure of community commitment: Andy Lipkis, founder of the group dedicated to planting trees, has himself planted more than 5,000 trees and has inspired tree planting in communities worldwide. His organization has planted millions of trees in the mountains and cities of Southern California alone. Now, with cutbacks in Los Angeles’ tree maintenance force, Lipkis hopes to create a commission to help care for city trees.

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Such fine individuals make a difference, especially in these troubled fiscal times.


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