Mahatma Gandhi observed that “What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” In that case then, the world of Aiden Haigis is a pretty good place to be.
Recently, Aiden, 16, began a new project. He says, “One day I was just down at the creek going up and down the storm drain. I was unclogging all of the dams full of twigs and stuff and I pulled out a lot of trash. I put it to the side. The next day, I came and just picked it all up and started cleaning up all of the trash around the woods.” One thing led to another and he is now on a mission.
|Recent collect from a creek cleanup. Courtesy: Aiden Haigis|
I had to ask why he felt compelled to clean up someone else’s property. “So the animals could be safer from plastic and stuff,” he says. He may not be able to make a big difference in the wider world but he can make a difference in his world right now. He wants to keep his part of the world clean so it won’t negatively influence the world. That’s admirable.
Trying to figure out Aiden’s motivation, Aiden’s father, Joe, says, “We’ve always told them to pick up their stuff, don’t litter, and stuff like that. But a lot of it comes from him" pointing to neighbor and mentor to Aiden, Eric Berendsen, a man whose passion for the natural world is readily apparent. “Eric takes him mountain biking or fishing. He’s taught Aiden to love the outdoors like he does.” That’s the value of a great mentor. And now Aiden is putting those values into action.
|Aiden Haigis and Eric Berendsen|
Aiden runs a small lawn care and landscaping business. He keeps his world attractive and desirable. He has enough customers to keep himself busy - and outdoors. But in his most recent cleaning of the neighborhood creek, he filled 15 trash bags. He also found a baseball bat, a backpack, and a kiddie pool.
Aiden admits that it bothers him the way people trash the neighborhood. He says, “People are too lazy.” He has observed that people often shirk their responsibilities and duties.
Aiden told me that, “On Saturday I walked to my aunt’s so I took a bag and collected trash along the way. Had a whole bag by the time I got to the south side. Just along the street.” Most of it was along the south side business district. Interestingly enough, nobody stopped him. Nobody asked him what he was doing. He just quietly went about his self-assigned task of cleaning his world. He says, “I thought someone would have said ‘Good job’ or something but nothing.”
But that doesn’t deter him. He has plans. “I’m going to Tower Park next and then Highland Park and Rossford Park and do sections at a time.“ He wants to get his friends involved too because it would be fun.
Aiden is giving something to this community. He says he is “Trying to help others.” I would take his help any day.
|Aiden with his parents Mandy and Joe Haigis|