Jul 6, 2018
Source: Don River Park
Plogging has come to the Don Valley. A combination of jogging and the Swedish term “plocka upp” (pick up), ploggers clean up litter while getting in their exercise.
We chatted with runner Lawrence Warriner, founder of Don’t Mess with the Don, a volunteer group that leads stewardship events in the Valley.
It began while Lawrence, a founder of local trail running group Toronto TRUE Running, was leading group runs through the city’s ravine trails.
Seeing the amount of garbage in the Don Valley grow over the years, Lawrence decided to do something about it, heading out with a garbage bag to clean up the Valley.
Soon after receiving great feedback from passersby, he formed Don’t Mess with the Don with fellow community members, and now leads public litter cleanups throughout the Don.
DRVP: What is it about the Don attracted you to create Don’t Mess with the Don?
LW: The Don Valley is a special place. I was born in Toronto and spent my whole childhood in a house seconds from one of the small valleys that make up the Don system. I played, explored and became the person I am today through thousands of hours spent in this incredible treasure. Today’s Don Valley is not so different from the Don I knew as a child. It offers a wild and welcoming green space at my back door.
DRVP: What do you think is the biggest issue facing the Don?
LW: Many issues face the Don of 2018. Two huge issues that are of primary concern are the dumping of garbage from the apartments but I would say the bigger issue in the valley, and much of Toronto’s park system, is it is under attack from invasive species. Several plants including the Dog Strangling/Choking Vine are absolutely decimating and pushing out native plants to the point in many areas little natural fauna remain. Also I don’t think Toronto as a city has come to terms with how we manage and interact with our park system. As citizens we seem to operate often as users of the parks and ravines rather then stewards.
DRVP: What types of events do you lead?
LW: We are working hard on a pilot project involving all categories of stakeholders to move the model to stewardship. We are involving users, residents, companies, community, and most importantly the city itself, on becoming a better partner to all of the Don rather than just bits and pieces. There are some wonderful projects and initiatives like Evergreen Brick Works who are leading the Don forward with sustainability and stewardship, which can help the whole system.
DRVP: What is your vision for the Don?
LW: A conservancy reflecting the Don’s historical and present importance to our great city. A model built on sustainability with adequate resources applied through all the partners I mentioned above.
DRVP: How can people get involved?
LW: Please sign our petition at change.org. Please begin a two way relationship with our precious parklands, if you use it, do more than pay taxes. Find a piece of the Don that’s important to you, care for it and prioritize it. Get involved with one of Toronto’s Crown Jewels and find a way to make a difference.
Learn more about the group and their upcoming stewardship events on the Don’t Mess with the Don Facebook page.