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Litter: The Real Fabric of our Lives?


August 30, 2018 - 4 Comments

Every year, Cisco gives each employee 40 hours (an entire work week!) to volunteer, and we can use all of it at once or just a few hours here and there throughout the year. It perhaps goes without saying that employees certainly take advantage of this incredible benefit, and there’s all kinds of ways to give back to our local and global communities!

You’ve probably seen many of the ways we’re giving back just on the Life at Cisco blog – Cisco employees have done almost everything from trips to Cambodia to build homes with Habitat for Humanity to shaving their heads for Children’s Cancer Research! It’s one of the things I love most about Time2Give – we’re encouraged to give back in ways we’re most passionate!

For me, it’s taking to the streets of our community with my Cisco Public Sector Marketing friends to use a few of those hours to clean up litter left behind by our fellow humans.

There’s a reason I choose to work in the public sector at Cisco. As a landscape architect who has helped shape the fabric of my community, from a thousand acre development to a quiet little park, I see the value in local governance. It is here, in our community, that our lives unfold every day. And it is here, in the intimacy of our neighborhoods, that we can truly impact quality of life.

When I wake up in the morning, my goal is not to “go to work” – it is to have a purpose. And that purpose is to turn the dial of government a little further towards the people all around me; my colleagues, my neighbors, and my family. Additionally, I want to help people who work in government better understand how technology can improve the quality of life for everyone.

Cisco has given me a chance to tell that story, and that’s the value of Cisco’s Public Sector Marketing.

So, after a hectic week pecking away at our laptops and scurrying to and fro like gray squirrels searching for nuts, our group of volunteers gathers to give back. While we all love where we work, and what we do – sometimes you just need a change of scenery, and a wooded roadside on a brilliant North Carolina morning is the perfect canvas.

We eagerly don our orange safety vest for our two mile trek and get to work. I never tire of exploring the deep creativity expressed in nature, and today is no different as we begin our walk along the treeline seeking our treasures of trash; stopping to gather, then leaping ahead.

But as we walk along our highway, we start to realize we are picking up more than just trash. Much more. At first it’s a bit funny – one small airplane liquor bottle…then a second…then a third – in to our collection they go. Lots of the usual suspects lay along the ground too; coffee cups, plastic bags, fast food wrappers, an occasional tire tread. Then something more stirring – a small faceless doll.

We pause and re-imagine its former life, what it reminds us of, and what to do with it. That little worn out doll holds a great deal of power over us, if only for a moment. I can only imagine it also did for the small child who once held it close.

Next, we find a note. A neatly folded paper etched with pencil. It is a simple drawing but a very important one. Once upon a time to a very small child at least. On it are three small squares and a line. But it tells the tale of a lifetime; one of birth, journey, future.

Like the doll, it asks that we pause for a moment and offer many questions. And for me, it begins to tug some old dusty memories into the sunlight.

We are indeed a disposable society.

L to R: Kenn Dodson, Mike Lee, Erin Weber, Leanne Link

From the dolls and scribbles that helped get us through the day as children to the coffee and fast food that helps get us through the day as adults, they are the fabric of our community. Our little walk along the highway, wearing orange safety vests and filling large orange bags with the leftovers of living, is proof of that. Yet despite our best efforts, it will always be there along the roadside, needing us to take a few hours to give back and collect it once again. Thanks to the generosity of Cisco and my co-workers, we have the opportunity to do so, and to help improve the quality of life for our friends and family.

Want to work for a company that encourages you to give back? We’re hiring. Apply now!

 



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4 Comments

  1. As a Cisco employee and as the Mayor Pro Tem of the Town of Cary, thank you for this important service. What makes Cisco and Cary so remarkable, is its passionate, caring and kind people. Like you all. You make these places fun and inviting, and I’m proud to be part of both as well. Thanks again! Lori Bush Mayor Pro Tem, Town of Cary 23 Yr Cisco employee

    • Hi Lori, thank you for the words of encouragement. As a resident of Cary for many years, I have found that responsive and resilient government is indeed possible. Cary has proven that the adoption of innovative approaches and technology really can improve the quality of life for its citizens. Whether it's a bag of litter, safer streets, or more efficient operations, the genuine love for one's work that so many public and private sector employees exhibit in our town is helping make Cary one of the best places to live in America. Thank you for driving that forward through your work on the town council and elsewhere.

  2. Ken - Love this! Especially - 'my goal is not to “go to work” – it is to have a purpose.' I feel the same. Great job!

    • Thank you Frances. Making a real impact on the quality of life for my neighbors and family is a great benefit that few workplaces can provide. And I’m so glad to be able to do that in some small way at Cisco.