It started with a move.
Hailing from Oneida, Wisconsin, Littlebear Webster and his wife settled down in the Fightingville neighborhood in the dead heat of summer 2022.
Located in the heart of Lafayette, Fightingville and the larger LaPlace coterie surrounding it, is just a stone throw’s away from Downtown. Cozy and welcoming, the neighborhood maintains a “Victory Garden” with freshly grown items and even hosts a farmers market on Saturdays.
Still, hot summer days turn to cooler evenings – and with the turn came evening walks for the Webster family’s dog Clara. With each exploring new walk, Littlebear and his wife noticed something out of place with their new streets.
“Trash and broken glass,” he said of their surroundings. “Once you start looking for trash, you notice it everywhere you go.”
Miniature TAAKA bottles, Kool-Aid Jammers, cigar wrappers and thousands of cigarettes popped up where fresh spring blossoms should bloom. Shared vibrant green spaces became shared public dumps. Fence lines once laced with vines now were only laced with the Styrofoam containers from this week’s plate lunch meal.
As Native Americans, Littlebear and his wife felt a calling to act as stewards of the new land around them and stem the tides of this new wave of trash and help unclutter the senses from visual overload.
“I just started picking up along our walks,” Littlebear said. “Walking around the neighborhood has also helped us meet a lot of our neighbors in LaPlace and Fightingville.”
For Littlebear, he said he finds immense joy in such a simple action that dramatically impacts their neighborhood. Since he started his new picking tradition in August of 2022, the couple created their Facebook page, “Keepers of LaPlace and Fightingville,” promoting their, and Clara’s impact, frequently picking up multiple bags of garbage in a single evening.
“It shows we have pride in our neighborhood when visitors drive through,” he said of their efforts. “Respect is a two-way street and I don’t litter your streets.”
As the months rolled on, so did their efforts – eventually expanding to more and more streets on their route, venturing out into newer streets to conquer. And they’re not finished yet.
With a movement behind them and Parish Proud supplies, it’s safe to say LaPlace and Fightingville remain in good hands with their “Keepers.”