Story by Vineeta Lower
When I think about serving in my community, it’s usually with intentional thoughts that include being warm, dry and safe. However, among us is an unsung hero; born and raised here in Seaside, Brady Chandler steps outside of his comfort zone to care for his beloved city in a way that removes the ugliness and dons it with beauty. He does this with grace, humility, kindness and good humor.
Brady has built relationships with city officials, as well as the Mill Pond inhabitants. Recently, when he went out to clean up, one resident came up to Brady and shared how he went into the pond, up to his armpits, to pull out what he knew was his and others’ trash. The whole time he was talking to Brady, he was soaking wet from the armpits down, shivering and so very cold but so proud to have helped Brady and to show that despite his circumstances, he was respectful and wanted to be a responsible member of the community. Another time, when Brady was cutting back some brush with a chainsaw, someone hollered roughly, “who’s there?” Brady, calmly replied, “It’s Brady.” After a moment, a reply in a tone of comradery came back saying, “Hey Brady, how’s it going? What ya doin?”
That’s Brady, well liked and respected by all. By day, he works for a local heating company and enters peoples’ homes with dignity and kindness, working efficiently and thoroughly to ensure his customers are happy (I know I am!) barely making ends meet to provide for himself and his bride, hoping to one day earn enough to start a family. Until then he’s out to keep Seaside beautiful.
Mill Pond at the south end of Seaside has been not such a wonderful place, but it has always been a place with potential. A few years ago, a walking trail was cut around the pond to encourage residents to stroll around the park and enjoy the natural beauty of its habitat.
Along with the natural beauty, the area also attracts street people and the homeless. Unfortunately, many leave their belongings, used needles and other paraphernalia behind when it rains.
When the rains come, the area around the pond begins to flood and the inhabitants must leave quickly. All their belongings, including the tents, flow into the pond leading into the river and eventually, the ocean; that is, unless the unsung heroes, like Brady and the many volunteers, who step in and remove it, which is exactly what happens.
Last year, with the city’s help, Brady and others were able to get out approximately 53,000 pounds of water-logged items and waste. This year, Brady shared that, “After three very successful clean-ups at the Mill Ponds, I have realized one of the keys to that success is coordinating equipment to assist our volunteers with removing the collected garbage. The entire trail is a half mile around and carrying a 30lb bag of garbage gets exhausting quickly.”
A Facebook page, Seaside Community Cleanup, exists to diligently showcase maps of the areas around the pond that have been cleaned and still need cleaning. It’s where locals can go to know where and when to show up, a list of items to bring with them that would be needed to keep themselves safe and to pick up items.
Brady shared having the volunteers, the dumpster and small front loader brought by Parker McCarthy helped tremendously. Brady said that “[Parker] showed up with his awesome tractor for the next two cleanups and his 1/3-yard bucket helped haul out over 20,000lbs of garbage. He hasn’t asked for any compensation for his time, maintenance or diesel either.” Having continued use of the tractor would really help them in their efforts to keep the Mill Pond area clean. Brady uses a skiff to go out on the pond to pull garbage out of the water and that works well, until he has to toss the heavy bags out onto the land.
At the first clean-up effort, Jesse Anderson brought an ATV which helped get to less popular narrow routes and they were able to haul out garbage to the dumpster rather than manually carrying out 30-pound bags, one at a time. It’s Brady’s hope to obtain an ATV, which is narrower and faster than a tractor, and a trailer for their continued effort. He’s reached out via Facebook for donations or the opportunity to borrow one but hasn’t heard back so far. Parker recently shared a link to a trailer that costs around $300 which would reduce the number of trips that would be needed by 1/5th and will keep the mud from becoming overwhelming.
So far people have donated $770 towards the clean-up ventures. Brady keeps none for himself nor to offset his fuel costs. So far, he’s used $24 to purchase drinking water from Truckee’s for volunteers to stay hydrated and plans to purchase the trailer too and continues to collect towards the purchase of an ATV. Until then, he’ll keep on organizing cleanups and shares, “I never imagined I would be so fortunate to give back to our community by cleaning up garbage. I am incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support for what we are doing and it motivates me to do even more.”
If you’re able to donate toward the purchase of an ATV and continued efforts for gas and supplies or want to be a part of the clean-up efforts, please reach out to Brady at firstname.lastname@example.org. Brady hopes that with the right equipment and donations to expand clean up effort to other areas on the North Coast.