Litter is the subject of Yesterday's Trash, a documentary created by Ben Cohen. More specifically, this roughly fifteen-minute-long and two-part story examines the origins, attitudes towards, and clean-up of all of the garbage generated during the annual Mifflin Street Block Party. Held every spring -- by tradition the final weekend before final exams in the UW spring semester schedule -- the party has ridden a roller-coaster of changes over its thirty plus years run. One constant at the block party, at least with respects to the size of the crowds, is the trash, heaps of beer cans, plastic cups and other detritus that line the gutters and sidewalks of the 400 and 500 blocks of Mifflin Street over the course of the party.
In this segment of the documentary, Cohen looks at the clean-up following the block party. "And at the center of it all, is the Mifflin Street Co-op," narrates Cohen. "The day before the party, I decided to visit the co-op to find out what they would do to help clean up." In addition to examining the role of the co-op, he also checks out others on Mifflin late at night after the party, including a gleaner looking for anything useful to sell and a waste disposal team cleaning up the street.
Does the street eventually get cleaned? Yes, early the subsequent morning by members of Blackhawk Church, a Madison-area evangelical megachurch that is set to move to a new and larger complex on the far west side of town by the autumn of 2007.
The second half of this engaging documentary ' shot over April 30 and May 1 of 2005 ' follows below.
Cohen offers a conclusion to his documentary: "Please recycle."
The first part of Yesterday's Trash looks at the attitudes held towards the party's garbage by revelers, police and other observers. More information about the history of the Mifflin Street Block Party was published last year by The Badger Herald.