When Joe Moretti moved to Jamaica, Queens, back in November of 2010, New York City was about to experience one of the worst blizzards in its history. As more than a foot of snow covered the streets and sidewalks of his new neighborhood, Moretti was unable to see what really lay beneath. It wasn’t until the snow started melting months later when he saw that the piles of snow covered up piles of garbage.
“There was a vacant lot next to my building that always had a bunch of garbage all over the sidewalks around it and people would keep putting more. I started taking pictures and sending them to the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and 3-1-1 because I wanted it cleaned up,” said Moretti, who has now been living in Jamaica for almost four years. “As I started walking all around Jamaica, I kept seeing more and more garbage, so more pictures and more reporting to the [DSNY].”
Moretti even took to YouTube, and posted music videos about it. While the videos garnered some media attention, Moretti wanted to get even more attention on the problem.
“I thought, ‘How can I crank this up some notches?’” Moretti said.
And that is when “Clean Up Jamaica Queens” was born. “Clean Up Jamaica Queens” is a blog Moretti started in 2013 to highlight the worst problems in the area: garbage strewn in to vacant lots, sidewalks and streets. He uses harsh language and writes in a tone that many might find offensive, but at the end of the day, he gets his point across.
“That has helped to bring attention to this major problem in Jamaica. Everyone is now talking about the garbage problem, whether they are offended by what I say or not. People are starting to do something. At the end of the day we all want the same thing: a cleaner, safer and better community, I just happen to do it in a loud and different way,” Moretti said.
He posts pictures that he takes around the neighborhood and writes a few choice words for some of Jamaica’s elected officials.
“Our leaders have been completely useless on this issue and have failed to do anything. They need to make sure that all the laws on the books such as littering, uncovered garbage cans and household garbage in public garbage cans are enforced,” he said. “People here feel they can do whatever they want because there are no consequences. It truly is the Wild Wild West of Queens.”