A Fiftieth Anniversary Deserves Something Special
Who’d have thunk it back in the waning days of 1961, when six Los Angeles area waste managers sat down to discuss the challenges they faced, that the get-together would spawn what is today SWANA, the world’s largest municipal solid waste association.
In the 1960s the opportunity for refuse industry managers to share knowledge was very limited, consisting principally of public works–related meetings, in which waste management was just one of several topics addressed. Consequently, the existence of—much less access to—literature pertaining to solid waste–related activities was limited, giving rise to the need for an organization that would not only be a repository of knowledge specific to their industry, but one able to help fight their battles and promote their causes.
This was what Grant H. Flint, general superintendent for Refuse Collection and Disposal for the City of Los Angeles wanted to rectify when he proposed to his colleagues the formation of an association to serve their needs. What followed was a meeting that ultimately led to the creation of the Governmental Refuse Collection and Disposal Association (GRCDA). Thus it was that the organizing group, now swollen to 16 members, designated itself the Board of Governors and launched GRCDA in February 1962.
By 1990, the organization’s horizons had expanded to where they now included a variety of practices such as waste-to-energy, recycling, landfill-gas management, manager/executive training, and advocacy. Despite some opposition, GRCDA’s international board charged the executive committee to propose a name change for consideration by the membership. After a period of debate, the committee presented the name Solid Waste Association of North American to the membership, by whom it was adopted by a substantial majority.
So, Let Me Get to the Point
I’m beating the bushes for photos and tales from you and your colleagues to help us tell the association’s story in a special 50th birthday celebration issue, a significant portion of which will consist of contributions from the people and businesses who have made our industry what it is today. That means you! Interspersed throughout will be SWANA- or solid waste-industry-related memories from you and your colleagues along with old pictures of equipment, places, and people from years long past.
Regarding illustrative materials, we’d prefer receiving scans, but if that’s not practical just send me your old pictures and we’ll do the scanning on this end and promptly return the originals to you. If you have old product shots, send them to us along with whatever details you can recall. How about pictures of you and your staff taken at the GRCDA conference in ’73…or from WasteCon last year in Nashville? Whatever the time frame or venue, we need your help telling the world what was going on, so please include the following:
- Who are the people and what were they doing?
- Who were they working for?
- What in the world were they thinking then…and now?
- General description of the scene, including any equipment shown.
As for your memories, fun stories, remembrances, etc. please write them up as if you were being paid by the word. What do you remember from that conference in ’66? Who was there? What was the big buzz of the time? If it’s too long, we’ll edit it down a bit to fit into the printed issue, but we’ll run longer versions in the digital edition that will be posted online and available to anyone at no cost for years to come.
This is a big project and we’re already well under way, so time is of the essence. Please take a few minutes to get those old images and stories to me. I can accept material as late as April 11.
Please feel free to contact me anytime about this project. I can be reached here directly at 805-679-7619, online at http://www.forester.net/swana50/, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author's Bio: John Trotti is the Group Editor for Forester Media.