Former Greenhouse manager Doug Ewing was recently featured on KOMO News. Doug was named one of "Eric's Heroes" for his guardianship of the Snoqualmie River.
He wears glasses and suspenders and a large straw hat with strings that are tied beneath his chin. Above him, cottonwood fluff falls amongst evergreens like summer snow.
He walks amongst the living things he has surrounded himself with, the things he adores. Trees and plants and bushes. Flowers and apple trees and willows and rows of peppers. His eyes are raised, forever looking up at limbs and leaves and the light in-between.
His name is Doug Ewing, and he is a man in a perpetual state of wonder, amazed by the beauty and the sheer possibility of the natural world.
"You can make a career studying it," he says. "Your whole life. Every day. And every day you'll discover something that just knocks your socks off."
He actually DID make a career of it. He wrapped himself in horticulture and botany, eventually becoming the greenhouse manager for the University of Washington's biology department.
He grew the plants that were studied by the U.W. biologists. Agave plants with 10-foot flower spikes, and Waldo the 80-pound corpse flower. And, when called upon he gave tours and taught children who visited the greenhouse. He smiles when he recalls their faces. "I would jazz 'em," he says. "I would say, 'Look at this! This is amazing!'"
Doug's garden is the garden you imagine in your mind when you say to yourself, "Maybe I'll take up gardening one of these days." It is natural and eclectic a bit chaotic. It is perfect.
And just down the road from Doug's home is a gorgeous bend in the Snohomish river. There are trees on either side and lazy, swirling water in between. It's an impressionist painting.
But on any given day, if you look closely you'll see problems. Beer cans and booze bottles and fast food wrappers. Piles of garbage left behind by partiers. And worse yet, the stuff that's there not just because of carelessness and laziness, but by design.
Doug says, "More and more, I'm finding contractors, truckloads of what they're ripped out, torn apart, and aren't going to take to the dump, and they just throw it along the bank of the river."
And so, almost every single day, Doug walks down to the quarter-mile stretch of river, armed with plastic bags and and a trash picker, and goes to work.
He picks up everything he sees, and when he's finished, he throws the bags into the back of his pickup truck. So far, he has taken 59 truckloads of garbage to the dump.
Doug is angered by what he finds, and disgusted.
"What I struggle with," he says, standing next to his pickup, piled high with bags of trash, "is getting my mind wrapped around who does this? I mean, they weren't raised right."
Read the full article and watch the video on KOMO News.