Maine preacher resorting to 'trash talk' to clean up neighborhood

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September 18, 2013, 8:06 pm
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(NECN: Amy Sinclair) - An inner-city preacher from Lewiston, Maine is resorting to "trash talk" to clean up his neighborhood.

The Reverend Doug Taylor has put up some controversial signs on the six foot fence around his home admonishing his neighbors to clean up their act.

"You can find anything out here, dirty diapers, condoms, needles, bike parts, mattresses infested with bed bugs," says Taylor picking his way through a vacant lot next to his home.

He says he's tired of people treating his Bates Street neighborhood like a toxic waste dump.

"All I want is for the people who are doing this to stop now and for people who aren't, for them not to adopt the mentality 'I didn't put it there so I'm not picking it up,'" says Taylor, holding a loaded diaper with gloved hands.
 
In the past, he's sponsored neighborhood clean up days and he says he's not above bribery. Taylor keeps jars of snacks on hand for children who help him clean up trash.

Of course, the treats he doles out don't have wrappers that can be left behind.

Now he's going a step farther.

Using his chain link fence as a pulpit, Taylor has erected large signs that read "low-income has nothing to do with being low class" and "Though we live in the ghetto, we don't have to live in garbage."

"It looks extreme hanging signs like that, but before I can get their hands on rakes and shovels, I gotta get their eyes open," says Taylor.

Bates Street resident and mother of two Rachel Martin says she doesn't mind the sidewalk sermon.

"You need a clean place to live. I get mad because my daughter's always picking up butts and wanting to eat em," says Martin.
 
But others says the messages sound condescending, even mean-spirited.

"It's kinda harsh - we realize where we're living but it doesn't need be out on a sign saying hello look at me," said Sonia Stevens.
 
Brother Doug makes no apologies. He says he's always seen the beauty in Bates Street.

"It won't change unless everyone joins together," he says.

He just wants his neighbors to see it too.

Tags: maine, Lewiston, Amy Sinclair, Doug Taylor, Reverend Doug Taylor
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