Steve Backman, resident of Forest Park for 21 years, spent last Saturday picking up garbage in the village along with other residents and members of Citizens United in Forest Park (CUinFP).

Backman, the president of the community organization, saw similar clean-ups occur when he was a kid and thought it only made sense to do so in Forest Park today. Fourteen others agreed with him, as a group of 15 went out to scour the area around the Harlem blue line stop working their way toward the I-290 entrance on Desplaines Avenue.

“We also targeted the exit and entrance ramps,” said Backman.

The effort garnered some significant results, with the group gathering up 18 bags of garbage, which included syringes, dead animals, a doll, a broken windshield, headlights, taillights, bottles, cans, spoons, straws, and “there was a Holy Bible that was pitched into the weeds,” said Backman.

Backman said the favorite beers of the litterers were Heineken and lite beer. He also said condoms were prevalent, saying, “So that was a good thing,” meaning that at least litterers were practicing safe sex. “It was an interesting study in the human condition,” added Backman.

“All in all people felt satisfied that they really did something tangible,” said Backman of the cleanup participants, “Certainly a great experience this time around.” Backman hopes to make the cleanup event annual to ensure the cleanliness of Forest Park.

He also explained the organization’s interest in cleaning up Forest Park’s politics, saying that their upcoming July meeting will explore goals of the group, which prides itself in being non-partisan though some elected officials have disputed that claim in regards to upcoming elections.

CUinFP has pushed for establishment of the village’s Ethics Commission and helped enhance the effectiveness of village council meetings, according to Backman. “I don’t know. There’s a lot. There’s been a lot,” said Backman of the group’s accomplishments.

But one of the most tangible and immediate ones was the cleanup on June 24. Backman specifically thanked Commissioner Patrick Doolin for his active participation in assisting with the cleanup event by making sure that the group had trash bags and safety vests, provided by the village.

Those wishing to get involved in the next cleanup or in the organization’s upcoming meeting, which in Backman’s words, will “try to force our politicians to try a little harder, to not be so self-serving,” can contact CUinFP at (708) 771-2478 or visit