This former governor once ran for president. And he's been a volunteer trash collector for 25 years.

Michael Dukakis is the longest-serving governor in the history of Massachusetts.

Dukakis served as the leader of the commonwealth for 12 nonconsecutive years between 1975 and 1991, barring a brief four-year stint when his own political party kinda screwed him over and stuck another guy in office in his stead. And he willingly commuted on public transportation the entire time (which, as anyone who's ever ridden on the MBTA Green Line can tell you, is truly an admirable feat). He was also the Democratic presidential candidate in 1988, losing out to President George H.W. Bush.


Gov. Michael Dukakis on the presidential campaign road in 1988. Photo by Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images.


He also likes to walk around the city by himself and pick up the trash. Ya know, as former presidential candidates do.

Boston resident Sarah Godfrey recently wrote this letter to The Boston Globe regaling her random run-in with Mike "The Trashman" Dukakis:

OK, so no one actually calls him Mike "The Trashman" Dukakis. But plenty of people have witnessed the Duke waging his one-man war against evil litterbugs:

Presumably, Dukakis was also picking up litter before the invention of the smartphone, too.

While the earliest mention I could find of Dukakis trash-collecting was from 2009, it would stand to reason that he's probably been at it for a lot longer than that. A 2003 Boston Globe article also highlighted the Duke's vigilante brand of eco-justice. Here's a particularly articulate quote from the man himself:

"I mean, look at this crap! It's appalling, disgraceful. There's just no excuse for it. ... It's enough to drive you out of your mind. You see it all over the place and you have to ask: Why isn't anyone dealing with this?"

In the article, Dukakis also alludes to his disappointment in his gubernatorial successor, William Weld. "I left a plan for Weld 13 years ago to do this, and only now are we getting to it," he told the Globe.

But that "13 years" was 12 years ago now, meaning that Dukakis has been fighting this battle for at least a quarter of a century.

By putting the trash in its place, Dukakis also shows us what it means to be a public servant.

Politicians are meant to serve the interests of the public, but you don't often see them bending over to pick up plastic wrappers and discarded papers. In a perfect world, we wouldn't have to remark on the rare wonderment of a wealthy, successful politician doing a daily good deed for the people.

That being said: It shouldn't be left to an 81-year-old man to take out all the trash. So let's all, each and every of us, do like The Duke and bring some spit-shine to our own city streets. In the immortal words of the great Captain Planet, "The power is YOURS!"

And also:


GIF from "Captain Planet." Obvi.

Heroes

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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