The Order of the Wheel has emerged once again to recruit new pledges dedicated to protecting local waterways and the environment, the Waterfront Partnership announced Monday.
The not-so-secret society, which was formed in 2018 in the name of Baltimore’s beloved Mr. Trash Wheel and his fellow garbage-gobbling, water-dwelling, googly-eyed friends, is recruiting members for its third pledge class.
Pledges can answer the Order of the Wheel’s call by completing five tasks over five weeks–which have been specially designed for families to do while staying at home and social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We wanted to make these tasks fun and educational for those with families at home, as well as a way to connect with nature and others virtually,” Adam Lindquist, director of the Healthy Harbor Initiative for the Waterfront Partnership, said in a statement. “We hope Order of the Wheel can provide a brief respite and pick-me-up during these otherwise challenging times.”
This time around, the Order of the Wheel is trying to stop the nefarious plot of Dr. Goldbeak and the Mallard Syndicate, a duck-led espionage organization working to destroy the peaceful relationship between humans and ducks, according to a top-secret, classified document from the Order itself.
Details about the secret missions have been kept, well, secret. But one of the tasks that recruits can expect will involve them taking something they would normally throw out and showing the Order how they will re-use it, Lindquist said.
While people may not be able to organize community cleanups and other group environmental activities during the pandemic, Lindquist said there are things that families can do to help.
For example, people should only flush toilet paper down the toilet. Other products, like wipes or paper towels, can clog pipes and lead to environmental harm.
“These products don’t break down and cause sewer backups, which can cause raw sewage to flow into our streams and harbor,” Lindquist said.
Pledges have until May 11 to sign up to participate in the Order of the Wheel’s missions.
Recruits who complete all five missions by May 24 will receive a secret code name, the original demo of the “Mr. Trash Wheel” song, directions on how to perform the secret handshake, communications directly from Mr. Trash Wheel for members’ eyes only, and instructions to be inducted into the Order of the Wheel.
The order is also encouraging current members to join in these missions and pass along the word to prospective recruits.
Over the past two years, the Order of the Wheel has recruited 2,457 pledges, and 553 of those people were inducted into the order after completing all of their assigned tasks, the Waterfront Partnership said.
Mr. Trash Wheel sits at the mouth of the Jones Falls, while Professor Trash Wheel is stationed at the mouth of Harris Creek and Captain Trash Wheel watches over Masonville Cove.
Together, the Trash Wheel family has collected 1,356 tons of trash and debris to date, including more than 700,000 plastic bags, more than 1 million plastic bottles and more than 11 million cigarette butts.
A fourth, yet-to-be-named trash wheel will join the family when it is installed at the mouth of the Gwynn Falls.
The Waterfront Partnership had called on community members to help name the trash wheel. Name submission has now closed, but Waterfront Partnership is selecting the top names for public voting, a spokesperson for the organization said.
Public voting and the announcement of the new trash wheel’s name will take place closer to the trash wheel’s unveiling, which is scheduled for the summertime, the spokesperson added.
With his goofy charm, Mr. Trash Wheel has developed a cult following from fans in Baltimore and beyond–and in the process he has attracted more attention to the health of local waterways. But ultimately it is up to humans to stop litter from ending up in those waterways to begin with, Lindquist told Baltimore Fishbowl in October.