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Solid Waste Department takes to social media


City Solid Waste Director Matthew Whelan and his “amigo” tout green waste collection during a recent installment of “Talkin’ Trash Tuesdays” on Twitter. (Source: @abqbeautiful via Twitter)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — You know the saying: One man’s trash is another man’s Twitter fodder.

Or so it is for the city of Albuquerque’s Solid Waste Management Department, which is trying to reach a new audience with a series of low-budget and intentionally silly videos geared toward social media.

Each episode of “Talkin’ Trash Tuesdays” features Solid Waste Director Matthew Whelan hamming it up while explaining city policies and procedures for garbage collection, recycling and illegal dumping.

Whelan – who has the starring role mostly because nobody else in the department wanted it – said the series emerged from a department brainstorming session about how to keep reaching the public when the pandemic disrupted traditional messaging opportunities, such as TV morning show appearances.

Staff started making the goofy but informative videos they hoped could gain traction online.

“We wanted to seem kind of campy,” Whelan said. “(To start), I was at the fireplace relaxing and having a casual conversation about things I enjoy talking about and that are near and dear to me, which is solid waste.

“From there, they started taking a life of their own.”

In scenes filmed in front of a faux fireplace or a beach-themed background, Whelen has:

⋄ Talked to a sock puppet about green waste (the city is collecting bagged grass/leaves and bundled branches today, Monday, through May 14 on regular trash pickup days).

⋄ Played with toy trucks while discussing the scourge of illegal dumping

⋄ Donned a giant gold necklace with a clock – a la rapper Flavor Flav – to remind residents about garbage/recycling collection hours (it’s not considered a missed pickup until after 5:30 p.m.)

The videos – about a minute long – are made in-house on a cellphone, Whelan said. The budget for each is $10, and “sometimes we don’t even (spend) the $10 budget,” he added.

The series launched in early March and is now nine episodes in. Whelan said he anticipates about 14 “Talkin’ Trash Tuesdays” episodes in total, saying there is plenty of material and information to share.

“That’s one thing people don’t understand about the Solid Waste Department – they really don’t know everything we do,” he said. “We’re trying to educate the public on everything we do.”

Videos are posted weekly to the department’s Twitter account, @ABQBeautiful.

TRIO TAPPED: The new Albuquerque Community Safety Department remains in its infancy, but the leadership team is now set.

Mayor Tim Keller has appointed Mariela Ruiz-Angel director of the fledgling department touted as an alternative responding agency for calls related to behavioral health, homelessness, inebriation and more. Ruiz-Angel has until now served as the Community Safety Department coordinator. She previously served as coordinator of the city’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.

Jasmine Desiderio and D’Albert Hall will serve as deputy directors.

Desiderio comes to the city from the New Mexico Department of Health, where she was the COVID-19 vaccine project coordinator. She was also previously project director of a Native American youth suicide prevention program.

Hall worked most recently for the Clark County Department of Family Services in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he was a family service specialist and child development specialist.

Jessica Dyer:

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