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Photos: The painted dumpsters of Bethel, Alaska

Caitlin Laraux and Adilyn Jung stand by the dumpster they painted in Bethel, Alaska on Tuesday, July 1, 2014. “My Mom is My Hero”, with portraits of their moms is painted on the dumpster. Youngsters in he southwestern hub city of Bethel have been painting dumpsters with various themes over the years.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
Local children have painted the dumpsters scattered around Bethel, Alaska. Youngsters in he southwestern hub city of Bethel have been painting dumpsters with various themes over the years. Photographed on Wednesday, July 2, 2014.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
Birth control messages are painted on a dumpster at Watson’s Corner on Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway in Bethel, Alaska on Wednesday, July 2, 2014. Youngsters in he southwestern hub city of Bethel have been painting dumpsters with various themes over the years.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
A painted dumpster warns about the dangers of smoking next to Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway in Bethel, AK on Wednesday, July 2, 2014. Youngsters in he southwestern hub city of Bethel have been painting dumpsters with various themes over the years.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
“My Mom is My Hero,” and “My Hero is My Dad,” proclaim painted dumpsters at the small boat harbor in Bethel, AK on Wednesday, July 2, 2014. Youngsters in he southwestern hub city of Bethel have been painting dumpsters with various themes over the years.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
Birth control messages are painted on a dumpster at Watson’s Corner on Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway in Bethel, AK on Wednesday, July 2, 2014. Youngsters in he southwestern hub city of Bethel have been painting dumpsters with various themes over the years.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
“My Hero is my Teacher,” proclaims a painted dumpster in Bethel, AK on Wednesday, July 2, 2014. Youngsters in he southwestern hub city of Bethel have been painting dumpsters with various themes over the years.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
Caitlin Laraux and Adilyn Jung stand by the dumpster they painted in Bethel, AK on Tuesday, July 1, 2014. “My Mom is My Hero”, with portraits of their moms is painted on the dumpster. With them are moms Carole Jung and Melissa Laraux and little brother Aiden Laraux. Youngsters in he southwestern hub city of Bethel have been painting dumpsters with various themes over the years.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
Local children have painted the dumpsters scattered around Bethel, AK. Youngsters in he southwestern hub city of Bethel have been painting dumpsters with various themes over the years. Photographed on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
Local children have painted the dumpsters scattered around Bethel, AK. Youngsters in he southwestern hub city of Bethel have been painting dumpsters with various themes over the years. Photographed on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
Local children have painted the dumpsters scattered around Bethel, AK. Youngsters in he southwestern hub city of Bethel have been painting dumpsters with various themes over the years. Photographed on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
Local children have painted the dumpsters scattered around Bethel, AK. Youngsters in he southwestern hub city of Bethel have been painting dumpsters with various themes over the years. Photographed on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
Local children have painted the dumpsters scattered around Bethel, AK. Youngsters in he southwestern hub city of Bethel have been painting dumpsters with various themes over the years. Photographed on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
Local children have painted the dumpsters scattered around Bethel, AK. Youngsters in he southwestern hub city of Bethel have been painting dumpsters with various themes over the years. Photographed on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
Local children have painted the dumpsters scattered around Bethel, AK. Youngsters in he southwestern hub city of Bethel have been painting dumpsters with various themes over the years. Photographed on Tuesday, July 1, 2014.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
“Be Healthy in Bethel,” proclaims a painted dumpster near the Bethel Family Clinic in Bethel, AK on Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Youngsters in he southwestern hub city of Bethel have been painting dumpsters with various themes over the years.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
A painted dumpster sits near the Ridgecrest Memorial Cemetery in Bethel, AK on Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Youngsters in he southwestern hub city of Bethel have been painting dumpsters with various themes over the years.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
Aiden Laraux stands by the dumpster he painted in Bethel, AK on Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Ironman is my hero proclaims his painted dumpster. Youngsters in he southwestern hub city of Bethel have been painting dumpsters with various themes over the years.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News
Dumpsters in Bethel, AK painted by local children on Monday, June 28, 2014. Youngsters in he south western hub city of Bethel have been painting dumpsters with various themes over the years.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch N
Dumpsters at the Bethel, AK small boat harbor proclaim heroes to local children on Wednesday, June 25, 2014. Youngsters in he south western hub city of Bethel have been painting dumpsters with various themes over the years.
Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch N
Bob Hallinen

BETHEL -- In a city with no curbside trash pickup, where plastic shopping bags must be biodegradable but stuff still accumulates in yards, dumpsters are not only essential but celebrated.

The dumpsters of Bethel are canvases for public art and billboards for public health. They are where residents are supposed to throw away garbage, but their value extends beyond function.

"Everybody thinks of Bethel as being ugly and it’s not,” said Tiffany Tony, operations director for the region’s vocational school, Yuut Elitnaurviat. “Bethel is quirky.”

Read more: Dumpsters of Bethel combine function, art, public health