Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Problem w/ Dog Poop: People

I've written about Dog Shit extensively before and the dilemma it poses. Obviously, nobody wants it laying around, but at the very least, it means people are living there. Step 1 accomplished. Step 2 is getting people to clean up after them, which alludes to something deeper, actually caring for and tending to the neighborhood, participating as active stewards in your home (where your loft becomes your bedroom and your neighborhood, your living room, and its restaurants, your kitchen).

Virginia Postrel makes the leap to conclude that the presence of doggie doo doo means an area in decline. Writing for D in 2003, she concluded that uptown must be on its way to decline because a neighborhood that replaced crack vials and used needles from 15 years prior with dog poop must be trending the wrong direction. Lesson, she's an idiot. Apparently, she hasn't been to Paris or New York or London or Rome who have been waging this battle for eons.

There are two certainties regarding people and cities: we like our dogs and there's always an a-hole. The key is to shame the offending jerkstore into behaving like a socially responsible steward like the rest of us.

Eventually Paris had enough and now essentially subsidizes city sponsored clean up after doing the very French thing of surrendering, this time to its own people. Not the ideal solution, but one they felt was necessary after exhausting all other solutions. Lesson: Paris is full of a-holes.

Downtown Dallas Inc. has raised the issue before as well. To which I responded, that it is awfully hard to ensure responsibility is taken by everyone when the City provides dispensers for baggies, but never fills them. I'll give them credit, since I wrote that there have been baggies available at Main Street Garden nearly every single day, but I think one (from memory).

Still to this day however, I save all my plastic grocery bags (not paper?! or reusable burlap?! how very ungreen! off with his head) to carry with me to clean up after my dogs, just in case. Of course, there is always the occasional accident where I might be rushing and forget to grab an extra plastic bag or two from the drawer. Main Street Gardens is typically the only place where I can reliably find a plastic bag if necessary, which is why I'm writing this:

Today, I witnessed something that pissed me off to the Nth degree. A woman with a stroller and no dog walked over to the dispenser on the far side of the park from where I was, and I heard a noise like a tug at the plastic baggie dispenser. And there she was yanking tens of feet off at a time, like a toddler that just discovered the mechanics of the toilet paper roll and wanted to see if there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. She then proceeded to neatly fold up what must have been at least 20 feet of plastic baggies and discreetly tuck the folded baggies under her baby.

Part of being an active steward in your neighborhood is understanding and participating in the unwritten social contract between neighbors, between businesses and residents, and between residents, businesses, and the city. We expect the City to live up to its promise of providing bags, we expect people to pick up after their dogs, and only take one bag at a time. What is the sense of hording them? Then we all end up with poop on our hands...or feet.

If there is excess dog shit all over downtown Dallas tomorrow, now you'll know why.