Political trash and literal trash

Dear President Trump,

Lately, I’ve been noticing that in addition to feeling as though overt racism is acceptable again, many of us seem to have decided to go back to the good ol’ days when no one gave a second thought to throwing trash out of car windows. It’s as though we need our physical surroundings to match the garbage we are seeing and hearing from you and your administration and the hyper-partisan rhetoric amplifying it all. Nearly all of the arterials and highways I travel are heavily littered these days. It’s like we’ve given up and collectively said to hell with it. “Make America Great Again,” indeed.

I’m not sure how long ago the city of Seattle removed most of the public garbage cans from parks and street corners due to lack of funding to keep them maintained. It’s been a while. I’m sure this is a part of the problem; when it’s no longer easy for us to deposit our empty bottles, wrappers, and paper bags in the handy trash barrels some of us just shed our crap wherever we want and if that is the gutter, so be it. I do think, though, that a combination of low morale associated with trashy unrelenting politics plus no longer having props, like garbage cans, is leading to this visible breakdown in the community contract.

So what to do about it? I don’t think we are getting public garbage cans back any time soon, at least not while we as a society favor building more wealth for the already ultra-wealthy over taking care of the common good. Personally, I’ve been stingy with my trash pick-up energies, having typically confined them to a couple of hours on MLK day annually. I think I’m going to need to change that schedule. I have noticed that since I did a major clean up of the stretch along the park and reservoir across the street from us a few months ago, including picking up many, many piles of dog shit and tying plastic bags to the chain link fence, those blocks have stayed clean. Maybe if I extend from there and work a block a month, or something like that, people will get that they should deal with their trash appropriately. It’s kind of corny, but I do ascribe to Gandhi’s encouragement to be the change we want to see, so it’s worth a try.

May we be safe enough to care about our surroundings.
May we be happy to make America beautiful again.
May we realize the crap we drop in the gutter compromises us all.
May we take care as an act of revolt against forces that want us to roll over.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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