Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Super Trashy Park, Trashier Playground
I've often complained about park-goers garbage habits, and after seeing this morning's showing of corn cobs, stink bombs, plastic uzis, confetti poppers, silly string, rum bottles, whole wheat bread wrappers, and other general trash items in the playground this morning, who could blame me? (Sorry about the lack of photographic evidence; my camera has finally and completely died. I did manage to salvage one trash can photo.) Not to mention that the one, lonely Parks worker was provided with an old school metallic rake to clean up the mess. The one trash receptacle was piled high, and its sides showed ample evidence of the "Can't fit it into the trash bin, so I'll just throw it near the trash bin" attitude. Most of the trash was food related despite vending or eating being discouraged in the playground area.
My first response was something along the lines of "People can be so disgusting and irresponsible and lazy and rude and inconsiderate." While I still think all those things, I also have to give some responsibility to the Parks Department. My understanding is that there aren't any clean-up crews over the weekends, but there are (minimal) workers for the park in general.
Considering that Sunset Park is well-utilized every day of the week, but especially on the weekends, and considering that it houses one of the two public outdoor swimming pools in Brooklyn, the Parks Department needs to provide much more than the current inadequate maintenance and hygiene within the park.
What can we, as residents of Sunset Park, do?
One area that I am guilty of neglecting is being pro-active about refuse around the park. While I will pick up broken glass on the sidewalk, razors in the dirt, and large bottles of Dominican Ron, I haven't confronted litterbugs (except under my breath) unless it's been an egregious example in the playground. I don't usually close the gates to the playground when I enter or exit. I haven't called 311 to report the repulsive condition of the playground (and I wasn't alone in thinking so, really! In fact, it was a caregiver to one of my son's friends who started the conversation). And I know there are other things I could do - I just can't think of them right now. Feel free to chime in.
Now, I know, confronting other human beings about their behavior is such a troubling topic for many adults. You never know what you're going to get back. Since becoming a parent, I've become decidedly more careful about speaking up. When my mouth doesn't get ahead of me, that is. Any suggestions on successfully recruiting stewards of the park from any readers out there? (You don't have to admit if you gave or received the words of encouragement.)
It basically comes down to culture, not ethnicity or race or country of origin culture. The culture of not getting involved and not feeling ownership of the park. When parents don't take responsibility for their children's actions (whether it's silly string all over the slides or squirting complete strangers with a water gun), and when park goers don't respect other people's right to use the park safely and cleanly as well, we end up with destruction and trash and other unenviable results.
Basically, I want to feel comfortable using my park. Today's trashy-showing was probably the worst I've seen in many years. (Again, I'm not alone in this observation. Another neighbor said this before I did. Really!) I know that one of the factors is numbers; the playground already had at least 30 kids (plus another 30 adults in various poses) by 8:30 this morning. The park was also jumping with activity at that early hour. However, close quarters does not excuse dirty and dangerous behavior; it should encourage us to be even more careful about our waste.
I'm going to try and be more pro-active. Hopefully I won't feel like a complete dufus all alone. I mean, more so than I usually do.