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Pole litter II: solutions, not problems

And the debate over pole “litter” continues. Of course, I do not want anyone to be injured by rusty staples, nails or thumbtacks on telephone poles. Nor do I want to see advertising on every single telephone pole in this state. And still there are some campaigns which I am most definitely not going to join.

One campaign recently began postering with signs that read “I am ugly litter.” And sticking to my principles, they have every right to paste their signs over the top of offensive signs on telephone poles (or maybe they do not, since it is against the law). I do have the facts on their “I Am Ugly Litter” citizen campaign-hell, and I am even giving them free advertising right here in this column. They do not have to tell me how strongly they and other members of their campaign feel about these signs. The fact that I have seen some of their signs posted 12 feet off the ground illustrates that point very nicely. And I applaud them that they have decided to do something about it. However, I cannot join them because I do not believe their plan of action provides a real or lasting solution to this issue.

I was speaking about this issue with my instructor and fellow students, one of whom lives in Northwest Portland, and she told me about poles in that area that are overloaded with staples, nails and scraps of paper; we both agree that they do look very messy. They look messy! There I said it!

If your community telephone poles are messy, it could signify that there is culture in your neighborhood. I am still against a ban because it would essentially make criminals out of active citizens in their communities. It is not realistic to think that banning something will make it go away, but I wonder if postering could be reduced, or at least channeled in a more constructive, less messy way. Remember how I likened the postering of telephone poles, as essentially a street-level community bulletin board? Well that is exactly what I am proposing now; I do not care if it is City Hall or a group of citizens working with City Hall, or just a group of citizens – I would like to help find a solution to this problem.

How about the creation of Community Bulletin Boards – at least one dedicated place within each neighborhood for citizens to post information on upcoming events?

Another classmate of mine described the bulletin boards they have in Prague which are located near bus stops, and other areas with a lot of pedestrian traffic (such as the new urban center plaza).

They encourage people to talk about what is going on in their particular area. There are many
details to work out before this idea could get out of the planning stages. Who would design and install them? How would they be distributed within each community? How would we weatherproof such boards?

One of the first obstacles would most likely be the issue of funding and maintenance of such projects. That is precisely where the input and support of community volunteers would be crucial to any project’s success. Too European? Too simple? I want a solution for Portland that will enrich our community and encourage people to get out of their comfort zones and communicate with each other, ultimately building the kind of community that we can share in. It’s about community, people.