I hate litter. To me, the difference between a quaint neighborhood and a bad neighborhood hinges on how little or how much its residents care about the condition of the streets. Litter is like the fingerprints of blight, demarcating zones of poverty via discarded beer cans and candy wrappers.
I go out about every week or so with a trash bag, and scoop up all the garbage in the gutters and sidewalks around my house. It makes me feel better, and people tend to litter less on streets without too much litter in the first place. Trash tends to escalate exponentially the longer you let it sit, and the worse it gets, the less likely someone is going to care enough to resist throwing their trash on the sidewalk, or to ever bother cleaning it up. It seems like such a little thing, but “good” or “bad”–when it comes to neighborhoods–often is a matter of first perceptions. Crime can happen anywhere, but it only really flourishes when people stop caring about the condition of their neighborhoods.
As you can see, I’m passionate about clean streets. This is why I get so upset when I see an area covered in Post-Gazette Sunday extras.
I’m not upset about them being on people’s porches, mind you. I understand that the newspaper is trying to advertise and get subscribers in a world harsh to organized Journalism. I don’t wish them to stop their attempts to put their product in the hands of the potential consumer, but I would like to lay a few ground rules on them first.
There is, of course, the issue of accuracy. I pull a lot of these out of hedges and fences, and other random spots indicating someone working against a timeline. Fair enough, accidents will happen, but if dispatchers are putting too much of a burden on their drivers to get a certain number of units out, perhaps they should invest in a few more drivers to insure better quality of delivery.
Second, and most importantly, I implore the Post-Gazette to require their drivers to pay closer attention to homes that already have one, two, sometimes five or more of the “Sunday Extras” piled up on their porch or sidewalk. This is a clear sign that the building is uninhabited…whether someone is away on vacation for an extended time, or the house is abandoned. The former attracts burglars, the latter attracts squatters, and our neighborhoods need neither of those two. Forgive my insistence, but this is a matter of public safety, as well as simple beautification.
I imagine a lot of this comes from a simple oversight. I tried to find a phone number for someone at the Post-Gazette that could address this, but I got sick of trying pretty quickly, and instead called the Good People at 311. They said they would pass the issue on to the Department of Public Works, who could speak to the Post-Gazette for me. We’ll see if anything happens, but until then, I’ll just keep heading out there with my trash bags and gloves. I would encourage yinz all to do the same.