Yesterday at Facebook, I posted this photo: "One wonders if Develop New Albany might remove its Jingle Walk trash, three weeks later?"
A range of viewpoints were posted in response.
P: Lol ... why? No one has bothered to clean the windows from Harvest.
H: I wonder if they will also remove all the housing for sale ads. I do not feel that is appropriate. Perhaps for business space, but housing?
J: Well, you could just pick it up and recycle it yourself. Or is that just not curmudgeonly enough?
DNA's Stefanie Griffith replied:
I will be happy to pick up the boxes and apologize they were left behind, I am sure it was overlooked during tear down since it was dark but wish it was brought to our attention before now. No excuse shame on us. I do have to agree with J though; sad no one would pick them up -- fellow merchants, Develop New Albany members, The City -- we are all to blame until we can pitch in as a whole to make New Albany a better place, that is my two cents.
Several readers "liked" Stefanie's reply, and I'll concede (given that she's unfailingly honest and open) that she's probably miffed with my mode of presentation, so here's why I posted the photo in the first place.
How can it be that in three whole weeks, no one, including the downtown-oriented members of an organization chartered to the improvement of downtown, noticed the Jingle Walk leftovers?
(As an aside to J, it isn't curmudgeonly at all; it's the fact that I seldom have a car downtown to load. I usually am walking, which is why I've been seeing the boxes, all the while surmising that it's the failure of others to get out of their cars causing them not to see the boxes. I'm aiming for a larger point here.)
Surely, given what we're constantly told is a vastly improved and revitalized downtown -- this being the gist of DNA's daily social media presence -- someone on the Jingle Walk committee, or someone on the organization's board ... or someone in general ... would have walked past this spot during the course of three whole weeks and reported the debris.
Apparently this has not happened. I find this sad and noteworthy, to say the least. Then again, while P. is right in pointing to painted Harvest Homecoming windows still not cleaned two months later, reminding us of the carpetbagging mentality that "one off" events perpetuate, Stefanie also is absolutely correct in suggesting that we're all to blame.
Because we are.
I've walked or biked through the historic business district almost every day for years, and the disconnect hasn't changed at all. It has barely even budged. Yes, there are merchants who won't pick up trash in front of their own doors, exacerbated in autumn by wind and leaves, but the city never, EVER communicates who is responsible for leaf and garbage removal, downtown or elsewhere.
Sometimes it happens, sometimes not. Let there be an organization like Clean and Green taking an interest in the appearance of the area (whether its ideas are good or bad), and the city pushes back, evidently concerned lest its own delineated boundaries for doing nothing are challenged.
Amid all our trumpeting of advancement, the institutionalized neglect of downtown is the same as before, on the part of all users, and isn't THIS neglect precisely what would be addressed by a downtown economic development plan IF we actually had one? Of course merchants come to ignore the garbage. They're merely following the city's own stellar example.
Our unchanged one-way arterial street grid is a perfect point of reference. It is constructed to negate every facet of a revitalized downtown. It reinforces the point of neglect every time a semi-trailer thunders past outdoor dining areas, every time speeding cars frighten bikers and walkers -- it exists to undermine.
And this administration won't even address the topic aloud. No wonder no one else cares, if the city cannot be bothered to do so itself.
Instead, Mayor Gahan addressed a handful of business people Tuesday (more on that later) and spoke glowingly of things that may or may not happen, far into the future, with a state program called the Regional Cities Initiative, or some such chamber of commerce blather. As he was reprising the someday maybes, mirroring the sentiments of songs ranging from "Don't Worry, Be Happy" to "Everything Is Beautiful," these cardboard boxes remained stacked where they'd been discarded three weeks before, illustrating that we cannot get even the simplest daily tasks done as we grasp for pies in the sky.
Sorry, Stef. That's why I posted the photo.