GUEST BLOGGER: Kelly Niland
Hi Friends of SFGirl. You may remember me from a recent Unexpected Guest post here. It was extremely flattering to be included on a site along such fashionable and fun homes (thanks, Victoria!). And while I love my house and feel lucky to live here, there’s a lot of stuff you couldn’t see in the photos that goes on OUTSIDE the house that is, um, less fortunate.
I live in SF’s Mission District and have for many years. There are myriad things I love about the neighborhood; however, there’s no way around it—it’s still sketchy in a lot of ways. Yesterday, for instance, I stepped outside to scoop the newspaper off the front steps. There, next to our street tree, a midnight visitor had gifted us with this:
We get a lot of unexpected gifts around here. Recently, it was a vintage computer that was just about ready for the Smithsonian, sitting next to a ripped-up duffel bag. Some of these items can fit in my trash can, but some of them are too unwieldy or, as in the case of e-trash like computers and TVs, expensive to toss. So I’ve come up with my own one-woman-warrior solution, and that's to express, on behalf of the discarded item, the sadness of having been left behind, all alone in a strange place. Granted, the former owner is long gone by the time I’m discovering their belongings, but what I can do is remind passers-by, as well as would-be junk depositors, that trash on the street is a depressing thing, perhaps for the forgotten item (does plastic have feelings?) and definitely for the people who have to walk, and live, near it.
After the computer incident, I started thinking, Hmmm, so what would be the best way to convey such a message, in a way that everyone can understand? I settled on the most recognizable statement I could think of.
I went online and ordered some sheets of round day-glow-green stickers and then whipped up a frowny face template on the computer and printed up the whole stack. Now, I carry a sheet of stickers around in my purse and, when I’m out and about and happen upon some discarded bag of trash or mattress or TV sitting forlornly on the sidewalk, I slap a sticker on it.
I gotta say, it’s pretty cathartic. And, I'm not kidding: I’m convinced this act even increases the chances of prompt removal of said discarded item. I can’t prove it, of course, but have noticed anecdotally that these things don’t tend to hang around long after the sticker’s on. For instance, even though the 311 dispatcher I talked to yesterday told me I’d have to wait three days for pickup of the TV, look what I beheld just an hour after applying the sticker:
Really! No idea where it went, but it was gone, and that’s the point. I’m taking back the hood, one frown at a time! If you’d like to try some stickerfication of your own, let me know. I will send 5 sheets of stickers to the first 5 people who write to me here. And for those of you who would like to make your own, you can find the frowny face template here and order the labels here. Let me know how it works for you!
Turning frowns upside down all over town,
Wednesday, June 18
GUEST BLOGGER: Kelly Niland