Craig Press Editorial Board: Pride in your home means coming together to make it great
It really bothered us, like it did most or all of you, to read about the vandalism a couple weeks ago at the Breeze Street Park bathrooms, not to mention the similarly thoughtless acts of destruction of public property at other parks over the course of the summer.
What a shame it is to have that little pride in your own community.
We don’t know yet who did it, and frankly it’s not particularly important. But we have watched with interest and some frustration as folks have posted on social media about witnessing other mistreatment of our collective spaces.
There’s a famous concept in criminology that’s become quite controversial since its popularity in the 1980s known as the Broken Window Theory. The idea, as simply as possible, is that seeing a place in disrepair — i.e. with broken windows — promotes other kinds of disorder or even criminality. It’s essentially a psychological observation — or at least suggestion — that if you feel like those in your vicinity don’t care about something, chances are you won’t care either.
It’s controversial and actually now largely discredited for a number of reasons, among them the criticism that its application essentially criminalizes poverty, but also because the correlation between visible disorder and actual crime has, under further analysis, failed to draw a conclusively causal link.
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But part of the reason the concept endures in the public consciousness is probably because it does observe something that psychologists would largely endorse, and which makes a level of visceral sense to us. It’s the natural instinct most humans harbor of conformity. In this case it’s a kind of environmental conformity — if someone sees that evidence of a lack of concern for a place, the assumed level of concern for that place will match.
In Craig, as anywhere, there’s a danger of falling into this downward cycle, whereby the observation of deterioration — whether by intention or neglect — of public and private spaces leads to a deterioration of behavior, both public and private.
That’s a scary thought. The good news is, we’re hardly too far gone to fairly easily reverse the trend — in fact, perhaps there’s evidence we’re trending in the right direction.
For example, it was notably upsetting to just about all of us that Breeze Street Park was vandalized. Many of us stood up and, with one voice, shouted that this was not OK with us. We need to not lose that spirit. We can’t become numb to this sort of disrespect of our institutions, or, worse, actively malcontent, or else we’ll fall into that spiral.
Similarly, we’re pleased that our good public employees worked to immediately set right the destruction. While it’s frustrating as all get-out to hear that these incidents not only paused more important beautification projects but delayed others by draining their apportioned funds, it’s good that this is a priority. It’s important.
But we’d like to urge an energetic response to these sorts of things. If you see something, speak up. Call the authorities if necessary, but even just your concerned presence — if it is safe for you to exert it — can change the situation for the better.
But more importantly than even that, let’s all take some real, active pride in our community. Let’s not just rely on the parks and recreation guys to clean things up. Let’s work together to make this place the great place we all want it to be and know it can be.
We’ve heard of folks going to the dog park to clean un-picked-up dog poop. That’s fantastic. It would be better if everyone picked up their own pets’ droppings. But it’s still great that there are folks going out of their way to make our spaces better.
We’ve heard of young people who go to the teen hangout spots at Woodbury Park with trash bags on a regular basis to tidy up the messes left by their friends — kids being kids. It would be better if everyone picked up after him or herself, but it’s heartwarming that there are youth in our community who care enough to give of themselves in this way.
We know there are so many of you who watch out for others, who pick up litter, who help put the carts back at the grocery store, who clean up others’ trash at Pebble Beach or the Sandrocks — our beautiful public lands — and who find ways to help or lift up in circumstances where you don’t have to be involved, but in which you choose to be.
Let’s all work a little harder in this respect. Let’s all take ownership of our collective home. Let’s leave Craig even better, in every sense, than we found it.
We all live in Craig because of the people. Let’s be those people for which someone would live in Craig.
The Craig Press Editorial Board includes general manager Sheli Steele; editor Cuyler Meade; and community members Amy Updike, Jon Miller and Dan Davidson.
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