Friday, June 08, 2007

Living in DC: The Dupont Circle Trash Phenomenon
At the end of a gorgeous spring weekend in Washington, DC, Dupont Circle's trash cans will be overflowing with mountains of coffee cups, newspapers, etc.

I admit to doing what everyone else does - placing my empty drink container somewhere within a pile of trash with the precision of an artist, so I won't cause a trashvalanche. The result - twice the amount of garbage for the container, and cups etc. littering the surrounding area.

You'd think we'd walk a couple more blocks to a much emptier trash receptacle. I finally caught on and started doing that just this year. Certainly DC doesn't want to have to pay a waste management company to double their collection runs each weekend.

This problem isn't endemic to Dupont. Today in Seth Godin's post "It's always like this," Seth speaks of the overflowing garbage cans at the Javits Center in NYC in the same breath with another problem: Not enough chairs and tables (not to mention those trash cans) for thousands of convention participants.

While the Dupont Circle Phenomenon is easily solvable through our own awareness - "maybe I'll just carry this Starbuck's cup home" - convention-goers don't really have that option. I'm surprised (although I shouldn't be) that the Javits Center doesn't police the trash situation round the clock (or at least in the daytime.)

In both cases though you'd think the Powers That Be would take action (the National Park Service and the Javits organization), since garbage strewn about says "We Don't Care!"

I can see another reason, not mentioned in Seth's post, why the Javits Center limitis the comfortable seating, however. After years of conference planning myself, I can hear the associations saying "We don't want people to rest because we want them walking by, and into, the exhibitor's booths! If we put out more chairs and tables, everyone will congregate there, and the exhibitors will chew us out for diverting potential customers!"

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