My favorite pastime lately, has been to STICK IT TO DA MAN! I live in Tacoma, WA – famous for it’s “Aroma” which came from the pulp and wood mills back in the day – sometimes you can still smell it if you wink your left eye, raise your right eyebrow and stick your tongue out a little while biting down ever-so-gently. BUT THAT IS NEITHER HERE NOR THERE! Oh – and you can stop making that face, you dork. This post will probably not be for everyone and I would like to disclaim from the get-go that:
- I’m not a psycho environmentalist whackadoo – but if you are, I respect it and won’t harsh your mellow, man.
- The intent for my involvement is that I want to stop our local newspaper from trashing our neighborhoods – Tacoma gets a bad enough wrap as it is – we’ve turned this town around from the Gang-Banger-Drive-By-Shooting-City that is was in the 80’s and 90’s to a place that you’re actually getting more and more proud to call home.
- I do not EVER want this local newspaper company to go under, bankrupt, out of business or anything negative like that…
Having said all of that…
About a month ago, we received our first copy of “Extra”. We noticed it firstly because of the GORGEOUS orange plastic bag that it was wrapped in.
Secondly, we noticed it because it was delivered to us by being thrown in the street in front of the houses on my block. All of them. And also those in the surrounding blocks as well. That, in itself, caused several of us in our meticulously (except for that one bitches house who doesn’t mow her lawn and that requires my hubby to do it because we don’t want the block to look like shit) kept neighborhood a case of severe heartburn. After a very cursory viewing of the contents of the orange plastic bag, we realized quickly that we were the victims of our local newspapers (The Tacoma News Tribune) way to get around the advertisers having to pay postage, by this cost-effective way to distribute their ads to the public en masse. We’re not just talking a few houses here folks…we’re talking 50,000 pieces of ad papers – NO NEWS CONTENT – delivered to these homes on a weekly basis. Feast your eyes on this:
Now…we, of course, as a community attempted to contact the newspaper directly asking that this be stopped and were met with a pretty condescending attitude towards the issue at hand. And in case you missed what the issue here is? The issue is that they are delivering this “crappy orange plastic wrapped ad” to our streets, sidewalks, gutters and storm drains – pretty much everywhere BUT the property of the intended recipient. And because we have such a close-knit community and neighborhood – when we were met with the “I don’t give a shit” attitude from a local newspaper’s CEO that should have a VESTED INTEREST in keeping it’s readership happy-happy-happy, instead, we were told to “opt-out” – seems simple enough, right? Only they asked for our name, address and phone number so that they could prove we were who we said we were. EX-FUCKING-CUSE ME? You’re not getting my phone number and you’re lucky you’re getting my name – stop throwing your shit on the street of my neighborhood. Seems pretty simple. Oh – I should probably disclose to you that I do not – and HAVE NOT – subscribed to this newspaper. We’re getting these crappy orange plastic wrapped ads whether we want them or not – UNSOLICITED. Many have tried to opt-out of the deliveries – but to no avail. After expressing our disappointment, we were dumbfounded that nothing was going to be done. We had contacted code enforcement, our city council members, I have a few law enforcement pals asking them if they thought this was right or if we could do anything about it. We were not given many options in the beginning. They are claiming “Free Speech” and that they are a protected class with regards to the litter laws. Because over the span of a two-week period we were pretty much brushed under the rug, a lightbulb went off.
So what does a community do with a very prominent corporation, that probably has the city government in their back pocket, who is blatantly defacing the very neighborhoods that it serves? This:
A group of concerned citizens decided to “Return to Sender” these bags. We collected over 1000 from the streets, gutters and storm drains of our fair city and met in the parking lot of the local paper. And the above picture is the result of that visit. We had attempted to contact our local news stations out of Seattle and they aired our story later that evening (which – I should point out was the NIGHT BEFORE THE SUPERBOWL…and our SEATTLE SEAHAWKS WERE PLAYING THE NEXT DAY and the news station still felt it was newsworthy!): (because I have no idea how to embed a video anymore, click this very long link that will show you the news story)
We now sit one month later, one city council meeting later – where our group showed up to speak in the public forum, there has been a resolution by the city requiring that the city manager speak with the TNT to come up with a way to do this differently and our group of citizens concerned about this growing by leaps and bounds. The “Return to Sender” campaign is still happening on Saturday mornings. I’ll end this rant with last weekends “Return to Sender” gathering, because it fucking ROCKS!
Yes, those are octopi, created out of the crappy orange plastic wrapped ads that have been deposited all over our city. And a fish. And a cool spider webby looking contraption dangling over their sign.
For reasons semi-personal in nature (kids, full-time job, also – I’m not as whackadoo when it comes to the environmental side of this and I just don’t want to be part of the daily goings on…it was quite the time-suck in the beginning and I was getting bitter and cranky), I’ve taken more of a back-seat in the leadership of this group, but I stand united with them in the effort to get porch delivery.