The Gambit and Jeffrey Bostick of the Library Chronicles are both writing about the New Orleans’ parade ladder problem this week. Common-sense laws are already on the books (keep ladders at least as many feet from the curb as they are tall; don’t chain ladders together), but enforcement is more or less nonexistent. The real problem, as Bostick points out, is an occasional combative, entitled attitude:
What has gotten noticeably worse over time, though, has been people’s expectation that they are able to use their chairs, ladders, etc. to mark off inviolable territory along what is supposed to be a shared public event. This makes it harder for the crowd to shift and flow as the day or evening goes on and decreases the number of people per square foot who can enjoy the event.
I was thinking about this same issue earlier this year. I’ve been screamed at trying to walk across the infield at Jazz Fest because I stepped on someone’s tarp. And while most people can walk away from an interaction muttering under the breath–at worst–sometimes, it gets physical. I got lost in the comment stream of this letter to the editor at NOLA.com, 328 back-and-forths–some vitriolic, some empathetic, all suffused with a grumbling dissatisfaction at the way things are now.
Bostick recommends a community awareness campaign, offering up the title of his post as a possible T-shirt slogan. I find myself more interested in the idea of community enforcement, which would still need to be police-assisted. I’ve seen lots of suggestions: asking meter maids to ticket offenders, having police officers assist upon complaint, or strict enforcement/immediate street cleaning.
The benefit of police-assisted community enforcement is that it underlines these parades as community events in a shared public space. The issue is not that someone has their blanket on the ground, but when that person gets angry at “trespassers.”