IN HIS SARCASTIC potshot at the state of the District’s municipal infrastructure (“Washington, D.C.: A (Third) World-Class City,” 2/2), Jeffrey Itell misses the mark. Several of the solutions that Itell mockingly suggests for D.C.’s woes are in fact state-of-the-art methods being applied by progressive communities across the country.
For example, Itell recommends mandatory backyard composting of household kitchen scraps and yard trimmings as a way to create nutrient-rich soil in which to grow vegetables for school lunches. As noted in Newsweek recently, several city governments have embraced at least part of this concept. Seattle gives composting bins away to residents, and Vancouver sells worm composting, or vermiculture, systems at cost to citizens. Atlanta’s federally funded Empowerment Zone has a composting program that is part of its community ecological revitalization. Companies want to do the same in D.C.
Further, Itell jokingly suggests that District schoolchildren earn pocket money shoveling snow from city sidewalks. A local youth-development organization called Thumbs Up! did just that during Washington’s snowfalls this winter. A group of inner-city kids got paid for shoveling their neighbors’ sidewalks. What’s wrong with that?
Finally, Itell sardonically suggests that the District replace police cruisers with bicycles and spend the savings on additional cops. Once again, Itell recommends a cutting-edge solution for a serious problem. Many police forces, including D.C.’s, Metro’s, and Alexandria’s already have “Cops on Bikes” programs that save money, reduce crime, and improve community relations.
If Itell would only drop the sarcasm from his ideas about how to improve the District, maybe he’d have a plan worth implementing.
Senior Research Engineer
Institute for Local Self-Reliance