This was the year that Marion Barry discovered the concept of nudge.
After a debacle—no turkeys!—at his 2010 annual giveaway, the Ward 8 councilmember announced plans earlier this fall to revamp the affair by using the prospect of a free bird to encourage positive behaviors: To get a turkey, constituents would have had to do things like attend parent-teacher conferences, go to community meetings, or register to vote. Alas, by last week, the turkey incentivization efforts had been scaled back: Under the new rules, residents may get a health screening, but otherwise just need to prove that they live in the ward.
Still, the idea of using freebies to get people to do things seems like a good one. What might it look like if it was embraced by Barry’s colleagues from other parts of town? Some suggested ward- or councilmember-appropriate turkey incentives:
Jim Graham, Ward 1
- Beneficiaries must agree to have the energetic councilmember visit their home and personally take credit for cooking the entire Thanksgiving feast.
Jack Evans, Ward 2
- Turkeys will be available to residents who give a campaign contribution of under $500 to Evans in the name of every person attending their Thanksgiving meal.
Mary Cheh, Ward 3
- Cheh will generously load free turkeys into all cars with Ward 3 parking stickers—so long as those cars also display decals advertising private Northeastern liberal arts colleges.
Muriel Bowser, Ward 4
- Turkeys available to all. But locations will only be revealed to those who ask via “Dear PoPville” questions posted to the Prince of Petworth blog.
Harry Thomas Jr., Ward 5
- Recipients must demonstrate that their most recent Hooters meal was paid for from their personal bank account.
Tommy Wells, Ward 6
- Free turkeys will only be available to those who agree to walk or bike to their turkey meal—and to tweet about how livable and walkable their Thanksgiving was.
Yvette Alexander, Ward 7
- Residents may receive free turkeys only after demonstrating that they have pre-purchased future Thanksgiving spreads at the long-desired Skyland Walmart.
Illustration by Brooke Hatfield