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Net Positives

Hello and happy summer! Just wanted to remind anyone who might be interested, the Fall River Century is coming up on 7/18, so come on up, or down, or over if you can! I will have a report the week of 7/20. The RouteArrows truck will be there so come over and say hello! I wanted to pass along a humorous story that occurred a while back and have it lead into another broader topic. So…I was returning home from an event, my phone rang and it was a woman calling (with a southern accent right out of central casting) from Spokane Washington of all places. I get a few calls or emails of this genre every few months: well-meaning but slightly angered people letting me know their feelings and concerns with “RouteArrows on their road/trail/park/neighborhood/universe!” This woman was calling with a unique concern, however, one I had not heard before or since. She wasn’t so much mad at me, or RouteArrows, or the event that was using them. She was more concerned about the paint on her car. Apparently someone or a young group of someone’s, had pulled up RouteArrows on Saturday night after an event through her neighborhood and plastered her car with dozens of the yellow and pink ones sometime before her call to me Sunday morning. Her first question was to ask “why had I put those stickers all over her car?” and her second question was “if they would hurt the paint?!” I assured her that “it wasn’t me, I live down here in California”, and “no they wouldn’t hurt the paint, the adhesive is water based and they’re easily dissolved with warm water!” She felt a little better hearing that second piece of information. In the conversation that ensued, I began to gather the impression she was often thought of as the neighborhood… “Busybody” might be a bit strong, maybe “Watchdog” or “Mother Hen” would fit her southern sensibilities more closely. After offering that it was probably “just some local kids having some innocent fun, nothing to worry about” and not some community wide plot to embarrass or anger her, we ended the conversation on a positive and friendly note. Most of the other “complaining” emails we get here at RouteArrows are from people who are concerned about one or more of these three things. 1) The blight of RouteArrows left behind, usually on a walking trail. 2) The presumed toxic/negative impact of RouteArrows on the environment. And 3) the uselessness of having these scraps of paper exist in the first place. At one level, I agree and have compassion for all three perspectives. As we know, people are much more concerned about things they can see, especially things that are new or unusual. Very few people are concerned about all the cars, trucks, busses, etc. and the tonnage of toxic stuff that they disperse around the planet. “We can hardly see it and it’s everywhere, always has been!” Based on the perspective/standards of those deeply concerned about things like these little paper stickers, just about everything we humans do is litter, blight, toxic, etc. So, the point I believe in is this: we need to keep an eye on the value that it brings. Is it a net positive? Are many people’s lives improved, helped or made better in some way? In the case of this little tiny, miniscule corner of the universe, I believe that these brightly colored arrow shaped pieces of paper stuck to a road or trail with water based adhesive are a definite net positive! People’s lives are improved and cyclists and runners have a more enjoyable and less stressed time on their event. When people are having fun on their event, they are more likely to do more events, get or stay healthy, and invite their friends to come along too! Not only that, the event organizers lives are improved and the event does well which helps the local community and the economy. But, I must admit, I am guilty of owning a somewhat biased opinion. Till next time….