let’s do the Downtown Oly two step. Let’s tackle beauty first:
Step 1: Holy smoke, there has been a lot discussion about how scary and disgusting it is to walk the street of downtown Olympia. The latest installment of this sad story ran in the Daily Zero on Sept 4th. It led with a line about drunks urinating on the sidewalks. Boy, is this a sad old story with an axe to grind. But, let’s just take it straight. Do drunks urinate on sidewalks in downtown Olympia. I think that could happen. Probably mainly at night because there are so few bathrooms available in downtown Olympia after hours unless you have the bills to buy a plate of food to get bathroom access.
I have to say, I am downtown quite a bit and it just doesn’t scare me or disgust me. I get asked for money, I give it. I am tied in to this really old and weird spiritual tradition that included some lunacy about “ask and it shall be given'” and “love your enemy,” and relied on an economic model of trusting that when you need a coin or two, it will mysteriously pop out of the mouth or gut of a fish (apologies to my vegan friends, I don’t fish anymore) or will appear from a tiny seed. I digress…
Back to bathrooms. It seems to be a fact that if you have had the good fortune to be born into this world, it’s just going to be a matter of time before you will need to find a bathroom. And not just once. and not just during daylight hours. And sometimes you will be able to wait hours, and walk blocks to locate a bathroom, and sometimes, the bathroom better be right around the corner.
It’s too bad that we are in the position of having to discuss availability of bathrooms because in the whole ten thousand years of God’s creation, since Adam and Eve, there were always these interruptions where a human being is saying, hey, hold that thought, I will be right back, have to powder my nose or check on the Kaiser, pick your euphemism for that moment when nature calls.
You would think that in all that time, we would have made peace with this inconvenience and recognized the need for public bathrooms with running water, sink, soap and connected to the “water treatment” system. But it appears we have not made that peace in downtown Olympia.
So, instead of the war on the houseless and the “fallout” that attends having no standard residence, why don’t we just make sure that there are plenty of public bathrooms available in the downtown area, day and night?
The bathrooms already exist at Heritage Park, at Percival Landing, at Olympia Center, at the Capitol, at City Hall, at the Transit Center. Lots of municipalities, public buildings, and quasi-governmental agencies already have bathrooms installed all over downtown. Maybe we need to step up and recognize that economic conditions have put a lot of people on the street and while we work to sort out that dismal situation, maybe we need to make sure that folks without a house can have access to a bathroom and a sink? A showerstall or two would probably be appreciated, but lots of us have managed daily ablutions with just sink and soap, I know it can be done, even though there it’s not the same as a long, hot shower. I am not suggesting a spa for transients, just “comfort stations” at decent intervals.
I think we also need to put pants on the dogs downtown, but we will come back to that campaign once we have public bathrooms up and running.
Next Step? Safety downtown! Stay tuned.