Using Change for Change

I'm watching as Oakland's parking meters are changing form. They're moving to a central console like the kind we saw in Barcelona. My calculations estimate the time spent by parking meter enforcers going car to car will be reduced significantly. They'll be given a map of exactly which cars to go issue tickets to. (Photo taken in Berkeley. The car is promoting affordable housing for all birds.)

Here's what one city is doing and it is truly inspiring. Imagine the funds that could support the agencies that attempt to feed, clothe and house Oakland's homeless. I have personal acquaintances whose paths into desperation were initially started and most quickly perpetuated by parking meter-induced poverty (inability to pay parking tickets and spiraling misfortune that followed). Not all those who are issued tickets deserve them. Not all who issue tickets are evil.
Similar to what Montreal is doing, there are some organizations out there that are as equally creative in the ways they're harnessing spare change. The Shelter was a beneficiary of the work of a great organization- Good Cents for Oakland. Their program teaches kids to fundraise by picking up spare change. Check out their beneficiaries page to see how adds up to significant donations. What a great way to teach kids to believe not just in the results but in the beauty of the process and the journey.

Here are two tales of parking officials at the height of devildom and sainthood from my hometown, Boston--also known as a horrible place to suffer from parking ticket disease. Most interesting is the comment to the article written by a professed "parking meter man" who writes that if these folks took a day off, the entire economy would come to a halt. Hmm...
To honor how long parking meters have been part of our shared cultural experiences in many countries, I'll send you off with a verse of Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues:


Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
Try hard, get barred
Get back, write braille
Get jailed, jump bail
Join the army, if you fail
Look out kid
You're gonna get hit
But users, cheaters
Six-time losers
Hang around the theaters
Girl by the whirlpool
Lookin' for a new fool
Don't follow leaders
Watch the parkin' meters




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