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The Downside of an Up Economy 🐶 + 🍺 = 💩

One clear sign the economy is roaring along is the sudden proliferation of businesses that couldn't e

a good life

May 23 · Issue #51 · View online
I write thoughtful self-help

One clear sign the economy is roaring along is the sudden proliferation of businesses that couldn’t exist without a profusion of expendable income. 
On a recent tip to Charleston I was invited to join a group at ‘a bar for dog and beer lovers’ (their tag line). A monetized dog park was my take. 
The place had my hackles up from the get-go. It felt just a little too affluential, a place to be seen with your dog and drink some amazing craft brews! 
It occurred to me I was being a bit of a curmudgeon, so I settled in with a beer to watch the dogs play and chat with new friends. I didn’t have to wait long for the show.
One by one, the dogs, unattended by their well-groomed owners began to urinate and defecate in a chain reaction. The view was now non-stop dogs relieving themselves, smelling the excrement of other dogs, and joining in the fun. 
Just as I was about to give up on the experience a young man came bounding out to play with the dogs. Lubricated by dog urine, he slid effortlessly into the astroturf in one elegant motion. 
In that moment, I thought, maybe there is something for me here after all.

I like dogs and good beer, emphasis on like. Not breathlessly devoted, or some insane, hyper-fan as one is expected to be these days. Like.
What then, is the problem?
The core of what irked me about the place was the fact that it’s part of a trend privatizing things that began as a public place. I like dog parks without beer. A place not to be seen, but to pay attention to your dog and clean up after him. A place run by and owned by the local community where you are accountable to your neighbor.
I’ve just driven thousands of miles across the U.S. and purposely used public lands to camp, visited public parks, swam in public pools, and did it all over crumbling highways. 
While America is still a beautiful place with a rich diversity of experiences, it is also falling apart. 
I visited state parks run with such a barebones staff there was no one to collect my fee, despite my repeated attempts. Public pools with kids using diving boards that were coming apart. Highways with miles of potholes causing untold damage to cars and trucks. Abandoned hiking trails that caused me to get lost (and panic). Facilities without hot water, broken sinks, unstaffed visitor centers. At Bandelier, a national park, they had a note requesting guides be returned. The budget had been cut and this was all they could do.
‘Deferred maintenance’ is the term used in commercial real estate. The cost of making those repairs is usually factored into the value of a property. What is the value of our country if we keep refusing to invest in its maintenance?
Enter private business. Those who can afford to pay for a 'better’ experience, one without obvious decay, spend their money elsewhere. They use public spaces less and then aren’t willing to support and pay for the repairs these places require.  
Even worse, it’s at odds with an integrated society. We need places that cause us to interact with people outside our circles by design. Cities used to provide this, but most Americans live in the suburbs where incomes and backgrounds are homogeneous by design.
I believe in public places. They are a tool for community, a place to encounter one another on an even footing. It’s good for our collective psyches to have land that belongs to and serves the people. A place commerce isn’t welcome to shape and dictate. 
My beloved pedestrian bridge in Richmond is a great example. It was built for the betterment and enjoyment of its citizens. Nothing else. 
I consoled myself as I stepped gingerly over the droppings to leave the bar; someone may have figured out how to make money from a dog park, but they haven’t improved the experience. 
Even with good beer 🍻
Thank you, members 🙏🏿
Santa Rosa, NM.
I had a ball at this find in the desert. A public pool made of natural water. Perfect temperature, lovely views. I jumped off this diving board at least twenty times, but worried it was going to break off each time. The entire operation is crumbling.
Rebecca's picks 👇🏼
Opinion | Let’s Get Excited About Maintenance! - The New York Times Opinion | Let’s Get Excited About Maintenance! - The New York Times
LOL! I really love this quote. Who could have seen this coming? Literally any restaurant owner 🙀
Today’s Catty Question: Who Thought Cat Cafes Were a Good Idea? - WSJ
A better way to help small business? Invest in infrastructure.
Every Study Ever Conducted on the Impact Converting Street Parking Into Bike Lanes Has on Businesses - CityLab
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