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posted August 31, 2006

The next crisis August 31:

Thursday 11 a.m.: A visit from Parks supervisor Peter Leiss brought the news that the Buildings director called the Parks manager today.

Apparently a person who is unhappy with the playground composting toilet project sent the cob link to the director of Building. He saw the photos on this site and didn't like what he saw. He was concerned about code violations. He was unhappy with his staff for giving the go-ahead for a pilot project for which no code exists yet. Here is today's photo:

Georgie standing on the earth bag foundation

It's easy to see that the walls have less than three feet of unsecured earth. The earth bag foundation that secures the lower section exceeds California's tough earthquake standards in strength and is certainly comparable to shoring up the walls with wood.

Here's the tally so far: a $9000 gift of the toilet from an anonymous donor; $12,000 in City funding; over $5000 park snack bar fundraising; many hundreds of hours of volunteer time already. From the City bureaucrats: blocks, suspicion, delays, more obstacles. All this for a playground toilet installation that has been requested by parents for decades; that has been used in national and provincial parks for almost ten years; that costs a fraction of a regular toilet; and that gives the City a pilot project to learn on.

The many, many blocks put in the way of projects like this sometimes make us forget the main community objective here: to find inexpensive, ecologically sound ways make our parks beautiful and functional. But good will is running low.

Comment to the above, from Georgie, Sept.1 2006:

Do you think this might be a bit sweeping, considering that Sandy and Peter have been trying to move this thing forward?

I think it's more like the fact that there is no provision in the building code for this kind of building, and little for composting toilets. Grey areas, and city bureaucrats have been unempowered these last couple of decades to think creatively, to apply the spirit, not the letter necessarily. Everyone has been taught that there's no point in sticking your neck out. The benefit to society does not equal the harm it does to your job or life. A cultural shift to creative thinking and an appreciation for collaboration is what's required. To get that they need support from the top. IMHO.

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