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  • Jerry

somewhere, lady bird is applauding

It was only a matter of time I suppose, for seemingly spontaneous crowdsourcing to begin doing something with more of a social conscious. Sure, there has been Hallelujah outbreaks and dance numbers in food courts and train stations (or, frankly, anywhere there are people in mass that allow for anonymous hordes to blend in before randomly joining in the fun). But now social media is bringing attention to societal nuisances using a flash mob.

I guess the unique aspect to this social experiment that took place in our neighbor to the North was that this particular flash mob involved an unsuspecting heroine. Seeing her surprise at merely “doing the right thing” (after so many ignored/stepped over/went around the “problem” that is really starting to bury the landscape or, in this instance, a mall corridor) was refreshing. I know I’ve been guilty of seeing trash and walking right by it because “I didn’t put it there.”

Seeing this anti-litter message on YouTube made me think back to my days of living in the Lone Star State and the whole “Don’t Mess With Texas” campaign (that I’ve just discovered is now been around for 25 years).

Back in 1985, Texas had a big problem. A litter problem. To battle this big, expensive roadside mess, the Texas Highway Commission launched an extensive public education campaign. Using research, we identified the state’s worst offenders and how best to reach them, and with that — the legend was born. And we’ve been reminding Texans to keep litter off the roads ever since.

Of course, to really show my age, I find it rather ironic in the fact that the whole “DMWT” campaign initially relied on outdoor boards to deliver its message goes completely against another famous Texan’s efforts to beautify the nations roadways: Lady Bird Johnson. Her whole campaign to make driving a much more pleasant experience faced stiff opposition from none other than….you guessed it, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America.

“In a nutshell, her program is, ‘masses of flowers where masses pass.’ Water, lights and color-mass of flowers-those things spell beautification to her,” Lady Bird wrote in her diary after a meeting.

What it all comes around to is that now, some 40+ years after Lady Bird planted the seed of thought to plant flowers along our states’ highways, anti-litter programs are embracing new technology (and one that only clogs up the information highway) to broadcast the message that still falls on deaf ears (and obviously out of sightlines, too)…..

Clean up yer friggin’ mess!

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