#516 – Anyone Can Advocate


It’s time to make a call to make sure someone else doesn’t get hurt. I can’t believe  how careless and ineffective the “warning” is for this trip hazard in downtown Vancouver.

As you can see by the yellow triangles, there are two bits of orange tape tied on 3 inch bolts that stick up out of the cement. The other bolts, indicated by the red stop signs, had no such marking.  The bits of red tape that is tied to the bolts is not visible enough to prevent me, and most likely, other people, from tripping.

Until I track down whoever is responsible for removing whatever was previously there (bike rack or bench?), please take care when walking along the terrace by The Vancouver Club, which is bordered by W. Hastings, W. Cordoba, Burrard St. and Howe St.

Update: The City of Vancouver has informed me “that they attended the site  and found bolts sticking up 1″ from a missing bench seat. They have placed a flasher and cone to warn people and took pictures to document.”

I stand corrected – only one inch bolts. It felt like three inch bolts to my hip, though!

Do what you can

Not everyone is cut out for advocacy work. That doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference, though. You could write a letter, or send an email, whenever you see a wrong that can be righted.

Or, you might find your skills better put to use in another arena, such as the one that Annette McKinnon has chosen. You could work behind the scenes for an advocacy group, if the public eye is not for you. Each voice counts – regardless of how you use your voice, or your hands, feet, or heart. You do what you can.

Here are some everyday things I do:

  • It could be as simple as letting the manager of the store know that the handicapped door isn’t functioning. Bring the business owner’s attention to your needs by providing a link to this post: Open for Business.
  • Do you get frustrated by callers who rattle off a a message so quickly that it is difficult to get the pertinent information (name, phone number, date, time)? I’ve taken to writing to the clinic’s office manager, or the organization, explaining that I understand that while the person likely has a long list to get through, it doesn’t help when the message is indecipherable. I recently had a call from the bank asking us to call Mngdzxn at blahblahblah. There was no way I could catch the person’s name, nor their phone number, even though I listened to the message several times. I emailed the head office and to the bank’s credit, I received a call from the branch manager, who told me that he had advised his staff to speak clearly and slowly when leaving their names and phone numbers. See: Ring-a-Ding-a-Ling.
  • When I see a rumpled mat at the entry way to a store, I’ll often straighten it, or if it’s too heavy or dirty, I’ll let the manager know about this trip hazard.
  • Spills in the grocery store can be dangerous. It’s easy enough to rectify by letting the staff know.
  • This one is more difficult to change, as the “damage” has already been done. If you carry a purse or a bag, have you ever been frustrated because there is nowhere to put down your purse in order to get out your wallet. You end up doing a poor imitation of a juggling act, just so you can conduct business in a place that doesn’t consider that it may be difficult for some people. I try to stay away from generalizations, but I wonder if able-bodied men were the ones who designed the cash areas. I think the more often people say something, the better chance this will be on someone’s radar. See: Banking on It and Shelfish Room for Improvement.
  • Most municipalities have bylaws that require residents to remove the snow from the sidewalks in front of their property. If you find that you’re slip, sliding away and down, a phone call to the municipality usually results in snow removal action. Ironically, the City of Surrey neglected to remove the snow from the sidewalks in front of the park in our neighbourhood. A tweet resulted in clean, sanded sidewalks the very next day. (See: Goodwill Snow Challenge for Gym Owners.)

Now, if only I can do something about the number of drivers who fail to observe road rules! I practise defensive walking when I walk Holly in our neighbourhood. You can’t trust the drivers to stop at the stop signs, nor at crosswalks. That’s a post (rant?) for another day.

What other small things can you add to this list?


2 Comments to “#516 – Anyone Can Advocate”

  1. As a city administrator, I would often get calls like this. I was always appreciative. Well..expect that one fellow who called me most every day and eventually asked me out on a date, with his mom. FOrutnalty my wife felt that might a little awkward.

    • OK, you made me laugh, Rick! (Always a good thing, isn’t it?)

      I have to update this post because I received a call from the City of Vancouver today, asking for the specifics of where this trip hazard was.

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