In today’s genius category, we have a story out of Scranton, Pennsylvania (the drab setting of NBC’s The Office).
Seems Scranton has a pothole problem just like we have here in Cranbrook. The pesky pavement intruders bust open Scranton streets willy-nilly, just as they do here.
Here in Cranbrook, it’s our favourite thing to talk about. You can bypass small talk about the weather or the hockey and head straight to everyone’s favourite party game, Name the Worst Pothole.
In Scranton, according to its local newspaper the Times-Tribune, potholes unite residents in their frustration.
“It’s a bonding experience, if you live in Scranton, to run over a pothole and bust a tire,” said Ruth Koelewyn.
But rather than pulling their hair out or despairing over the lack of municipal funding to address the problem, the citizens of Scranton have decided to make the most of the bumpy situation.
With the tagline “positively fill negative space,” the Pop-Up Art Studio has launched a photo contest. Scranton residents are invited to find their favourite pothole and decorate it; then take a photo and submit to the studio’s contest.
So far, the entries are hard to beat. There’s a Barbie beach party, with Barbie soaking hot-tub style with a beach ball inside a pothole while three buddies lounge nearby on bath towels.
There’s a beer cooler entry – fill your pothole with ice and chill your favourite beverage.
And then there’s my personal favourite – the outhouse pothole, where a cistern and seat are set atop the road dimple, beside a roll of TP, a plunger and a crossword puzzle.
Of course, there are rules to the contest, including, importantly, to obey all road rules while decorating the pothole and try not to get hit by a vehicle.
The prizes may not seem like much to those who don’t live with potholes, but we in Cranbrook understand the true value. First prize is a set of new tires, while second prize is a year’s worth of car washes. Just what your vehicle needs after bottoming out in a rain soaked sinker.
The whole idea is to take a frustrating situation and turn it into a community bonding experience.
Instead of telling someone you live at 11th Avenue and 4th Street, you could say, “I live by the bathtub pothole.” Instead of dodging gaping potholes, you could drive around mini gardens planted in the road.
It’s not just a way to make the best of a bad situation, it’s a way to turn a driving experience that could make you bitter and angry when repeated several times a day, into a light-hearted and funny reminder of the creativity of your town’s residents.
Even though this competition is not running in Cranbrook (yet – any takers?), now we can drive around town and, instead of making a mental list of the worst potholes and the dangers they represent, we can assess each pothole for its creative potential and think about ways to make it fun.
A dose of positivity on every block – now that’s something worth talking about.