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THE BROKEN WINDOW THEORY

INTRODUCTION
          After traveling all over Massachusetts and New England gathering information, photographing places, paddling rivers and lakes,  we have seen the good and the bad.
          We have alway been upset when we arrive at a Put-In/Take-Out and find trash and vandalism.  We sometimes think we should not add this area to the website.
          We were asked to read a book by Malcolm Gladwell called The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.  (The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate.) . We stongly recommend reading this book and put some of these theories into practice.

Here are some examples of what we have all seen:
  • When a store has a rest room with grafiti in the stalls.   
  • When a abandoned warehouse or house in the neighborhood has been vandelized by kids.  When empty lots are over grown in a neighborhoods and become a places to dump trash, major appliances, matresses, and more. 
  • And of course, when lakes/rivers beaches and access point are abused by visitors.

          Please read on.  Learn the theory and then learn what can be done to change our little world one act at a time.  Your personal act to clean up and preserve can suddenly make a big difference.

THE THEORY
             The broken windows theory is a criminological theory that visible signs of crime, anti-social behavior, and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further crime and disorder, including serious crimes. The theory thus suggests that policing methods that target minor crimes such as vandalism, public drinking, and fare evasion help to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness, thereby preventing more serious crimes.
                The theory was introduced in a 1982 article by social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling. It was further popularized in the 1990s by New York City police commissioner William Bratton and Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose policing policies were influenced by the theory.
              The theory has been subject to great debate both within the social sciences and the public sphere. In some cases, broken windows policing has become associated with controversial police practices such as the use of "stop, question, and frisk" by the New York City Police Department. In response, Bratton and Kelling have written that broken windows policing should not be treated as "zero tolerance" or "zealotry", but as a method that requires "careful training, guidelines and supervision" and a positive relationship with communities, thus linking it to community policing.





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WHAT YOU CAN DO

Adopt a Lake/River
            If you have a favorite Lake or River then consider adopting one.  Use the well known fact that if you act quickly and completely when trash appears or vandalism occurs then it will eventually end and remain clean and pristine.  Quick and complete response will prevent others from contribuiting to the problem.

Work with others
         If a location or task it large, consider recruiting like minded people.  Come up with a patrol plan and consider meetings or comunity emails to keep track of problems and accomplishments.

Stay on top of the problem
        We want to make sure you all understand that the only way to maintain, reduce, and eliminate these kind of problem is vigilance.  Stay on top of the problem and it will never become a burden again.

Always be ready to help
       Alway be prepared to make a difference no matter where you go paddling.  You can accomplish this in very simple ways:
  • Carry a kitchen trash bag and a pair of throw-away plastic gloves.
  • Inform local authorities and/or organizations near a lake or river about problems.

Wikipedia Article