Pothole Vigilantes

Not so fun fact: Oakland roads are some of the worst in the country. I swear every street in the entire city could use a good repaving. It’s estimated that the poor road quality ends up costing citizens an extra $1,049 per year in car maintenance. Yikes! (Don’t get me wrong — I really love living in Oakland — but that doesn’t mean I’m not aware of city’s issues.)

Well, a couple of citizens have lost patience and have decided to take things into their own hands. They started an Instagram feed called Pothole Vigilantes, and if you happen to have a pothole you want fixed, you let them know the location, and they’ll go fill the hole in the middle of the night. You can Venmo them cash as a thank you.

The city has discouraged this (obviously).

The Pothole Vigilantes are even hosting a meetup this week, where they’ll connect with like minded Oaklanders, and give out supplies so people can fix the potholes in their own neighborhoods.

My son Ralph told me about the Pothole Vigilantes and I keep thinking about them. I like that they enable anyone to do something nice for their fellow citizens — meaning, if I know of a pothole on a busy road, and send a money to the Pothole Vigilantes as a thank you for fixing it, yes I would benefit, but so would every other driver on that road (most I whom I will never meet).

I also like the simple problem-solving behind it — the see-a-need, fill-a-need instinct. And I like that it might push the city to work faster to get to the much needed road improvements.

It also stresses me out a bit — maybe it’s the mom in me. I worry about the safety of the Vigilantes. And I worry that they’ll end up getting sued or something, even though they are working hard to improve our city. But mostly my instinct is to admire this kind of impulse.

What are your thoughts? Do you have anything like this where you live? DIY citizens that yarn bomb, or anonymously plant public gardens, or fix potholes, or pick up litter on daily hikes? I’d love to hear!

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