The Department of Good Public Works manages the goodness of public spaces. Shari Kasman is the Head Chief and Executive Director of this department. This department was formed in 2015 and has since then spearheaded the Public Fact Collection Program, Fence Improvement Initiative, Railing Enhancement Program, and Space Improvement Signage Program. Details on these initiatives are below. Please contact Shari at sharikasman [at] gmail [dot] com if you have questions or concerns regarding public works, whether good or bad. There is currently an ongoing assessment of infrastructure in order to improve our surroundings.
Public Fact Collection Program (PFCP)
The Fact Box is the Official Fact Collection Depot. It's the official location for collecting facts from citizens who have facts to offer. This project began in November of 2015. It all started with the idea of swapping books for facts. Shari Kasman had never left unwanted books in a box at the curb. She decided she would offer books if she could get something in return. She realized that books contain facts, but facts on small pieces of paper take up less space than books. So, it made the most sense to ask for fact contributions.
As an initial experiment, the Fact Box contained plant pots rather than books. This experiment was largely unsuccessful because as it turns out, November is not the time of year when folks are interested in plant pots. Following that, the Fact Box has always offered books.
A bit about the box itself:
The Fact Box contains one compartment for books and a separate compartment for facts. The Fact Pen and Fact Paper affixed to the Fact Box make it simple to jot down a fact. All you have to do to submit a fact is insert the fact into the Fact Hole.
These facts will be assembled to form a Fact Book thanks to the kind support of the Canada Council for the Arts. All facts will be fact checked for the sake of accuracy. Photographs of the handwritten facts on the Fact Paper will appear in the Fact Book alongside annotations for the sake of factual correctness.
Additional details about the Fact Box can be found in this Torontoist article.
Note: This Fact Box collects facts only! Advice, opinions, and suggestions belong in some other box! Also, strings of butterfly-shaped solar-powered lights are not facts, but thank you to whoever left them by the Fact Box.
Additional notes: The Fact Box is located in the Bloordale neighbourhood of Toronto. Since the Fact Box is not weatherproof, it is only outside on nice, dry days. In order to create the Fact Book, it is necessary to have 100 facts. As of November 2016, the Fact Box collected close to 100 facts. Since that time, the Fact Box has been in hibernation. It has reappeared in 2017 to collect additional required facts.
Space Improvement Signage Program (SISP):
It is crucial to keep public space in optimal condition so that we can have enjoyable times out in the world. The aim of Space Improvement Signage is to improve public space through the use of signage.
The first batch of signs are related to feeding pigeons. Folks might think that feeding pigeons is a) a kind gesture or b) a good way to get rid of scraps of food. Really, feeding pigeons is a problem since it leads to a) overbreeding and b) pigeon poop everywhere. It's easy to forget that city pigeons are wildlife and wildlife are perfectly capable of sustaining themselves. Raccoons are also wildlife and around here nobody seems to feed them! They find their own food. So, if pigeons aren't eating bread crumbs, what do they eat? Feral pigeons eat spiders, insects, and food scraps. They don't need extra scraps though! We've assessed the city and identified a couple key problem areas where folks were feeding pigeons multiple times a day, where people are leaving dumped-out bowls of noodle soup and entire sandwiches for pigeons, where pigeon poop was covering the entire sidewalk, and where it seemed like it would be impossible to get down the sidewalk without being swarmed by pigeons. We are now waiting to see whether or not such signs improve the public space.
Here are a couple examples of pigeon problem areas:
Here are some pigeon signs placed in the above pigeon problem areas:
[For full text, hover over the bottom of the enlarged photo.]
Railing Enhancement Project (REP):
REP enhances railings using techniques including wrapping.
Fence Improvement Initiative (FII):
FII is a project that improves on fences using techniques such as weaving and stitching/embroidering. Below is a selection of the good works. Some of these are in Toronto and others are in Brooklyn. The material used here is plasticky and is created specifically for construction/surveying for marking on construction sights and in forests and on trails — that's why the colours are so bright.