Idea of the Day

For a while there in school i thought about starting an art project that was more or less an "idea-of-the-day-blog." All it would have really been was just a daily report of whatever brilliant scheme i'd hatched for that 24 hour period. I decided not to do it when i finally stopped to consider the old saying (attributed, with varying amounts, to varying individuals):

genius is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration.

Like, anybody can just reel off ideas. It's implementing them that's so difficult. And i suck at that implementing part. I don't mind actually perspiring--i love working out in the sun, sweat pouring into my eyes, carrying heavy things, etc. Really. Seriously. Sometimes it can get tough, but mostly that kind of work makes me feel great. It's the really really hard work--libraries, taking notes, checking facts, making phone calls, diplomacy, negotiation--that gets me down. Can't stand it, man.

That's what ended up actually killing the HoboHut Project. Several folks approached me--like Real people, like the guy that did PR for Berkshire Hathaway and the Boston Celtics and stuff. "How far do you wanna take this thing?" he asked me in an email.

Everyone was dead set on the mass production of the thing, talking to city governments, etc., and i wasn't sure yet. PR-man was very excited until the day i wrote him back and said something along the lines of "I'm not sure i'm interested in going anywhere with this thing. I just want to make sure that no one person can own the plans. I want it so that anyone can build one and put it anywhere and stuff. I don't think they should be mass-produced or sold. Etc. Etc." That was the last time i heard from PR-man.

I believe now that i made a mistake. The HoboHut still resides in the wood studio hallways of the Star Store in Massachusetts. It gathers dust there and doesn't house anyone because i was unwilling to negotiate. I intend to fix that.

Anyway...so this idea-of-the-day-blog was a way to "inspire," but do none of that awful "perspire" business (again, meaning office work, not actual labor). The point was, anyone who wanted to do the "perspire" part was welcome to have the idea and go with it. (as long as they did it altruistically, not capitalistically.)

Well, so Alison and i were driving around in downtown Charleston yesterday. Yes, i know, we live in "downtown Charleston," but i mean, like, south of Crosstown. The fancy part. The Touristy part. The part where they bury the telephone lines. The traffic in this area is so so bad. It takes forever to drive somewhere, and longer to park. While enduring this i was reminded of one of my ideas-of-the-day. Here it is for anyone to use:

I figure that at any given moment on a congested city street at least 50% of the traffic is simply people driving around looking for a place to park. This traffic means air pollution, noise, dissatisfaction in visiting a particular area. It means that cities have to respond with invasive and expensive road work. Sometimes enlarging these roads kills the small--and charming--businesses that depend on walk-ins for their existence.

Okay. So Charleston already owns city parking lots. They are all over the place. I think that Charleston should implement free valet parking for everyone. Every block would be stuffed with people in special uniforms that clearly showed they were city employees. These city employees, paid a living wage and given tips, would take your car--right from the front of the business that you plan to enter--and would then park you car in a city lot. You, the shopper/visitor, would be given a beeper that identifies your automobile to the valet. About ten minutes before you are ready to leave, you press the beeper button alerting the valet which car is yours and at what location they picked it up. It's your responsibility to show back up, within that ten minutes, at the place you dropped off the car. (perhaps a fancier beeper version would allow two-way communication and the ability to identify a different car-drop-off point, in case you walked a mile down King street and didn't want to walk back.)

There are lots of things good about this, namely: less traffic, less pollution, employment, good public relations, less road work, benefits for the local businesses, the ability to maintain that charming village appeal that's so popular with new urbanists right now.

Thousand of things wrong: insurance and liability, fraud perpetrated by non-sanctioned individuals merely stealing your car, the employee costs far, far outweighing the benefits. Also, abuse by the driver, i.e. what if they just left their car there overnight rather than pay the hotel parking for instance? How do you keep that from happening? City revenue lost from parking tickets and meters. ETc.

Answers for some of the above problems: INSURANCE: car lots--city or otherwise--"claim no responsibility for loss or damage." Why can't this be the same way? REVENUE: Meter fees and parking ticket fees are greatly increased--and hey, you don't Have to use the service, you know? EMPLOYEE FRAUD: The beepers, the uniforms, very official id badges, something, identifies these people beyond a shadow of a doubt. DRIVER FRAUD: You got 8 hours free parking, and never overnight. IF you don't get your car within 8 hours, you pay a five million dollar fine.

I leave all the rest of the problems to people that love to nit-pick.

Hey, i'm just the idea guy.


Anonymous said...

Your free valet parking is actually a good idea. You may not have all the answers on how to implement it yet but so what? When people with good ideas get together they can solve problems and build a bright future for the rest of us. That, my friend, is the meaning of Independence Day.

Daniel said...

hey, what about this instead: we put sensors on every individual parking space downtown, hook it up so these sensors are constantly reporting whether they're occupied or not, and then as you drive downtown, you use your GPS system (eventually we'll all have them) to see EXACTLY what's open in the area you're trying to park.

It wouldn't offer employment, but it would cut down on the unnecessary driving.