I have a dream! It’s not a dream on the scale of ML King Jr.’s dream and if I try to express my dream in a speech, it won’t bring a lump to your throat the way that Martin’s dream speech will, but if you have a full bladder in downtown Olympia after hours some day, you may share my dream of increased public access to bathrooms.
Here is the letter I sent to the Olympia City Council and to Thomas Henderson and Joyce Turner at General Administration earlier today:
I am active with the Olympia Coalition for a Fair Budget. I have been communicating with the City of Olympia for several weeks about the need to increase access to public bathrooms in downtown Olympia. In the past few weeks, I also starting communicating with GA regarding the problem of limited bathroom access in downtown Olympia. I spoke to the City Council about this problem on October 4th. The City has expressed support for the idea of increased public access, but also expressed concerns about vandalism, drug use and other inappropriate activities that arise with public bathroom access after hours and I share the City Council’s concern about the challenge of having bathrooms open 24 hours per day.
I was in downtown Olympia on Friday evening and again on Saturday. I was astonished at the number of people taking part in the Food Summit and the public events at Sylvester Park. I understand that a potentially large group of people may now intend to assemble in Sylvester Park and petition for redress of grievance, a critical and protected First Amendment right and I am very excited about the energy, the commitment to democratic process and the dedication to non-violence that I am hearing from the folks gathering at Sylvester Park. We truly live in interesting times.
I encourage the City of Olympia and General Administration to recognize that this kind of free speech movement eclipses park and public space rules. I encourage the City of Olympia and General Administration to step up and show respect for the most important civil right of all, the right to gather and engage in free speech in public space. I also request that we seize this unique opportunity to have a trial run at increased access to public bathrooms by establishing a trial program of opening the public bathrooms at Heritage Park for the benefit of the people who are taking part in the free speech movement and also to support the larger community who want to be able to walk through downtown Olympia without the increase in sanitation issues that will arise with the number of people who are now spending many hours per day living their free speech movement in public space.
I believe we can receive cooperation and support from the General Assembly that is taking place daily at Sylvester Park with the monitoring and maintenance of the public bathrooms.
Please review quickly and let’s discuss the possibility of opening the public bathrooms at Heritage Park effective Monday, October 17th on a trial basis while we convene public meetings of stakeholders who are interested in this issue.