Everybody Poops, But Not Everybody Has Access to a Restroom

by Catie Dargue

It’s Sunday, June 26th and the rain has stopped just in time for the Everybody Poops Picnic in the Park. As visitors start to gather around the covered shelter, dry off wet park benches and fire up the grill, a porcelain toilet is carried from the back of a van and placed front and center of the party.

The toilet; it’s not something that most people really think about too much in depth. If you have to go, you find a toilet and you
go. If you’re not at home you wander into a local business, purchase something or you just ask. But what if you’re homeless? What if you are not even allowed into most businesses to use their toilets, what then? Find a public bathroom right? Well not if it has been torn down. Would you go in an alleyway, behind a dumpster or a tree? You’re probably thinking “no way,” but what if you had no other choice?

“Everybody Poops” is a campaign raising awareness about the lack of public restroom facilities in the Washington Park area. When
the park closed, 3CDC tore down the only public bathrooms in that area and have not replaced them as promised. Local businesses are now complaining on the increase of public urination and defecation but many are still reluctant to join a very simple and practical plan put forth by the Homeless Congress to have local business sponsor five port-o-potty’s in the area.

This is a plan where everybody wins. People can use the toilet in a respectable and dignified way and businesses can continue as normal without worrying about what they might find on their door step.

For all the work that the Homeless Congress did to personally invite local businesses around Washington Park, not one representative showed up. Advocates for this issue are disappointed but are not giving up hope that businesses will come around to
help fund the much needed latrines.

Despite the lack of representation from local businesses, the event was still a success. About thirty to forty residents and agency representatives mingled together to share a picnic lunch, danced to the beat of Baba Charles and drummers and listened to CCM professor Michael Burnham’s theatrical reading of Taro Gomi’s book Everybody Poops. They discussed issues, shared personal stories and expressed concerns for the neighborhood.

People who don’t even live near Washington Park voiced their opinions and expressed the need for the city, 3CDC and local business to provide facilities for one of the most basic human needs. As Burnham added to his reading, “3CDC poops, but I think they poop money.”

The events continued on Tuesday, June 28th at the corner of 14th and Race Street with a theatrical demonstration and second reading of Everybody Poops. This time there were seven porcelain toilets mixed in with protest signs specifically placed outside of 3CDC’s head office. News crews and cameras lined the streets and passers-by looked on from their cars at the very peculiar but strong statement.

The people in this community have spoken and they want justice, they want dignity, they want a toilet or two but mostly they just want to be heard.