Image credit: nicasaurusrex, used under Creative Commons license.
Some time back we were surprised when a California man was arrested for stealing waste grease from a dumpster. More recently we've seen a woman handcuffed for taking food from supermarket trash. Now the police are swooping in on more hardened criminals. This time, the culprits are small children picking daffodils. Unmarked Police Cars Dispatched to Tackle Flower Pickers
According to The Guardian, two unmarked police cars swooped on two young sisters picking daffodils in a local park in the English town of Poole, Dorset—not a million miles away, it should be noted, from a spot where rich landowners have been illegally poisoning trees that ruin their view. These two children—aged 4 and 6—were not committing eco-crimes of quite such a heinous nature, but they had been spotted picking flowers by a member of the public, and a report was made to the police.
Is Picking Flowers Vandalism?
There is, it should be noted, some confusion as to the extent of the children's flower picking. While the parents claim they saw no flowers being picked, the witness who reported the incident to the police—a relative of a local Conservative politician—claimed that this is not the case:
A relative of Poole Conservative councillor Peter Adams called the police. Adams said: "The children weren't just taking one or two daffodils, it was big clumps of them.
"I was surprised that the police sent a squad car with two PCs. I would have expected a PCSO [a police community support officer] to turn up and have a quiet word with them."
Parks as Public Resource?
What the truth is about this particular incident is, of course, hard to say. The children may have been picking a few flowers, or ruining an entire bed. But in my mind it raises a broader, more interesting question. What if, instead of just providing static flower displays for people to passively admire, parks actually started growing things we need and use? Just as one Dutch town removed traffic signals and rediscovered courtesy, what if our cities planted flowers, fruit and veggies, and then actively encouraged citizens to take what they needed?
We might just surprise ourselves as we rediscover the concept of collective commons and started looking out for our shared resources. I can dream...