How a dead raccoon touched the heart of a city
Over the past few years I have not had much good to say about Toronto's governance or management. Lots of people feel the same way; it's hard to know what to do about it. You can get mad, or you can have some fun with it, which yesterday a lot of people did. There was a big dead raccoon on the sidewalk of a major mid-town intersection that was tweeted in to the city's 311 service; they acknowledged it:
@jasonwagar Thank you for letting us know. This was reported a short while ago and Animal Services has been notified. ^de— 311 Toronto (@311Toronto) July 9, 2015
But then nothing happened. The city never came. People started feeling sorry for the poor thing and someone stuck a note on it saying "rest dear raccoon, help is on the way."
The shrine continues to grow.
Eleven hours after the city said it is on its way, the raccoon has a hashtag, flowers, a photo and a condolence card.
After nightfall the candles and a donation box come out. Then around eleven Animal Services comes along and finally removes it. As Buzzfeed notes:
The worker placed the raccoon in a garbage bag as a small crowd watched, mostly in silence. “Seriously guys, it’s a dead raccoon,” the worker said. He was oblivious to the moment, to how this dead raccoon had united so many.
Residents are being asked to keep their green bins open tonight in honour of #DeadRaccoonTO.— Norm Kelly (@norm) July 10, 2015
It's all very silly. But there is an underlying message: Even in a city still suffering from Rob Ford withdrawal symptoms, with chronically, purposefully underfunded services that don't work like they are supposed to in one of the richest cities in the world, people can still have some fun.
Conrad the raccoon is gone but not forgotten.