use, function, design, and lower crime

When I was out walking the pup today, I was thinking about things in terms of use, function, and design. Take for instance a park bench. You can sit on it, stand on it, or lie down across it. But its function, when used as a seat on a beautiful fall afternoon, is to enjoy the oranges and reds of the fall foliage. It may also function as a platform if there was a concert in the park and one wanted to see it over people’s heads. Lastly, it may function as a place to take a rest, especially for the homeless.

Now think about a catalytic converter. Its use is to reduce airborne pollutants produced by gas fueled vehicles, that could be harmful to people and the environment. In 1975 its function was a decisive step toward a cleaner environement as it enabled compliance with the EPA’s new mandates. Today, as the tweet below indicates, its function is currency for youth who have learned how to remove and trade them.

When the public surrounding a park decided to discourage the homeless from sleeping on park benches, they tackled the issue with design. And came up with this.

Isn’t it the function which determines an objects value? A bottled beverage at the check out at a grocery store may run you $2.25 even though right down the aisle you could grab a six pak for $4.59. The function of the first one is a refreshment.

The function of the stolen catalytic converters is a fungible commodity. I think Rev Christopher is asking for an economic design that would break up the market so that his youth would no longer have incentives to carjack and steal. Who’s up for the challenge?