These Outlaws Are Fixing Potholes

Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP

Here’s a Rorschach test of sorts. This story in The Guardian about a rogue gang of clandestine Romans filling potholes and fixing fountains because the government won’t: Is it a feel-good story or yet another sign of our crumbling society?

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On the one hand, inspiring! Good Samaritans taking matters into their own hands! Concerned citizens filling in the (literal) gaps of poor government services! A DIY, individual responsibility, can-do attitude towards civil infrastructure!

This guy!

“It’s not like we’re a group of anarchists,” says Renato. “We’re just people living here in this neighbourhood where everyone knows each other, trying to make things better.”

On the other hand, these people are now criminals because they’re altering government property without permission, which, as they point out in the article, would take a long time to get, if they could at all, and the whole point of their group is to fix things quickly because it’s simple and easy to do.

Easy as it is to see these pothole fillers as lovable heroes, I, personally, subscribe to the depressing-as-hell interpretation of this story. Not only is it screwy that a bunch of random people slink around in the night to fix a pothole in a major western capital, but nobody even seems that particularly surprised or embarrassed about it. This is merely how things are now.

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And let’s face it, this isn’t just an Italian thing. Nearly every American town and city could use a similar rogue gang dedicated to making our sidewalks and roads less shitty.

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One of the group members said he hopes to inspire similar groups in other cities.

If you are so inspired you start a secret gang to fix your local streetlamps or pave broken sidewalks, let us know.

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About the author

Aaron Gordon

Senior Reporter, Investigations & Technology, Jalopnik