Tim Bornholdt

99% Invisible - He’s Still Neutral

Oakland resident Dan Stevenson was never the type to call the cops on drug dealers or prostitutes in his neighborhood. He took a lot of technically criminal behavior in stride, but he drew the line at piles of garbage people that kept dumping across from his house. When the city installed a permanent traffic-diverting median at the intersection next door, no amount of signage seemed able to keep litterers from dumping all kinds of waste on this new raised concrete divider.

So Dan Stevenson and his wife Lu discussed options and decided to try something unusual: they would install a statue of the Buddha. When asked why they chose this particular religious figure, Dan explained simply: “He’s neutral.”

Unlike most 99PI episodes which I find can be cynical and dark in tone, this episode was quirky, unexpected, and gives you a bit of hope in a world that often feels dark and cynical.