Next week, a new word will be introduced to Madison’s lexicon: the DIPPUL, short for “drunk in public picking up litter.”
As a noun, a DIPPUL is an event that’s part pub crawl, part community service: Participants grab a garbage bag and a trash picker, and meander their way from neighborhood bar to neighborhood bar, snagging litter along the way. The first-ever organized DIPPUL takes place next Saturday, April 20 on the city’s near east side.
When Mike Parks, an IT professional and military veteran and one of the event’s creators, describes the event, he also uses DIPPUL as a verb, one with plenty of variants: Someone who “speed DIPPULs” jogs from bar to bar while picking up trash. If you “double DIPPUL” or “triple DIPPUL” it means you’ve managed to pick up multiple pieces of litter with your picker at once.
Parks said a DIPPUL is about having a good time while doing good in the community. He also said tying a pub crawl to community service is an opportunity to show that drinking isn’t necessarily an unhealthy or destructive pastime.
“Modeling good behavior I think is important … we’re out there highlighting positive drinking,” said Parks. “I know many decent people who are good and decent people who have a drink once in a while.”
Saturday’s DIPPUL kicks off with a barbecue at 214 N. Brearly St., the home of some of the events’ organizers. The food there is free, although donations to fund future DIPPULs are encouraged. At the barbecue, volunteers will hand out trash bags, gloves and trash pickers.
From there, participants will form groups, choose a route — organizers will draw out different options that different groups can take, to maximize territory covered, said Parks — and start wandering their way to the Robin Room on East Johnson Street. Once they get there, a group can set down their gear outside, throw out the trash they’ve collected, and grab a drink.
From there, they wash, rinse and repeat: The itinerary after Robin Room includes the Caribou Tavern on East Johnson Street, and LJ's on East Washington Avenue.
Parks said that he and his friends decided to invent the DIPPUL after taking inspiration from other trends that mash up pasttimes, and that provide opportunities for people new to Madison to get out into the community and meet new friends. Those inspirations include Hash House Harriers, an international network of “drinking clubs with a running problem.” Madison’s chapter routinely hosts beer miles — a race around a track, where participants have to stop to chug a beer after every lap — and other events that mix fitness with alcohol consumption.
Another inspiration, said Parks, is “plogging,” a Swedish fitness phenomenon where joggers meet up to run while picking up litter. The Washington Post described it as a trend for “exercisers who are fed up with rubbish along their route.”
Parks said that the recent #trashtag trend — a recent social media phenomenon involving people posting selfies of all the trash they pick up in public spaces — was not an inspiration, although he said he was sure plenty of participants would be posting photos.
Parks said that a lot of planning went into the DIPPUL, with safety being a major concern.
“If it’s not about safety, we’re not going to be able to have DIPPULs anymore,” he said.
To that end, he said the organizers have implemented “guard rails” for the event. People will travel in groups, and have “accountabilibuddies” to keep an eye on them. Distances between bars, he said, will be at a “responsible length”, to make sure no one gets dehydrated or lost. There will be a sober “tortoise” — ie, a volunteer who hangs back behind groups to make sure everyone is accounted for. Participants have also been encouraged to bring reflective clothing.
Parks said he and his friends have already tested their plan to make sure that it works.
“The first time I was walking around doing a test DIPPUL … It was the first time I’ve ever been thanked for going out drinking,” said Parks.
The DIPPUL on April 20 starts at 2 p.m.; Parks suggested that participants show up by 3 p.m. to ensure they get food, and to figure out their teams and routes. More details are on the group’s website.