Saturday, August 1, 2009

Graffiti - artist or anarchist

Philadelphia mural project

My life the past week has been spent editing the newest product of the International CPTED Association (ICA). It's the first of a series in Designer's Guidebooks and the first issue is on the subject of graffiti and how we can deal with it.

While reading this excellent document I was struck by the many types of graffiti and the many kinds of people and motives who create them. Some are vandals, artists, gang-bangers, activists, and some just rebellious youth.

I was also struck by how many of those tackling the problem often have no idea which is which. And as with all safety and prevention, if we don't know what's behind a problem it is difficult to solve it. We might slow or displace it with temporary fixes. But if we want a sustainable solution, we must understand it. That's what the ICA Designer Guidebooks are all about.

It's not the first time graffiti has been featured by the ICA. Last fall an issue of the CPTED Perspective newsletter also dealt with the topic, specifically on how murals can turn a space into a place. I also wrote a blog entry on graffiti problems in Victoria. Then there is the story about City Repair a few blogs ago, a kind of murals-on-steroids in Portland.

Some cities, like Toronto and Philadelphia, have great programs for tackling graffiti. For example, check out the Time Magazine photo story on the Philadelphia project. Also check out a You Tube of Toronto's Amnesty International Urban Canvass project.

Watch for the launch of the new Designer's Guidebook on the ICA website.

PS: Houston SafeGrowth students - don't forget to click Risk Assessment Descriptions under the Toolkit for the July 31 assignment!

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