Monday, August 17, 2009

Community Activators in Montreal

Hiring graffiti artists?

Timely news from Montreal. Just as I blog about graffiti problems and solutions in recent months, a success story emerges in MacLean's, Canada's national magazine.

Prevention NDG is a community organization in Montreal working to prevent crime, especially graffiti. While tackling tagging, they have struck a balance between paint-outs, murals, and education. Among other strategies, they also hire graffiti artists to paint murals to deter graffiti tags. Taggers will seldom, if ever, tag a mural. The Montreal Gazette article (and photo above) says it all.

Says one of the community workers at NDG: We also believe that it takes a multi-pronged approach to deal with this issue: removal, sensitization and prevention. We try to sensitize citizens on the importance of cleaning it quickly themselves (if they are able), however many home and apartment owners feel that it is the City's responsibility.

And therein lies the crux of the problem. Getting local folks to take responsibility. Getting them to shake off their dependency habits. Depending on someone else to solve their own problem.

That is why the work of community organizers like Wendy Sarkissian (scroll down), Jim Rough, and Mark Lakeman is so important. They are the activators. Activators of neighbor action. Activators of local ownership.

The activators, their skill-set, and their toolbox! That's where we must begin.