Thursday, November 19, 2009

Graffiti Is in the Eye of the Beholder

Graffiti is often considered a key element of urban blight, unless it's well-intentioned hipster stenciling funded by grant money in Detroit's Hubbard Farms neighborhood.

Sean Mann of the Let's Save Michigan blog writes:
A few weeks back a couple of us walked the streets surveying vacant properties to check for squatters and assess if they were secure. With the skills of some artists in the neighborhood, some plywood was precut, painted, and decorated with creative stencils ranging from clouds and cats to a peregrine falcon swooping down on a Mickey Mouse.

These activities all built up to Saturday when over a dozen of us, as well as a van load of U of M volunteers, got together on what will probably be the last nice weekend of 2009. One group removed graffiti on several blocks of commercial buildings and another group picked up trash from various properties. A couple of us proceeded to move through the neighborhood in the suspicious-looking windowless van jumping out and boarding up four vacant buildings in a guerrilla fashion . . . well, I mean as guerrilla as you can possibly be when you are being funded by a grant.

Who exactly owned the properties wasn't entirely certain in some cases. What was certain was that each property had been empty for years and had become a magnet for undesirable activity and something had to be done.

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Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at