Monday, May 16, 2011

It's the Shit!

Spring showers brings forth the smell of new blooms and manure. Such is life in a city with a farm in the centre of it. Today I am bloggin' about the sweet and sour smells of spring in Ottawa.

FIRST the blooms: House of PainT 2011!

I was thrilled last night to sit in on a writers consultation about the upcoming jam . I am so stoked for what is around the corner for this city. It was a pleasure to sit and listen to these smart folk talk about the future of their writing community. Thanks for including me, gang. It was a pleasure.

Don't know what House of PainT is about? Check it out
Volunteer. Apply to Paint. Bboy/girl it up. I hope to see you there!

SECOND, the manure: Spray Can Restrictions in Montreal

While my blog focuses on the City of Ottawa graffiti scene, I am gonna leave town today to talk about one of my favourite neighbours, the City of Montreal. Why?

I worry about the Broken Windows of Bad Policy. My 'fear' is that bad policies, left to fester, will signal to less informed counsellors that citizens don't care about public policy;  this invites sinister politicians to join city council in order to make increasingly thoughtless and irresponsible policy. Indeed, left to fester, bad policy in nearby communities could further contaminate legislation elsewhere [sarcasm].

Some of the boroughs of Montreal are courting the idea of restricting the sale of spray paint to anyone under the age of 18, believing that this will help decrease 'tagging' in the city. This idea was tossed around by Toronto counsellors last year, and word on the street is that Rob Ford is floating this idea again. It is a policy of the ignorant.

Of course it won't do anything to 'eradicate' graffiti. I think Sterling Downey's comments here say it best:“The public doesn’t realize that the majority of people doing graffiti aren’t minors. How about Operation Intelligence?”

Also, this newsflash just in: most humans under 18 have figured out how to use the Internet to order stuff, like spray paint...

It's annoying legislation mostly. The 'mosquito' of policy, really.

What is interesting is the process of creating policy for the sole purpose of policing an imagined group for the benefit of nobody.

The reason we should worry about this kind of 'nothing' policy, though, is because it causes shit between citizens who were coexisting with the usual level of tolerance and annoyance up until this third party got involved.

Remember that kid who always caused shit on the playground and never got caught? S/he was just cool headed enough to just walk up to two differing groups of kids, make a comment that pissed off each side,then walked away while the two sides battled out why the comment was offensive. The teacher would haul in the 'bad kids', blaming them for causing shit while the real bastard was off playing Pacman, sucking back a Pepsi Free (80s reference aside, you get the idea).

In reality, this type of policy creates administrative ecstasy: more paperwork and an excessive draw on scarce public resources to police how entrepreneurs do business. Being fined for selling paint that could be used legitimately by the people who are buying it treats business owners as if they were all idiots. It pisses off business owners who may, in turn, react negatively to proposals for graffiti mural projects. This policy also fosters a culture or contempt that may make extreme measures in 'blaming' writers for the legislation seem like reasonable approaches.

No decrease in tagging.

No increase in security (perceived or otherwise).

Less cohesion between citizens (legal/illegal writers & business owners).

What a load of ...

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