Saturday, September 22, 2012

Running on Empty: Part 3

Mercifully this will not be in 3D..

I was contacted today by a friend looking for someone to join him in commenting on the 'Colour Vibe/Graffiti Me' Run taking place this rainy fall Saturday, and the recent change of marketing the run organizers have undergone. Ah: new marketing?

Earlier, I outlined my problem with the run selling itself as a graffiti experience. The company obviously agreed that a dysfuctional understanding of graffiti makes for problematic marketing. Consequently, they changed the name of their event to "Color Vibe" while completely erasing charity promises from the event website.

Well, you can't do that without being noticed, especially if some participants signed up assuming proceeds would go to charity. And so, the 'Colour Vibe/Graffiti Me' Run webpage states that they ARE indeed a charitable run again. Who are the lucky recipients, you ask?

The City of Ottawa Police Services & The Graffiti Management Ottawa people. Seriously, we are calling public policing and bylaw enforcement a charity now?

Who is in charge of this company's marketing?

If you are no longer associating with graffiti (fair enough), deciding instead that 'color' or 'fun' is the run's new focus, then why not give a portion of the proceeds to a non-profit art collective in Ottawa? Or, better still, the city's Children's Hospital, CHEO?

The graffiti bylaw and policing strategy does not directly address graffiti. It unnecessarily burdens business owners, non-profit art collectives, and residents who dream of Ottawa someday having a cultural scene that functions outside the NAC. It brews bad blood between citizens. And this is all to pay for the costs of policing something that is JUST as much a part of this culture as Rock and Roll.

This past week, I watched a gaggle of young people put on one hell of an urban arts festival under the Dunbar Bridge at House of PainT. What most people don't know is that there is a core group of young people who have been working (in addition to their professional full time jobs) to put on this event for the past 9 years; this year they have become a non-profit organization, inundated with a massive amount of paperwork, record keeping, and lengthy funding applications, without pay. Why? They do it because they are focused on supporting the citizens of Ottawa who are a part of this amazingly productive hip hop community; graffiti writers have been a part of this production without fail.

They also do it because they are invested in the cultural and community health of YOUR city, Ottawa. I remain humbled at their kindness, enthusiasm, effort and successes.

Supporting policing services in an ineffective misguided ideological War on Graffiti is one strange form of charity, particularly given the City of Ottawa tells us that they pay three million dollars a year to run this failed eradication strategy.

Bad policy is what this company is funding, not community charity. That is why you should boycott this Graffiti Me/Color Vibe Run.

You want to run & have fun for a good cause: Run for Terry Fox or even the Army Run who help out families of soldiers, or those soldiers dealing with physical or mental illness. Help foster the spirit of good will in our community, just like those kids at House of PainT do each and every year in this town.