Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

IMHO prohibition sentiment requires inherent addiction to status quo, an incapacity to visualise beyond the here and now and a desperate desire to know others might feel the same... Reform is not revolutionary, rather it is evolutionary. Having survived banging your head against a brick wall the evolutionist relishes having stopped. / Blair

Friday, July 06, 2007

On graffiti, pride and due process

re: "If citizens took pride in their surroundings and painted over tags immediately,it would disappear." / (as seen on the Canterbury Issues Forum here)

At the root of the 'problem' of graffiti is a culture. It cannot be painted over.

A culture poorly understood by administrators, politicians and media commentators.

The question one needs to ask to have insight into graffiti, is why, what engenders this response?
Painting it out is, as many will attest, simply preparing a blank canvas for the next graffiti. It is, as it were, solving a territorial problem for whom ever wishes to either claim or reclaim that space. Just as advertising hoardings have a commercial value associated with mind share, so to does graffiti have a social value. It is an indicator, a signal, and it is yelling out 'we reject your value system'.

Ratepayers are forking out big time yet we choose to know nothing and there is the first clue. The community wrongly characterises the problem domain clouding and obsfucating it with prejudices before principles.

Youth, at least those within the domain of this subject, are alienated from rule of law. And for that WE as a community have a lot to answer for. We are collectively, the architects of this prejudice.

It is not a simple matter, and it wont be solved by just this community, for is the solution space is hampered by an entrenched culture of 'us vs them', corporate and societal failure to value youth on a global scale, and, at the risk of alienating every adult reader of this blog... entrenched 'white privilege.'

That all said, it behooves me to say, just because the problem is bigger than us.. (the few readers here) and bigger the civic domain of 'canterbury' that is not an excuse for not have the required conversations.

Make no mistake, that having read on the subject for thirty odd years, the single biggest impediment to the required biopsychosocial change is to be found in drug policy.

'bling bling... ' - ring any bells anyone.

Graffiti, like Gangsta Rap is (just another) product of the matrix of drug policy dysfunction rendered upon all of us... one cannot discuss youth, gang violence and a myriad of other 'impediments to health promotion' without meeting a wall of resistance centered around this vexing subject, but until we are prepared to collectively trumpet at these walls they will not crumble.

I have repeatedly asked Garry Moore to explore this core community issue via 'time to talk', If he (and his replacement) prefer to sit at the head of the table of 'Healthy Christchurch' and fail to have this conversation, then we are destined to endlessly paint over the mistakes of the past. The mess, and its not limited to just graffiti, is occurring on the current administrations watch.

(note: Garry shut down any discussion centred around alternative solution options at the forum, stating to the Chair "we don't need to hear from him!".... Further I was prohibited from asking ANY question at the subsequent media conference. Ironically it was the PRESS who suggested I 'be there', but city admin staff tried to have me 'ejected' (on whose bl#@* authority?) meanwhile tagging remains the evidence of failure. Does this signal the continuing failure of citizen participation and due process, or is it just more of that all to familiar expedient agenda based politics? Every Mayor attending saw this behaviour and by their collective silence perpetuate failure.

Reform of our community's duty of care demands appropriate due process, the required 'all voices at the table'.

While this issue may well be a bridge to far for the so called 'mayors forum', it is certainly one that should have status in the mayoral debates.

For those who think drug policy is a central government issue, think alcohol licences, tobacco outlets. Who administers these?
We have to get our collective heads out of our proverbials and ENABLE the conversations.

Our sister city, Seattle has taken owndership of the issue at a community AND civic level and real results and meaningful discussions (and due process) are a result.

If I were Mayor.. I would start by inviting Seattle's retired Chief of Police Norm Stamper and on e of the lead organisations behind the Seattle Initiative, the King County Bar Association, out here. I would give the required resources to the appropriate sister city commitee to lubricate the 'conversation'. I have already confirmed they would be available. Airfares It would cost about 1% of what we currently spend on graffiti. Im confident the Canterbury Law Society would at least host one of them for a dinner. Rotaries may even help. (they certainly did for my last law men. We did 28 Rotaries in 10 business days) Their is no lack of will here, just no one piloting the ship and no baseline resources.

This is where we find the stuff of social capital.

BTW Sally and the tagbuster, I was in Lyttleton recently with my partner, she commented to me about the awful tagging prevalent where we walked, the general condition of the parking area (behind the supermarket) was disgusting. This is where the farmers market used to be. I now regret not taking a snapshot. Local businesses may need to take a bit more pride, and sure, the taggers didn't help, but lets not get to down on them while the general environment looks so third world.

sig. ‹(•¿•)› Blair Anderson

ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219

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