How com­mu­ni­ties win the tag­ging game

The Tribune (NZ) - - AL FRESCO | BACKYARD BANTER -

Graf­fiti can be found on walls, fences, park benches, bus shel­ters and just about any­where else where it will be guar­an­teed a pub­lic view­ing of sorts.

Even the na­tion’s trains are not im­mune and it can be any­thing from a hand­writ­ten, spray-painted or etched scrawl to a vi­brant, colour­ful artis­tic ex­pres­sion.

Some graf­fiti is le­gal and so­phis­ti­cated enough to be re­garded as street art. Other ex­am­ples are cat­e­gorised as straight-out van­dal­ism.

Van­dal­ism is linked to crime and com­pro­mised pub­lic safety – three things you are un­likely to want as­so­ci­ated with your neigh­bour­hood. So, what can you do? Here are three ways you can help to pre­vent graf­fiti, aka tag­ging, van­dal­ism in your neigh­bour­hood.

1. Re­port it. Many coun­cils have rapid re­moval strate­gies in place that aim to get rid of tags within 24 hours of it be­ing phoned in.

Some re­search sug­gests graf­fiti re­moval isn’t a de­ter­rent to of­fend­ers but there are also re­sults of quick ac­tion around the country that sug­gest oth­er­wise. A tag doesn’t gen­er­ally give its cre­ator any last­ing sat­is­fac­tion if it is re­peat­edly painted out.

You can re­port graf­fiti by con­tact­ing po­lice or your lo­cal coun­cil. The Keep New Zealand Beau­ti­ful char­i­ta­ble trust is ded­i­cated to keep­ing com­mu­ni­ties clean and safe. It has branches and vol­un­teers through­out the country and is also keen to know where hotspots are. Call yours in on 0800 TIDY NZ.

2. You can phone the same num­ber if you want to ‘adopt a spot’ in your neigh­bour­hood and keep it graf­fiti-free.

Keep New Zealand Beau­ti­ful pro­vides vol­un­teers with a free tool­kit equipped with rags, a spray bot­tle, re­mover sol­vent, paint, brush, roller, gloves and more.

Ask around to find out where the lo­cal graf­fiti hot spots are and rally to­gether to keep them tagfree.

3. Get cre­ative. There are a range of rea­sons why graf­fiti is ir­re­sistible to some peo­ple and why cer­tain spots at­tract re­peat at­ten­tion. Re­search un­der­taken for the Min­istry of Jus­tice in 2009 found that graf­fiti can be an ex­pres­sion of youth want­ing to break free of so­cial constraint, and the places they choose are of­ten ripe for cre­ative play. By this to­ken, sim­ply clean­ing the ‘can­vas’ doesn’t prom­ise the spot won’t see graf­fiti again.

Why not ex­plore cre­ative ways of ad­dress­ing the is­sue? It could be turned into an op­por­tu­nity for a com­mu­nity ini­tia­tive to bring beauty and art to your neigh­bour­hood, with per­mis­sion.

Re­sene has a Pain­tWise pro­gramme that gives away free paint to com­mu­nity groups right across the country and ap­pli­ca­tions can be made at re­sene.co.nz. Keep New Zealand Beau­ti­ful also helps to or­gan­ise events such as school mu­ral com­pe­ti­tions dur­ing its Graf­fi­tifree week in March.

A com­mu­nity united in its vi­sion might even look at per­mit­ting ded­i­cated graf­fiti ar­eas that are open to use by any­one – or com­mis­sion­ing artists to paint mu­rals.

Can­vas your neigh­bour­hood and see what oth­ers around you think. Get po­lice and coun­cil rep­re­sen­ta­tives on board. You may well be able to turn a neg­a­tive into a pos­i­tive.

Rapid re­moval strate­gies ap­pear to de­liver good re­sults in the war against graf­fiti.

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