Just forget the words and sing along

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Graffiti Tunnel

So, my hometown of Entwistle made the news the other night, and I've been wanting to rant about. It was the CTV news in Edmonton, but sadly, CTV Edmonton didn't deem the story worthy of posting to their website. My next hope was the website for my hometown newspaper, the Community Voice, but their website is little more than a place to place classified ads.

So, I guess I'm going to have to recount the story as best I can before I go ranting about it.

In my hometown of Entwistle, there is a tunnel. A pedestrian underpass, to be specific, leading under the CN Rail main line and Highway 16, connecting the north end of the village to the south end of the village. According to the Alberta Transportation dedication plaque at its entrances, the proper name is "The Entwistle Subway."

Since it is filled with darkness for 90% of the time, and my hometown is the type where there's nothing to do on a Friday night, the underpass is a frequent canvas for graffiti artists. And we're not talking the good kind of graffiti that you find in most urban areas...we're talking good ol' basic, "[Girl's name] IS A SLUT!" in gigantic crimson, spray-painted letters. We're talking bad sketches of marijuana leaves. We're talking poorly written limericks with little care for rhyme schemes.

Well, with Entwistle's centennial being this year, it was decided that now is the time to do something about it. So, the school has rallied the junior high kids to paint a mural of town landmarks in the tunnel. One of the teachers interviewed on CTV news even remarked that several of the kids who paint that graffiti are probably painting the mural. "Perhaps this will give them a sense of ownership, and there'll be no more graffiti," said the teacher.

And I'm here to say that this is a very bad idea. Painting a mural in the underpass will DESTROY Entwistle's judicial system!

For as long as I can remember, whenever a youth is sentenced to community service, the task assigned to them is to clean the graffiti out of the underpass. Well, with no more graffiti to clean up, what will they do when they're sentenced to community service?

It was a nice infinite loop, truth be told. They'd paint graffiti in the tunnel, they'd get busted for it, they'd have to clean it up as part of their punishment, but when they were done cleaning, they'd be so pissed they'd spray graffiti badmouthing whoever ratted them out, they'd be busted again, and they'd be forced to clean it again, and so on and forever.

Which is why I give this mural, oh, 6 months before it's defaced.

Seeing as to how the youth already constantly paint it, I'd say they already have a sense of ownership for it, and the latest effort, albeit an organized one, probably won't fix the problem.

I'm going to have to run home soon and have a look at it before it's gone. It's a noble effort, but ultimately a futile one.

I know the youth of Entwistle. I was one of the them. There's a sense of hopelessness. You either let it consume you, or you run from it. Either way, you need a release.

And a dark, hardly-policed tunnel and a can of spray paint provide it.

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