by Greg Saville
In the early years of CPTED, the skateboarder was the defiler of the public order and vandal of the public realm. Still today uncontrolled skateboarding causes damage to places. CPTED training taught how to target harden benches and use sand to disrupt wheel bearings. New anti-skateboarding laws and enforcement emerged.
Today the skateboard movement has gone legit. It's worth 4 billion dollars and has over 11 million participants. In 2020 it will be an Olympic sport. Skateboard parks populate every major city.
Skateboarding has come of age.
The same evolution is underway with graffiti and street art, the former defined as illegal, the latter not (both distinctions now fading into the Realpolitik).
We have written about murals and graffiti for years. SafeGrowth Advocate Anna Brassard wrote a few years ago about the graffiti/street artist world in her blog The Writing on the Wall. I wrote about a Graff War in Melbourne.
Today, as with skateboarding, change is underway. There are lists of World's Top Cities for murals. Penang in Malaysia is the leader. No surprise Berlin, Germany and Sydney, Australia are also leaders. Philadelphia and Melbourne aren’t (but should be). Krakow, Poland, Reykjavik, Iceland and Quebec City, Canada make the top ten.
I captured some street art and mural images in Toronto and Denver the past few weeks. I’m told by graff artists that the illegal practicing they do helps them refine their skills and produce these amazing legal works.
Perhaps if we can find a public practice place for street artists and legitimate display walls for their better work, we could minimize the illegal graffiti vandalism. Working with street artists, as these images show, can produce remarkable results.