Steven Woolrich is an Alberta CPTED consultant and member of the International CPTED Association. He has worked in a wide-range of roles during the past 25 years including policing, corrections and security as well as practicum work with NYPD. He currently authors the Target Crime blog linked on LIKEMINDED.
An old 1972 classic song titled “Concrete Sea” by Terry Jacks got me thinking about how important color really is in our communities. Jack’s sings “No one is meant to be living here in a concrete sea”. If you look around many cities you will understand where his thoughts came from. This is especially true in many urban downtown areas of our cities, but this is starting to change and that’s encouraging.
City Hall Park in Red Deer, Alberta is a prime example and a popular gathering place throughout the summer months. Think about how you feel and act when you see color and you will appreciate how important it can be in various settings.
As crime prevention practitioners, urban designers, architects and anyone dealing with the built environment, learn to utilize more color. Colorful landscaping arrangements in our green spaces, textured pathways that incorporate color, and murals are only a few great examples of how we can use color to brighten up our lives.
Color psychology as it is often referred to is another valuable tool we can use to help reduce crime and improve quality of life. Color evokes many memories and mental associations that can drastically alter how we feel. The various hues can produce the power to recall sounds, smells, textures and other sensations that can comfort, calm, or intimidate. It’s difficult to predict with any certainty how someone may react to a specific color but there are some basic guidelines that can help us as professionals.
Choosing proper colors can help us create moods that are more “positive” and therefore support safer environments to live, work and play. Red for example, is considered one of the boldest colors because it demands our visual attention. However, where this color is used could be very important as it is associated with rage, confrontation, blood, aggression and ferocity. Obviously red is not a good color choice for prisons or hospitals. Orange, my favorite color tends to make people feel rushed, or in a hurry. People tend to feel that blue is clean, crisp and airy like a cloudless sky. Blue is a color for relaxation, it lowers the heart, pulse and breathing rates and has a cooling effect.
According to Carol Ritberger I’m considered a “green” personality. She points out that “Greens live in a world of hopes, dreams, and emotions where the intangibles of life are the most important. Their rich imaginations thrive when using their creative abilities – their minds work quickly, bouncing from one thought to another. Greens think in metaphors and analogies, painting vivid pictures in their minds; greens see life from a holistic perspective that allows them to see the complete picture. They love creating ideas and exploring possibilities”. As a Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) consultant I found this interesting.
Ritberger, points our that Greens “focus on what things could be rather than what they are or intended to be. Greens also rely on their hunches and insight to get a real feel for what is happening”. Most encouraging was that Greens along with many CPTED practitioners are “driven by idealism and the belief that their purpose in life is to make the world a different and better place. They feel they must influence the quality of life for others”, according to Ritberger. This takes the whole idea of going green to a new level.