Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Graffiti doesn’t belong on trees.

I’ll admit it. I’m ambivalent about graffiti in public places. I see the spray painted designs, words and murals as art with a message for all of us. Artists need canvases. Without it, frustration builds up and an outlet gets found on train cars, old buildings, streets or sidewalks.

I always believed this outburst is non-violent and needs to be redirected not punished. I still do. Even when someone spray painted this on my favorite cedar tree.

Yes, I was shocked and upset to see one of my treasured trees defaced. But then, I thought about all those people who carve their initials into the trunks. They may see it as an expression of love. Others see it as defacement. I see it as putting a healthy tree at risk for infestation or infection. I was happy to see less of this violent defacement in the last few years. I took it as a sign that people heard the environmental message and had a new reverence for the trees living in the forests and parks.

But I saw a different kind of sign in the spray paint on the tree.

Indifference. Irreverence. Ignorance.

There was no design here. No thought. No art. Just someone with a can of paint and a need to flip off the can lid, push the button and let the paint fly where it may. It didn’t do any ‘damage’ to personal property. It’s probably not against the law.

But I wonder, did the person stop to think about the tree? About what the paint and aerosol chemicals might do to it now and in the long run? How it might seep into the layers of the tree and cause damage? Concrete can be washed, repainted and repaired.

The 40 foot tall cedar tree cannot.

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