Weekend Reading: this one’s for you, civic-minded libertarians

Weekend Reading is a weekly collation of 3-5 articles that have caught my attention, published on Saturday mornings. Previous editions can be found here.

1. This Guerilla Public Servant Forged an L. A. Freeway Sign to Help People Avoid Getting Lost (Slate)

Ankrom wanted his sign to be built to Caltrans’ exact specifications, which included designs able to be read by motorists traveling at high speeds. He copied the height and thickness of existing interstate shields, copied their exact typeface, and even sprayed his sign with a thin glaze overspray of gray house paint so that it wouldn’t look too new.

2. Rogue Sign-Maker Hacks NYC Subway for Efficient Boarding

The MTA was not into it. “These signs have the potential to cause crowding conditions in certain platform areas and will create uneven loading in that some train cars will be overcrowded while others will be under-utilized,” said a spokesperson, adding that “regular customers already know which car they want to get into.”

But the EPP won’t be foiled easily. “I really tried to make them as permanent as possible. I’ve made a lot of these things,” said the sign-maker. “I’m really going for it. I’m ready for them. My plan is to eventually convince the MTA that this is a plan worth allowing. I want to beat them with the numbers — just keep putting them up.” And the signs are just the beginning. “There are better ways to navigate through all of the stations. The next part is… just watch where you’re walking.”

3. Guerilla gardening: a report from the front lines (The Guardian)

This grey in the title of the forum is not just the built environment and the pounded pavements, but is also a mentality. The urban greening movement has been around for more than 50 years; only now is it starting to take to the elegant mainstream. The fun and colour in the venture invites us all to chuck seeds over forbidding fences or to sneak bulbs into tree pits. Grab yourself some tulip bulbs and join in.

4. Etobicoke man’s staircase a hit with neighbours, but mayor warns against copycats (CBC) | City replaces this man’s homemade Tom Riley Park staircase for $10k after controversy, safety concerns (CBC)

Matthew Cutler, spokesperson for Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation, said the city is determined to find a solution that works for the community.

“Although designers try to design a park in the safest and most accessible way with pathways, we do learn that people want to take shortcuts, and they start to carve new paths into the grass or new ways down a hill, and we try to respond to that,” he said.

“In this case, I think, with the stairs, with what Adi and Gail have done, it’s just a sign again that we need to find a new way and better way for folks to get down there.”

5. Reverse Graffiti: Activist Art Extraordinaire (Huffington Post)

Reverse graffiti is form of street art that involves carving into the dirt and dust that surrounds us. Artists subtract from a surface in order to create a negative image within the positive, often quite dark layer of grime. They use methods as simple as dragging their finger across a dirty car window or as elaborate as carving elaborate stencils, which they then mount on a surface and spray with a high pressure water hose, to impress a finely wrought illustration or message. Reverse graffiti is a form of activist art, in that the work often draws attention not only to a particular image etched into a surface, but also the extent to which these surfaces – and our cities – are caked with pollution.

2 thoughts on “Weekend Reading: this one’s for you, civic-minded libertarians

  1. I see you also read that chaotic good thread recently :p

    re: the Etobicoke stairs, though, the homemade ones were ridiculously unsafe. they weren’t actually anchored to anything, just sitting on loose dirt. it’s a good thing the city got to them before any rain at all came.


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