We are pleased to see a new blog join the local array of citizen journalism: Northampton Blight. Its mission:
This blog is to publicize urban blight right here in Northampton —
— The Paradise City!
Every city faces the challenge of keeping things well maintained and looking good, but Northampton has been looking pretty darn shabby lately. And there doesn’t appear to be much interest by our city officials in restoring the beauty of just a few years ago.
Hopefully this blog will call enough attention to the blight to inspire our local politicians and decision makers to take some steps to reverse the trend.
We are reminded of the UK website Love Lewisham, where citizens can report problems like stray trash to the municipal council. We wish Northampton Blight well.
The Atlantic: “Broken Windows”
…at the community level, disorder and crime are usually inextricably linked, in a kind of developmental sequence. Social psychologists and police officers tend to agree that if a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken. This is as true in nice neighborhoods as in rundown ones. Window-breaking does not necessarily occur on a large scale because some areas are inhabited by determined window-breakers whereas others are populated by window-lovers; rather, one unrepaired broken window is a signal that no one cares, and so breaking more windows costs nothing. (It has always been fun.)
…In Boston public housing projects, the greatest fear was expressed by persons living in the buildings where disorderliness and incivility, not crime, were the greatest. Knowing this helps one understand the significance of such otherwise harmless displays as subway graffiti. As Nathan Glazer has written, “the proliferation of graffiti, even when not obscene, confronts the subway rider with the inescapable knowledge that the environment he must endure for an hour or more a day is uncontrolled and uncontrollable, and that anyone can invade it to do whatever damage and mischief the mind suggests.”
Immediate removal – within 24-48 hours – is the key to successful graffiti prevention.
Berkeley Police Department: “What Is Graffiti About?” (PDF)
Times-Picayune: “Vandalism or art? Struggle between graffiti producers and those who seek to prevent it has flared again”
Radtke is an adherent to the well-known “broken window” theory, the
notion that small neighborhood blemishes must be set right or they will
lead to more blemishes and, eventually, blight. The theory was famously
applied to the runaway graffiti in New York subways in the 1980s.
Stripping the Big Apple’s passenger cars of graffiti was an early step,
many believe, in New York City’s vaunted economic and social recovery
in the past two decades…
Ligi said his anti-graffiti tipping point came after the 2005 storm
and flood, when the damage to the region seemed to be compounded by the
appearance of graffiti. Real estate agents trying to sell property and
CEOs considering a location for their businesses can be turned off by
graffiti markings on highway sound walls and elsewhere, he said.
“I don’t think graffiti spread all around makes people feel
comfortable or gives a sense of pride,” Ligi said. “Especially after
Katrina. We’ve worked so hard to bring it back. We have to have zero