February 11, 2010

Improving or Sanitizing?

Reading Julian Dobson's recent article Warning: Dementors at large reminded me of a bit of neighbourhood tidying that's happened here in Liverpool. It was probably just done by the owner of the building, rather than the council or as part of the Baltic Triangle regeneration going on in the area, but it provides some anecdotal evidence of how an intended improvement could affect the delicate threads of activity that it seeks to encourage.

The building in question is next-door to the Novas centre, which was the location of the first Liverpool Barcamp back in December 2008. At the time, I'd decided to give a talk to try to encourage more entrepreneurial and creative activity but had only started putting the slides together on the morning of the second day of the event.

I had the words done, but was looking for suitable images to accompany them when John McKerrell pointed me to a photo he'd taken earlier that day of some graffiti on the building opposite.

First law of the cosmos, get off your arse and make it happen

© John McKerrell

The slogan on the mural summed up my call to action perfectly - "First rule of the cosmos: get off your arse and make it happen" - and ended up as the final slide in my talk Don't Just Change the World... Improve It!.

I don't know how much action my talk inspired, but it did have some effect. Just the other day in an email, a friend explained what an upcoming meeting was about:

"I am meeting [him] to give him the obligatory 'Get off your arse and make it happen' (c) McEwen 2008 talk"

So, just a nice fluffy "man gives talk partly inspired by graffiti, at least one person was listening" story, but one that shows the potential unintended consequences of such "tidying and improving" as the clean-up of the graffitied building that's happened since then...

This is what the graffiti looks like now:

Current view of the painted out graffiti

Good job Barcamp Liverpool happened when it did.


Posted by Adrian at February 11, 2010 09:14 AM | TrackBack

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