Recently we (Tyler Yoshimoto and Laurie Peterka) were named chairs for a Beautify CNMI subcommittee tasked to come up with a project focused on eradicating graffiti in Saipan.
How and why did this happen? Well, you see, over the last year and half, we've been involved with the Island SK8 Society. In the process of waiting for our skatepark to be completed (and since then) our group has volunteered and either painted over graffiti in the community or removed it from the skatepark. While graffite is an art, it shouldn't be at the expense of private property owners and/or degrading or detracting from the CNMI's natural beauty!
During a few skatepark gatherings a couple of months ago, some of us were brainstorming about what to do about the graffiti at the skatepark. Some ideas were tossed around. At first, we thought that we would try to install video surveillance cameras at the park, but it is proving to be too costly of an addition; so the idea has been shelved for now. Hiring a security guard is also an option, but again, we have limited funding so we have to think about whether this is worth paying out our hard-earned donations. We (ISK8) think not --- there must still be another way.
Another idea that came up was trying to organize "graffiti walls" as part of the skatepark. Ironically, skaters get blamed for "tagging" and graffiti, but of the skaters that we know, the majority are actually against the idea of random graffiti. They especially don't appreciate that someone is now tagging their skatepark on a regular basis. It has become a parttime job just trying to keep up with removing the graffiti just from the skatepark.
According to Tyler Yoshimoto (this committee's co-chair), the general idea is to install a recreational wall in the skate park. We can then cover this wall with a type of sheet, that may be replaced from time to time, to provide for a better alternative to doing graffiti in places where it should not be done. This way, the graffitiers will be encouraged not to graffiti local buildings or the skate park, while, at the same time, being able to showcase their artistic talents to other kids on the island.
After tossing some ideas around in random conversations and giving it some thought (and we are not entirely sure how it would work or if it would work) but wonder about the possibility of creating an education-type program that would include a multi-directional approach --- we could give it a fun name like, Operation: Paint Over (or some other hip, cool, non-derogatory, catchy name). Maybe it would be cool to create a program that brings together various components of the community.
Just a few ideas and people/groups that either Tyler or I have spoken with casually: Beautify CNMI, ISK8, Rotary Club, MTEC/MyWave, someone from each of the public high schools, the Public Defenders Office --- some others that I think would be good partners, but have not yet spoken to include Attorney General's Office, DPS, DYS, DCCA, LEAP, Boy Scouts, Youth Congress...I am sure that some of you might have other ideas and will look forward to all input before setting our goals and kicking off!
Anyway, the point of this email: we need somewhere to get started, so this is it --- we are emailing you to ask if you want to help or if you would pass along this message to someone that you know that might want to help.
I spent a little time looking at a couple of websites that you might find interesting:
Please reply with a quick note to let us know whether you are interested or not (and, please, if you pass this message on to anyone else, we would appreciate it if you would include Tyler and I in the cc line so that we can get an idea of who gets this email).
The time frame for kicking off this project is late August/early September. I hope that you will take an interest and at least let us know if you are interested in helping.
Thanks for your time!
Laurie Peterka, Practical Solutions, firstname.lastname@example.org
& Tyler Yoshimoto, senior student MBA, email@example.com