Thursday, 20 December 2007

Pavement chalking epidemic? I've just been reading some interview and survey material from a range of local residents who attended street parties, as part of a wee project I'm doing with Chris Gittins at Streets Alive. Let me share this extract with you: How do you get on with younger and/or older people in the street generally? Fine. Except someone in the street called the police about our 2 young children drawing with chalks on pavement outside our home. We actively want our kids to play in the street and were shocked and depressed by that attitude. This took place in a city in England. I have no more information and don't know if it took place during a street party or not. But it's an eerie echo of the story of the Brooklyn sidewalk-chalker who received an official fine - indeed it may pre-date that story. What next? In both instances, I'd have hoped the officials would have taken the time to make a point to the complainant, because it's in the authorities' interest that civil relations prevail, and it can't be hard to do that when there is no serious threat to anyone or to any property. I can remember when I was a kid, with siblings or friends, riding small bicycles up one end of our street invariably caused one particular older woman to step out her door and tell us to go away. Presumably, she wanted that portion of the planet over which she had some control to remain just so. Is that what drives this uncivil anti-neighbour nastiness? The poverty of generosity under which she existed must have been wretched. The idea that civil relations with the people who live around us is universally regarded as desirable seems to be simply false.

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