Only two things sustain me in this mission: the righteousness of the cause, and the great people in Brookline who have spoken to me on the streets while I am removing graffiti. Most just give an enthusiastic “Thanks!” while walking by, but many have stopped to talk to me.
I have learned this: people of every background, race, ethnicity, religion and age is interested in the subject of graffiti: “Who did this?” “How do we get rid of it?” “Why do they do this?” “How do you get it off?” “Are the police going to catch these people?”
I have spoken to orthodox rabbis, Japanese senior citizens, German nationals, store employees, homeschooled children, elderly African-American women, Chinese store workers, Russian retirees, young hipsters, and much, much more. They all have something to say about graffiti. And for all the people foolish enough to believe that any significant amount of graffiti is somehow “art” - I have never met anyone who wanted me to leave the graffiti there.
Today I met a man and a woman on White Place who were walking a pair of light-brown Greyhounds. They saw me removing a tag and some stickers on their street. The man said, “Didn’t I see you cleaning a mailbox a couple of blocks from here a few weeks ago?” I smiled and said, “Probably!”
I told them how much of an effort it has been to keep White Place clean as it is so near to the train tracks, and popular among the local taggers. I mentioned all the great stuff the police were doing, and about the recent arrests. They were very happy.
Later, next to the Dunkin Donuts on Boylston, I met three guys who worked at the adjacent Valvoline oil change place, which had been hit by Phop tags. They were very interested to hear about the big taggers here, what I was doing, and the recent arrests. They all literally stopped working to talk to me, once they knew someone finally had something to say about all the graffiti they had seen. These weren’t they yuppie or intellectual types I often run into in Brookline (no offense, I am one of them), but working-class people, like my father. We had a great conversation. They were really happy someone was doing something about it all, and were grateful for my efforts.
These are just two of many, many stories from this past year. Yes, this all began because people were tagging my immediate neighborhood, but I have been sustained by the appreciation of so many kinds of people in Brookline. I am doing this because I believe the community wants to get rid of the graffiti problem. The tell me I am right all the time.