La Vida Local Irregular Notes on West End Life
Sign Up – Sign On
By Rosanne Graef
Signs are tricky things—too wordy, vague or ironic and they miss their mark. When well done, however, they can be effective shifters of attitude and behavior. Over the past few weeks a couple of decidedly pointed messages have appeared in the West End. I contacted a couple of the creators of these signs to find out more.
Stop The Fast Driving
Suzanne Hunt: I’ve lived in the West End since moving here in the early ’70s. Walking around the neighborhood has been a great pleasure to me, however in the last year it has become less pleasant and at times stressful. Cars speed from one block to another. I cross the street with trepidation. I don’t understand why people are driving so fast. It does not seem healthy for the driver or the neighborhood.
Other cities across the country have had citizen-initiated stop the fast driving campaigns and I thought it would be fun to have one in the West End. It would be great if driving fast in neighborhoods took on the same consciousness as littering or bee pollination.
Remember the Bee Friendly Yard signs? They worked, people starting thinking about bees.
It would be great if people became aware of how fast driving affects the places we live. Neighbors have been very positive, most have stories to tell of how fast driving has negatively affected them.
The signs are homemade. After the November election I gathered political signs. I turn them inside out and paint them with house paint. I am happy to report they are standing up very well to the weather.
The signs need to be owned. When you put a sign out you are officially joining the Stop The Fast Driving Campaign. They cannot be put out just anywhere. They can be put on private property or on the public strip in front of your house. You put that sign out you own it and are responsible for it.
If you want a sign contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bridge Up, Engine Off
Elissa Armstrong: Yes, I encourage people to turn off their engines when the Casco Bay Bridge goes up. Years ago we had a bridge there called the Million Dollar Bridge. We also had the first (in my lifetime) gasoline shortage. Everyone tried to conserve as much gas as possible and some community-minded folks put up a sign reminding us of a way to save: Bridge Up, Engine Off.
Now that we’re aware of even more perilous threats to our health, sustainable future and pocketbooks with the burning of fossil fuels, it seemed like the Casco Bay Bridge should have the same message.
The message on the bridge is a part of the Portland Climate Action Team’s Idle Free Campaign. Portland has an ordinance against idling, but most folks don’t know about it and enforcement is kind of low on the City’s list of priorities. So PCAT, being aware of the problems caused by idling, decided to get it into people’s consciousness. You know, if we don’t want a nanny state, we must take responsibility for our actions.
My husband Allen and I made the sign using some leftover siding from a neighbor on Clark St., some dayglo paint leftover from a stairs safety project, and metal stakes and black lettering paint paid for by PCAT.
Thanks, Suzanne & Elissa, for your activism on behalf of all of us!
Thanks as well to others who are deploying this brigade of little green folks.
Rosanne Graef is a West End resident. Readers may reach her at email@example.com.