Cover the Public Square jersey barriers in graffiti

Cover the Public Square jersey barriers in graffiti

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A. Bollard started this petition to Frank G. Jackson

After nearly 9 months of obstruction and obfuscation, the City of Cleveland agreed to reopen the bus lanes on Superior Avenue through Public Square on Monday, March 6, 2017. But, rather than allowing the Square to operate as it was designed, the administration of Mayor Frank G. Jackson used its manufactured concerns about terrorism to mar the Square with jersey barriers, concrete planters (which are often filled with more trash and cigarette butts than flowers), and half-assed ramps at the redesigned crosswalk.

In August 2017, the Group Plan Commission, which oversees Public Square, and James Corner Field Operations, which designed it, pledged to develop a permanent plan to replace these unsightly, so-called safety features by the end of 2017. In June of this year (just 6 months past their deadline), the Group Plan Commission released a plan to remove the jersey barriers and install bollards at a cost of $2 million. Yet, 5 months after this plan was released and 20 months after the Square reopened to buses, the jersey barriers, planters, and makeshift ramps remain, with no end in sight.

So Clevelanders should take a page of out Berliners' playbook. During the 1980s, after East German authorities reconstructed the Berlin Wall with 12-foot high concrete slabs, artists from around the world began to cover the western side of the wall with graffiti. Nine years later, the Wall came down, and West and East Berlin were reunited.

In this light, Clevelanders should cover the Public Square jersey barriers in graffiti and street art. We're a city that prides itself on claiming it can solve every problem with a mural, so why not this one? Perhaps we can even recreate some of the most famous murals from the Berlin Wall, but customized for Cleveland? I'm thinking Dmitri Vrubel's infamous Bruderkuss.  But I'm not an artist, I'm just a lowly bollard. I'll leave the creativity to the actual artists.

If we cover these jersey barriers in graffiti, one of two things will happen. Either the City gives in and removes them, unifying the space, or Public Square will further cement (pun intended) its status as a hub for free speech and artistic expression.

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