I Miss Poland . . . Except for the Graffiti

I’ve only been home five days and already I miss Poland. I miss being able to walk everyplace, or being able to use mass transit without first getting a ride to the bus stop (Arizonans will understand this.) I miss being able to eat out for less than in Germany or the States. And yes, there’s the reality of getting back to normal life after a great vacation. But there’s one thing I won’t miss, and remain surprised at – the shocking amount of graffiti I saw.

There’s two pictures that are incongruous to me. One is the beautiful Krakow street of the kind that leads to the market square. Step one street over and you’ll see intermittent paint jobs like the attached photo. In Warsaw the vandalism seemed especially rampant because of the surfaces chosen. I saw spray paint on glass, marble, concrete, brick, stairs, plaster walls, in short any paintable surface. In Warsaw, right next the Palace of Science and Culture and adjacent to a new metro station, the underground walkway is spray-painted on almost every surface. I could have taken a ton of pictures there was so much – but it was also harder to stop and take those photos in crowded places.

I’m not travelled enough to know if Europe in general is more inured towards graffiti, has sighed a  reluctant sigh of urban acceptance, or if Warsaw has simply not raised the public funds to fight the ongoing battle.  The city of Phoenix where I live is extremely proactive and has zero tolerance towards graffiti and even has a ‘Graffiti Busters’ program where they combine donated paint with volunteers to repaint any surface for free with the owner’s permission.  The longer graffiti remains, the more encouraged the painters are. So for me it’s shocking; others may not even notice. Sometimes cultural shifts are neither right or wrong. But even a cultural capital and a nation’s capital have to fight the constant fight of that universal sign of blight: graffiti.

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