Ranger Kathryn's Arches

August 29, 2012

Graffiti: my nemesis

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 7:34 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Scrubbing graffiti off sandstone while it’s 95 degrees in the shade is challenging. At least it’s a dry heat.

Spending the last two weeks on Graffiti Detail has deepened my passionate dislike of this stuff. Human nature wants to preserve a record of its presence in a place; graffiti is an ill-thought-out means of demonstrating that you were here. I’d venture to guess that the typical age of those who write on rocks (signs, trees, fences, etc) is 14-24 — well before their prefrontal cortex is fully developed and they can think through Cause & Effect more clearly.

A few minutes of circular scrubbing with a brush, water, and a handful of sand can get light surface graffiti off of our soft sandstone. If it’s incised more deeply, like pocket-knife initials grooved into a boulder, it takes much more elbow grease and multiple attempts. The brush-smear that remains is a give-away that a thoughtless person left their mark there.

You know, visitors photograph everything — including me removing graffiti, which always elicits a curious “What are you doing?” from folks wondering if I’m washing an arch. A splendid Teachable Moment ensues. My personal favorite: parents offering their youngsters for the removal efforts. Those children will never write on rock after working hard to restore it to its natural condition.

And, finally, in the category of “Imagine That”: previous graffiti-removal volunteers in national parks have inadvertently erased priceless historic signatures, so training is mandatory before one can tackle the curse of moderns leaving their marks behind.

Please… don’t write on things in public! I’d much rather be interpreting the park’s beauty for visitors than remediating what’s been defaced.

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