I'd like to share the following with you all. It might inspire you to do
something positive about your own town or city.
I had been writing to the council and the newspapers for a few years about
the stink of traffic fumes and how unsafe it was for pedestrians in our
town centre. I was getting nowhere.
So. I invented a fictional family who came to Christchurch (my town) for a
two week holiday.
Every other day, all councillors, Council officers, local newspapers and
residents' associations received a 'postcard from Christchurch' -- six
different pictures in all over the two week period (approx 50 people). Each
postcard depicted a photograph of traffic congestion, fumes etc. with an
appropriate message -- 'Wish you were here?', 'Where Time is Pleasant?'
(our town's catchphrase -- what a joke!!).
On the message side, each postcard carried an individual handwritten
address and message such as:
'Dear (councillor's name)
Honestly! Can you see anything
'Pleasant' about this?!
The High Street air is thick
with exhaust fumes. Poor little
Timmy had a bad time with his
asthma last night.
signed (with kisses) 'Jenny & family'
You can imagine the publicity after a few days of this! It made the front
page. Mysterious 'Jenny' Sends Postcards To Traffic-choked Town's Leaders.
On the final day, everyone received a small spray-bottle of L'air de
Christchurch (I put in three or four drops of diesel fuel with an eye
dropper -- phew!) boxed and wrapped as a gift, with Souvenirs of
Christchurch wrapping paper. A small leaflet 'L'air de Christchurch -- The
'A pungent creation of particulates
and acids, harvested in the heart of
Christchurch -- the High Street, a fertile
source, rich in nitrogen & sulphur
dioxides, carbon monoxide, volatile
organic compounds etc, etc. . (you get the drift)
Now, when you want to relive those
memories of Christchurch town centre,
just spray a little L'air de Christchurch
in the centre of your living room.
Capture the essence of Christchurch .
(ozone-friendly pump-action spray)'
Plus, a Warning leaflet:
'Prolonged exposure may cause . . .
Keep away from children blah blah.'
And another message:
'Well, it's good to be coming home. . .'
I used to work in advertising and still have a few friends. One supplied an
attractive female model who adopted the Jenny name and posed for a few
pictures holding the perfume bottle, which I used to send to the press when
I finally came clean.
And that was it.
On the positive side, it dramatically raised the debate about congestion
and air pollution, the council added a few more diffusion tubes (damned lot
of good they are, but. . .), and I found a few like-minded people who now
belong to my traffic campaigning group.
On the negative side, I was branded as 'an irresponsible urban terrorist,
sending out potential petrol bombs' and one of the councillors has a
daughter called Jenny who's son's name is Tim (of course, I didn't know
that but I've never been forgiven).
It cost me a fair amount of money to prepare, and it was a lot of work for
a one-man campaign, but I think it was worth it. Were I to embark on a
similar exercise, I'd delegate a few responsibilities like Press releases
and TV interviews to people who can handle this better than me.
I've put up a couple of pictures to give you a flavour (150k?):
Feel free to use it in your town, or to ask me questions.
Roy P(etrol bomber;-)