It Just Might Work: Weed-bombing

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Weed-bombing has the added bonus of eventually killing the weeds.

by Brian Clarey

Over the years, our cities have gotten away from us. What were once monuments to our culture and industriousness went fallow for a time and now are in need of being reclaimed.

That’s the whole point behind tactical urbanism, a movement that encourages pop-up parks, restaurants and retail, “chair-bombing” and other techniques that aim to give the cities back to the people.

One tactic, “weed-bombing,” is more about converting a negative aspect of modern city life into a positive one.

It’s not as much fun as it sounds, but it’s still pretty fun.

It all started in Miami, when a neighborhood activist grew tired of cutting down weeds on neglected city property near his home. So he started tagging them.

Armed with cans of spray paint, a great sense of color and a the heady buzz of righteous indignation, Brad Knoefler started spray-painting the weeds in the Omni Parkwest neighborhood in bright colors, creating temporary works of art out of urban blight.

“[I]t’s much more beneficial to beautify [the weeds] and convert them into street art,” Knoefler says in the “Tactical Urbanism” handbook.

“Unlike traditional graffiti,” he adds, “weed-bombing doesn’t damage private or public property and has immediate benefits to our quality of life.”

I love it because it’s an elegant solution to urban blight, both highlighting the issue — in this case, the prevalence of weeds in public spaces — and turning it into eye-catching art that will eventually die because of all the toxins in the spray-paint. I’m gonna try this instead of Roundup on the weeds growing along the curb in my neighborhood and see if anyone notices.