By Willa Granger
This past June the SCRUB Foundation, the Public Voice for Public Space, recently hosted a group of representatives of the Gyeonggi Province (South Korea) to discuss SCRUB’s mission and its impact on shared space. Guests included members of the Gyeonggi government’s New City Development Division, Land Development Planning Division, and several other departments as well as representatives of the advertising industry. The group, which discovered SCRUB through its website, was in the process of conducting a national tour of America, stopping in Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. Their stop in Philadelphia was planned solely to visit the SCRUB Foundation. The visit represented another step forward in the growing international dialogue about public space and outdoor advertising.
Mary Tracy, executive director of the SCRUB Foundation, presented a PowerPoint about the organization’s mission, history, and actions. The visiting group was especially interested in SCRUB’s advocacy for protecting public parkland, as well as learning about signage legislation in general. While the Gyeonggi contingent had previously met with members of America’s advertising industry, Tracy’s voice represented a powerful and resonant counterargument to advertising and its impact on public space. Its members were struck by a particular quote Tracy shared: “One generation plants the seeds, another gets the shade.” The sentiment was especially profound in light of the motivation behind this tour of American advertising practices: Gyeonggi leaders had come to America to garner ideas and opinions about the future development of their province. In particular, representatives were curious about the merits of LED signage in establishing the proper “look” of a modern region. As Tracy later commented, the journey was meant to encourage Gyeonggi leaders to be visionary; signage, especially LED signage—with its significant toll on environmental resources—is simply not innovative. SCRUB closed its presentation by soliciting its guests to remain sensitive to the “seed” we plant for future generations, and to realize the environmental and visual burden we pass on through outdoor advertising.
The SCRUB Foundation expects to hear from the representatives of Gyeonggi about the future development and beautification of their province. For more information please visit www.publicvoiceforpublicspace.org or call SCRUB at 215-731-1775.