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June 2002

Lumpenroletariat Speaks In Pt. Reyes

By Donna Sheehan and Paul Reffell

"Well," we said, "this is a first." Being called unemployed vagrants on the front page of our local weekly newspaper was a new experience for both of us. With apologies to those who did not read the Point Reyes Light's references to the "Luddite sneers" and "sophomoric sarcasm" of the Pro-Degradation Wall in Point Reyes Station, here is a brief update.

It has now been torn down for the second time by someone who apparently has a strong opinion but no writing skills. From our vantage point in South Central Marshall, we "out-of-towners" were happy to get so much coverage for our latest interactive art project on the Grandi Building, the Pro-Degradation Wall. This act of censorship might have been averted, had our response to the editorial been printed. In it, we announced that the Pro-Deg Wall will be removed, as originally planned, at the end of May. But no matter, timing is everything in the pell-mell world of interactive art.

We are now debating whether to remount the artwork, or to let the tearing down of the exhibit stand witness to its success. If a show of "amateurish posters" can have such an effect on the in-towners of Point Reyes Station, what more can it say? Instead of disregarding it, as the community has disregarded the out-of-date rock-band posters and Lost Cat notices that have for years occupied the Grandi wall (ah, the good old days), someone felt strongly enough to stage a clandestine coup. Well, we say, "Bravo!", welcome them to the Pro-Deg movement and pat ourselves on the back for waking somebody up.

To the many people who have thanked us for the exhibit, to those who took the time to actually read what was there (rather than cursing it from afar at their breakfast table in the Station House Cafe), to those at the Southern end of town who told us that foot traffic had increased in their businesses since the Wall went up and created interest in what used to be a "black hole" in the middle of town, to those who wrote ANYthing on the Wall and to those who read the Wall, disagreed with it and said so coherently, we say a hearty Thank You for joining in the fun. We would also like to take some credit for being a partial cause for the imminent renovation of the Grandi Building. Somebody finally paid attention to it!

Pro-Degradation offers the human race an excuse to continue, or better yet, increase our consumptive ways. Everyone, even the most ardent conservationist, is degrading the environment. We can't help it. Every action we take has a consequence in the world. Yet most of us act without thinking most of the time.

For instance, driving is a destructive act. There is no easier way to get places and transport things, thanks to the vast infrastructure that supports it, but that does not make driving any less destructive. Heating a kettle to make a cup of organic green tea is a destructive act. Digging soil to plant onions is a destructive act. Waging war is a destructive act.

There are infinite levels of destruction and degradation. But if we all start to think about even our smallest actions and their consequences, a change in consciousness may be effected. Is that a realistic goal? Probably not. That's why Pro-Degradation gives everyone the opportunity to say, "I'm Pro-Deg," and to increase our consumption rates without guilt to ensure the rapid extinction of our species. A true Pro-Degger will work towards the goal of making life untenable for humans within three generations. The gamble is that if we can accelerate our demise, we will take fewer species with us than if we hang around a little longer.

What price are we willing to pay for a guilt-free, luxurious existence? The lives of our great-great-grandchildren? Would one or two generations more or less make any difference to the answer?

Is awareness of consequences a dangerous concept that needs to be stifled? Should public art always be pretty and unchallenging? Is "sophomoric" a defamatory slur against sophomores? Is Bolinas ready?

Here's to a tidier Point Reyes Station. Have a nice nap.

 

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