An Incredible Guerrilla Beautification Story
Istanbul, Turkey is known as the city of seven hills. It has dozens of public stairways that connect centuries-old neighborhoods, giving pedestrians a way to the avoid heavy car traffic on the streets.
In Cihangir, a liberal neighborhood frequented by artists, a man decided to liven up the dull and depressing gray stairways, and it sparked a movement that nobody could have foreseen.
Until then, the walkways attract little notice, but a couple of months ago a retired forestry engineer named Huseyin Cetinel (age 64, see pic) decided to spend $800 and four days (with the help of his son-in-law) to paint the stairs connecting Findikli to Cihangir all the colors of the rainbow. He said he wanted “to make people smile”. The staircase ended up looking like a really, really long LGBT flag, and visitors started flocking to them to have their picture taken on the stairs.
Unfortunately (actually — scratch that — *fortunately*), some government idiot (who apparently wants to keep the city looking as drab as possible) sent a crew overnight to sloppily paint the stairs a drab gray (see video below). “Where does this gray come from?” Huseyin asked. “Did we have another Pompeii and got flooded with ash?”
Surprisingly, this act of guerrilla beautification that unintentionally triggered a fresh ripple of anti-government protests. Viewing the gray paint as yet another sign of intolerance and a lack of respect for their right to claim public space, and unwilling to be oppressed, the people revolted by getting together and re-painted the colors. Not only that, but they started painting all the other stairs rainbow colors as well.
The NY Times reported that activists began organizing on Twitter almost immediately, using the hashtag #DirenMerdiven, or “ResistStairs”, which is a reference to the hashtag used for protests in June against government plans to build a shopping mall in place of the city’s Gezi Park, #DirenGeziPark, or ResistGeziPark.
Check out this video posted to YouTube by Turkish protesters showing stairs across the country painted in rainbow-colored stripes:
What do you think? Should we try to make this catch on worldwide?