Day 62: Take back your city with paint

The former mayor of Tirana and Socialist Party leader, Edi Rama has seen a lot of change in Albania. In 1991 the Republic of Albania was born and 1992 saw Democratic party take power from the communists. However economic collapse led to violence and eventually an armed rebellion in 1997. In 1999, the country was further affected by the war in Kosovo.
In 1999, Rama became mayor of Tirana. He took over a dull city with high crime and corruption rates. His budget for development was non existent. And one day, he decided to paint.
There are images from Tirana in this talk; manicured urban parklands, a once grey building now splashed with orange and red paint. He describes the reaction to the colour as extraordinary; motorists stopped in traffic as if to stare at some visiting celebrity.
Next, Rama and his team decided to conduct a survey of Tirana citizens. The results were surprising. People described feeling safer in their new living spaces. And the crime statistics actually lowered.
Rama was once told the colours he’d selected didn’t ‘match’ European colours. He uses his talk to make a statement against the old government thinking which exists both in Albania and worldwide. People don’t need to be reinvented to create change; the rules do. The government can be changed by altering the politics. And even a small pot of paint and an artwork can make a difference.


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