Citizen Tleilax

Decorating Public Space with Non Profit Promotional Materials and Various Objects Which Might Otherwise be Thrown Away

I’ve donated money over the years to several non-profit organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center, Co-op America (now called “Green America”), FINCA, and many others. I feel very strongly about using the privilege I have been gifted with to try and improve our social and physical environment, and to aid those in significantly worse circumstances than I. While things may often seem bad for us middle-class types, various elements of our lives which we take for granted are still total luxury to a massive amount of people around the world. Thus, I don’t mind sacrificing a tiny amount of my own luxury to send a few dollars to serve the greater good. However, that is not the point of this post.

If you donate without requesting that the organization not share your information, many will give your name and address to a million other non-profits who then send you their own solicitations, describing what they’re all about and asking for donations. I have never minded this for the most part, because I like to know what kind of conscientious and helpful action is taking place about this or that issue.

Much of the time unique promotional materials are included, such as greeting cards, dream-catchers, pins, stickers, etc. Often there are photographs, with a little story on the back about the situation relating to what’s shown on the front. I’ve usually kept those, but without much purpose. Recently I thought of the best use for them–the decoration of public space.

Every once in a while I take a staple gun and walk around my area stapling them in visible places on trees or telephone poles. Sometimes I like to staple them to the very edge of a tree, so they will stick out and people on either side can see either the photo or the story. I figure they will garner at least a little attention from random pedestrians before being ripped down by apathetic kids (since there are multiple schools in the vicinity, there are lots of kids around all the time) or unimaginative adults. Hopefully some people will stop and really look at them, read what they’re about, and ideally even devote a little time into researching and possibly helping. That’s the kind of person I am, at least–I’m always interested in random things I see everywhere and I like to look into them more. I only hope that others share that sort of openness.

bear photograph on a telephone pole

Decorating public space is also a great idea for any sort of object that might otherwise be thrown away for want of practical use. Sometimes things aren’t appropriate for donating to a thrift store and have limited appeal for giving to someone you know. In these instances, it is fun to find a spot to install such an object where it can provide a bit of unusual and interesting augmentation to the public environment. I think it’s healthy for there to be unexpected elements in normally boring and predictable spaces, and the object may even find a new home in such a way.

A while back my girlfriend constructed some wearable fairy wings for a performance she participated in at the Hive Gallery in downtown Los Angeles. Recently they’ve been sitting around in limbo, too neat to throw away but not exactly desired anymore, by us or anyone. I suggested that we tie them to a fence or something, and we went out to find a spot. We spotted a suitable tree, and she climbed up and tied them around a branch–a strange little surprise for anybody observant enough to look up into the center of the tree.

fairy wings up in a tree

Now go and leave some of your unused stuff somewhere in public!

6 Comments so far
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A clever use of the fairy wings of which we possess the twin set, perhaps we will mount them in our tree…

Comment by Mom

I like this Idea as much AS I enjoy placing stickers on random surfaces …I also enjoy the label 228 street art project:

Comment by Aimee Webb

better link:

Comment by Aimee Webb

Do you by any chance happen to leave items in the downtown area? I walk down 8th St. every day and there is this little island in between the intersections of 8th/Bixel and 8th/Figueroa that is always decorated with new flyers, images, old cd’s and other trinkets. Most of these items are either changed daily or every couple of days and for the longest time I was too busy thinking about gaud knows what that I never noticed them. But ever since I spotted these abnormalities they have been the highlight of my walks to and from my destinations. From the looks of it some of the images that have been posted are like what you described in your post.
Anywho, even if it is not you who decorates this particular part of town, I want to thank you, as an interested pedestrian, for making our/my days so much interesting!

Here are some pictures I took of decorated area when I first noticed it.

Comment by marlene

I haven’t ever put anything up in that particular area, but it indeed looks like the exact type of thing I might do. One time I dressed a tree up in a tie and shawl, along with some other accoutrements.

Long live anonymous public art!

Comment by citizentleilax


And I hope to one day run into your stuff :]

peace homes.

Comment by marlene

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