Graffiti Resource Council Attends 84th Annual U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting
February 1, 2016 •
The Graffiti Resource Council (GRC) attended the 84th Winter Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20-22. The conference was attended by 284 mayors and numerous city officials, members of the business community, and executive branch staff. Distinguished speakers included First Lady Michelle Obama, Baltimore Mayor and USCM President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox, and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. GRC staff had the unique opportunity to meet with numerous mayors to discuss its programs, mission, and how it can assist cities in reducing graffiti vandalism.
USCM was established in 1932 and is the official non-partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. The USCM holds Winter Meetings each January in Washington, D.C. and annual meetings each June in a different U.S. city. Additional meetings and events are held as well. The USCM’s function includes the following: helping develop and promote effective national urban/suburban policy; building stronger and more effective federal-city relationships; monitoring the effectiveness of federal policy in terms of its service to urban needs; helping mayors develop leadership and management tools; and creating a forum where mayors can share ideas and information.
GRC is a nonprofit corporation whose primary goal is to prevent graffiti vandalism and provide creative solutions that promote graffiti-free communities. GRC provides information, education, and legislative assistance to help communities develop effective policies and comprehensive programs that prevent graffiti vandalism. To fulfill its purpose, the council conducts research; gathers and evaluates information; develop comprehensive strategies, policies, and programs; and provides implementation assistance designed to eliminate graffiti vandalism and promote positive, innovative anti-graffiti strategies for communities. GRC is funded by the aerosol coatings industry concerned about the negative impact of graffiti vandalism on America’s communities.
GRC has been active in its advocacy and providing assistance and guidance to cities faced with graffiti vandalism, and participation with USCM is part of the council’s outreach effort to cities. As such, GRC is a member of the USCM Business Council. The Business Council was created within the USCM in order to bring the businesses closer to America’s mayors. GRC joined the Business Council in order to increase awareness of the organization and have the opportunity to have direct, valuable access to city leaders, particularly mayors. An overwhelming majority of anti-graffiti laws or programs are initiated by city mayors and city councils rather than at the state or federal level. Mayors are key leaders in preventing the spread of graffiti vandalism in America’s communities. Graffiti can be a serious issue for cities; it can promote crime, devalue property, slow economic growth and tourism, and damage the aesthetic value of a community. It is a problem that, if not addressed early on, will spread and multiply, causing larger issues down the line. GRC believes mayors can greatly benefit from its resources and years of experience developing effective policies that prevent graffiti vandalism.
At the USCM’s summer meeting, GRC had the unique opportunity to interact with hundreds of mayors, other Business Council members, major businesses leaders, nonprofits, and Cabinet officials. The numerous panels and speaking events allowed for conference attendees to learn about pressing issues affecting cities, including education, job growth, climate change, public safety, water and air quality, technology, criminal justice, transportation and tourism/arts. First Lady Michelle Obama also spoke to the conference attendees about her initiative to eliminate veteran homelessness.
GRC will continue to be involved with the USCM at this summer’s meeting in Indianapolis, June 24-27, 2016.