Placebook: When Billboards Work


Hate has no place in our city bilboard by Flickr user Steve Rhodes

Good billboard with a good message. Photo by Flickr user Steve Rhodes

One of the things those who rail against the  enroachment of  consumerism in our daily lives especially hate are billboards. I’ll admit, there’s something charming about seeing a barn sign, an old-school painted Coca-Cola sign or those hand-painted peach signs on the way to Myrtle Beach. Yet, when it comes to regular old billboards that dot the interstates and the suburban stroads of life, I could do without them. Especially the ones that flash.  I also think, as a marketing and media maven, that I’m immune to advertising.

But then I got sick with a nasty sinus infection and cold. I was trying to go to my regular primary-care after hours clinic, but thanks to a thunderstorm, they’d been knocked right back out of power.  I then went to the nearest CVS minute clinic. Not enough time or people to see me. So I put my tail between my legs and planned on what home remedy might work next. As I was making the drive home, I happened to look up and see a massive billboard for another urgent care clinic. I’d seen it time and time again, enough to ignore it.  But there it was, providing me information about a service I might need, when advertising actually performs a public service. I was on the wrong side of the road, but I pulled over and turned down the street it was on.

Two hours and two nice PA’s (and only $60 out of pocket) later, I now have all that I need to finally shake this sickness and get back to all of the things I love and a few new ones I hope to add.

I say all this to say, even the ugliest parts of our built environment have a purpose sometimes. Of course, I’d loved it better if that massive billboard had been a hand-painted red cross sign, but then would I have seen it in the oversizedness of everything else in that warehouse district. Probably not. And with that, your daily news:

Nice write up on The Farmery, the portable food market that’s currently housed at the Raleigh City Farm.

The workers that are working to bring power back to businesses that still don’t have it (and a few more that were added to the totals due to today’s thunderstorm) have been sleeping at area businesses due to lack of hotel rooms.

The ghost project on Winston-Salem’s MLK Drive.

Business license taxes could be limited statewide.

Lots of good changes coming to Greensboro’s Harlem Bistro, including a name change.

The state is still struggling to make deadlines to process food stamp applications.

A High Point branch of Meryl Lynch Wealth Partners moves into High Point’s downtown, while the Rol-a-Rink will shut down at the end of the month, leaving only one skating rink in High Point.

The Asheville school system is readying the first STEM themed school in Western North Carolina.

The state DOT has begun repaving I-40 near Asheville.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is no longer the National Park Service’s number one site.

Some Charlotte leaders believe that Charlotte’s current workforce is not strong enough to compete locally. Yet a Chinese coal firm will bring 60 local jobs to the South Park area as it relocates its U.S. operations.

Charlotte Douglas Airport will not be getting a solar farm.

The UNC system has set aside its construction budget requests, but not its operating requests after it’s original budget request was sent back.

Meanwhile, veteran public school teacher pay is 46th in the nation and new teacher pay is 48th.

The projects hoping to get a piece of the Wake County hotel-motel tax money.

Questions are being raised about Durham police informant payments.

The Wilmington drawbridge repairs are almost finished.

The City of Wilmington will not be holding its annual Nautical Festival this year.

Mixed-use development planned in Pender County near US 17.

Greensboro has about a middle-of-the-road amount of douchebags and Durham has one of the lowest numbers of the top 100 cities of the countryaccording to this study.

Misuse of the Jordan Soccer Complex has also led to restrictions on the Cape Fear River Trail in Fayetteville.

The NC utilities commission chair is subpoenaed due to the coal ash spill saga.

Around the Nation: the The latest in the NYC building collapseyou can buy solar panels at Best Buyyour rail trail is probably safe and how some of Silicon Valley’s farming startups could be more harmful than helpful.

About Kristen Jeffers

I'm Kristen. Almost five years ago, I got tired of not seeing black women as nerded out about trains, better streets, riding bikes, walking not just out of necessity, tall buildings, old buildings and honestly a lot of other things. I was in grad school for community and economic development (ok, it’s actually an MPA), and I wanted to make sure people knew I existed and that I could help them do this thing called placemaking better. Five years later, I’m still doing that, although not from my hometown of Greensboro, NC, but from Kansas City, MO. I spend most of my time in Kansas City promoting better biking and walking infrastructure metro-wide with BikeWalk KC and the Kansas City B-cycle. But I also wrote a book A Black Urbanist (you can grab that over on the right) and sometimes I give speeches and help other communities tell their stories at design charrettes and public meetings. I’ve also written or appeared in all of the major “urbanist” publications, either as a subject or as a writer, as well as most of my hometown papers as subject or writer as well.