The View from a Drawbridge

The random musings of a bridgetender with entirely too much time on her hands.

Gig Harbor is on the Puget Sound here in Washington State. The town itself is charming, with its historic waterfront, and its many boutiques and restaurants. It has a population of around 12,000 people, but if you want a big city experience, it’s only about a 12 mile drive to the much larger Tacoma. Like Tacoma, Gig Harbor is somewhat liberal. But you have a very good chance of finding like-minded people there, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum.

According to Neighborhood Scout, you are much less likely to be a victim of a violent crime in Gig Harbor (1.5 violent crimes per thousand people) than you are to have that experience in the Seattle area (6.6 violent crimes per thousand people). For reference, the national median is 4 violent crimes per thousand people. So Gig Harbor sounds like a wonderful place to be.

Yet oddly enough, both Gig Harbor and Seattle exceed the national median for property crimes, which is 19 per thousand people. Gig Harbor is the victim of 38.07 property crimes per thousand people, and Seattle weighs in at a hefty 52.5 per thousand. Don’t get me started on my theories about Seattle, but I suspect the increased numbers in Gig Harbor are related to the fact that it is part of an urban cluster but has a lot of rural areas as well. So there’s enough of a population and tourist base to commit these crimes, paired with enough isolation so that there is an increased potential for fewer witnesses.

That unfortunate mix came to the forefront recently in an extremely disappointing way.

A local artist, Hillarie Isackson, decided to paint a beautiful mural on the side of a Gig Harbor business with the city’s approval. Isackson bought all the paint herself, and worked all day long, often in the rain, and into the night on the mural, which was of a Ukrainian flag, with an outline of the country over that, and a giant sunflower, the flower of Ukraine, over it all. She came in the next day before dawn to apply the finishing touches. Its message was “Stand with Ukraine.” Many people who worked in the building have ties to Ukraine, so they were thrilled by this artwork.

Unfortunately, not everyone was as thrilled with this mural as those working in the building. Late that night, two scumbags wearing black hoodies spent 4 short minutes destroying the artist’s hard work by splashing the white, blue and red of the Russian flag all over the wall. They were caught on the security cameras of several businesses, and several residents took videos, but at the time of this writing, they have yet to be identified. The fools even left their own footprints in the paint, so I have high hopes that they’ll eventually be apprehended.

If justice is ever served, it is estimated that they did about a thousand dollars’ worth of damage, so they would definitely be charged with vandalism, but there’s a very good chance that they’ll also be charged with a hate crime, which would not bode well for them at all. IMHO, it would certainly serve them right.

But the best part of this story came after their heinous acts. When word got out about the damage, people immediately stopped by with donations of paint and cash for other supplies. They also provided spotlights so the artist could once again work through the night. In addition, there are now more security cameras trained on the revitalized mural.

And what Isackson did to transform the splashes of hate has made the mural even more poignant than before. She took that hate and turned it into love. She restored the Ukrainian flag, the country’s outline, the sunflower, and the message, but she also used the haters’ handiwork to add an American flag, and was inspired to include the national flowers of all the many countries who support Ukraine. (The national flower of the USA is the rose. I didn’t know that.)

But the part of the mural that makes me get tears in my eyes is the message Isackson added below. “LOVE WILL PREVAIL

Isackson’s determination to make something beautiful out of her vandalized mural is a sort of microcosm of the current Ukrainian situation. Like Ukraine, this was an undeserved attack that left discouragement, destruction, and profound sadness in its wake, but she didn’t give up, just as the Ukrainians haven’t given up when faced with the Putin-inspired hellscape of death they are now forced to occupy. In Gig Harbor, people came together to make it possible for this artist to renew her efforts, to show support to fellow human beings who are suffering, just as many of us, all around the world, are doing what we can to stand with Ukraine.

Love will prevail, indeed. And that right there is why I still have hope for mankind in general and the Ukrainian fight for freedom specifically. I genuinely believe that those who are fighting because of love for one another have a much better chance of triumph than those who are fighting from a place of hate.

There is now a mural in Gig Harbor that allows me to say, with renewed vigor, слава Україні  — Glory to Ukraine, and любов переможе — Love will prevail.

Let it be so.

Sources and further reading:

‘Love will prevail:’ Ukraine mural vandalized in Gig Harbor takes on new message

A mural supporting Ukraine was destroyed in Gig Harbor. Here’s how the artist responded

Vandals deface Gig Harbor artist’s mural of support for Ukraine

Claim your copy of A Bridgetender’s View: Notes on Gratitude today, and you’ll be supporting StoryCorps, too! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

2 thoughts on ““Love Will Prevail”

  1. Lyn says:

    I love the power of art and artists that wield that power for good. Ingenious to leave some of the hate exposed rather than disguise and cover it up as if it never happened. What’s happening in Ukraine must not be denied or forgotten because deranged Putin has gone too far in every direction. Humanity can not allow another genocide. We still have actual Nazis attempting to erase the Holocaust but never will because truth, just as love, will always prevail. Every single act of support and love for Ukraine (including your blog posts) supports their truths and is an act against Putin’s atrocities.

    1. I genuinely believe that social media is what will be Putin’s ultimate downfall. He’s a cockroach, and he doesn’t like the light that is shining on his even acts. Even this beautiful mural is being seen by many more people than it would have in the 1940’s. That’s powerful.

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