Let's keep the Boston Common commercial-free

Unless we act now, corporate advertising could soon be imposed on the Boston Common, the first and oldest public park in the nation.  According to The Boston Globe, Mayor Thomas Menino is testing public reaction to the idea of including ads on the Common.  If you believe that public parks and gathering places should be off-limits to the crass commercialism that has permeated nearly every nook and cranny of our lives, the Mayor needs to hear from you.

Screen-based advertising has erupted into the public sphere where it is inescapable.  Even the most vigilant parents can't protect children from it.   It's time to challenge the notion that marketers have the right to fill every nook and cranny of our lives with televisions and their blaring commercials.

All public parks should be free of advertising, but it is particularly galling to commercialize the Boston Common, which is steeped in history and designated a National Historic Landmark.  Ever since it was purchased in 1634, when each Boston household chipped in six shillings, the Common has been public space--it has hosted free gatherings, concerts, and political protests for and by the common people.  Millions of tourists visit the park each year to experience the American Revolution by walking the Freedom Trail.  And the Common is home to the one of the most important pieces of monumental sculpture in the country--the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial, dedicated to the first Black regiment in the Civil War.  As a living symbol of freedom and democracy, it will be a travesty to subject visitors to corporate advertising in the Boston Common.

We understand that like so many public parks, the Common is in desperate need of funding.  But turning to ads is not the answer.  For one, it's a slippery slope. As an excellent editorial in the Globe notes, "Corporations capable of supporting the maintenance of public parks didn't get where they are today by thinking small. The subtle engraved stone or tasteful placard of today could easily turn into the gaudy display of tomorrow."

Public spaces should reflect the public's values, which is why it's so import that we preserve them as commercial-free. Our children - and all people - deserve a world where not everything is for sale.  Please take a moment to tell Mayor Menino and Boston City Council President Michael Ross that the Common belongs to the people and shouldn't be carved up and sold to the highest bidder at http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/621/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=4895.

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