Monday, September 29, 2008

Art Matters: The Case of Edi Rama

Edi Rama took a country destroyed by politics and re-painted it. Literally. When he became mayor of Tirana, Albania, he fired 500 corrupt civil service workers and hired a huge team of artists to repaint the blocky gray buildings strewn across the city. Did I mention he tore down hundreds of illegal buildings and turned their rubble into parks? Reading his story gives me hope for countries, like Bulgaria, struggling with corruption and some tough social grandchildren of communism. I like Rama's vision of aesthetics creating social change. To me, environment and beauty of surroundings has always seemed important, whether in decorating my classroom in intricate ways or setting flowers on my desk before starting a paper. As a student, I always wanted to create multicolored exam notes and frost cookies with four different colors and six different toppings. And these days, I believe that art in the classroom is vital, not a throwback to elementary school, despite some students that I know would like to argue the latter. So anyway, what I'm saying is, take a few minutes to read one or both of these articles on Edi Rama if you have time, and see what the story makes you think of... it started me off in about a dozen directions, all of them good.  I consider him a true leader of the modern world, combining politics with something more to produce results history could never have imagined. 

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