Shout Peace on Mount Oread

The Oread Hotel, ostentatiously built atop “Mount Oread” next to the campus of the University of Kansas, opened in January.  Its location on the top of the largest hill in town (that would be “Mount Oread”), and thereby it’s immediate status as the tallest thing in any direction for miles (some townsfolk non-jokingly call it a “sky scraper”) is controversial.  Some people in the community aren’t entirely sure that they’re pleased that wealthy developers erecting a private, for-profit business are able to so drastically change their city’s skyline without community consultation.  Others think it looks like a giant medieval prison.  Still others think it adds “class” to a neighborhood characterized by cheap, rundown housing and nicknamed the “student ghetto”.

The controversy has only escalated since the appearance of a vandal’s ominous message on it’s highest wall: SHOUT PEACE.  Just read the comments section on the local newspaper’s story: The Oread hotel falls victim to vandals.

In a town/city of Lawrence’s size, it’s kind of a “round up the usual suspects” sort of situation. But what I love/hate about this little scenario is how a little bit of optimistic, anti-violence graffiti has rocked the whole community, creating contention, divisions, and sad head shaking about what the world is coming to.

Yes, what must the world be coming to when an activist shouts peace from the rooftops? Vandals! Anarchy! Graffiti! Urban crime!

Now that I reside in New York, my view on the situation is rather different than what I imagine it would have been had I never left Kansas. Really, my only reaction is delight. Wealthy business owners and a “high class” establishment for elites have been angered, an anonymous townsperson spontaneously took back a public-facing wall, and a message of SHOUT PEACE was spread.

Hilarious. And awesome. Typical Kansas.

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