Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Rethink Church billboard for DC?

During this Advent/Christmas season a very cool billboard is going up in Birmingham, Dayton, Detroit, Nashville, Pittsburgh, and, in Spanish, in Pasco, Wash.

Here is a stricking photo of the Nashville billboard taken by my favorite photographer Mike DuBose.

After admiring the billboard's message and the way Mike framed his photo, my next thoughts was: We ought to have one in Washington, DC.  

This is the nation's capital. Wouldn't it be a great thing for our citizens as well as those who work in the White House and Congress to see a big bold United Methodist Church billboard encouraging generosity in the nation's capital?

Suddenly, it occured to me that I couldn't think of anywhere in Washington where there are billboards.

I discovered this history of billboards in the district. It turns out new billboards were outlawed by Congress in 1931 with existing ones grandfathered in. Most of those grandfathered billboards have been taken down as a result of development. So there are very few billboards left in Washington.

The Capitol Outdoor Advertising Company located in Washington, DC, that owns billboards i n major cities throughout the United States ironically lists only two billboards in DC -- one at New York Ave & Montana St. NE, the other at1601 South Capitol St, SW. Neither location would seem particularly effective.

What Washington, DC, has instead of billboards is "Special Signs."

In 2000 then Mayor Tony Williams got approval to allow "Special Signs." These are
huge billboards imprinted on tough flexible screens, a new technology that can produce signs of enormous size of 10,000 square feet or more.

The DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs reports that 32 permits for "Special Signs" (which are officially not billboards) have been issued. A vote by City Council has determined that there will be no more and the future existence of these is questionable. Here is a DCRA list of where  "Special Signs" are located.

The ones I pass by during my daily walk seem pretty tasteful and restrained. I know there are those who oppose any advertising like this at all, but these signs don't bother me. There is a way they make the cityscape more interesting.  

Here's the "Special Sign" at 730 11th St., NW

Here's the "Special Sign" at 819 7th St., NW

I think it would be cool for one of these signs or one of the other downtown "Special Signs" to be a United Methodist Rethink Church billboard like the one being put up in Detroit, Nashville, and Dayton.

However, I imagine because they are very limited that the DC "Special Signs" are very expensive to rent and, because they are "Special Signs" and not billboards, I suspect they are very expensive to print.

But it would be cool. Maybe next year. How about it, Rethink Church friends?

1 comment:

  1. There are a number of resources from the Rethink Church website to support the Reclaim Christmas campaign. I'm having 1700 postcards with the logo and message on it printed up to send to people in the neighborhood around my church. The new direct mail service by the post office charges 14.5 cents per post card to send it to every household on a route. You just have to choose a whole route to send it to. I'm sending it to 5 routes around here. They also have a video/commercial that we are showing in church. It is well done.