In 2015, Paige Breithart, an artist and student living in Hamtramck, Michigan, had grown tired of the countless potholes marring Hamtramck's streets. So she took matters into her own hands, and drove around town, filling the potholes with flowers, replacing the decay with symbols of growth and beauty. The story went viral, and Breithart's aesthetic treatment has since caught on. Look around Twitter, and you'll find stories about flowers filling potholes around the United States, and indeed around the world.
In some cases, these guerilla projects aren't just decorative, a simple way to spruce up a neighborhood. There's an activist element to them. In Bath, England, one flower pot vigilante said:
In an area of America there were a load of potholes filled in with pot plants, although that’s not what we are doing here. We think it’s a good thing to do but it’s more than about making people smile. Potholes are a real problem and have the potential to be death traps for bikers and cyclists and with cars there is an issue with blow-outs to wheels. The whole point is to raise awareness of them.
And local governments are taking notice, though not always happily. Concerned that drivers might get surprised or distracted by flowers suddenly appearing in the middle of a road, politicians are discouraging this form of protest. But you can't argue with the results. Once protesters call attention to them, the potholes have a magical way of getting properly paved and filled. Quickly.
Below you can see a gallery of potholes around the world that have gotten the flower treatment--from Missoula, Montana, to Montreal, Bath, Bosnia and Ukraine. Maybe the artist from Chicago (see image at bottom) is the one who got it right?
Terry Bartrug shares this giant pothole that he filled with flowers along 8 mile road in Wetzel county near Reader. pic.twitter.com/jZiDlZ47U7
— Jeff Oechslein (@JeffWTOV9) May 8, 2015
— KULR-8 News (@KULR) June 22, 2017
— MTL Blog (@mtlblog) May 27, 2015
— CBC NL (@CBCNL) June 6, 2017
— Garden Designer UK (@gardendesigning) May 15, 2017
Berwickshire villagers fill potholes with flowers to highlight 'appalling' roads https://t.co/h5Rlg43lOl
— Scottish Express (@ScotExpress) July 21, 2017
— Jane Barlow (@belperbarlow) March 27, 2015
— RickN (@ricardon) April 14, 2017
— Goran Urosevic (@goranurosevic) March 23, 2017
— Embrace (@ThisIsEmbrace) November 14, 2014
If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.