Hostile Architecture In Missoula And The Deafening Silence Of Local Media

by William Skink

Today is the 8th of January, 2019, and the Missoulian has continued to not report on the opening of the Salvation Army warming center. As a consumer of news and blogger reluctant to make too much news myself, I would like to know more about how those efforts are going.

I’ve heard around 30 people are being served nightly when the Salvation Army opens their doors at 10pm. I can’t imagine how challenging it must be to try and serve both homeless individuals who might be under the influence of drugs and alcohol and families who can’t be served by other programs.

Another story you are not yet hearing being reported by local media is the simmering outrage over Mountain Line’s decision to remove benches in their bus shelters in just a few locations that just so happen to be by the Poverello Center.

Instead of benches, Mountain Line spent money to install leaning posts, pictured here:


Two people spoke at this week’s City Council meeting on Monday about Mountain Line’s decision to remove these benches, which you can watch here. The first person mentioned the fact one of the bus shelters is right next to Bruce Blatner apartments, which is housing specifically for people with qualifying disabilities. From the link:

Located at 1225 West Broadway, near the Clark Fork River, in Missoula, Montana, Bruce Blattner Apartments is an affordable, accessible apartment building for people with qualifying disabilities that is truly independent living. Residents have the privacy of their own apartment and can arrange their own supportive living services if needed.

Another person spoke quite articulately about his own medical condition and how Mountain Line’s decision to remove these benches negatively impacts his ability to access public transportation in Missoula. Despite this compelling testimony, neither the Missoulian, nor upstart online rag Missoula Current, felt it newsworthy to report on this (yet).

Boy, do I ever miss the Indy.

What Mountain Line is doing is not new. There is even a term for it: hostile architecture. From wikipedia:

Hostile architecture is an urban design trend in which public spaces are constructed or altered to discourage people from using them in a way not intended by the owner. Hostile architecture is a subset of attempts to ‘design out crime’ and ‘anti social behavior. Also known as defensive architecture, hostile design, unpleasant design, exclusionary design, or defensive urban design it is most typically associated with “anti-homeless spikes” — studs embedded in flat surfaces to make sleeping rough, uncomfortable, and impractical. Other measures include sloped window sills to stop people sitting, benches with armrests positioned to stop people lying on them, and water sprinklers that “intermittently come on but aren’t really watering anything.” Hostile architecture also seeks to deter skateboarding, littering, loitering, and public urination. Critics argue that such measures reinforce social divisions and create problems for all members of the public, especially seniors, people with disabilities, and children.

With no Indy to balance the pro-gentrification sentiments of local media, the story that dominated the headlines was the public money directed by MRA to hotel developers and parking lot developers in a pro-tourism declaration for Front Street downtown.

When will “progressive” Missoula stop slobbering over everything gentrification while continually fucking over the most vulnerable in our community? I don’t know. If the media doesn’t even report on it, who will even know this is happening?

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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5 Responses to Hostile Architecture In Missoula And The Deafening Silence Of Local Media

  1. Big Swede says:

    When do u think Mizzo will get a Snapcrap app?

    After moving to San Francisco from Vermont, 24-year-old Sean Miller decided to take the poop problem into his own hands. Not literally, of course: He created an iOS app, Snapcrap, that allows people to report feces to the city’s Public Works Department for cleaning. According to the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco normally receives about 1,300 complaints per month to clean up human and animal waste and has a 311 app where citizens can do so. The Snapcrap app could expedite that process, however. The app, whose logo is akin to Snapchat—a white poop emoji on a yellow background—lets users snap a photo of the offending poo along with an automatically generated message and your current GPS location. A ticket is also created so you can keep track of whether it’s been dealt with or not.

  2. James Conner says:

    Well done.

  3. Pingback: A Customer Complaint Against Mountain Line And Revisiting The Controversial “Leaning Benches” Installed In 2019 Because Homeless People | Reptile Dysfunction

  4. Pingback: Removing Park Benches Isn’t Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, It’s The Legacy Of Engen’s Leadership On Homelessness | Zoom Chron Blog

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