Faces of Meth
Each of these innocuous looking homes has been declared unfit for habitation. They are on State of Oregon’s list of known, former drug labs. None of them appears to have a single sinister board in their frame, which is all the more frightening. Maybe these are the before photos.
Oregon publishes a register of these houses on the internet. It even encourages citizens to receive email update to the list is added to. The promotion is kind of odd. It’s kind of like the opposite of a National Register listing. It is a register of shame.
Landmarking a building can be a catalyst for development and community action. Maybe the list of drug labs could be used the same way. With the right marketing and incentives could a negative listing become a positive for communities?
The domestic banality of these properties is in stark contrast to the reason for being in the public realm as former ‘drug labs’. Mightythylacine poses an interesting question: could a negative listing become a positive for communities?
My first reaction was to think any similar initiative in the UK would founder on our NIMBYist attitude to property values and sense of place, “What would the neighbours say?”
I recall a property in Wrexham/Wrecsam used as a ‘crack house’ being targeted and successfully restored as a residential dwelling. The notoriety gained by the property in its former use seemed to me to be much higher than the fanfare that greeted the successful ‘restoration’.
However, in communities where the blight of drug abuse risks becoming almost endemic and permissive surely such a register offers a community the opportunity to visibly ‘strike back’, to reclaim and re-shape a sense of place defined by other values?
The other question that comes to my mind is that of the value and destination of the assets pictured. If the dwellings are no longer fit for habitation what becomes of them? Might they be sold, with the revenue, or a proportion of it, being re-directed to the community in which they are located for social use? In the absence of a suitable community organisation, at least to be held in trust by an external agency?