Banners on telephone poles generally enliven the street scene, market a community to itself and to others, and serve as a visual accent to the otherwise banal structure that is a telephone pole. In the downtown district, there are a series of colorful banners with "Downtown =" on one banner and a different amenity or attraction offered downtown (e.g., culture or dining) on the opposing banner. Though not the most clever or unique banners, they get the point across and make the street scene more colorful. I actually like them.
Even the banners along 14th and U Streets, which are pretty uninspiring and uninformative, improve the streets’ collective ambiance:
In the blocks surrounding Shiloh Baptist Church, the Church is spreading the gospel via some of these telephone pole banners. Their banners are rather plain (white with purple lettering and/or outlines of doves), so only marginally add to the streetscape, and many convey an overtly Christian message (e.g., "God is Love"). Here's a bad photo of two of their banners across from the Shiloh-owned, abandoned structures on 9th Street:
Given Shiloh's past relations with our changing neighborhood, I wonder about their intention behind these banners: were they put up with the intention of enlivening the streetscape or as flags showing perseverence in enemy-occupied territory? Are these appropriate in our public space? Are they offensive to non-Christians in the neighborhood? Are the banners helping market our communitiy in a positive light or simply self-serving? Should Shiloh be spending money on these banners instead of being good stewards of and good neighbors regarding the several boarded-up properties they own? Legally, did they jump through the right hoops to hang these banners?
If I were Shiloh and I wanted to post banners around the neighborhood, I would have done things differently. First of all, I would have made banners with more visual appeal (sorry to whoever designed these things, but they're really boring looking). Second, I would not have been so overt with the banners' messages, which all tend to alienate. Third, I would have tried to market the church's history/place in the neighborhood rather than just throwing the Church's name up everywhere (the JCC on 16th Street posted banners in front of it which do this well; I'll try to follow up with the content and a picture of their banners).
14/U DISTRICT PHOTO CREDIT: MidCity Business Association, available here.