Someone placed funny, fake historic plaques on park benches around this Canadian city
via City of Calgary

Graffiti is an underground form of expression that can be seen as anything from criminal destruction of property to art. Most of the time that depends on whether it was your wall that was defaced.

While most graffiti is painted over, some of it is so powerful that it becomes a beloved part of the community. Many of street artist Banksy's pieces are still up and have become popular landmarks throughout the world.

But what about little nuggets of fake history placed on park benches around Canada? Where do we sign up?


An anonymous person in Calgary, Canada has made such lovable pieces of illegal art that after the city tore them down, public outcry made them put them back up.

Recently, six signs appeared attached to ark benches at Bowmont Park that hilariously commemorated events that never happened.

"Humans first invented fire right here, 1903."

"Nothing of note happened here — or at least that is what they want you to believe."

"The bench marks the farthest west that Christopher Columbus ever travelled. September 1494."

"At this date in 1806, explorer David Thompson forded the Bow River with a herd of 14 African elephants."

"Benjy, the first hamster to fly solo around the world, took off from this spot in 1937."

"This bench marks the first confirmed UFO landing in Calgary, 1963."

via City of Calgary

Unfortunately, after a few days, they were removed by the city. But local residents loved the signs so much they demanded they be reattached to the benches. The city agreed they were being a bit too harsh and decided they should go back up.

(Isn't the good-natured common sense of Canadians amazing? Imagine that happening in America.)

"Due to our policy around commemorative plaques and graffiti, we removed them," the City of Calgary tweeted on Wednesday. "But we heard from Calgarians that you loved the sayings and you wanted them to stay.

"As the city, we have to err on the side of caution — but in this case, it was a bit too cautious," the statement continued. "Listening to what's important to Calgarians is part of our job. If we can make changes for a better outcome, that's what we'll do."

The city's decision was backed up by the mayor who believes we need all the opportunities to smile that we can get in 2020.

"We need a bit of whimsy in our 2020 world and certainly at the city we encourage citizens to do a little bit of guerrilla art and a little bit of fun things to make their neighbors smile," Mayor, Naheen Nenshi told the CBC.

The mayor also said that the bench plaques' professional quality and wholesome humor were the big reason they were reattached to the benches.

"The news out there is tough," said the mayor. "So a little plaque about a flying hamster is a perfect way to kick off our Thanksgiving and I'm grateful for the vandal that put these plaques up."

It's the small things in life that can turn a run-of-the-mill park into a place that helps define the attitude of a community. Whomever the artists who put those up happens to be, you know what needs to happen now.

Get out your engraving kit and get to work on some more plaques.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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If you listened to traditional news media (and sometimes social media), you'd begin to think the Internet and technology are bad for kids. Or kids are bad for technology. Here's a fascinating alternative idea.

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This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

Kids can innovate, create, and imagine in ways that are fresh and inspiring — when we "allow" them to do so, anyway. Despite the tendency for parents to freak out because their kids are spending more and more time with technology in schools, and the tendency for schools themselves to set extremely restrictive limits on the usage of such technology, there's a solid argument for letting them be free to imagine and then make it happen.

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