Geoff Dominy arrived and fell deeply in love with Majorca quite by chance in 2006, but today he is at a crossroads and is close to leaving because of the wave of graffiti which is spreading across the city and the general lack of TLC the local authorities are treating Palma with.
Geoff is a world-leading gemmologist and 14 years ago found himself with a six-hour wait at a German airport while on a business trip to Prague. As he bided his time in the terminal he spotted an advert for flights to Majorca for 29 euros. He inquired about the flight prices - they were needless to say slightly higher - but nevertheless he decided to take a punt and came for a week. The only thing he knew about Majorca was that it was famous for its imitation pearls, which he claims are the best of their kind in the world.
Geoff was quickly captivated by the island and its culture and the following year returned for a month. In 2013, after a number of visits, he decided to leave Canada, where he had been living for some 40 years, and move full time to Majorca.
“I was writing a book at the time, so it didn’t matter where I was living or working, and Majorca, Palma, was where I wanted to be; it was the perfect moment to take the plunge,” he told the Bulletin last week.
Six years ago, he moved into his apartment in Palma and began to immerse himself in the language, culture and history and to explore all the wonderful delights of the island.
In 2015 he organised and hosted an international geological conference on the island; it was the first of its kind to have been streamed live on digital platforms. “It’s the perfect location for conventions and conferences. We had some 200 people come. We’ve got great hotels in an idyllic environment and relatively cheap and easy flights from most European cities. It’s a paradise for business and pleasure,” he said. In his spare time, Geoff created a digital book, Postcards in Majorca, highlighting the island’s beauty and did his best to sell Majorca to all his friends, family and colleagues.
Sadly, he is now ashamed to show guests around the city because of the wave of graffiti sweeping the capital, including some of its most emblematic squares and buildings in the old part of Palma.
A few years ago, Geoff created an online platform and blog miislatambien.com to tackle various issues such as waste, careless dog owners, plastic in the sea, dirty beaches and cleaning, and now he has his sights set on graffiti.
“Twelve years ago the municipal waste and cleaning company EMAYA declared ‘war’ on graffiti. Well, there has not been much sign of it having happened and just think about the money wasted, apart from the destruction it does to the overall appearance of the city.
“In 2019, for example, 680,000 euros were spent by the authorities in Majorca cleaning graffiti off the trains. Billions are spent worldwide removing graffiti but this is not the answer to the problem; it’s like sticking a plaster over it. I’ve witnessed it myself, as I document all the graffiti in Palma. As soon as it’s removed, the graffiti vandals either return or simply go somewhere else.
“I know it’s a minority, maybe 100 people, but they are very well connected via social media and all have their ‘tags’, so they know who has vandalised which wall or shop portcullis. So, key to my campaign, which I hope to gather support for and present to the city council, are three main points: identification, justice and publicity. These people obviously have no respect for society and their environment whatsoever. It’s a disgrace and they are causing serious damage to Palma’s image.
“What the city council could do is take this campaign on board and become a global champion in the war against graffiti; become a global model city. I have had friends come over for the first time or return after a number of years and they’re appalled by what they see. Just take the entrances to the Plaza Mayor, the city’s main square and a popular tourist attraction; they are plastered with graffiti. What kind of message does that send out to visitors and residents? That the council does not care.
“At a time like this when people are struggling to make ends meet and food banks are under mounting pressure, the money wasted on simply cleaning some of the graffiti could be put to much better use. What the council should be doing is making a much more concerted effort to track, trace and detain the graffiti vandals and not only make them clear away their graffiti as part of a community service scheme but also be made to pay for the special cleaning materials. This way it not only saves EMAYA employees time, they can put a greater effort into cleaning the streets. It will also save the council money.
“I’m also proposing a competition for local artists to decorate shop portcullises in the city with Majorcan themes to help promote the island’s culture and other unique attributes. Just imagine when the shops are closed and the shutters are down. If they have been expertly decorated, they would become popular attractions and even form part of tours of the city.
“Having shop fronts plastered with images and messages which neither the shopkeeper nor the general public have asked for should be considered and treated as a criminal offence. The culprits should not only be made to pay but also be named and shamed; it’s the only way this scourge will ever be properly dealt with. And the general public should be encouraged to report graffiti artists if they spot them. In the States, for example, people reporting crimes or criminal activity are considered heroes for serving their community. Why can’t we do that here? Those who live in Palma should be proud of their city, their home. I bet they wouldn’t appreciate graffiti artists taking to the interior of their homes, so why are we allowing the council to sit back and do nothing?”
For more information and to get involved visit www.miislatambien.com