The Signspotter: Tommy Wells
Colors: A Fenty-ish green, sky blue, white
Graphic Elements: A silhouetted city skyline
Slogan: Tommy Wells: Building a livable, walkable city
Spotted: Capitol Hill
Signspotter says: Wells may have the most substantive sign of the season, only one around that could double as the cover of a campaign manifesto. It's wordy, but it takes a stand: a pedestrian agenda is a real policy choice. This is a sign that can provoke a proper political argument. Yet for a candidate running on walkability, Wells stumbles by making the only readable part of his streetscape an unmemorable neighborhood roofline: gabled and flat and with the inexplicable hint of dome. Wouldn't a real walkability candidate find his beauty in the pavement and stoop, front-yard gardens, outdoor café tables thronging the sidewalks?
But Wells doesn't imagine "livability" the way the term is spoken by those who dream of a Zurich or Tokyo on the Anacostia. Perhaps fearing a backlash in parts of his district for trumpeting bourgeois quality-of-life priorities, Wells finds comfort in the old-timey, quaint aesthetic of the New Urbanists. "The pedestrian typography, the shoddy letterspacing (the O too close to the M, the W too far from the E), the ungraceful rendering of the skyline," observes illustrator and graphic designer Jorge Colombo. " It all has a homemade feel. No slicksters here: a rather earnest tone instead."
Photo by Sasha Issenberg