In answer to the perennial question about how the arts can show their value to the community, I came across an answer/inspiration in the form of the Flickr group, Japanese Manhole Covers. There are nearly 3000 pictures of some amazingly artistic manhole covers.
With NYC looking to ban big sugary drinks and Disney announcing that they will restrict junk food ads, it occurs to me that a constructive approach to fighting obesity would be to commission these artists to make manhole covers.
People would get out and start walking around in an attempt to see them all. Heck, people may even include a manhole tour as part of their tourism. I am sure someone will develop a social media app that maps out the locations and people would compete to check in at each of them on sites like Foursquare. (Actually, looks like there is an iphone app for Japan.) Just to keep things interesting, the public works department can switch them around every so often so that people would have to contribute to a remapping effort.
Check out the Japanese covers, some of them are pretty amazing and show a lot of investment and pride in culture and community.
(Clicking on image will take you to the specific photographer’s page rather than the larger pool of manhole photos)