The super power of Ted Bickford isn’t his ability to single handedly create a graffiti free town, but something far greater.
For the past 22 years, Mr Bickford has dedicated his life to two things; his family and the community of Forster/Tuncurry. Not just by removing graffiti, but by becoming the patriarch of the area.
“It started when I looked around and saw graffiti all over the town,” he said.
At first Mr Bickford would ride his bike all over the town locating and removing graffiti at his own expense. But when the now Midcoast Council heard about his efforts, it quickly jumped on board by providing Mr Bickford with his own bat mobile, or in this case, the super Ted graffiti removal truck.
“The support I get from the council is just magic,” Mr Bickford said. “You can’t put a price on what the council has done for me. They provide me with everything I need.”
But while a single man might be able to remove graffiti, it takes a town to prevent it. And that’s where Mr Bickford’s real super powers lye.
By spending not just time, but quality time, with local youths he has accomplished a task that would usually seem all but impossible. They like him. More than that, they respect him.
“There’s young people around who had have been in some trouble,” he said. “But I don’t judge, I just listen. If they need a hand I help them. If they need someone to talk to I listen. I’ve taken kids to watch the football or let them go around with me for the day removing graffiti. If there’s nothing to do I’ll create something, just to keep them busy. You see graffiti removal is the activity, but prevention is the relationship.”
And the results speak for themselves.
So what is his advice? According to Ted it’s simple.
“Zero Tolerance,” he said. “You cannot put a spray can in a young person’s hand and tell them you can graffiti here but you can’t graffiti there. If you want to be an artist go to an art gallery, don’t ruin other people’s property.”