Early last year, Lancaster mayor R. Rex Parris paid out of his own pocket for an original musical composition that pretty much sounds like something you hear while getting a Swedish massage (birdsongs, babbling brooks, etc.). He had it piped for five hours a day through 70 speakers along a half-mile of Lancaster Boulevard in hopes of giving Lancasterians "a heightened sense of well-being" (the downtown stretch had also recently been rebranded as The BLVD). How's it going? Great! Parris tells the Wall Street Journal that "Everybody is now in a better mood, a better place" and that the sounds have decreased crime.
Minor crimes were down by about 15 percent in Lancaster in 2011 and serious crimes were down about six percent, although birdsong haters point out that crime has fallen everywhere and that Lancaster's crime stats have been trending downward for years. Still, Parris says that the good spa vibes have traveled all over Lancaster and that "It has just been astonishing to us how the community has changed as a result of a one-half-mile stretch."
On the other hand, the music could be stressing out the birds--an ornithologist tells the WSJ that some of the Great Tits on the recording are sending out mating calls.
· A California City Is Into Tweeting—Chirping, Actually—in a Big Way [WSJ]
· Visiting Lancaster=Now Just Like Hitting Up a Day Spa [Curbed LA]