WTOP unveils source of mystery words on Penn. Ave.

Paul D. Shinkman, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – The word on the street is one D.C.-based non profit is painting words on the street.

Pictures of mysterious writing popped up on Twitter Thursday morning as drivers tried to decipher the painted words on Pennsylvania Avenue right outside the Wilson Building and Freedom Plaza. WTOP has learned the ONE Campaign has employed a device never before used in the U.S. to paint their message to the countries participating in the upcoming G8 summit. Their goal is to help end poverty and hunger.

The machine, towed behind a car, is essentially a “big ink-jet printer” that sprays non-toxic, removeable paint on the road, says ONE Campaign U.S. Executive Director Tom Hart. The content comes from relevant tweets from all over the world that can be applied almost instantly.

“The president will be speaking at food security summit tomorrow at Reagan Trade Center, which are the blocks we’re able to print around,” says Hart. ONE has been permitted to spray both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue between 11th and 14th streets, and down 14th Street toward the National Mall.

ONE has worked with local, state and federal government agencies to get the proper permits for the prints, Hart says. The organization will also paint two miles of roads leading up to Camp David, where the G8 country representatives will meet this weekend.

Messages include “It’s time to extinguish hunger + poverty” and “Tell the G8 to feed the hungry!”

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley participated in the initiative, sending a tweet reading “Together, let’s end hunger” that was printed on Route 77 near Thurmont, outside Catoctin Mountain Park.

An O’Malley spokeswoman tells the Associated Press the governor joined the campaign because he has set a goal of ending childhood hunger in Maryland by 2015.

“Obviously our intention is to bring these messages from all over to the president and to the entire G8,” says Hart. Tweets came from all G8 countries, all 50 states and 25 other countries.

The organization printed the messages Wednesday night, says Hart. They’re permitted to print on Thursday and Friday nights, but they’ve completed the majority of their mission.

“We tried our best not to interfere with traffic flows,” he says. The machine can only move at about 5 miles per hour.

Related Stories:

WTOP’s Mark Segraves contributed to this report. Follow Paul and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)