I’ve always held this deep core belief that art has a tremendous power to heal and to create spaces for people to come together and expand from that time shared. It is constantly a goal of mine to bring people together through art making. After working on SW Sabin St. for several months, I noticed cars speeding through the area every day, offering very little forgiveness for anyone who may be walking as part of our build site, or children of the families in our homes trying to play. Really, I didn’t see much playing from neighborhood kids in the area at all. Remnants of racist vandalism sit visible on a wooden fence across from the Habitat neighborhood projecting misplaced hate fueled by devastating misconceptions. As I grew to know and love this community, I wanted to find a way to celebrate all of the cultural diversity that exists in this space, to offer a space for people to work side by side to promote understanding, to go beyond building homes to fostering and building community. Naturally, my first instinct was to turn to community art.
I proposed the idea to my co-workers to paint an intersection mural like I had seen in so many neighborhood streets in Portland and participated in the planning of in Vancouver. We reached out to City Repair and the Beaverton Arts Commission for guidance and assistance. Both have been the guiding lights in this project, leading us to a place where we could see our dreams become a reality. After proposing the idea to the surrounding community, since after all, this is their community long after Habitat’s presence is gone, we had a design meeting and community vote, and then we collaborated with Kirk from City Repair to come up with a final polished design you see today. Then we submitted the design to the City of Beaverton Arts Commission for approval.
Our mural painting day was combined with our first ever Block Party and what a day it was! Kirk and Jerry showed up early in the morning to guide us in chalking out the design. These seasoned pros were not only skilled artists, but amazing leaders to the volunteers that showed up to help paint the mural. Their spirits undoubtedly guided the community project to its success. The painting was interspersed with a vibrant and delicious potluck, games, face painting, and Ethiopian coffee invitations from several homeowners. The streets were filled with Habitat partner families, VOSE neighborhood members, Arts Commission board members, Firefighters, and the list goes on. People of all ages from all corners of the community showed up to participate in this project. At the end of the day, this project was about the space that was created to meet each other where we are at and to be open to learning from each other to work together to create something so much bigger than brightly colored paint on concrete. To create understanding, to help us heal, to help us pause, to help us open up, to bring us together, to help us love.
Since the mural has been painted, we have continued to see the effects this project brings. I have seen kids riding their bikes around the rainbow. I have had several residents tell me how much they feel it slows down traffic. I have had so much feedback from residents, community members, and volunteers that the mural is truly a spot of brightness for them. And I have had one resident come to me with even more ideas to create a space there for the community to come together. She hopes to build a bench to peer out over the mural so that we may come and sit next to our neighbors and share that space and time. I am so thankful to City Repair for helping us to realize this project. I know it will only continue to inspire goodness in our community.