New Public Art Installation Inspires Neighborhood Transformation


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“With $1,000, how would you #LoveYourBlock?” That’s the question at the center of a new public art installation at the Richmond BART station. 

The installation from the city’s Love Your Block initiative invites community members to think of ways for how to improve their neighborhoods, and then apply for grants to bring their ideas to life. The deadline for the grant applications comes December 15, and the hope is that this interactive art piece will spur creative solutions to everyday problems in the city.

“It’s an invitation,” explains Kiana Ward, who works with the city on the Love Your Block initiative. “We want people to find solutions to that problem spot in the neighborhood that they’ve walked by 1,000 times and not had the opportunity to fix. This is their chance.”

A four-walled plywood structure, the piece is covered in chalkboard paint and sits in the middle of the plaza in front of the Richmond BART station, making it hard to miss. Whether confused by its presence or intrigued by its opportunity, casual passersby and busy commuters alike regularly pause before the installation and jot down their ideas on its walls. 

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“I think this is just wonderful,” remarked Janice Featherstone, a community member who happened upon the piece recently. Featherstone wrote simply “I want to help the children” on the site of the installation with the prompt “Before I die…”

This second, more existential statement comes from the original art installation by Candy Chang, which serves as the inspiration for the Richmond installation. Chang created her piece as a way to contemplate life, aspirations, and death in a public space.

The hope is that once an idea is written down on the board, the interested community member will then fill out an application for the $1,000 grant to create the change they want to see in their neighborhood. 

The public nature of the installation is intended to spur collaboration between community members. If someone wants to create a community garden in their neighborhood, for example, they would partner with someone interested in creating a mural, which could then be a feature of the community garden. 

The possibilities for grant applications are limitless, Ward explains, but the most successful  candidates will have a project that is sustainable and reaches a broad scope of the city with a very specific plan.

Funds for this project come from Cities of Service, a nonprofit organization the supports mayors and city executives in cities around the country to spur community engagement and positive change in local neighborhoods. The Love Your Block initiative, a project from Cities of Service, has $30,000 over three years to support such change in Richmond. Successful grant applicants will receive funds for their project in the beginning of the new year. 

To learn more about the Love Your Block Initiative and how to apply for the project, click here.

Photo: Richmond Main Street Initiative

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