Wednesday, December 12, 2012

“Make the world a better PLACE”

By Laryssa Morales

    Tucson, Arizona is one of the oldest continually populated areas in North America (Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau, 2012). For this reason, Tucson has been through a plethora of hardships. Many neighborhoods, for instance, the 29th street area includes five neighborhoods, Julia Keen, Myers, Alvernon Heights, Roberts and Naylor, which have been dishonored with graffiti, litter, and high crime rates. Tucson youth from the Jim & Vicki Click (JVC) Boys & Girls Club, which is located in on 29th and Columbus, spoke up and reached out to their local community leaders about neighborhood issues and what the people living around the clubhouse believe is important. From fall 2009 to spring of 2012, they collaborated with the Tucson Arts Brigade (TAB) to make Tucson a better place. TAB used the metaphor People, Land, Arts, Cultural, Environment (P.L.A.C.E.) which was inspired by the Tucson Pima Arts Council place campaign. 

    The first project TAB worked on in the 29th Street area was a beautiful mural “Inside the Overpass”, unveiled on May 9th, 2012. Community members from the area were educated on neighborhood history, design and how to draw by the Tucson Arts Brigade teaching artists. With this knowledge everyone came together and painted this exhilarating work of art that can be enjoyed by all of Tucson. Although this beautiful mural was a great start, the youth seek to inspire civic engagement and responsibility, not only in the 29th street neighborhoods but throughout Tucson.

    TAB came up with providing positive community-building programs that engage everyone in beautifying the places where they live and work. Over the past three years this project has involved 85 youth ages 8-17, to describe their challenges, hopes and aspirations through artistic designs. P.L.A.C.E. is a project designed to have every small voice heard. It is also a part of a citywide initiative to beautify Tucson neighborhoods while reducing graffiti and providing an alternative outlet for young artists through public art. These young artists draw pictures and write short poems describing a number of themes ranging from bullying, graffiti and littering to eating healthy and protecting our desert eco-system. 

    TAB decided to transform these small pieces of artwork into posters so the entire city of Tucson can witness all the concerns, ideas, and solutions our young generation has in beautifying and making our community a better P.L.A.C.E. These posters have been installed on the Sun Tran buses, which commute throughout the Tucson region. In addition, all of the posters have been displayed at various locations around the city, and are available for sale to raise funds for TAB’s community-driven youth art programs.

    The P.L.A.C.E. project was a successful way to send out messages from the youth of our community. It awards the youth the power to express themselves and to be heard. It gave the children the opportunity to exit a stressful life and enter a world full of art and happiness. TAB has listened to these children and has provided positive solutions to assist our youth today in becoming tomorrow’s future.

Posters can be seen below and/or ordered on our website;

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