For several years, the grocery store on the southwest corner of 28th and Jackson has been plagued with graffiti, vandalism, open-air drug dealing and other criminal activity.
The store owner would diligently paint out the graffiti, and it would reappear again and again. One day, Urban Artworks, a local non-profit headed by Leschi resident, Stephanie Tschida, received a phone call from Blast Radius, an online marketing and branding firm, offering 30 volunteers on a Thursday in August.
The project, according to Blast Radius, should focus on a youth and family theme. Artworks contacted Randy Beaulieu, coordinator of the Central Seattle Drug Free Coalition (CSDFCC), and proposed a partnership to paint a mural for the 28th and Jackson site.
Since the mission of CSDFCC is to reduce use of drugs and alcohol among underage minors, this mural idea was a perfect fit, and the Coalition agreed to fund the project. Urban Artworks’ artist Jake Wagoner, who also created the mural on 22nd and Jackson, designed a ‘Family Tree” idea, where actual frames would be mounted onto the painted tree, and, within the frames, photos of actual neighborhood families past and present!
On August 23rd, the 30 wonderful young people from Blast Radius, along with Urban Artworks staff, the Central Seattle Drug Free Communities and Daniel Sims, of Seattle Public Utilities Graffiti removal program, arrived at 11 AM to begin painting the mural and over the graffiti on the opposite side of the building. We were joined by Colman Neighborhood’s Knox Gardner, founder of Jackson Commons, a movement to revitalize Jackson Street, who came with his “Pop-up Cafe”- chairs, tables and umbrellas, giving the site a festive appearance. Several neighborhood volunteers and members of the Seattle Police Department also joined us.
As the project progressed, many more folks became involved. Neighbors have proclaimed that they will be watching it...keeping taggers away. We received amazing photos of neighborhood families, including the young Ernestine Anderson, who grew up in the neighborhood! This project has become a legacy to the history and pride of the neighborhood. We are witnessing community building at it's finest!