Two Pacific Lutheran University students are in the midst of a community involvement project they hope will ultimately bring the people of Parkland closer together.

Junior Carly Brook (right) holds a stencil in place to paint a “coming soon” sign on the wall of the Parkland post office, while senior Saiyare Refaei documents their efforts. Refaei got the idea to paint a mural as a community involvement project after speaking with street artists in Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo by Blake Jerome.
Junior Carly Brook (right) holds a stencil in place to paint a “coming soon” sign on the wall of the Parkland post office, while senior Saiyare Refaei (left) documents their efforts. Refaei got the idea to paint a mural as a community involvement project after speaking with street artists in Oaxaca, Mexico. Photo by Blake Jerome.

Project manager Carly Brook, a junior, is working in partnership with lead artist and senior Saiyare Refaei to paint a mural on the 114-foot, west-facing wall of the Parkland post office, located on the corner of Garfield and C streets.

“When I learned about this project, I was really excited to help put Parkland back on the map,” Brook said. “It’s an area that has a lot of struggle, but also has a lot of vibrancy and a lot of active community organizations.”

Refaei proposed the project after a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico last year. Refaei said she spoke with some of the street artists in Oaxaca who routinely paint murals on the sides of buildings to tell that neighborhood’s specific story.

“We chose the post office because we wanted a community-oriented mural,” Refaei said. “We want to tell Parkland’s story.”

The two launched the project in December after getting approval from PLU and the post office. They held a community forum  to determine what residents would like to see in the theoretical mural.

Brook and Refaei split the 40 people in attendance into small groups and asked the groups to list a few themes that encompass Parkland. Diversity, rural to urban transition, resiliency, wholeness and community were the most common themes the attendants mentioned.

In the months following the meeting, Refaei sketched a rough design of what she said she thought incorporated the ideas gathered at the public forum.

The design spells out the word “Parkland,” with each letter representing a different part of the community — people, agriculture, recreation, kids, landscape, academics, native people and diversity. Each letter will contain its own design that tells the story of the corresponding theme.

Brook and Refaei held another public meeting April 8 to present the rough draft to the community and give people a chance to critique the design.

Diane Crews, founder of Olivia Jane Enterprises, said, “I am embracing this [mural] because I think it’s a good way for this neighborhood to finally come together.”

There are more than 15 groups that have committed to either help fund the project or volunteer their time painting. Both Franklin Pierce and Washington high schools will have students at the multiple volunteer paint days.

“It will be nice to see some of the different groups come together that might not normally encounter one another otherwise,” Brook said.

The wall is scheduled to be primed April 26 from 8 a.m.-2 p.m., and Brook and Refaei said they urge anyone interested to come out and help. Those who can’t make it to the priming but would still like to participate can help stencil the outline on the wall May 3.

“This will be an ongoing summer project that we hope to have completed no later than August 16,” Refaei said. “There will be multiple volunteer painting days scheduled and posted on our website.”

So far, Brook and Refaei have raised $10,000 for the project, but they said with the high cost of paint and the enormity of the space to be painted that the project could cost even more.

Safe Streets volunteer Marlene Hayden said, “This mural is helping to build a sense of community that I haven’t seen in a long time. That kind of connection oftentimes gets lost in the process.”

First-year and volunteer Ariel Wood also said the project was about community.

“I really want the people of Parkland to know that even though we are only temporary residents here,” Wood said, “we really care about this community and want to show it.”

For more information about the Parkland mural or for information about how to donate visit http://parklandmural.wordpress.com or http://discoverparkland.com. Brook has also created a Facebook page, Parkland Community Mural Project.”

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