By Kate Borders
It strikes me that we all have different motivators for the work that we do, and there is always a sweetness in discovering what drives us. I think about the WHY of every component of this work and for a bit of time, I’ve been considering writing a regular blog post about those stories. Why do we have an art festival? Why do we clean the streets? There are always surface level explanations, but often there’s a deeper history. That’s the story I want to tell.
It’s timely that this week Kyllan Maney completed our first street mural in downtown. Generally speaking, the idea of putting paint on the street is not new. But it is quite new here in Tempe. There has been apprehension around a project like this, but we were finally able to cut through the concerns and get to a “YES!” from our city partners. Kyllan started painting a few weeks ago, with some help from students, and wrapped it all up last night. In the weeks that she was out, countless people stopped and thanked her and she took every opportunity to talk with them about the work.
Why does it matter? Well honestly, my WHY might be different from someone else’s. The streets are for the people, for everyone, to enjoy. Yes they are purposeful in providing a path for travel, but they are also where connections happen … neighbors meet, dogs are walked, people can meander and simply enjoy the moment.
Art enriches our streets and make these moments deeper. For many, they will see this project and feel a bit of joy. Art makes streets safer because cars are slower, vandals know that the area is cared for, and a more pleasant street brings more people out. Art creates conversation. Whether you love it or hate it, everyone has an opinion about art. Healthy dialogue is certainly something that we all can benefit from. Also, when we add art into our streets, we add value to our businesses. And let’s not forget that when we pay local artists to execute a project like this, we put money into that economy.
Last week a car rode by the mural, still in progress, and a man yelled out his window … “thanks y’all, you’re making it beautiful for us!” That’s my WHY.
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