On May 9th, the intersection of 8th Avenue and 36th Street came alive as nearly 200 children, parents, grandparents and neighbors came together to beautify this frequently walked corridor. Painting howling coyotes, desert sunsets, smiling suns, and nopales, families and faculty from Mission View Elementary had a blast transforming asphalt and sidewalk into a colorful canvass of symbols and imagery that celebrates their school community. The art helps to create a sense of place and welcoming space, while the the flexposts, reflective pavement markers, and large pots filled with native plants surround the large intersection mural to delineate a traffic circle that helps to slow down drivers. Without a designated school crossing zone, creating a safer place for students to cross was an essential goal of the project.
During the block party, families were hard at work, down on hands and knees painting the street, but it was a festive atmosphere as Elvis Crespo and other throwback hits filled the air. Older residents set up their lawn chairs to watch as their grandchildren played in the street, riding bicycles and tip-toeing around swathes of wet paint. One neighbor bringing out her own broom, gently swept the sidewalk area she had just painted and commented how healing it was for her to be out in her community in this way. Kiddos swarmed the paint station, chiming in unison for “more paint! more colors! more brushes!” As organized chaos ensued, it was inspiring to take a time-out to watch the smiles grow on children’s faces and adults enthusiastically commenting, “we should do more of this!”
In the coming weeks, the LSA team together with the school will be collecting feedback from families to determine how the traffic circle functions and see how it has improved the safety of this crossing.
You can check out the full photo album from the block party taken by Creatistas.
Huge thanks go out to all of the partners who brought this people-powered-project to life: the students, families, faculty, and neighbors of Mission View Elementary School, Mel Melo Dominguez, The City of South Tucson, City of South Tucson Police Department, Cicli Noe, Psomas Tucson, Tank’s Green Stuff 100% Organic Compost, Creatista Films, Video and Photography, Speedy Striping Inc., Pima County Health and Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation, Trees for Tucson, and City of Tucson Bicycle and Pedestrian Program. Thanks also to Vitalyst Health Foundation AZ who helped make this all possible via one of their Innovation Grants.