Replace Graffiti with Community Murals?
Paint the town yourself. It's your neighborhood. Don't stop until you see white on the wall.
Hundreds of former taggers have had a hand in painting more than 1,200 community murals in Philadelphia neighborhoods.
Jane Golden's Rules
- Find a wall that's big and smooth -- one that's easily seen.
- Get permission.
- Hold a block meeting and get everyone involved.
- Come to a consensus on the big picture -- decide on what to see.
The Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network
1220 Sansom St., 3rd Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Local Hero ...
Motto: Neighborhood murals are more than just pictures. Quote: "Graffiti is a symbol of poverty and hopelessness. We're about providing hope; hope to neighborhoods and hope to young people."
When they come to Jane -- some because they want to, some because they have to -- she puts them to work, starting with community art classes. The project's murals have revived blighted neighborhoods -- and given kids new job skills, new opportunities. "We're bringing art to people," says Golden, the program's artistic director, "and making it possible for young people to have a job ... and be able to earn and learn."
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Taggers make their mark
In Philadelphia, when graffiti writers, or "taggers," are caught in the act, they can be referred to the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network, a program that offers art classes and teaches these youths to build community, not to deface it. How? They're painting community murals all across the city.
Local residents decide on the subject -- landscapes, history, local heroes -- even tributes to the neighbors themselves. Once painted, the murals are rarely vandalized. More than 1,200 have been completed to date, and the program has a waiting list for another 1,400.
Often, the mural is just the beginning; community gardens sprout in vacant lots and new opportunities become a reality through the Network. "It's a place where these kids can make their mark," says Golden. While the program has taken away their spray cans, "It's given them new tools to make their statement." New skills bring new opportunities: General Education Diplomas, start-up businesses and self-esteem that soars as high as the walls they paint.