Neighbors around Sellwood's celebrated "Share-It Square" painted intersection gathered on June 3 to complete their 21st annual community street re-painting. Paint Coordinator Sarah Heath revealed, "The design this year focuses on unity, diversity, and a strong love for the Earth and the environment. We've tightened up the design and are more organized this year, so we don't waste paint."
Many kids participated, painting the design sketched collaboratively by Naomi Kinnaird, Kian Nikzi, and Sarah Bellum. The Earth at the center of it separates views of the sky, with hands in multicultural colors holding flowers at the four intersecting streets at S.E. 9th and Sherrett. A red ribbon connecting the hands was enhanced with images of honeybees, butterflies, and a dragonfly. Flowers extended toward the Earth include a trillium, rose, lupine, and sunflower.
Heath told THE BEE, "We had a lot of food donations this year – from Starbucks, Bob's Red Mill, Grand Central Bakery, New Seasons Market, and many neighbors. Volunteers were able to snack any time they wished while examining the progress of the work. We chalked the chevron designs for straightness, and shortened the red-brick surrounding areas."
Sellwood's Mark Lakeman, who envisioned the community demonstration project nearly two dozen years ago, was on hand to view the artistic pavement effort. "Our 'City Repair/Communitecture' organization recently moved from S.E. 9th and Alder Street to a place that we purchased in March at 1421 S.E. Division Street. There are twelve different intersection paintings in progress today," he recounted. "Most of those are on the east side of town. We're providing assistance to the street painting at S.E. 19th and Clinton today – the first one for that neighborhood."
Lakeman has traveled several times to Japan to promote the concept of "community place-making", which is becoming increasingly popular there he says. Yumi Sato, a writer, musician, and community organizer from Tokyo was also on hand to observe, and to learn more about the process.
"Since Japan is very crowded, it's hard to stop traffic and create street paintings there," Sato acknowledged. "However, we're starting with edible gardens as a way to engage the community and appeal to political interests. It's a good beginning to support connectedness, and empower each other in a caring way."
Portland's street-wise artistic influence continues to spread!