“Would you get behind something if you knew it had the power to change your neighborhood?”

That’s the question posed by the Oakland Super Hero Mural Project, a four-phase project that’s putting up exciting murals along the West Oakland / Emeryville border. The first mural, under the 580 freeway along San Pablo Avenue between 35th and 36th Streets, is already up. It’s pictured above, and here’s the story behind it (plus an unobstructed view).

The second and third murals are due to start up soon, also under the 580 Freeway between 35th and 36th, but on Market Street. This piece of the project is in the fundraising phase. Additudinal Healing Connections (AHC), a nonprofit that provides “access to the arts for schools that lack the resources” and “healing and creative programs to at-risk communities through creative expression.”

AHC does it well, too. They’ve been at it for nearly a quarter-century and “have reached over 30,000 youth and adults through leadership training and after-school programs. Those who are already familiar with this organization may know them as the folks teaching the Self as Super Hero curriculum, where “youth are guided to see themselves as super heroes and change agents in their community.”

The organization plans to work with over 100 youth total to put up the murals. They are designed using local residents’ answers to surveys about their concerns, hopes and dreams, and supervised by a leadership team including a professional artist. The youth involved will get to be professional artists while they work on the murals as well.

That’s just one of the positive effects of the project, though. Others include:

  • “to empower and train youth in artistically solving three of the most pervasive issues plaguing Oakland:  violence, blight and graffiti
  • to bring beauty to neglected neighborhoods: revitalize parks, public walls and sidewalks to increase security for residents, help uplift community morale and enhance commercial potential
  • to use public art to celebrate Oakland’s history, send a message of action and signal of social change as well as community respect”

The ultimate goal is to have all the murals installed in 2016. That may seem like while, but it’s quite a lot of public beautification and inspiration in such a short time. Make no mistake: this is happening — and we all benefit from it.

To help it happen faster, (tax-deductible) donations can be made here, and to find out what kinds of equipment donations might be most helpful, email muralproject@ahc-oakland.org.

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