From the Bellingham Herald, June 9, 2014
The Happy Valley Community Crossroads
project was designed to bring neighbors together and to reclaim a small
piece of the road as a gathering place for that neighborhood.
The project was started in part by Aaron Walters, pastor at The Table
church, and artist Dan Tucker in March 2013. The two hoped to mimic
similar community projects that had been installed throughout Portland,
Ore., by a nonprofit called City Repair.
Last spring they worked
to gather support for the idea from neighbors, the Happy Valley
Neighborhood Association and volunteers.
"A lot of our process was rallying neighbors," Walters said.
They held a series of meetings, where residents voiced concerns and
ideas, and discussed where the painting could be placed. Funding was
offered from a grant The Table received for community development.
Suggestions for the location initially included the intersection of
Harris Avenue and 21st Street or other sites near Larrabee Elementary,
but after taking traffic into consideration, the group decided on 22nd
That particular spot captures the character of Happy
Valley, Walters said. It is bounded by Samish School, a rental unit
that is often home to college students, and a few longtime
Janice Clark has lived on the northeast
corner of the intersection for nearly 51 years. She said she liked the
idea of the artwork but worried it may distract drivers from the stop
signs posted there.
"I just want people to beware when they get to the intersection," Clark said.
However, neighborhood association president James Spaich said he
believed the art, created with high-volume traffic paint, would
encourage drivers to slow down.
"It's intricate enough to
appeal, but not busy enough to distract drivers," Spaich said of the
colorful, floral design. "It could serve as a traffic-calming device."
Milli Mangels, who has lived on the southeast corner of the
intersection since 1975, said she has seen several accidents in that
crossroads over the years, and hopes this project will help slow people
"I call this our happy roundabout," Mangels said.
The brightly decorated intersection is the first project of its kind for
Bellingham. It likely won't be the last. When Walters went to the
Bellingham Arts Commission to seek project approval in October 2013, so
did the Columbia neighborhood, which has plans to paint its own
community space later this summer. A design including two birds, a sun
and trees is planned for Walnut Street between West Illinois and West
Happy Valley residents submitted their designs
late last summer and eventually voted for the flower, designed by
12-year-old Willow Hughes, a sixth-grader at Fairhaven Middle School.
"Half my friends didn't believe me," Willow said of winning the vote.
His design, which he said started as a pinwheel but turned into a flower, went up against others submitted mostly by adults.
Fittingly, Willow was actually born at a home just a few blocks from the project, said his mother, Hannah Hughes.
With paint on their hands and smiles on their faces, dozens of
volunteers gathered throughout the morning and into the afternoon
Saturday to paint the petals, drink coffee, listen to live music and
mingle in the temporarily closed road.
"I think this is as beautiful an event as you can get with just people standing on a street corner," Spaich said.
The project could continue to grow, perhaps with the addition of a
bench or a little library box, Walters said, but that will be up to the
Monday, June 9, 2014
Saturday, June 7, 2014
Neighbors rallied today and together created an awesome day, with fun, food, painting, music, and friendships. Neighbor of all sorts helped - young, old, special needs, skilled, unskilled, artists, and laymen. We finished phase one, and will return soon to do touch ups and details. We plan to have a celebration bbq this summer when we're all complete. (More photos to come)
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
It's time to paint! Join us to paint the intersection of 22nd St and Harris Ave. We'll paint the city and neighborhood approved design, starting at 9am. Come and help us paint. We'll have some coffee and treats available, and around lunch time we'll fire up the grill (so bring something to grill and something to share). We hope to be done painting around 1pm, and cleaned up by 3pm. Invite a neighbor to join you, everyone is welcome. Thanks to Happy Valley Community Crossroads for organizing, and The Table church and the Happy Valley Neighborhood Association for sponsoring.
Monday, May 5, 2014
Due to a wet canvas (the street), the mural painting was canceled on Saturday. It was a good decision, as the rain continued throughout the day. We are a bit bummed, but are looking forward to a sunny day soon when we can paint together as a community. Stay tuned for the rescheduled day.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
If you want to help organize the event let Aaron or Dan know:
-Daniel Tucker - firstname.lastname@example.org
-Aaron Walters - email@example.com
Here's to community!