Sunday, August 14, 2011

Painting Migrant Truth To Power

It's an empty abandoned lot three blocks from San Francisco City Hall and next door to the San Francisco Friends Meeting.  The Quakers have tried to work with the city to create a community garden but so far no luck.  Used needles, trash, broken glass and make shift dwellings for homeless dreams filled the lot for the past decade.

This week a crew of mixed status migrant youth from AFSC's 67 Sueños Project, their friends, family and allies have been hard at work to transform this space.  From cleaning up the trash, to putting up a 100 foot by 30 foot beautiful Mural every part of this journey mirrors the migrant experience.

We are literally in the migrant terrain.  Most of the feedback so far has been really positive.  "This is the most beautiful thing i've seen in a decade of living in this neighborhood" said one passer by.  "I know no one will tag that wall because that mural shows us respect and we give respect when we get it" asserted one of the locals while dumpster diving to scrape enough recyclables to earn a meal.   Many have spoken with their actions, stopping to shoot from their I-phones and facebook this rose int eh concrete.  Others have volunteered to help or feed us.  While the community is almost unanimously with us there have already been some moments when fear of the unknown have lead to anger.  One pedestrian yelled profanities about immigrants at our young folks and tore down our posters as he walked by.

Much like migrants in general we were scape goated for the true problems in the neighborhood.  Much like the migrant experience we were actually working really hard to make the community a better place to live and still became the targets of hate.

But these youth are unfazed their hard work and dignity is sure to win over some hearts and minds.  One week down and 2 more to go.  San Francisco's next Landmark is a third of the way built.  Feel free to drop by and paint with us Monday through Friday 11-4 PM.

Definitely come out August 26th for our Mural Unveiling and project introduction.  It will be a powerful night with art, video, music, food and a beloved community.

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