Our church got some great news this week. In mid-October we submitted a 32-page grant application to the City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works. Every year the city gives out approximately $800,000 in 90 or so grants for community beautification projects being spearheaded by neighborhood groups, businesses and others (click here to learn more about the Community Beautification Grant).
Our project, called Crossroads @ HOLLYWOOD, is a public art mural that will go on the west facing wall of our property that overlooks the freeway. You can see in the picture below that the wall is currently an eyesore and a magnet for graffiti.
The idea for this project came from one of my church members, has been discussed around the church for more than a year and grew to this point in the context of one of our Missional Action Teams. This particular MAT was charged with the challenge of understanding and designing an experiment around the question, “How can we imagine ourselves as God’s missionary people sent to be the presence of Christ amidst the people in our neighborhood?” So, yes, this mural will beautify our wall and be a deterrent to graffiti. But it’s real purpose is to foster conversations in the community about who we are, what we value and who we are hoping to become, as a community.
Because we are being funded, in part, by the City of Los Angeles, the mural cannot be explicity religious. This is a plus for us and really challenges our MAT to consider what it would mean to enter our community as listeners, looking for signs of God’s kingdom and then using our wall as a “canvas” to paint the hope that our community has for its future and its role in the life of the people who live and work here. Rather than using our wall as a “billboard” to market our brand of religion and blare our message at people as they go buy, our dream is for the art that will grace this wall to be a genuinely public creation and a reflection of our shared life.
In order to facilitate this, the team will be running a series of design input workshops with a special focus on getting input and involvement from our Community Partners as well as the wider community. The artist – ManOne – will then take all that input and design a mural which will eventually be approved by the Department of Cultural Affairs and be painted on our wall by May of this year!