Saturday, May 21, 2011

PRESS RELEASE: The Planting Seeds of Change Mural Project Unveiled in Barre

Students from two accredited alternative high schools participated in a year-long program designed to connect them to their community in Barre. The Planting Seeds of Change Mural Project engaged students enrolled in Central Vermont Community Action’s Family Literacy Center (FLC) and those gaining their diplomas from Community High School of Vermont, Barre campus (CHS-VT).

After identifying key issues and struggles central to their lives in Barre, students used a consensus decision-making process to develop a theme to address their top concerns. One group identified the need for a safe, nurturing and peaceful environment in which to raise their children, who are at the heart of the community. This came from a series of group discussions and in response to the reality of domestic violence and streets that are not welcoming or child safe in Barre. The other group identified a need for viable employment opportunities and healthy recreation in order to improve their health and allow them to contribute positively to the community.

The mural project is an extension of an existing year round wilderness skills, gardening, cooking, and herbalism curriculum by adding art as a tool for reflection, documentation and expression. Local artists, food educators and herbalists as facilitators and local artists’ studios and the outdoors became extended classrooms. This multidisciplinary one-year, in-depth educational program is culminating with a community celebration and the installation of the mural created by each school.

The elements of each mural were taken directly from experience and learning during the project. The people and plants depicted in the murals have significance, as does the chosen landscape. Students gained significant skills that will help them be better workers, parents, students and citizens. Some of the skills included; individual and group decision-making, verbal, image and written communication, color and design, taking and giving direction, and alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention and refusal.

This public art project has the support of City Hall, L.A.C.E. (Local Agricultural Community Exchange), Studio Place Arts, Central Vermont Community Action Council, and Community High School of Vermont. Thanks to our contributing sponsors: The Vermont Arts Council, The National Endowment for the Arts, Ayers Auto Body, Capital Candy, Barre City Police Department, Thom and Karen Lauzon, New Directions for Barre and Northfield Savings Bank. Many thanks for your support.