A much belated update – and the story of Mia

Time flies… when you’re having fun, or when you’re living life, or both – right?  I just realized I never posted a report on our most recent Arts in the Alley… and we have a brand new project coming up in about three weeks! So, high time for a much-belated report. Starting with a tiny bit of history for anyone new to Arts in the Alley.

Between 1998 and the Spring of 2011, Offering organized four Arts in the Alley initiatives – in Shockoe Bottom, near VCU, in Beijing, China (yes, we know that one sounds random), and one in Church Hill. By the spring of 2011, when we started looking the next location for Arts in the Alley, my thoughts went back to Fulton Hill. I connected with Jason Sawyer and the rest of the fantastic people at the Neighborhood Resource Center and we started looking at possibilities. With help of the NRC and the community work teams we quickly identified a number of walls that could use some love and care – and with the colors Greater Fulton’s Future had chosen we sent our volunteer designers to work.

October 8-9, 2011 brought the most beautiful weather we could have imagined – and the most beautiful people joining us. Over the course of two days we painted 16 murals in all – 10 small window murals and 6 larger ones, the largest one being the Fine Foods Grocery mural that is a whopping 73 feet in length! Painters and paint-by-numbers experts (aka those of us who had not touched a paint brush in a good long while J) worked side by side on Saturday and Sunday, and slowly but surely parts of Greater Fulton were transformed by bright colors an even brighter smiles. Close to 100 volunteers pitched in for part or all of the weekend. But the one volunteer that will always stick with me is Mia. Mia was, then, almost five years old and is the daughter of friends of mine. Mia, like her little sister Lily, was adopted from China by her mom and dad, and they wanted to bring her to Arts in the Alley. I told them I would make sure she had a bucket of water and a sponge and she could help clean part of Miss Joyce’s building (from Miss Joyce’s Beauty Shop) until she was done – which, I assumed, would be after about half an hour: after all, we’re talking a pre-school little girl here.

Boy, was I ever wrong. Mia cleaned. Mia primed. Mia painted. With deep, sincere concentration. For more than SIX hours. When her mom gently tried to convince her that they really needed to go home – the next day, after all, was a school day – Mia replied “No mama, I have to help finish Miss Joyce’s house”. Mia did help finish painting Miss Joyce’s “house” – her beauty shop – and we are left the knowledge that one is never too young, or too old, or too…. anything…. to make a difference in our community.


We have another Arts in the Alley coming up in Greater Fulton Saturday April 14 and Sunday April 15 – will you join us? Click here for more info and to sign up!

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