Monday, April 23rd, 2012
By David Aine, Project Coordinator
Looking west at the promise of clearing skies, the morning of Saturday, April 14, began with excitement. The rain had subsided just in time for the revitalization project at Kingsley Elementary School. My wife and I were especially excited about this volunteer opportunity for its proximity to where we live (Pomona Arts Colony). Situated in a residential neighborhood, Kingsley Elementary (not to be confused with the one by the same name in Montclair) is at the corner of Lincoln and Washington in Pomona, Calif. Apart from the numerous portables, most of the core campus seemed to be built in the 1950s or 60s, sporting a uniform, flat palette of deep red masonry.
HMC Designing Futures Foundation recruited a great team of enthusiastic volunteers from departments throughout the firm to paint a mural. We gathered that morning alongside an army of people hailing from all over the Inland Empire and beyond. The eagerness to start our labor grew as we heard various administration and staff describe the challenges the school and district faced, including some of the highest drop out rates in the area.
HMC DFF Volunteers
Our journey began by traversing a sea of blacktop, where the start of various projects were staged on the ground. Reaching the campus, we wound our way through rows of buildings that all looked the same. Other projects were being staged on the ground of courtyards and exterior walls.
Hundreds of volunteers turned out to transform Kingsley ES
At last we reached the cafeteria where we all stared at what we would be working on for the rest of the day—an expansive white wall! Upon closer inspection, we were relieved to find small black lines covering the surface that revealed a design. Thankfully, we had a creative director on hand, the mural artist, who would keep us between the lines and advise us on color choices along the way. After hours of brush strokes, stepping back to survey the progress, climbing up ladders with trays of paint, rollers rolling back and forth, and a healthy dose of laughter, a once barren wall came to life!
Our team painted a mural in the cafeteria
The difference when we stepped outside was amazing to behold. Immediately, I felt a stronger sense of place. Once empty walls were now adorned with imagery of the Civil Rights movement, the educational progression up to post-secondary school, literature, and the visual and performing arts. Further, the ominous sea of blacktop was transformed—representations of the seasons, tether ball circles, and an obstacle course now embellished the surface. An unused patch of dirt became the home of raised garden beds filled with young herb and vegetable plants. Looking at the small, delicate green stems and leaves made me think of the kids that would come to school on Monday morning. The colorful, positive imagery that now surrounds these students will hopefully be one of the many things the community does that contributes to a significantly brighter future for them.
The completed mural
From left to right: Myself, Israel Pena, and Adrienne Luce