Love Your Block initiative inspires popular art installation at Richmond BART station

Community invited to help beautify block in Coronado neighborhood Saturday

In order to promote the ongoing Love Your Block initiative, the city has installed an interactive art installation at the Richmond BART station that aims to inspire neighborhood improvement projects.

A ribbon-cutting for the artwork, which was installed Monday, is set for 8:30 a.m. Friday, when local residents will be able to learn more about how they can apply for a $1,000 Love Your Block grant to carry out a project that will help reduce blight on their block.

The BART artwork, which will remain there through mid-December, encourages passersby to pick up chalk and write how they would use the $1,000 grant. They are also encouraged to write what they want to accomplish before they die. The installation was inspired by the work of global artist Candy Chang who created a “Before I Die” wall concept that has been used worldwide.

beforeidie.12-3“This piece allows people to publicly voice their aspirations, concerns, dreams, complaints, and viewpoints,” says Kiana Ward, one of the Americorps VISTAs serving for the Love Your Block initiative. “We wanted a space for Richmond residents to reflect on the ways that they would like to see Richmond grow and change and the ways that they would personally like to make that happen.”

Within the first hour that the art installation was launched on Monday, residents were already picking up chalk and writing down their thoughts. The wall was filled with responses by Tuesday.

“We’re thrilled to see how well people have taken to our wall,” says Guadalupe Morales, also an Americorps VISTA.

The Love Your Block initiative is a national mini-grant program by City of Services, a nonprofit founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Richmond was one of seven U.S. cities to win a three-year commitment to fund local improvement projects “one block at a time.” City employees in charge of the program are trying to get neighbors and community groups to band together to apply for, and carry out, dozens of improvement projects.

The application deadline for current round of $1,000 Love Your Block grants is Dec. 11.