The Community Rejuvenation Project cultivates healthy communities through beautification, education, and celebration. We achieve this mission through experiential programs that promote professional development, artistic and cultural expression, and community empowerment.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Community Rejuvenation Project Re-Launches Website


(Oakland, CA) – Oakland-based muralist collective Community Rejuvenation Project (CRP) today announced the roll-out of its newly revised, revamped and significantly upgraded website, Designed by Adriel Luis of, the new site boasts a new look which is less-cluttered and more user-friendly, while adding much more content overall.

“It’s a brand new day for CRP. We’ve got this new thing and it’s gonna be fly,” said CRP founder and Director Desi WOME. Not only does the streamlined look reflect the professional and institutional growth of CRP since its inception in 2007, but “We answer all your questions about who CRP is, and what we do,” Desi explained.

“The new website makes it much easier to tap into CRP and get involved with programming and events. This will help us grow our community base even more. People and organizations can now plug in at every level, from pavement to policy, and be a part of what we’re building,” he added.

New features include:

  • New staff and artist bios
  • Featured artist section—highlights a CRP artist
  • Easy-to-access pull-down windows for CRP services—mural tours, workshops, community clean-up, live painting, consulting, etc.
  • New galleries, including a compilation of murals painted over the last five years which detail CRP’s breadth of scope, range of expression, and artistic and personal growth
  • Descriptions of current and past campaigns, with photo illustrations
  • New blog updates and Op-Eds
  • Sponsorship opportunities and donation levels
  • Policy statements—outlines CRPs position on such issues as abatement and public art

Designer Luis “took a personal interest in the site and CRP’s work, and worked with us throughout the long and arduous process of giving the entire website an image makeover, as well as shifting the platform from Blogspot to WordPress,” Desi noted. The more sophisticated platform, he said, allows the website to be more than a blog and to maintain a professional appearance while providing an overview of CRP’s past and present endeavors.

The new website also marks the official debut of CRP’s new logo, which has already made some cameo appearances on a wall near you. Get used to seeing a lot more of this logo, which is going to figure prominently in CRP’s expanded merchandise line -- coming Spring 2013!

For more information, visit

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Redevelopment Cuts Point to Growing Need for Comprehensive Abatement Strategy

Redevelopment Cuts Point to Growing Need for Comprehensive Abatement Strategy

CRP's massive Peace and Dignity mural was a commission through Oakland's Redevelopment Agency. Photo by Eric Arnold.
CRP would like to extend its sincerest appreciation to the city of Oakland for attempting to address blight in East Oakland and involve talented artists such as Dan Fontes, the Estria Foundation and our organization. However, Governor Jerry Brown’s decision to cut state redevelopment agencies, thereby throwing cities all over California into limbo, has left these projects with an uncertain future at best. Even more tragic is the fact these mural projects had run the gauntlet of bureaucratic red tape; they awaited only City Council approval when they were cut. But if new funding isn’t identified and earmarked, these projects will simply disappear, as if they never existed.
North and South unites on the corners of 41st and International. This project was funded by the Oakland's Redevelopment Agency. Photo by Eric Arnold.
These projects represented game-changers for East Oakland, a historically underdeveloped district which has remained an eyesore as other commercial districts have been built up. Abandoning them sends a clear message that the much-ballyhooed Oakland renaissance isn’t for all of its city’s residents.
During his eight years as Oakland mayor, Brown’s 10k plan highlighted the gentrification of Uptown, funneling millions of dollars in redevelopment monies to an emerging district, at the expense of other parts of Oakland. Public art projects in and around Uptown were funded to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars, even as art programs were slashed in the city’s less-tony areas.
In the short term, this plan benefitted developers while falling short of initial occupancy projections. In the long-term, it helped generate political momentum for Brown’s eventual runs for state Attorney General and ultimately, Governor. It is the deepest and most bitter irony that a politician whose career benefitted so much from redevelopment funding would then seek to cut those funds for the city whose well-being he once was accountable.
This is the situation we find ourselves in today.
The problem with this approach is, if you take away the funding, you still have done nothing to alleviate the underlying issue. Thusfar, the City of Oakland has made no provision for alternate funding for these critical public art programs. These cuts are especially cruel because the area in which the murals were slated to be painted in—colloquially referred to as “Deep East Oakland”—has a dire need for rejuvenatory art. The area between Hegenberger and 106th Ave. is a high-blight, high-crime area plagued by prostitution and drug use. The area between Hegenberger and 23rd Ave is almost as bad. Without effective blight reduction, the issues facing both areas will likely worsen.
Current abatement measures and policy have proven ineffective and failed to improve the aesthetics in neglected Oakland communities. Photo by Desi W.O.M.E
Blight continues to be an ongoing problem, especially since the foreclosure crisis continues to take its toll on homeowners. Oakland, whose foreclosure rate in 2011 was more than double the national average, has been among one of the most impacted cities in California; East Oakland in particular has been one of the most affected regions in the city by the housing crisis.
Current abatement measures, such as the graffiti abatement squad, are inefficient at best. Buffing walls is a temporary fix: It doesn’t deter vandalism recidivism, is aesthetically unattractive, and requires frequent and regular maintenance. It's also cost-inefficient.
CRP's recent mural on 30th and West was commissioned by a property owner looking for a permanent solution to the reoccurring vandalism on his property. Photo by Eric Arnold.
Community murals, on the other hand, are not just pretty public art projects but part of an effective blight reduction/community development strategy. Besides offering an attractive visual picture, murals prevent property values from dropping, by as much as 15-20%, and are an effective deterrent to tagging and other blight-related crimes, such as drug use, vandalism, squatting, and prostitution.They are also more cost-efficient than current abatement programs and require less maintenance over time.
CRP's "Sacred Seeds" mural brings new life to a long dilapidated building on Stanford Ave. Photo by Mike 360.
What is needed for the future of Oakland is a long-term funding for a year-round mural program as part of integrated abatement/blight reduction/youth development/health index initiative. Such a program could be run at a fraction of the cost of current programs with more effective, comprehensive, and holistic outcomes. The two main departments which are stakeholders in this effort are Building Services and Department of Public Works. Other possible stakeholders include Cultural Arts Department, Measure Y, and City Council Districts 5, 6 & 7.
It is in the best interest of all stakeholders to work together to come up with a long-term solution to the ongoing problem of blight and abatement. Failure to do so can only drag our city down back into the depths from which it has struggled so mightily to emerge from.
For more information about CRP, interviews with CRP artists, or sample images for media usage, contact Desi at or (510) 269-7840.

Monday, April 30, 2012

CRP x People’s Grocery: Chestnut Green Corridor Project Grand Opening Block Party

This past weekend, the Community Rejuvenation Project (CRP) was honored to be a part of the Chestnut Green Corridor Project, a community initiative of the People’s Grocery. The project symbolizes what can happen when sustainable, healthy living meets food justice, and is emblematic of the positive community spirit happening in West Oakland these days – which is too often overshadowed by negative perceptions.

Situated at 35th and Chestnut streets, the Chestnut Green Corridor Project includes a series of sidewalk planters, intended to “green up” the block, raise residents’ self-esteem, and deter illegal dumping which often results in blight. Alongside the planters, CRP was commissioned to paint a series of portraits of sevenhistoric, inspirational civil rights leaders: Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., Huey P. Newton, Mother Wright, C.L. Dellums, Paul Robeson, Ella Baker, and Harriet Tubman.

The Chestnut Green Corridor is adjacent to the California Hotel, a historic building home to many African American and Latino residents, which has also been the site of Peoples Grocery’s Urban Farm and gardens for the last three years. Community residents, together with housing-rights organization Causa Justa/Just Cause, fought and won the battle to keep the building’s doors open and prevent the displacement of its residents.

On Sunday, April 29, People’s Grocery hosted a community block party and spring plant sale which made full use of the Chestnut Green Corridor. Deejay Lady Ryan played sweet tunes all afternoon, as healthy food was provided by local vendors. Community organizations, including City Slicker Farms, Revolution Foods, and the Stop the Injunction Coalition, set up tables with demos and info. There were clowns, a bouncy castle, masseurs complete with tables, and live performers. It was a festive, fresh event – the type of happening one almost never hears about in media representations of Oakland in general and West Oakland in particular.

Jumoke Hinton of People’s Grocery brought CRP founder Desi WOME to the front to say a few words to the crowd. After his benediction, Mike 360 blessed the crowd with his signature flute/beatbox. There was also a sadly poignant moment, illustrating the cycle of death and rebirth. As his family looked on, silent tribute was made in honor of Coty Luster, a neighborhood youth and Mother Wright's grandson,  who recently lost his life.

While the block party was happening, CRP was doing what CRP does best: painting a mural on the wall of the California Hotel Urban Farm, operated by People’s Grocery. CRP artists Release, Desi, Mike 360, Pancho Pescador, Tidus and Dora all collaborated on the done-in-a-day project. 

Appropriately, the mural depicts a pastoral garden scene, with a ladybug, an ear of corn, a rooster, a butterfly, a caterpillar, and a farmworker. Four colors—white, red, black, and yellow—comprise the farmworker’s aura, symbolizing the four types of corn, four nations, and also four directions. To the right of the farmworker, a butterfly begins to hatch from a cocoon, suggesting the metamorphosis of consciousness which begins with choosing sustainable, healthy food. Adding a point of emphasis, the words “food” and “sovereignty” are spoken by the ladybug and rooster, sending a message that taking control of one’s diet is an act of empowerment.

The CRP crew, which also included Director of Communications Eric Arnold and Communications intern Kimberly Kim, was treated to homemade tamales wrapped in banana leaves and an incredible meal of black-eyed peas, rice, and mango salad by People’s Grocery cooks. During a break in the mural creation process, we wandered over to a nearby yard, where we were serenaded by a spirited version of “Summertime” sung by an African American elder, accompanied by a wheelchair-bound electric guitarist. Returning to the mural location, Dora, with her and 360’s son Mixtli in tow, added an Azteka glyph to “seal” the deal.

The mural completed, there was just one more task to accomplish: to present an RIP tribute to Coty Luster, which Desi had painted, to his family. The piece was presented, blessings were said, and yet another CRP community partnership collaboration was history. Big ups to Nikki, Max, and Jumoke at People’s Grocery for inviting CRP to be a part of this project. And to the people of West Oakland, and Chestnut Green Corridor residents, this one’s for you!  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

CRP Rocks Seattle, Chicago and Oakland in One Week

CRP Rocks Seattle, Chicago and Oakland in One Week!

The production of new work by the Community Rejuvenation Project jumped last week as collective members painted numerous new works around the country. In Oakland, Pancho Pescador and Mike Threesixty added several new pieces to the front of Golden Gate Liquors and finished the production of the Pedal Power to the People project. The reflective mirror at the front of the store became the "O" in an "Ozelotl" tribute to Mike Threesixty's son rocking a landscape still with a crane walking in it. Down the block, Pancho added some Hummingbirds and the two collaborated on a cheetah who states "Migration is Natural" and "Save Wirikuta," a reference to the holy lands of the Huichol people, represented in the piece by their sacred peyote sacrament. 
Release PYC and Beats 737 continued their hard-hitting work by creating a second massive "Decolonize" wall in Seattle. Images included were a large bear and Release's trademark sacred geometry. Release has been supporting the occupy movement and painting murals in Seattle for the past several months incorporating CRP's trademark connection between ancient symbols and modern culture. 

Desi W.O.M.E took Chicago by storm, blasting three large scale unreadable masterpieces around the city including at the historical Mobil wall in Hyde Park, Chicago's longest continuously running free wall that he founded exactly 20 years ago. Desi also rocked his largest piece ever, a 50 ft "Heart" in South Chicago as part of a collaboration with Raven and JInx. When he wasn't painting letters, Desi rendered a colorful Bruce Lee at Alternatives on Chicago's North Side as part of the Connect Force's Aerosol Writing month. Desi and Raven painted another mural with students from North Lawndale High School including several african images and Frederick Douglass.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

CRP Demands Justice for Trayvon and Shaima

Photos by Desi W.O.M.E, Eric Arnold, and Meghan Pergrem

The murders of Trayvon Martin and Shaima Alawadi have capped a recent spate of attacks on unarmed people of color which also include Rahmarlee Graham, who was unarmed when shot by police in his own home, and Kenneth Chamberlain, who was shot in his home by police responding to a medical call. Trayvon's murder has sparked massive outrage due to the Stanford (Fla.) police's unwillingness to arrest his admitted shooter, George Zimmerman. Shaima Alawadi was a mother of five children, murdered with a note beside her accusing her of being a terrorist simply for being Iraqi. No one in any of these cases has been charged with a crime. 

Community Rejuvenation Project artist Miss Ammo took the initiative to call for and create a mural that addressed these issues. She called in CRP Founder Desi W.O.M.E to collaborate on a piece that went up this past Sunday, April 1, at the former site of the Parkway Theater, in Oakland's Funktown Arts District. The new mural--which has received hundreds of likes, shares and retweets in social media spheres in just over 24 hours--demands justice for the victims and an end to the fear-mongering prevalent in America that pushes both its citizens and law enforcement officers to attack and kill unarmed civilians for everyday acts of wearing hoodies or hijabs, or eating skittles. The attacks on Martin and Alawadi have been only the most widely reported of numerous recent incidents that connect to a long pattern of racially motivated killings that date back to the founding of the United States. The latest mural connects to previous CRP pieces at the same location through the message at the top of the wall: "Spiritual Release." CRP believes that being in touch with one's spirituality can present a solution to crimes of hate and ignorance.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bike Bingo Night for CRP Mural Series on San Pablo!

The community turned out last night for a raucous night of Bikes and Bingo as a Benefit for CRP's San Pablo Cultural Corridor project. Actual Cafe was packed with avid bingo players competing for a wide selection of prizes ranging from vegan donuts to CRP posters to free dental cleanings. Transcendentist, the event's sponsor, brought its entire office and filled its booth with bingo cards that spilled out onto the chairs around them. Participants took turns pedaling a bike to stir the bingo balls while Steffy Sue and Actual Cafe owner, Sal called out numbers and hosted the event. CRP artists Pancho Pescador and Desi W.O.M.E brought more color to the event by painting new works that were auctioned off at the end of the night. Richmond Spokes organized a ride all the way from MacDonald Ave to the event rolling in with Urban Tilth and Zap Inc. The San Pablo Avenue Golden Gate Improvement Association (SPAGGIA), who invited CRP to transform their area, estimates the event raised over $500 for the first mural, which will be painted next weekend at Golden Gate Liquors on 60th and San Pablo.