Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Story by Jill Replogle (http://www.jillrep.com)
Members of Diego’s Power Alley Gym, at the corner of Foothill Blvd. and Seminary Ave., already made the choice for a healthier life. Now the whole community has a vision of strength and health, brightening the neighborhood outside the gym.
The Community Rejuvenation Project recently turned the gym’s void outer wall into a portrait of health—physical, mental and spiritual. A native Aztec dancer, a man meditating in lotus pose and a Zulu nobility, expression proud, chest and arms powerful, have replaced the pale yellow wall of Diego’s. The mural was created by Desi WOME, Dave Kim, and youth apprentice Leo Delgado and other CRP volunteers.
As the mural took shape, neighbors stopped by to check out progress on the wall, and thank the artists for bringing color to the neighborhood which, one man said, is plagued by a lot of “dark things going on.”
It’s easy to guess at the neighborhood’s problems by the empty, boarded-up storefronts and ubiquitous metal gates, locking up homes, lots and businesses. With an unemployment rate of over 17%, economic recovery still on shaky ground, and public services declining rapidly, East Oakland could use some brightness on its horizon.
A mural may not solve the neighborhood’s problems, but it’s one step toward rejuvenating the community, and opening minds to the possibilities for healthy change.