Emerson Street Painting Brings Neighbors Together

By Kate O'Donnell

On July 15th, 2017 approximately 75 Cully neighbors came together to paint the intersection of NE Emerson Street & NE 70th Ave. NE 70th is actually a multi-use path, which many Cully neighbors use to walk and bike to Scott School and other neighborhood destinations.

Neighbors have worked over the past several years to make this path more welcoming for the Cully community. A community herb garden was constructed in 2014 with the support of a CAN mini-grant. The garden was recently expanded to include a raspberry patch, community free library, benches and native plants.

Several neighbors came together in fall 2016 to add an intersection painting to this area. The
goal was to continue to enhance the path while also bringing together the diverse neighbors of
Emerson Street. Many neighbors were feeling unsafe following the 2016 election and it felt
especially urgent to make our street feel more inclusive for folks of all backgrounds.

Neighbors worked with children from Hacienda CDC’s Expresiones program to develop some initial ideas for an intersection painting design. A potluck was held in the winter to gather additional design ideas from Emerson Street neighbors. Kirk Rea from the City Repair Project and Latino Arts Collective helped refine these ideas into a more specific concept. And neighbor Mike Parziale pulled everything together into a final design.

The final design is a rainbow butterfly, which symbolizes the diversity of Emerson Street and the Cully neighborhood in general. The path is also painted with butterflies – monarchs to symbolize migration from Mexico and Central America and blue butterflies to symbolize migration from Somalia.

Planning lasted many months and included the design process, neighborhood outreach and donation solicitation. Two neighbors, Maegen Parziale and Kate O’Donnell, also attended weekly classes on community building and intersection painting through the City Repair Project from February through May.

We welcome all Cully neighbors to come visit the NE 70th path to see the new intersection painting, pick some herbs and relax on the benches. We hope to hold intersection painting block parties every year to keep the design fresh and bring neighbors together.

This project was made possible with the support of a Cully Association Neighborhood Mini-Grant, Hacienda CDC, the City Repair Project Village Building Convergence, Andando en Bicicletas en Cully, PBOT and manyEmerson Street neighbors.