STREET PAINTINGS (INTERSECTION & MID-BLOCK)
Do intersection paintings/ street murals calm traffic?
No. Our street murals are explicitly not traffic calming devices. Having said that, we have witnessed innumerable examples of how they serve as a very powerful community building strategy offering so many emergent benefits. Often, people initiate a project to slow down traffic but stay committed to the project because of all the wonderful things we see happening as a result of intersection paintings.
How are the paintings maintained?
By the communities themselves. We do not initiate any of the projects but rather facilitate the successful collaborative visioning, planning and implementation of projects brought forth by community members. Paintings are semi-permanent and need to be repainted every 1-3 years.
What kind of community outreach is involved?
Informally, we encourage you to start talking/potlucking with your neighbors as soon as possible. Tell them you are thinking of initiating a project and invite their ideas and feedback. In general, we have seen that the more participation you are able to elicit, the greater the success and longevity of the project.
More formally, after your design has been approved by Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), they issue a petition that lists all the folks that you need to get signatures from. Usually you need 100% consent from residents in the properties adjacent to the painting and 80% consent from a two-block radius.
Has painting the streets brought communities together in a positive way?
We have consistently heard that it does and many of our core staff have personal experiences with this being the case. Please take a look at some of our research projects.
Have there been any challenges?
Sometimes fundraising and volunteer recruitment can be challenging for some sites. Sometimes neighbors are not supportive and may even complain. And sometimes people leave skid marks on the paintings soon after they are painted. Out of 56 paintings, we've had a handful die out as the community is unable to sustain enthusiasm and capacity to repaint regularly. These are a few examples of the challenges in planning, implementing and sustaining a project. But by far, the majority (approximately 50) get re-painted.
What’s a typical budget for a street painting?
Typically, projects range between $500-$1200 in hard costs for paint, painting supplies and food IF all of the organizing including program coordination, community engagement and artwork is volunteer labor. However, if you are working with historically marginalized people we highly recommend that you budget for stipends because community engagement is invaluable and people need financial compensation if they are to be able to participate.
How long does it take to paint?
Typically, an hour to clean/pressure wash the streets. Another hour or so to dry. An hour or two to chalk out the design and then 2-5 hours to paint depending on the complexity and size of the painting.
Should we enlist an artist to sketch the design and transfer it onto the pavement in chalk, then volunteers can help fill it in with paint?
Typically, an artist from the community volunteers to elicit and then interpret community feedback into a coherent design that successfully depicts the community’s shared sense of place. If no such artist comes forward voluntarily, a stipend/honorarium will surely encourage one to step forward. The most important quality of the artist, however, is that they are collaborative and are able to facilitate the community’s vision, rather than propose their own vision/ design.
Can we get your help taking our concept for an intersection design into something that will work as a actual street mural?
Yes, City Repair provides technical support for conceptualizing the intersection design. Please refer to our technical assistance section at the bottom of this page.
Is there a map of all the City Repair inspired work around the world?
What is the lifespan of the paintings?
What kinds of paint do you use?
Cabot Solid Color Acrylic Deck Stain
Water-reducible acrylic Traffic Paint (Zone Marking Paint)
Duckback Walnut-based friction additive. 1 packet per gallon of paint.
Where do you get paint and supplies, and how much does it cost?
We purchase paint from Miller Paint and they give us a 50% discount. This is by far is one of the most tangible benefits for partnering with City Repair for your street painting project. *We do not offer this discount to folks who are not part of our placemaking program.
For the year 2017-2018, after VBC's 50% discount, the paint prices were
a. Cabot Deck Stain: $50 a gallon
b. Zone Marking: Black, white and yellow are $17.75 a gallon. Red and blue are $24.15.
c. Walnut Additive: $4.50/packetThe price increases by a bit every year.
What kind of primer do you use?
Zone marking is it’s own primer. One can put a layer of white paint down and then paint on top of that layer with colors. You just have to ensure that both the white and the color layers are the same kind of paint because Zone marking and Cabot deck stain paint don’t mix well. The former is oil based and the latter is latex.
What is the the purpose of the walnut shell additive?
One packet of walnut shell anti-skid additive is required for each gallon of paint. You need walnut shell additive for both types of paint, both Zone marking and Cabot Deck Stain to ensure that the painting is not slippery.
Can you mix Cabot Deck Stain with the Zone Marking paint?
Nope, you cannot mix them to blend colors, or layer them on top of each other. You can use them side by side though.
Do both kinds of paint need the Duckback Walnut-based Friction Additive?
When is it better to use the solid deck stain vs. the zone-marking paint?
If you have a bigger budget and want a greater variety of colors.
Is any kind of sealant used when the painting is done and dry?
No, there is no kind of sealant.
Do you use a primer?
Zone marking paint is its own primer. Also, we’ve had some community members have success with painting a layer of white first and then painting the design on top of the base layer of white paint. It is important to use the same kind of paint as the base layer.
How much paint do folks typically use?
The amount of paint you need depends entirely on your design. Average intersections require 25-30 gallons or 95-115 liters of paint. We tell folks that usually a gallon of paint covers 100-200 square feet or 10-20 square meters. The reason for the vast difference is how thick it is applied. Light colors like white and yellow might require multiple coats for desired coverage so one gallon will only cover 100 square feet or 19 square meters. More textured roads require more paint. Dark colors don’t need as much paint for good coverage.
What kind of brushes or rollers should be used?
Various sizes so that there’s some for broader sweeps for background colors, thinner ones for outlining and details. Rollers are great for making it alter-able and inter-generationally accessible so that folks in wheelchairs and elders are able to participate.
How do you close the streets?
In Portland, we have a Block Party Program and so PBOT has graciously wrapped the criteria and procedure for closing down an intersection into our Intersection Repair program. Please review details about our Block Party Program here.
What is ecological landscaping / permaculture?
Permaculture is a set of design principles that mimic our natural habitats. It’s goal is designing healthy habitats to support native plants, pollinators, edible landscaping, and healthy human communities - not to mention water systems, animal systems and energy systems. Ecological Landscaping designs are based on Permaculture principles
What does placemaking and ecological landscaping have in common?
The ecological landscaping program is a placemaking project! A placemaking project is a community-led initiative through the Village Building Convergence - these have been popularized mostly by intersection paintings. Ecological landscaping and gardening projects (among others) are also a placemaking project. To learn more about what a placemaking project is please refer to www.cityrepair.org/our-projects
Can I create a project on my private land?
The Eco Land team provides consulting with the project design and support for design implementation. Occasionally, we’ll be able to offer a project leader, but mostly this is your project and the community is the leader:). The VBC placemaking program helps with education across topics from project design and management to fundraising, setting budgets, managing materials, and organizing volunteers.
What’s not to be expected from the Ecological Landscape team and VBC Placemaking Program?
The VBC’s Ecological Landscaping team does not always provide landscaping services and the team will not maintain the site - although we do have a large community of folks who can help! Your project during the VBC will be led by you and your community. While the Eco Land team will consult and support regarding preparations to the site and tools needed, the project leaders and communities will be responsible for carrying out preparations and acquiring necessary resources. We’re still here to help!
If further assistance is needed for specialized projects or professional services, City Repair partners with designers, installers and builders. Kindly, just inquire - VBC can also offer support in fundraising!
Does this cost any money?
We offer a sliding scale program fee of $125-$650.
Along with our professional consultations this price also includes connections to our communities and volunteers while receiving support with acquiring plants and other materials. Its truly an awesome experience!
Depending on your project’s scope, City Repair will help source materials, tools and plants for the project. However, projects like these sometimes require items that can be anywhere from free to however much you’re willing to spend/raise. Plants can range anywhere from free (cultivated by City Repair or donated by our sponsors) to upwards of $150+ for specialized perennial plants / crops - all is variable but we’re good at sourcing.
Are consent forms needed for any volunteers who show up on painting day?
Yes, volunteers are required to sign a consent form. Lead placemakers are responsible for distributing the forms to volunteers on each day that the site is active. These forms cover our volunteers with City Repair’s insurance.
What is the average time it takes to install an intersection painting?
Once again the amount of time it takes to install a painting depends on the design. Typically this varies from a few hours to a full day. Sometimes folks split the installation up across two days.
Day of preparation and Logistics.
Street Cleaning: Tell your neighbors the day before that it would be preferable if they parked in garages or elsewhere so that you can pressure wash and sweep the streets unencumbered. Give yourself a good hour to clean the street and depending on the weather, at least an hour for the water to dry.
Chalk Grid: Usually folks transfer the design onto the streets using a grid drawn with chalk. Since this can be a little technical, give yourself anywhere between 1-2 hours to do this before general volunteers are invited to show up.
Finer Details & Touch Ups: Sometimes folks do touch ups and finer detailing the day after the big public paint.
Can we get your help in bringing this to our community?
Yes, City Repair provides technical support. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Portland Metro Area
Applications for our placemaking program open late summer and are due early January. Please review last year’s applications! While most of our projects are in Portland, communities served include in Gresham, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Oregon City, and Vancouver.
Out of state/ Non-VBC projects
If you are unable to fit within our ongoing placemaking program through the Village Building Convergence, then please consult this page for our customized services.