By Joel Dippold | CNA Media Team
Painting intersection builds local bond
Walk out the front door of McMenamins Kennedy School and keep going for a few blocks and you’ll come to the intersection of 28th Avenue and Jarrett Street. It’s nearly the exact geographic center of the Concordia neighborhood, and all around it are the tall firs and Tudor bungalows so common here.
But you probably won’t notice them. You’ll be staring at the ground, at an earth-toned, circular mandala with pine trunks pointing to the four corners of the globe.
This design, 19 overlapping circles circumscribed by a larger circle, has captivated humanity for centuries. The earliest examples are found in an Egyptian temple, King Herod’s palace, and Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook. The pattern came to be called the “Flower of Life” in New Age literature. At 10 of the circles’ intersections, smaller circles form a Tree of Life, the central figure in the Jewish mystic tradition of the Kabbalah. The painting is known to neighbors as Jarrett Grove.
But most passersby don’t know anything about this symbolism, any more than they know what this round plaza means to the families who live in its orbit.
“We have a stronger bond because of this,” said Joe Culhane, who helped with the installation two years ago and the repainting in August. “You don’t often even say ‘Hi,’ to your neighbors. This is a way to get together, and to work, and to produce an awesome result.”
The work component was considerable. “It was a long day, getting all that paint down,” said Katie Allen, another of the principal organizers. The work was done by a volunteer army of four dozen neighbors, Village Building Convergence volunteers, and people who were out walking their dogs and just jumped in.
Katie led the fundraising effort that resulted in $1,000 to rent barricades and buy many, many gallons of special traffic paint. She and other neighbors got donations from a dozen local businesses for a silent auction at Wilder Bar Cafe. Volunteers also went door to door asking for support, sold tote bags and T-shirts with the Jarrett Grove design, and kids set up a stand and charged for nail painting and temporary tattoos.
Jarrett Grove and the other street paintings that dot Concordia are proof of the uplifting power of art, and the enduring truth that hard work brings people together.
“The best part of it was later that night,” Katie said, after the paint had dried and the sun had gone down. “There were about 20 of us, all ages, and we just had the best dance party ever.”