The new building when Lydia’s House first acquired it, in May:











The same building, on October 29:












Lydia’s House’s new building was facing a long year of renovations. The windows would need to be covered, and we wanted to do that in a way that would be beautiful, and show that the building had new owners who cared about it. We connected with Woven Oak and Garden Camp, hoping that local kids could be involved in some kind of creative project to make this popular corner more beautiful. In mid-September Erin, Laura, Elizabeth, and I made some drawings from observation around the neighborhood. Elizabeth collated these drawings into a design, spread out over the shapes of the windows at 4502 Carter Ave. She chose six colors and created for us a simple but beautiful plan.

On an early morning in the last week of September, Ben and I bought 25 sheets of plywood. We got right to work cutting them to size, then priming and sealing them. Over the weekend, Deb and I finagled the Lydia’s House projector to enlarge the drawings and cast them on the boards.












Here is our tracing scenario, erected among the primed boards. We outlined the drawings in pencil, and wanted to finish them all that weekend, because on Monday the kids would start painting!


























This was our very first day of painting, with Girls’ Safe Space! Almost every weekday in October, kids’ after-school groups (facilitated by Grace and Erin) worked on the panels.












The next week, the Girls’ Safe Space girls finished the “hummingbird” panel.












These two created some very painterly cabbages.












We soon realized that “adult touch ups” would be needed. We also found that by painting the outlines in advance, kids were freed up to have more fun just filling big spaces with color. And why make a mural if you can’t go big?
















A scene from “the warehouse”. Making progress!












There is a method to the messiness.
















The kids of Garden Camp carried their panels safely across the street, to work outside in the lovely weather.


















A beautiful day with eggplants.











We brought a segment up to Lydia’s House, so the guests and their kids could have a hand in painting.











And then the day came to install! Here I am, in the air, “not terrified”. We got help from some Habitat for Humanity Young Professionals.
















There’s my co- associate Deb in the air with a drill. Some folks just passing by stopped to help, including our buddy Brent who advised us on ladder safety. He also suggested that we pre-drill the screws into the boards, which was very helpful.












We found a second drill and really got into the swing of things. Work like this is fun but also frustrating, each window had its own challenges. There were even a couple of times we had to remove a panel we’d already installed, to straighten it out or make it fit better.












Goodbye SNACKS!


Here’s some before & after images from each window panel:































































I really loved working on this project with Elizabeth, Erin, Grace, and all the kids. It was truly a collaborative and community-based project, and it couldn’t have been done without the work of many hands.

-Taylor, Lydia’s House Associate