By: Nancy Chan & Cami Culbertson
In 1996 co-founders Mark Lakeman, Eva Rose Miller, and Charla Chamberlain gave birth to Portland’s City Repair Project, a grass roots movement towards bringing the “public” back to public streets. Over the years numerous intersections have been transformed throughout Portland by the average individual joining forces with others within the community to create street murals, community bulletin boards, mini-cafes, etc. Inspired, in 2005 Seattle citizens began to engage in activating their own neighborhood streetscapes by turning ordinary intersections into brightly painted gathering spaces.
The reclamation of public space, known as Intersection Repair strives to promote localization of culture, economy, and decision-making. Furthermore, this act of place making cultivates the construction of safe, strong, and welcoming communities, as well as the creation of meaningful spaces that will serve the specific needs of each individual neighborhood.
Traditionally, neighbors within communities keep to themselves, content within the confines of their property lines, but Intersection Repair fosters the development of community cooperation and interaction. Neighbors get to know one another as they work side-by-side to create a unique expression of the community. The physical act of transforming these streets is just as important as the finished project – the journey is just as important as the arrival. For without the support of the community such projects do not exist. Some paintings have not survived the years [i.e. Squire Park in the Central District] due to a lack of citizen commitment and/or new community dynamics.
Questions arise regarding the actual safety of Intersection Repair murals in terms of distractions for drivers, but for the majority this movement has empowered citizens to take ownership of their communities, transforming ideals regarding the street and how it can be used. Communities across the United States have adopted City Repair methods to infuse life and human connectivity back into communities. After all, the city is for the people - citizens should claim it and morph it, not accept it.
N 80th St & Stone Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103
N 41st St & Interlake Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103
N 49th St & Burke Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103
NW 60th St & 11th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107
E Marion & 20th Ave E
E Marion & 20th Ave E
Maple Leaf Intersection Repair Proposed at NE 96th St & 12 Ave NE