Community members and organizers plan to paint a mural in the Beacon Hill community this summer to promote awareness of gentrification and to empower the community through the creation of art.
The mural itself will be sponsored by a $20,200 Small and Simple matching fund grant awarded to Beacon Arts as a part of its Beacon Mural Project. The mural will be situated at the east end of Dragon Auto Repair facing Stephen’s Place Triangle Park, directly across from the Beacon Hill Library. Its design will be finalized at a meeting on Aug. 15 at Garden House, and the mural itself will be unveiled on Sept. 12.
Beacon Arts was not the only organization to consider a community mural in the area. We Are Not a Zip Code is a community art collective run by two young organizers, Monica Mendoza-Castrejon and Tanesha Tekola. Beacon Arts is helping to follow through on their idea that a “historical mural and documentary project on Beacon Hill will address the diversity, collective stories and struggles of the different groups found in the neighborhood.”
Clearly demonstrating that they have the neighborhood in mind, Beacon Arts has an open survey on their site that asks important questions to be considered when designing the mural, such as “What Beacon Hill story would you most like to tell?” and “What Beacon Hill Story and/or image is not acceptable?”
According to the American Community Survey estimates, housing in Beacon Hill with rent under $200 per month decreased from 270 units in 2011 to an estimated 228 in 2013. During the same period of time, the number of units with rent over $1,500 per month increased from 695 to 926 and the median monthly rent price went from $838 to $891.
This spike in rent prices is indicative of how rapidly the Beacon Hill neighborhood is changing. The lowest-income individuals are being forced out of their community and the gentrification process is well underway. In this economic climate, having spaces where members of the community can express themselves and record their memories is becoming increasingly important.