Sean Hall dreams of driving down dozens of Bellingham streets that are adorned with long, multicolored murals.
For now, he can enjoy such a special street - his own - along with all of his neighbors who made it possible.
More than three dozen painters of all ages participated in creating a striking, 90-foot-long mural in the 2800 block of Walnut Street on June 22, just in time to enjoy during the summer.
"We call it 'The Sun's Always Shining on Walnut Street,'" said Hall, a 41-year-old pastor of a small nearby congregation and a personal trainer at CrossFitX.
Hall and his wife, Julie, are the parents of daughter Lynna, 14, and son Jude, 12. They think Bellingham is a fine place to raise children and are doing their part to help make it not only safer but also more colorful.
Question: Sean, how many people played key roles in the mural project?
Answer: There were 10 families on the same block of Walnut Street involved in the planning, along with many people who participated in painting the mural.
Q: Who created such a striking Northwest design? (Colors include two shades of green, yellow, orange, and two white doves in the center.)
A: Three neighbors with graphics experience collaborated on the design: Loren Bates, Susie Cole and one who prefers to remain anonymous.
We had a woman who really spearheaded the project, Louise Rofkar. Louise went to many meetings, city meetings and Arts Commission meetings. Our mural and a mural in Happy Valley became pilot projects. We owe thanks to the city of Bellingham and the Arts Commission. Mayor Kelli Linville was quick to approve of the idea.
Q: Who came up with the idea?
A: I gathered some neighbors together last year and threw out the question: What would it be like to imagine this block as the safest and most wonderful place for our families? (The safety aspect involves people naturally slowing down to enjoy the mural's beauty.) We're a group of neighbors trying to create the best environment for children to grow up in.
For my family, it began with realizing that we were spending a lot of time in our backyard. We created an oasis in our backyard, but we realized we wanted to have more connections with our neighbors, so we created a 10-by-10 flagstone patio in our front yard. We would sip wine and spend time getting to know our neighbors.
Q: Have you helped on other projects?
A: Yes, two of them. Scott and Jenny Bowefield created a Little Free Library (following a nationally known design). I try to read my brain candy from there.
Then Jackie Brown created what we call a Walnut Street share hut. It's designed to share neighborhood-grown produce, along with clothing drives for the Lighthouse Mission and other community uses.
Q: How will people know when to share the produce?
A: We have an email chain to let people know what's in the share hut. We're into a lot of organic growing; we grow summer vegetables.
Now, with the mural, we have created a wonderful space for block parties. The community feeling was wonderful on the day we painted it. We felt it was a piece of art we could really be proud of.
Q: What was the cost?
A: Hardware Sales worked with us and supplied an all-weather concrete paint. They mixed the colors for us and they deserve a lot of credit. The entire project was done for under $400. I obtained a neighborhood grant through an ecumenical faith organization.
Q: Would you like to see murals like this throughout Bellingham?
A: We sure would. I've already heard from the representatives of four blocks. By next summer, I'd like to see 10, maybe 20, more murals. Wouldn't that be great?
Michelle Nolan is a Bellingham freelance writer.