Community Art Project For Justice

Megan ShoreCommunity Development, Peacebuilding

In 2012, Stratford, Ontario local Karen Elliott was driving to the beach on Perth Line 29 with a friend when she was confront with racist graffiti on the side of a shed on the road. Turning her outrage into action, she transformed the blue shed with the racist graffiti into a community project for justice. Members of the community joinged together to paint over the racist graffiti by tracing their silhouettes, and painting the words “respect” and “unite” above the sihouttes. Five years later, the community art project has become a symbol for fighting injustice and a community working together through art for justice.

This story was featured in the Stratford newspaper, Stratford Beacon Herald on 3 May 2017. You can find the story here:

http://www.stratfordbeaconherald.com/2017/05/03/local-women-share-story-of-a-mysterious-local-landmark-a-shed-on-perth-line-29-that-was-transformed-from-the-site-of-racist-graffiti-into-a-community-project

Perth Line 29 is my favorite biking route around Stratford. Every time I bike by the shed I have been struck by the power of the images and words. I often stop and reflect on this (and catch my breathe!), and wondered what the story was and where it came from. I didn’t know the story until yesterday. It speaks to the power of action and arts to overcome injustice. It speaks to the power of what one person can do. Karen was outraged and she turned that anger into something positive by getting people in the community to transform the racist graffiti into something beautiful that will truly unite instead of divide. Indeed it became a community art project for peace. Let us remember this. And let us be a community that works for respect and unity rather then racism.

I am thankful for Karen and for the Beacon Herald for sharing this story.