The mural was commissioned by Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity. Director Carolyn Valli says murals bring 'a sense of hope.' The nonprofit is building two units of housing near the artwork.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A new mural on the West Side depicts a vision of a green community.
On Friday, the completion of "I Wish … For a Greener Future" by Hope Aguilera was celebrated by Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, which commissioned the piece as a part of neighborhood revitalization efforts.
Located on the B&P Auto Body Supply at the corner of Robbins Avenue and Columbus Avenue, it depicts a young boy making a wish on a dandelion with an eco-friendly landscape in the background. Within the mural is a farm, windmills to supply energy, an electric car, and a Bird scooter.
"Whenever you start thinking about doing a mural project or doing anything like this Habitat's perspective is 'What do we want to help the community do because it's something they want?'" CEO Carolyn Valli said.
"And why murals and art are important in neighborhoods is it brings a sense of hope, it brings a sense of vision and so we were very happy to be a part of this project."
The artist, who is a former art teacher at Pittsfield High School, was unable to attend the event but provided a description of her work.
"When Habitat asked me to create a mural of a green community, I envisioned green energy, a thriving garden and landscape, and a diverse community coming together to make that happen. And I imagined a young child making a wish, using a dandelion which we are very familiar with in New England. Scientists have warned that we are running low on time to make a shift and avoid irreversible climate change consequences," she wrote.
"Our children and the next generation are the ones that will have to grow up and protect their children from climate effects. Marginalized communities and the vulnerable will be the most affected. Environmental racism is a term that encompasses the intersections of race and environmental and climate justice. Green communities and access to nature are a privilege that poor and marginalized people have less of. As a brown-skinned person, and a daughter of an immigrant family, it was very important to me to have representation of brown skin people that live in the community."
Aguilera also pointed out that the people in the mural are from the local community. The star of the painting is of Quincy Charles, who is going into kindergarten at Egremont Elementary School in the fall.
An employee of Pancho's Mexican Restaurant — who is also the owner's son — and a resident who lives across the street from the piece are depicted as harvesters.
"This mural is both a wish and a prayer, and I hope it beckons viewers to think about our future and our children's future," Aguilera wrote.
Quincy and his mother, Alison Shepard, attended the celebration. Shepard is the vice principal at PHS and spoke fondly of the artist who recently resigned to work on her craft full time, saying she is one of the most unique and genuine people you could meet.
"Her art skills are obviously fantastic, but it's really her energy and dedication to the children of Pittsfield that kind of separated her from a lot of other educators in the city," she said.
"Hope approached me late in the year and she was telling me a little bit about the mural and she was telling me about how she wanted it to be local kids and she said, 'You know I really want to represent students of color and the Pittsfield Public Schools system' and Quincy is going into kindergarten at Egremont in the fall so she was excited to feature Quincy in the mural."
The youngster was all smiles while standing in front of his larger-than-life portrait and was thanked for being the face of the artwork.
Valli pointed to the project's sponsor list and gave a special thank you to Berkshire Bank for its sponsorship.
"Art has the power to provide hope and energy into neighborhoods," Senior Vice President of Corporate Responsibility & Culture Gary Levante said.
"And I think this mural is a great example of the future that each and every one of us wants to create not just in this neighborhood, but throughout Pittsfield and throughout Berkshire County."
He also pointed out that last year, the bank announced a $5 million BEST Community Comeback commitment to help build a greener and brighter future. Recently, the bank became the first in the country to issue a sustainability bond where proceeds from the bond offering will be used to finance neighborhood redevelopment projects and finance renewable energy projects.
Right next to the mural is a property that will contain a Habitat for Humanity house with two three-bedroom units. Valli reported that there is a request for proposals out for the foundation.
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Friends of the Pittsfield Senior Center Seek Volunteers
By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Friends of the Senior Center is in need of more volunteers so it can provide more opportunities at the Ralph J. Froio Senior Center.
"The Senior Center is a structure that is financed by the city of Pittsfield, but it's the friends that really support all the extra activities that take place in the Senior Center," said Friends' Treasurer Lea Morgan said.
The center was renamed and dedicated to Ralph J. Froio by the city in 1993 for in recognition of his civil leadership and the "countless hours in volunteer service to his community, especially in senior citizens’ affairs," the Council on Aging states on the city website.
There are people today who allocate a lot of their time to brainstorm ideas, and provide opportunities for center visitors but a lot of people who visit the center have not joined as a member of the Friends, Morgan said.
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