As a follow up on my blog post, Colorful cities: a little paint, a lot of pride, I wanted to share the transformation of Las Palmitas, a low-income neighborhood in Pachuca, in central Mexico. Through a project called Pachuca Paints Itself, 209 homes (20,000 m2) were transformed into a colorful masterpiece. Homes were individually painted, but together they create the mural, which appears as a colorful swirling rainbow from a distance – a tribute to the wind. Pachuca is nicknamed “la bella airosa,” roughly translated to “the beautiful breezy city.”
The project, which took 14 months to complete, was a collaboration project between an artist collective, German Crew, together with the local government, and aimed to build trust in the community, revitalize the neighborhood, combat crime and renew civic pride. It seems to have worked; since the project’s start in 2012, crime is down roughly 35%. Importantly, local community members (some of them gang members) also supported project – splashing some 5,000 gallons (20,000 liters) of paint on neighborhood walls. Las Palmitas used to be a seedy district that people avoided after dark.
Since the project’s completion, people have started talking to each other more. I love this quote, from project director (and former gang member, turned street artist) Enrique Gomez, as cited in The Guardian:
“Honestly, what surprises me the most is that people are really changing. They are growing – there is more community spirit. People are taking the security of their neighborhood into their own hands.”