Bad Dog Arts, Hartland Partnership Center create community mural in Salt Lake City’s west side

Story and slideshow by BROOKE MANGUM

See the murals for yourself

In the fall and winter of 2011 and the spring of 2012, the west-side nonprofit Bad Dog Arts and the Hartland Partnership Center will lead the community of Hartland in the creation of a mural. Once it is completed it will be displayed at the Hartland Partnership Center, located at 1060 S. 900 West, for all to see.

“This project will be a collaborative effort of all the residents and staff of Hartland, involving children, teens and adults,” said Victoria Lyons, co founder of Bad Dog Arts in an email interview. “The theme of the project is ‘Community.’ Art brings people together and on this scale can function as a tool for building the community.”

Bad Dog Arts, located at 824 S. 400 West, and Hartland Partnership Center have been working together for three years. Bad Dog Arts hosts weekly art classes for all ages at the community center. By doing so the staffs of Bad Dog Arts and the Hartland Partnership Center hope to provide an outlet for creative expression to those who typically may not have the opportunity.

The Hartland Partnership is not your run-of-the-mill community center. Along with being a building for community members to congregate, the Hartland Partnership Center, in conjunction with a neighboring apartment complex, serve as a home for more than 800 residents. Of these residents, 75 percent are refugees, or English-as-a-second language immigrants.

April Daugherty, Bad Dog Arts programs coordinator and art teacher, said in a phone interview that she believes its presence at Harland contributes to its unique community in multiple ways. “For one, we are there every week at the same time, offering a certain amount of structure to the community along with providing a positive creative outlet and a healthy form of self-expression,” she said.

Work on the mural at the Hartland Partnership began in mid-summer 2011 and will be 7 feet by 8 1/2 feet when it is completed. Due to the size of the community at Hartland those working on the mural have been divided into groups, each representing a different facet of the community.

“This is a different type of process than we typical use,” Daugherty said. “Since the Hartland community is so large, we wanted to find a way to collaborate so that everyone in the community has a voice.”

Each assembly will be responsible for creating one tile that will be apart of the mural. These groups have chosen mini themes of what they believe community is, that will be represented on their tile. Together the tiles will create one unified piece of art that the entire community can take pride in.

“We feel that this project is very important,” said Ahmed Ali, Hartland Partnership Center programs coordinator. “This is a great opportunity for the community to come together for learning, teaching, and also a way of helping and supporting fellow community members.”

Bad Dog Arts has headed and completed a number of mural and urban art projects throughout the city. It recently completed a mural project at Whole Foods Market in Trolley Square titled, “From Water Tower to Wind Power: Trolley Square Then & Now.” The mural embodies Trolley Square’s historical significance and how the location has changed throughout time.

Shortly before Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002, Bad Dog Arts completed an urban art project in conjunction with Utah Transit Authority (UTA). The Trolley Square TRAX stop, located at 625 E. 400 South, demonstrates how youth can be involved in urban architecture. The youth involved in the project created multiple murals inspired by stained glass that are featured under every canopy at the TRAX stop. The youth also created brightly colored mosaic tiles that cover the benches as well as other mosaic tiles that can be found all throughout the area.

If all goes according to plan the mural at the Hartland Partnership Center will be completed in spring 2012. The mural will stand as a testament of the community’s ability to work together and the coming together of people from very different backgrounds.

“Art is a form of expression that has no boundaries, surpassing language barriers and the notions of right or wrong,” Daugherty said.

University Neighborhood Partnership brings together university and west-side resources

Story and photo by SHELLY GUILLORY

Sarah Munro sat in a small community center in downtown Palermo, a city in southern Italy, after spending15 months conducting doctoral research with women who are active in the dangerous anti-Mafia movement. The director of the community center asked Munro to present her research regarding what she learned about the history and economic and social issues.

But Munro had one thought: I do not have anything to offer you that you don’t already know.

Speaking at the community center in 2000, surrounded by the director and the women who utilized the programs the center offered, Munro said she realized she missed an opportunity to use research in a way that was useful for the people she followed, interviewed and studied.

“As a researcher I had gone in there as researchers are trained to do, with my own questions, where it would have been an opportunity if I thought about it differently, to ask them what their questions were,” she said.

After finishing her doctoral work, Munro came to the University of Utah in 2002 with her husband, but knew she didn’t want to be a full-time academic. She heard about The West Side Initiative — a project that looked at how the U could become more engaged in west-side neighborhoods, which were ethnically diverse, socially and economically marginalized in Salt Lake City and underrepresented in student enrollment at the U.

The University Neighborhood Partnership  evolved in 2003 after Irene Fisher, who led the West Side Initiative, conducted more than 300 interviews with residents, leaders, organization officials, city officials and university faculty and administrators. Fisher, director of UNP until 2006, found that residents wanted to increase opportunities for youth through education, create initiatives to expand and support community leadership, and strengthen health, housing, employment, business, safety and environmental capacities.

The University Neighborhood Partners, located on 900 W. and 1060 South, brings together university and west-side resources.

Munro was responsible for developing UNP’s approach, which she said in an email provides a broader national conversation about truly collaborative community-based research and what defines that.

UNP acts as a mediator and bridge to the U and west-side nonprofits, resident groups and city governments and focuses its work in seven west-side neighborhoods, including Rose Park, Glendale, Poplar Grove, Westpointe and Jordan Meadows.

“The idea is not that the university goes out and does something in the neighborhood,” said Munro, now UNP’s associate director. “It’s not community service. It’s not doing it for them. It’s setting up collaborations where we find people, who are working on those issues in the neighborhood, and the university, who can bring together their teaching, research and community-based work, so we are learning from each other.”

Munro said UNP has more than 34 partnerships. Forty-three departments, including linguistics, engineering, and social work, and 40 community organizations, such as the U’s Lowell Bennion Community Service Center, are also involved. They all focus on and identify issues, including access to healthcare, language barriers, transportation and literacy, that challenge west-side residents to obtain the economic and educational opportunities that residents in other communities have.

Though UNP doesn’t directly do the work, the program has helped create partnerships that foster youth programs, life skill classes, resident committees, English classes, healthcare clinics and youth programs.

The UNP-Hartland Partnership Center is one example of a partnership that provides services that help overcome an issue, including lack of sufficient healthcare, which impedes access to higher education.

According to its website, The UNP-Hartland Partnership Center  is a project that implements programs to help residents living in the Seasons of Pebble Creek apartments, located on 1616 South, near Redwood Road, and those in the surrounding west-side communities. In addition to English-as-a-second language classes, financial classes and youth programs, the center offers health education.

Center Coordinator Kimberly Schmit said in a phone interview that UNP-Hartland Partnership Center is a not a clinic with direct medical services.

“They have a health-education referral program,” she said. “The partner is the College of Nursing at the U; the faculty and students do the work.”

One concrete example of research that helps west-side residents is a study done by researchers from the College of Social Work at the U, who focused on the mental health of children with refugee backgrounds. The researchers interviewed 22 service providers, including Valley Mental Health, Catholic Community Services and the Utah Health and Human Rights Project, as well as 21 youth with refugee backgrounds, who had been in the U.S. for at least a year.

Data from the interviews yielded a curriculum with lesson plans that focus on seven topics, such as social skills, emotional health, school rules, laws and safety, and family roles.

“This is where it becomes community building,” Schmit said. “They were getting their questions answered through her research. [The researchers] partnered with them, did the research and then gave them back her findings. That is where it is a little different [from other research]. We are looking for the partnership with the residents. The residents are the leaders.”

UNP’s Munro said research conducted by students at the center and in other UNP partnerships is not just for publication, but also helps the community strengthen itself.

“I see a big role for research,” she said. “But the way I want to see it done in the world is in really close connection with the people you are researching and letting the questions emerge from that.”