Building Sense of Place, One Mural at a Time

Last week, over 70 members of the Camp Verde community gathered at Thanks A’ Latte, a community hub disguised as a local coffee shop, to celebrate the official launch of the Camp Verde Grows mural on their north-facing exterior wall. The cafe was filled with artists, students, business owners, local officials, and community members who had watched the mural take life with each passing day.

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Repurposing blank walls (especially those located in areas of high traffic) with stories of a community’s most celebrated assets, has been a pillar of rural revitalization throughout the state. As I listened to Sebra Choe, Project Manager at the Town’s Economic Development department, speak about the grassroots efforts taken to enact this project, I was reminded of the power these efforts have in uniting a community and inspiring a stronger sense of place among it's residents.

When you think about a neighborhood or city that you love, what stands out? Is it the corner bakery with the best pecan pie you’ve ever tasted or the secret backroad with the best view of the high desert? Maybe it’s the community bank housed in that cool, old building on Main Street or that wall of murals offering the perfect selfie backdrop? These local businesses, interesting structures, local experiences, and artistic expressions all contribute to a unique sense of place; the vital element fostering community pride, encouraging participation (volunteering and voting), and amplifying cheers when the home team wins!

Aside from the amazing team I was able to work alongside every day, the constant encouragement and support we received from those passing by was truly inspiring.
— Joan Burke, Community Collaborative Artist from Cornville

Gateway to Main Street

Camp Verde Grows is a carefully-crafted homage to the agricultural and historical roots of the community. With heavy input from the Cultural Officers of both the Yavapai and Apache tribes, every detail was vetted for authenticity - from the constellations lining the night sky to the traditional woven basket holding the bounty of local crops.

How it’s Done

When she began her speech, Sebra noted that the average cost of a professional mural in Arizona ranges from $25,000 to $100,000… an understandably daunting range for those looking to mobilize around a similar project in their community. Yet, the Town of Camp Verde was able to complete their project for a sliver of the cost through a collaborative funding initiative. Businesses, stakeholders, community organizations, and residents pitched in what they could, securing $4000 for the project; enough to cover costs of material and compensate the five primary artists who worked on the mural.

Check out Camp Verde’s recipe for their successful mural (and feel free to use it as a template in getting one started in your community):

20 hours of planning
5 primary artists and 13 helping hands
23 businesses, stakeholders, and community funders
180 folks stopping to admire, encourage, and donate to the project
2543 positive engagements on Facebook
and overwhelming community support!

Want More Inspiration?

Check out how Kirk Seese transformed this distressed wall in downtown Kingman into an invigorating spectacle. #heARTofKingman, organized by Kingman Mainstreet.

What are some of your favorite rural murals?

What do these murals mean to you and your community? Let us know in the comments below!