Painting Windows and Building Community

By William Perry of the Iowa City, Iowa program

After a week long orientation with our group leaders Nick Gerken, Eli Shepherd, and Kate Anstreicher, we split up into subgroups run by each leader geared toward specific causes.  Eli is in charge of ‘Our Power,’ which is an energy sustainability initiative with an end goal of addressing the split incentive issue for city counsel in regards to rental properties in Iowa City.  Kate leads ‘Iowa City Roots,’ which is a community gardening force working with the Iowa City landfill to implement a composting collection service for downtown businesses.  Then there is ‘Sustainable Art,’ the program that I am in.  Nick heads this subgroup and our weekly activities for a range of summer camps with the goal of educating about waste and waste management through hands on activities and recycled artwork.  Our group of about four people just recently came up with an idea we are very excited about: downtown window painting.

Children painting windows as part of the Iowa City Downtown District’s ‘Kidows’ initiative. The Sustainable Art project aims to carry out a similar project but with funds generated going to local organizations. Photo from the Iowa City Downtown District on Facebook.

The main idea behind the window painting idea is to involve most of the local merchants in downtown Iowa City allowing for one or two of their windows to be used.  Any child’s parent in the greater Johnson County area would be able to rent out a window that would be reserved for their child to paint. The main takeaway from the initiative is that the $5 or $10 required to reserve a window for a child would be donated in whole to one of four local charities or causes in the area of the renter’s choice.  It’s building community spirit in more ways that one.

Between 11am-4pm on the day of the event (still TBD), the child would go to their window and, after buying a couple colors of paint from one of the on-site paint stands, they would paint about a particular theme (also TBD).  The paint stands will sell acrylic paint from either Blick or Menards, who will provide the paint at a discount and co-sponsor the event.  The paintings will remain up around town for a whole 4-5 days after the event to add a festive touch to the Iowa City setting and allow the kids to see their own artwork as well as their friends’.

We are hoping this will potentially catch on to become a tradition in Iowa City, and we will certainly provide more updates as soon as more is known!

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