Living Green In a World of Color

Placemaking In Sonoma County



I recently received a “Call to Artists” for a placemaking event and my curiosity has ignited a sense of purpose. Admittedly, I wasn’t hip to the decade old term for art that brings a sense of place for the gathering of community. I instantly began researching the field of placemaking and I am frankly impassioned by this natural expression of sharing art and building community which has been going on for generations as in the creation of murals and naive art installations around the globe. Grassroots organizations like the Village of Arts and Humanities and Barefoot Artists, both of which Lili Lei was involved in founding (the former of which in 1984) show the concept of placemaking before the term was coined.  City Repair of Portland Oregon seems to have heralded the contemporary movement of placemaking and has a guidebook available to purchase. While I am waiting for my copy of City Repair’s handbook I have been talking with Julie Rachanan Chasen and Mario Uribe to understand placemaking in Sonoma County from a historical perspective. Not wanting to reinvent the wheel in my endeavors, I believe the collective wisdom gleaned from Julie and Mario’s experiences will infuse upcoming placemaking activities and widen the web of interconnectedness for those of us just entering the placemaking scene and wanting to do art with community to beautify our neighborhoods, heal broken places and grow community.

Mario Uribe  is a local artist and founder of  Artstart, a non profit which inspires young artists and helps to foster “a sense of ownership and pride in our community”, by installing murals, mosaics, and benches around the downtown Santa Rosa environs, and throughout greater Sonoma County.  Mario is a gentle and humble leader in the Sonoma County art scene, impacting the community through supporting the flourishing of the arts and placemaking. He has been the lead artist on many of the Artstart installations. He loves mentoring and building community through mindful creative acts (portfolio) and is currently working with the Sonoma County Museum on a project involving immigrants in Sonoma County. He is also the artist responsible for a project to honor the life of Andy Lopez and bring healing to the  community fractured by his death. This three panel piece will be installed September 5, 2014.


Anjelina Duckett

After my conversation with Mario today, I decided to take another stroll around the Prince Memorial Greenway and the Santa Rosa Bike Path to again appreciate the artwork contributed by Artstart artists. I came upon several women working on a mosaic, the lead artist being Anjelina Duckett. It turns out she had worked with Artstart as a teenager and was now the lead mosaic artist for this particular approved project. If everything works out, I’ll be able to volunteer and help her in the near future. Lucky me.


Cob bench in JC neighborhood created as placemaking event.

Cob bench in JC neighborhood created as placemaking event.

When talking to  Julie Chasen I learned she was inspired by City Repair several years ago and then  started  a non profit organization in Santa Rosa’s JC neighborhood, Growing A Village, Cultivando Un Pueblo. From the organization’s website for Growing A Village Cultivando Un Pueblo  her mission statement reads:”Creating a replicable model for sustainable community building. Empowering youth to reclaim their neighborhood through participation in multicultural, creative action projects.” How fortuitous to have a significant connector for growing community in my own neighborhood.

Julie and I met with other neighbors this week and she gave us  an overview of past placemaking sites and activities in the JC area. As a budding neighborhood group we decided to tour these sites, help to restore and/or maintain them if needed,  create new placemaking activities and,  stay connected with like minded neighbors in the JC area. The next placemaking event in the JC neighborhood will be on October 30 4-6PM @ Poppy Creek Park. Stay tuned for more details.

Those interested in refurbishing previous placemeaking sites in the JC area are encouraged to connect. Stay tuned for first restoration project details.



As far as I can tell the soonest placemaking event in Sonoma County is slated for September 13 and 14th 2014 in downtown Sebastopol (see flier below). As part of the Village Building Convergence project and in conjunction with organizations like Cittaslow Sebastopol and the Ceres Project (to name a few) this street painting event welcomes volunteers from the community to help with the painting. Register here and bring your enthusiasm. Designed by local artists, the images will be outlined on the street and the community will help paint them. All the supplies will be provided, the community is all that is needed! I consider Sebastopol my hometown and look forward to being part of this fabulous placemaking event. Pictures coming soon.


Check out the designs to be painted on McKinley St. this weekend; a cob bench that needs to be restored by volunteers, several placemaking sites from the JC neighborhood as well as Artstart installations (from right to left).

Comments on: "Placemaking In Sonoma County" (1)

  1. Very interesting Sarah! I enjoyed it thoroughly. We all can learn something in your blog! I look forward to your next edition! Kudos and a job well done!

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