Alums ask residents to envision a healthy Greensboro, plan downtown mural


Alyzza Callahan ’10, gains inspiration for a downtown mural from Greensboro resident Brittany Drakeford. The mural, set to be painted this summer on Lindsay Street, will be made to encourage healthy lifestyles. (Cloud Gamble)

Not every painting starts with a single brush stroke. Some find their beginnings on the blank pages of a clipboard.

Over the next few months, two Guilford College graduates, with clipboards at hand, will canvass the city hoping to find inspiration from residents for a downtown mural to promote a healthier Greensboro.

The findings of Alyzza Callahan ‘10 and Kat Siladi ‘10 will be transferred to their canvas: a 40-foot cement wall on Lindsay Street.

Fittingly, the mural will look down over the Greensboro Children’s Museum’s Edible Schoolyard, a teaching garden and kitchen where children and families learn how to grow healthy foods using local and organic ingredients.

Callahan said that the mural will be a longstanding reminder for city residents to choose a healthier lifestyle.

“This will be something that will last far beyond us,” said Callahan. “People for generations to come are going to be able to use this mural as a map to eating and living better.”

Callahan, who volunteers at the Edible Schoolyard along with Siladi, came up with the idea for the mural on an end-of-semester train ride from Greensboro to her home in Massachusetts. The trip took her through once-bleak tunnels in Philadelphia that were transformed into works of art by local street artists.

Callahan stared out her window in awe.

“I thought to myself, ‘Dang, this is so beautiful,'” said Callahan. “Some people think murals are ugly, nothing more than graffiti. Really it’s just another form of art. And like any other art, it’s a form of communication.”

Painting the mural won’t come cheap. After buying the paint and securing the artist, Siladi estimates the cost will exceed $2,000. Siladi hopes they can raise the money through fundraisers, grants, and donations from the public.

“We want this to be a community effort from the ground up,” Siladi said. “From the ideas for the mural, to helping fund it; this should be inspired by the community.”

On a recent Friday night downtown, Guilford students asked residents to describe what a healthy Greensboro would look like to them. Responses were diverse. Some people envisioned a city litter-free. Others wanted healthier foods to eat. Still, others want to see wider public transportation options or better communication between generations and ethnicities.

“It’s interesting to hear how people are defining a healthier Greensboro,” Callahan said. “We hope the mural in some way reflects everyone’s ideas.”

Brian Doyle, an art major at UNCG, likes the idea of a mural with a message. “You can never have enough art in a city — especially outdoor art like a mural. Not everyone has the time or wants to go to a museum. This can be a nice piece of drive-by art that can educate, too.”

After a few more weeks of surveys, Callahan and Siladi will pore over the results and have a better idea of what the mural will look like. They plan on painting the wall in August. Residents are even invited to pick up a brush and help. There will even be a block party to celebrate the wall’s unveiling.

Callahan said August can’t come soon enough.

“Everyone we’ve talked to so far said this is a great idea,” she said. “I think the more the word spreads about this, the more folks are going to get excited.”

Want to share your thoughts on how Greensboro can be healthier? Send your thoughts to [email protected]