Author Peter Kageyama leading the Love Where You Live workshop held last August in conjuction with our 2012 Community Meeting.

Our 2012 Community Meeting last August, featuring author Peter Kageyama speaking on the love of cities, was followed the next day by a workshop to apply his message to the Kalamazoo County area.

The workshop resulted in group presentations on locally-based solutions that could be quickly implemented with two ideas selected to receive a $500 grants from Community Meeting-sponsor PNC. One of those was the Love Kzoo mural project to collect community responses –– or "love notes" –– to the question: "What one word describes why you love where you live?" And that would be followed-up with an artist creating a word cloud mural on a building.

Here’s an update from the project team, which includes students from the Kalamazoo Area Math & Science Center (Humza Khan, Tom Sandell, Naveena Thota, Dhara Patel, and Sam Peters):

"It's coming along quite nicely, with a wide variety of responses. We’ve really enjoyed working on this project and seeing why people love Kalamazoo. Since our last update, The Vine Street Neighborhood Association matched the PNC grant, so that has helped.

"So, we've been busy collecting and putting out more slips periodically at 14 locations. As soon as it's not really super cold out, we're going to collect all the buckets and move onto the next stage of the project: hiring an artist and collaborating to come up with a design.

"Close to 600 responses have now been collected, with the most popular words being: home, people, community, beer, diversity, and fun. We also have some wonderful submissions that do not fit the one-word requirement, such as ‘Small town, big city feel,’ and ‘Fits like a glove,’ so the group is thinking about ways to use those ideas.

"Some of the team’s personal favorites are: phunkadelic, asylums, touchable, and Art Hop. One of the words was idiosyncratic –– we think that's the perfect adjective for Kalamazoo –– but we had to look it up first."

According to Jessica Aguilera, our Community Investment Manager, "There are many great components to the mural project –– it reflects the voice of the community, is creative and fun –– but what I like most is that it has empowered local youths to lead and implement a project that benefits the whole community."

"The group has received tremendous support from local organizations, businesses and community members," says Aguilera. "The community support is a ‘love note’ in itself."