Photo: Groundswell NYC
The mural was designed and created by Brownsville youth and represents a collective effort to beautify the neighborhood
The Brownsville Community Justice Center (BCJC), Groundswell NYC and L+M Development Partners, unveiled a mural on the corner of Rockaway Boulevard and Dumont Avenues at the Marcus Garvey Apartments in Brownsville, Brooklyn, designed and created in collaboration with local youth. The mural, titled “We Are, I Am,” depicts a crowd raising signs proclaiming “We are Brownsville,” a young woman passionately speaking into a megaphone, and a man holding a long planted vine in the palm of his hands, all surrounded by a deep purple and gold backdrop. Marcus Garvey was selected as the mural’s installation site when Groundswell, an organization that brings together artists, youth, and local partners to use art as a tool for social change, received a grant from the Department of Criminal Justice Services to produce a community-driven art project that would galvanize and beautify the neighborhood.
“At L+M Development Partners, we strive to create environments that represent and empower the neighborhoods we are a part of,” said Gingi Pica, Senior Director of Community Investment of L+M Development Partners. “This mural not only beautifies the Marcus Garvey Apartments but also serves as a representation of the community by encouraging local youth to be creative and use art as a medium to reflect on their experiences and resiliency. We are grateful to Groundswell and BCJC for selecting Marcus Garvey Apartments as the home for this mural and for engaging our team to help bring this project to fruition.”
BCJC, an organization that aims to reduce crime and incarceration while strengthening community trust in justice, referred young people engaged in their programming to play a part in the creation of the mural. Led by Groundswell artists Yolande Delius and Eric Miles, participants collectively researched, designed, and fabricated the mural to beautify, inform, and inspire their community. Through a series of weekly workshops, participants explored the history of public art, identified and interrogated the social issues that affect them and their communities, and developed the technical skills necessary to translate those reflections into a collaborative onsite mural. The artists also solicited feedback from community members to ensure that their perspectives were reflected in the design
“For over 25 years, Groundswell has worked across New York City, bringing together youth, creatives, and local organizations to use art as a tool for social change,” said Casey Angelo, Associate Director of Programs of Groundswell. “This project, a partnership between Groundswell and the Brownsville Community Justice Center, represents the best of what we do. The mural reflects many of the expressed values of both Groundswell and BCJC including investment in youth, community cohesion, and neighborhood stewardship.”
“Working alongside Brownsville’s talented youth in the Groundswell Mural Program has been a journey of art, empowerment, and community,” said Nia Hardwick, Brownsville Community Justice Center. “It’s about providing these young individuals with a canvas to express their creativity and aspirations, fostering a profound sense of pride and ownership. Through this program, I’ve witnessed the transformative power of art, instilling hope and a deep sense of belonging in a community often overlooked. The young artists infuse every brushstroke with their passion, reminding us that talent knows no boundaries. Together, we cultivate beauty and a shared sense of stewardship, making our neighborhood flourish in unexpected ways.”
The mural, which is 55 feet wide x 10.5 feet tall with a section that is almost 13 feet tall, depicts a community coming together to proclaim “We Are Brownsville.” Centered in the mural is a diverse group of people standing in unity behind a woman with a megaphone. The group is surrounded by a leafy vine held in the palms of a man on the right side of the mural, blue clouds, golden rays of sun and a deep purple background. To the left, a hand gently holds a dove with an olive branch in its mouth, while on the far right, the painted text reads “I am” followed by a long list of adjectives, such as successful, smart, beautiful, and proud.
The final design reflects many of the expressed values of both Groundswell and BCJC including investment in youth as a means of decarceration, community cohesion through positive, asset-based programming, and neighborhood stewardship as a means of self-determination.
For more information on Groundswell NYC, please visit https://www.groundswell.nyc/.
For more information on BCJC, please visit https://www.innovatingjustice.org/programs/brownsville-community-justice-center.
About L+M Development Partners
At L+M Development Partners, working together to build stronger communities is our mission. Our double bottom line philosophy means that we measure success not only in financial returns but also by the positive impacts we make in the communities we serve. Founded in 1984, L+M is a full-service real estate development firm which develops, invests, constructs and manages properties with industry-leading innovation. Most recently ranked in the Top 25 on Affordable Housing Finance’s Top 50 Developers list nationally, L+M and its affiliate companies are responsible for over $10 billion in development and investment and have acquired, built, or preserved nearly 40,000 high-quality residential units in a variety of urban markets nationwide, primarily in New York’s tristate area. Please visit our website for more information: http://lmdevpartners.com. To learn more about our mission and values, go to https://lmdevpartners.com/our-mission-values/.