A little more than a mile away from the future home of University Plaza, tucked in the southwest corner of the city, is a very different sign announcing a very different kind of project, one its organizers see as uniquely created by and for the community.
Colorful and bright, the sign's large, 3-D graffiti letters spell out "FUTURE" in front of a series of images -- a building, a music note, an artist's paint palette and a pencil. The 3 1/2 acres at the corner of Bay Road and Pulgas Avenue are the future home of the East Palo Alto Youth Arts and Music Center, a grassroots effort that will come to fruition in the next few years thanks to the San Francisco-based John & Marcia Goldman Foundation, which recently purchased the land.
The center will be an enormous boon for the community, a project organizer said, not only as a safe and peaceful space in a city known for its high crime rates, but one where residents struggling against a rising tide of external forces -- gentrification, climbing rents, new office buildings -- can celebrate and maintain their city's culture as it is today.
That sentiment is embodied in the sign at the empty lot -- actually a temporary art installation designed by East Palo Alto youth along with Scape Martinez, an urban artist who has worked in the community for more than a decade, including as artist in residence with the nonprofit Mural Music & Arts Project. (Martinez recently worked with youth artists to create two murals that were installed at crime "hot spots" in the city to promote peace and unity.)
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