Something Positive in Nature

In between commissioned projects, it brings me great joy to use my talent and energy to beautify and improve public spaces in my community. Last year, I solicited a 57 container paint donation from Sherwin Williams on Georgia Avenue and enjoyed volunteer teamwork from dozens of middle school student members of a wonderful organization called Difference Makers. 

Together with adult volunteers whom I recruited to help me prime the steps, we transformed the 57 step staircase from boring concrete into a technicolor passageway leading up to Takoma Elementary school. I used social media to solicit encouraging phrases in 50 of the many languages spoken at home in Takoma Park, which is a 50% immigrant city.                                    

From "penye nia ipo njia" which means one step at a time in Swahili at the very bottom, to "Gwan Big Up Yuhself" (good job) in Jamaican at the very top, the uplifiting staircase now encourages climbers every step of the way.
In May 2019, it was very gratifying to receive the Azalea award for "embodying the values of Takoma Park with panache". Earlier on the same day as the awards ceremony, I had partnered with another 20 middle schoolers to paint the brick wall just to the side of the staircase, facing Philadelphia Avenue. 
As I worked during the days that followed, younger children appeared, accepting my invitation to borrow my paint brush and my encouragement and guidance as they "added their mark to Takoma Park".

Nancy Illman