By Austin Britt, Planning Coordinator Intern at Tampa Downtown Partnership
The City of Tampa designated Saturday, June 27, 2020 as “Unity Mural Day.” In partnership with many Tampa-based organizations, including The Tampa Downtown Partnership, Greenman-Pedersen, the Children’s Board, the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization, Tampa LGBT Chamber, Our Aim Foundation, the Westshore Alliance, and East Tampa CRA, they together pulled off one of the largest scale intersection mural events over the course of just one day. The event, designed as part of the city’s Lift Up Local and Vision Zero programs, saw hundreds of volunteers from across the Tampa Bay area participate.
Local artists were responsible for the mural designs, and on Unity Mural Day they stenciled out their creations on the closed streets. Sunscreen-bathed, mask-sporting volunteers stopped by throughout the day to help add paint and detail to the large roadway designs.
One of the volunteer artists, Seely Bevan, commented: “This was a once in a lifetime experience. At a time like this where we need unity, strength, and positivity, all of it could be found at this mural. I met some wonderful and passionate people who were there to make a difference and show what side of history we all want to be on. I’m thankful the City of Tampa has recognized the importance of the demonstrations going on and recognized our local artists in the process. Couldn’t be more proud to be a ‘Tampanian’. There’s so much love in this world and that was evident today.”
The five different murals commissioned for Unity Mural Day celebrated the culture of Tampa and featured unifying themes, such as Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ Pride. These intersection murals will do more than just bring our community members together during their implementation. Through the City of Tampa’s Vision Zero initiative, there has been a push for more intersection murals throughout the Tampa area, as research has shown that intersection murals can be a great tool for traffic calming and reducing the number of traffic incidents. The goal of Vision Zero is to “eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all.”
With June 27 Unity Mural Day officially on the books, Tampa is well on its way to creating safer streets for the community members. There will be more opportunities to participate in upcoming intersection mural projects. We hope to see you there!