Clean Water Mural Series Coming to the Mission

Photo by Pablo Serrano of a recent Water Writes project in Bogota, Colombia

Photo by Pablo Serrano of a recent Water Writes project in Bogota, Colombia

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Clean drinking water is one of the most basic human needs. More than 1 billion people around the world lack access to this crucial resource; four out of every five who struggle to find water live in the developing world.

Closer to home, issues of concern include access to safe drinking water and how communities interact with the natural resource. In April, the Emeryville-based nonprofit Estria Foundation will begin work on a mural that explores the importance of clean water to Mission residents as part of its Water Writes mural series.

The Water Writes project travels to cities worldwide to engage artists, community leaders, youths and activists in creating murals that reflect each community’s relationship to water. The Water Writes team has collaborated with artists from Hawaii to the Gaza Strip in Palestine to Usulután, El Salvador.

But their next stop isn’t half way around the world or on another continent. It’s in the Mission — specifically, at the new public park planned for 17th and Folsom streets. The murals will focus on the community’s connection to water sources such as Mission Creek, which runs underground through the Mission District.

Recently, members of the organization – including one Mission resident – traveled to Bogotá, Colombia, to work on a mural at a youth center in the city’s urban center. That mural focused on the pollution of water and the environment by foreign mining corporations, and its effect on local citizens who drink the contaminated water.

“What happens when a community uses water that isn’t clean, that isn’t treated?” asked Pablo Serrano, videographer and photographer for Water Writes. “Well, the effects of that are many.”

The mural told a tale about the natural environment and “humans working in collaboration to protect the land and the people from this foreign exploitation that is sucking the livelihood and life force in Colombia,” said Erin Yoshi, the Estria Foundation’s executive director.

To celebrate the completion of the Colombia project and others around the world, Bissap Baobab will host an event this evening featuring photos, videos and stories from mural projects in Northern California, Cape Town, South Africa and Bogotá. The event will also introduce the community to the group’s upcoming work in the Mission.

“Community murals are a great sharing process,” said Yoshi. “I feel like I get so much more out of it than I could ever give … We don’t have access to commercial billboards, but we can make them in our own neighborhoods.”

Water Writes Mural Project
When: Thursday, March 7, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Where: Bissap Baobab, 3388 19th St.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated that one of the new murals planned for the Mission would be at 22nd and Capp Streets, when in fact that mural is already completed and will not be changed.

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