Paint by numbers community building

What brings your community together?

What gets people to rally around your town? 

What if it was as simple as paint by numbers? 

In Webster City, Iowa, four groups (government, business, education and a nonprofit) created a creative placemaking art project that everyone in town could be involved in. 

They picked a downtown building with some boarded up windows on the second floor that they could use as a canvas for some art. The building was a good choice for bringing different groups together: it is owned by a Latino, and many of the businesses in the ground floor serve Hispanic people and young people in the community. 

A student artist from the University of Iowa drew a simple paint-by-numbers design of colorful geometric shapes, featuring subjects from the town’s history. The design was transferred onto panels to fit the windows. They took all the panels to the fairgrounds and laid them out, ready to paint. 

Then they invited everyone in town to come paint, even a tiny bit. Anyone could go for even a few minutes and be part of painting the designs. The local newspaper took pictures. You could see the camaraderie created when people come together to make art.  

Now that the panels are installed over the boarded up windows, that building is now a place the locals love to look at, and share with their friends. 

You build a stronger community through experiences that bring people together from across different groups to each play a meaningful role.

These experiences change the way people see themselves, the way they think and the way they act within your community. 

Deb and I talk more about this in our latest video, Building a Unified Community

Keep shaping the future of your town, 

PS – See two pictures of the paint-by-numbers window murals here