A family of whales and dolphins are swimming contentedly through the Kingsway Imperial Neighbourhood, unaware they represent a local youth group’s environmental awareness effort.
On Sept. 29, mural artist Todd Polich and 60 people braved the pouring rain to unveil the Connected Oceans mural project at 5400 Beresford Ave.
“It went really well,” Polich told the Burnaby NOW. “The message of the project was really well communicated by myself and the youth group involved. We did a lot of talking about the environment, and the conservation of oceans.”
Polich worked with about 18 students at the South Burnaby Neighbourhood House youth leadership group on the mural’s development.
“We did a workshop, and worked for about five weeks on a weekly basis with them (in a classroom),” he said, noting the students also brainstormed how to engage and involve the community.
One particular student wanted to reach out to young people struggling with an illness, which led to Polich and the leadership group to work with B.C. Children’s Hospital.
“Myself and a couple of the girls went over to the children’s hospital and worked with them, and they came out and painted with us,” he said.
The mural painting started in July and the last slab of paint was brushed in mid-September by Polich and the group.
“One of the more interesting things that happened is we put up a signboard and just had some paper so people could sign it,” he said. “It was like a big sandwich board … and we filled up 15 sheets of paper of people’s projects and the environment and some suggestions of what to put on the mural.”
What makes this mural project special is it’s part of an ocean conservation initiative in two other Pacific coast areas, Hawaii and Australia, Polich said.
“My idea of the Connected Oceans project was to make international murals across the Pacific Ocean,” he said. “One in Maui and one in Queensland, Australia. The cross-Pacific project shows the unity of protecting our oceans. What happens on the shores on another continent affects our shores.”
In April, Burnaby council gave a $3,500 grant for the mural to go towards its $9,300 cost.
“This has been a real community initiative and it’s united the City of Burnaby as far as the government goes, commercial businesses supported us and the youth group,” Polich said. “It’s been a combination of different industries coming together to make this happen. It’s taken a lot of different groups to make this happen and it was great to make.”
Next year, Polich said he’ll travel to Maui and Queensland to start the mural projects there, as well.
Polich is also the founder of the Earth Foundation Conservation Society and has completed many other mural projects in the neighbourhood – including one in the indoor playground space at the Edmonds Community Centre.
For more information about Polich’s work, visit www.earthfoundation.ca.
© Copyright 2013