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Painting the city of Hartford to combat violence

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HARTFORD – Fed up with the violence in Hartford, community members are working on painting a new vision for the city.

The Connecticut Center for Non-Violence (CTCN) is bringing together the community, especially the youth, to try to combat violence in Hartford, but they’re doing it in a peaceful way by painting murals to make people stop and appreciate the city and each other.

“The concept here is let's make big strong visual statements about the power of peace and nonviolence,” CTCN Executive Director Victoria Christgau said. “When you see it, you can believe it, and then we can act.”

The large-scale mural will be painted on a wall of the 224 EcoSpace, adjacent to the Knox Community garden on 17 Niles street.

The mural is the third in a series of six murals across the city, with the goal to promote a culture of nonviolence. Each one represents one of the Six Principles of Nonviolence, inspired by the philosophy of Martin Luther King. The latest mural will feature the sixth principle: the universe is on the side of justice.

The concept of the artwork was created in a brainstorming session with high school students involved, including ThinKING Youth Nonviolence Leaders from Hartford area schools.

“By putting up these murals and showing people that there’s actually life behind all these principles, showing that Hartford can be lively,” University High School of Science and Engineering student Joseph Louis said. “It brings people a new perspective showing them that it's better to just look at the amazing parts of Hartford, instead of the bad.”

Renowned Hartford-based artist Tao LaBossiere used the ideas in the discussion to make the final design. He will outline the framework on the wall, and the students, as well as community members, will paint. Several artists will be on site to help in the process.

“Hartford has the word art in it and I think we need to have more art here.” LaBossiere said. “I hope when people come by here they see this image they’re stopped in their tracks momentarily because of the sheer peaceful beauty of the scene that is here.”

Christgau is hoping the murals will promote the message of nonviolence and spark people's interests in Kingian Nonviolence Training.

“We want to bring people to the awareness that there are other methods we can use and solutions we can make that the city doesn’t have to be so violent,” she said.

The other two murals that are done are at Northend Church of Christ and inside Weaver High School.

If you’d like to join in on the painting, you don’t need experience. It will take place on Saturday, July 16, from 9:00-3:00 p.m. Contact Victoria Christgau for more information at 860-567-3441.

According to Christgau, the money for the mural came from a $10,000 donation from The Hartford.

She said the goal is to complete all the murals to represent the six principles of nonviolence, and then put together a book, mapping out where they’re all located in the city.

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