The Community Arts & Reintegration Project (CARP) for Westmoreland County will hold an initial “Paint Day” for its first mural on Saturday, April 21, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Mount Pleasant. The American Architectural Salvage Building (23 W. Main Street, Mount Pleasant, PA 15666) is the site for the paint day and mural.
“It would be great to see the entire Mount Pleasant community join in the mural painting,” said Tim Holler, PhD, assistant professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, who has served as the CARP project director from its outset. “This is a paint-by-number process, so anyone can participate, no matter what their level of artistic ability. We will have music and refreshments throughout the afternoon to keep us in the painting spirit.”
Bernie Wilke, an art history professor at Westmoreland County Community College, developed the mural from ideas shared at public meetings held over the course of this past year. The mural features different aspects of Mount Pleasant and its history. It will be placed on the side of the America Architectural Salvage Building that faces the Coal & Coke Trail.
Michael Diehl, from Boy Scout Troop 478 (St. Benedict Catholic Church, Greensburg), is also helping with the mural as his Eagle Scout project. Diehl is organizing volunteers to assist with the cutting and priming of the wood that will be installed on the building for the mural to be placed on. He also will have a group of Scouts from Troop 478 at the site on April 21 to assist with the installation of the wood and to paint the parachute cloth panels that will make up the mural.
The project is being used as a means to reintegrate juvenile probationers back into the community. It is CARP’s first local “restorative justice” initiative and is based on the Restorative Justice component of the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. The mural project is coming to fruition after two years of exploration, planning, and preparation with people from the community and the criminal justice system.
CARP’s primary focus is to establish a proven method of re-entry into the community for incarcerated individuals and restorative justice in Westmoreland County. Restorative justice is the bringing together of victims, offenders, and community members to build a collective resolution to a criminal event. The arts in all forms are being employed to reintegrate and reestablish offenders’ worth in themselves and their communities.
Another component that CARP seeks to address is recidivism. The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program has documented a decrease in recidivism from 30 percent to 10 percent over a two-year period.
Funding for CARP and the Mount Pleasant mural has been provided by the following organizations:
- The Richard King Mellon/Community Foundation of Westmoreland County Impact Fund, affiliated with the Pittsburgh Foundation;
- The McKinney Charitable Foundation, through the PNC Charitable Trusts;
- Westmoreland Community Action; and
- The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg Center for Applied Research (CFAR).
“CARP is a multifaceted program that has the potential to serve Westmoreland County in a number of ways,” explained Holler. “Aside from helping individuals re-enter society successfully, CARP is providing individuals, and communities who have been victimized by crime, with a collective and powerful voice through its restorative justice process. Additionally, CARP is establishing collaborative efforts of community revitalization that will include numerous agencies and community groups throughout the County. Most importantly, CARP will build the collective conscience that is need within our communities to address crime, victimization, and community-wide healing.”