Pitzer Spotlights

2003-2004 Spotlight Archives

A Celebration of Community Partnerships

Mural DetailBright, intense and alive: These words best describe the mural, “Arms Wide Open,” recently dedicated at Vina Danks Middle School in Ontario.

The project started with a blank wall and a commitment by Pitzer College, Vina Danks and mural artist Paul Botello to create a lasting tribute to Cesar Chavez and the local heroes who serve as role models and mirrors of the late labor leader’s dedication to social justice and civil rights.

Hands reaching from below and above frame Chavez as the central element of the mural. The hands, inspired by an eighth-grader’s drawing that posed the question, “My hands hurt. I wonder why?” reflect the manifold themes of the painting: the persistent struggles of migrant laborers, and the parents, teachers and friends who reach out to one another to build strong communities.

The partnership between Pitzer and Vina Danks advances the march toward the creation of new models of community and unity for the future. The project was funded through a Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism (GO SERV) grant. GO SERV’s goals are to invigorate California’s strong ethic of civic responsibility and rich tradition of community involvement; ensure a serious role for service and volunteerism in meeting educational, health and environmental challenges; connect Californians from diverse backgrounds to find solutions to problems; and nurture the growth and emergence of California’s next generation of community and professional leaders.

The mural encapsulates all of these goals in its rendering of workers, students, teachers and community leaders. The project also serves as a lasting testament to the devotion of Pitzer, Vina Danks, and its students and staff to the ideals of participation, action, research, and community based learning.