A dash of color and an artistic flair have given an underpass just south and west of the IUPUI campus a new lease on life, thanks to the Mano en Mano service project linking the IUPUI campus with a group of neighborhoods that comprise the Near Westside Collaborative.
Mano en Mano — literally “Hand in Hand” — was a partnership between IUPUI and the Immigrant Welcome Center of Indianapolis that took place Sept. 13 during National Welcoming Week, a national campaign that encourages cities to improve the quality of life and economic potential for immigrants and foster unity with members of the U.S.-born community.
Cindy Gil of IUPUI’s Office of External Affairs said Mano en Mano was the latest collaboration between the campus and the Near Westside Collaborative, which represents neighborhoods of Haughville, Hawthorne, Stringtown and We Care and promotes Indianapolis as a “welcoming city for all,” Gil said.
Jennifer Hutchinson, a clinical study technician in the Division of Endocrinology in the School of Medicine, designed the mural. Hutchinson paints under the name Jennifer Delgadillo and graduated in 2010 from the Herron School of Art & Design.
IUPUI has built ties to the Immigrant Welcome Center, located in the John H. Boner Community Center on the city’s east side, as part of the campus’s ongoing internationalization efforts. Last year, IUPUI hosted more than 1,800 international students from more than 140 countries; this year, the numbers have topped 1,900 students from approximately 150 countries.
Besides recruiting students for the project from the Office of International Affairs, Mano en Mano also is connected to the campus through the Center for Service and Learning and through the Community Learning Network.
Volunteers from Service and Learning’s iServe project primed the underpass walls that feature Delgadillo’s work during that service-learning project, also in September. The mural covers roughly 100 feet in width and is located near an IndyGo transportation facility southwest of the campus. The public transportation company supported Mano en Mano by providing parking for the IUPUI volunteers, Gil added, support that has pleased area merchants.
“When we spoke to local businesses around the mural, they all agreed that the project was much needed due to graffiti problems in the underpass,” Gil said. “Now that the mural is complete, the merchants said it brings a new image to the surroundings and helps encourage business in the area.”
The Community Learning Network contributed to the campus-neighborhood partnership by developing a survey published on the Near Westside Collaborative website to more fully identify area needs in education, training and workforce development.
Earlier this year, IUPUI, city officials and neighborhood leaders announced plans for $30 million in improvements to the IU Natatorium, as well as city streets, lighting and crosswalks.
“Our hope is to continue to be not only an institution of learning, but a bridge to potential resources that will add to the social and economic development of our surrounding neighborhoods,” Gil said.
by Ric Burrous