From the groundswell of Kickstarter, The Walls Project sprang into action in 2012. Local business leaders and innovators wanted to see things change in the Capital Region and changed they have.
The Walls Project showcased its effectiveness of collaboration first with murals. Building owners with potential canvases, artists with big visions, and stakeholders with keen perspectives had to be brought together in trust and unity on a unique vision – making this city creative, energized, and unified.
Looking back, ten years there is a lot to reflect on. How does an organization that started with art morph into a multi-faceted program-focused entity, without losing sight of its mission and vision?
“There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.” - Zora Neale Hurston
Like any good artist, The Walls Project allowed itself to examine and explore areas that continued to need addressing. And, true to form, Walls approached it in unconventional ways, yet always had collaboration as the keystone.
That's where YOU come in. Many of you volunteered, sweated, painted, coded, photographed, and gave your most valuable asset - time - to The Walls Project. Never forgotten and never undervalued, Walls is here in its form today due to your support and commitment to change.
Rather than settling on one day of celebration, The Walls Project created two events to showcase the last decade of changes. To begin the Season of X, Walls debuted its Strategic Plan on June 24 to a packed room of the River Branch Library in Downtown Baton Rouge.
Approaching the 3-Year Strategic Plan, The Walls Project took months to research, develop, and authenticate the best pathway for the organization and validate the approach. This exercise was not missed in the presentation on 6/24. Hearing from key speakers, like Mayor-President Sharon Weston-Broome, Trey Godfrey, Jared Hymowitz, Rick Reed, Whitney Sayal, Pat McCallister LeDuff, Kelsie Tillage, and Sherreta R. Harrison, the ripple effects of Walls' collaborative impact became very apparent.
"You have an idea, you have an organization, and you have leaders in that organization that is going to get it there." - Jared Hymowitz, Healthy BR
After the Strategic Planning unveiling, Walls wanted to really celebrate the success of 10 years of impact, seeing $ 3.5 million in creative income, 3500 individuals trained in tech, 20,000+ lbs of produce grown, and 118 community meetings held.
And it couldn't have happened without the hard work of the team at The Walls Project. Since the early days of the organization first relying on volunteers, Walls has been able to strategically build out its structure to onboard the first full-time employees in 2021. From volunteers to 14 staff members (and hundreds of 1099 contractors), Walls is made up of humans looking to spark change in the present. Among these many amazing humans are Casey Phillips, Mary Bergeron, Thomas Donley, Helena Williams, Samantha Morgan, Cynthea Corfah, Dexter Jackson, Laura Nguyen, Mitchell Provensal, SK Groll, Morgan Udoh, Pepper Roussel, Bryson Boyd, Jacquel Curry, Danesha Shepherd, Hannah Wascomb, Teressa Calligan, and Nina Tran.
Everyone, including friends and long-time supporters, gathered at Chelsea's Live on August 5th to bring down the house with acknowledge the unique ways Wall's programming has evolved over the years through showcase movements.
To begin, Dorthy Ray of New Church examined the ways BIPOC individuals navigate the world of changing times. To read her full spoken-poetry piece, click here.
Well fine, it’s time to shuck and jive Diameter in a pantemater Pay your attentions, I’ll cast the lines The name of the game is X’D OUT
Following behind New Church's eye-opener, The Futures Fund held a panel on how tech is advancing the workforce and putting the power directly into the hands of those who want to change the world. Guests included Futures Fund graduates Mordecai Logan, Christopher Isaac, Kennedy Morgan, Laura Bowling, and industry-guest Jeremy Beyt of ThreeSixtyEight.
To elevate the work of Baton Roots' educational programming, Pepper Roussel hosted a conversation on black farmers in the South. You can read more of Pepper Roussel's dissertation on this topic here.
Of course, a celebration of impact could not be without celebrating how it all started.
With the Petit-Pisto Family, a yearly award was unveiled on June 24. This award reflects the hard-working social catalysts in our city, looking forward rather than focusing on simply the present.
One such individual who embodied this work since the beginning was 2022's winner of the Petit-Pisto Award: Orhan McMillan. Orhan was one of the founders of the Walls and served as its first board president. Orhan paved the way for Walls to build structure and innovation while staying art-weird. His contributions to the early days of Walls could never be understated. Congratulations ORHAN!
This celebration of X years was made entirely possible by the support of the sponsors and local media (see Related Links below for the articles). The sponsorships and coverage of the anniversary made this event break expectations. Over 200 people participated!
InRegister: The Walls Project’s 10th Anniversary Celebration
8 9.3 WRKF - Talk Lousiana with Jim Engster: Friday, July 29th: Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, Casey Philips
Business Report: The Walls Project has been transforming Baton Rouge for 10 years
Country Roads Magazine: Walls Project Ten Year Anniversary Party