By Lee Schwab
Words are everywhere; to guide, educate, inspire, get you thinking, help you communicate, draw you closer to another person, and more. Have you seen the words stenciled on parking spaces around Napa? Did you wonder why they were there? Did you wonder who put them there? Did the words inspire you or remind you of something special?
Peter Hassen was inspired to start the “Values Project: Napa” project in December 2010. He has been an artist for more than 25 years and wanted to create a different public-art project. He wanted something that would have value, that people would easily see, and allow them to attach their own meaning to it. He succeeded by stenciling unexpected words in unexpected places … in parking spaces throughout Napa.
Peter Hassen gathered funders, information, participants, and supporters for the project. He chose Napa because of the close community, and the size was perfect. He used a workshop format to gather input from the community, including businesses, churches, cities, hospitals, schools, and non-profits. They talked about the values that they wanted represented. The Arts Council Napa Valley, some Napa citizens, and the Gasser Foundation sponsored the project. Sherwin Williams Paints and CSI Paints provided the materials. Some of the community leaders that endorsed the project are:
Mike Thompson; Congressman
Bill Dodd; Napa County Supervisor
Brad Wagenknecht; Napa County Supervisor
Barbara Nemko; PhD; Superintendent, Napa County Office of Education
Kristina Young; Executive Director; Arts Council Napa Valley
Jay Golik; Napa Planning Commission
Gordon Huether; Napa Planning Commission
During evenings and weekends, 141 volunteers stenciled 500 words in 63 parking spaces in 32 locations so people would find the wonderful surprise in the morning. Another advantage was that there were no cars to interfere with the project, and the paint could dry overnight.
The first word was stenciled in the Browns Valley Elementary School parking lot on September 28, 2010. The next morning, one of the teachers was surprised to find the word “charity” in the parking space. It became a great conversation starter. The last word “respect” was stenciled in October 12, 2011 in the Napa Skate Park. Seeing values painted in many and varied places like these can create a perceived unity in the social fabric of the community.
The values represented in English and Spanish are charity, commitment, community, compassion, cooperation, courage, dignity, excellence, gratitude, honor, integrity, justice, kindness, knowledge, learning, patience, productivity, respect, responsibility, service, tolerance, and trust. Peter Hassen said that the “Values Project: Napa is good for Napa because it is a high-profile, low-cost, and feel-good, positive message project”.
Take your family on a treasure hunt to find the value words before they fade away. Then, talk about what the words mean to you. There is no budget to keep the Values Project words new and fresh. Yes, it is a temporary project. You will find the words in the parking lots at the following locations:
Black Bear Diner, Brown’s Valley Elementary School, Canyon Oaks Elementary, City of Napa, Coldwell Banker Realty, Congregation Beth Shalom, Donaldson Way Elementary School, First Christian Church, McPherson Elementary School, Napa Boys & Girls Club, Napa County Office of Education, Napa County Sheriff’s office, Napa High School, Napa Mill (Napa River Inn, etc.), Napa Valley Adult School, Napa Valley College, Napa Valley Language Academy, Napa Valley Unified School District offices, Northwood Elementary School, Queen of the Valley Medical Center, Redwood Credit Union, Redwood Middle school, River Middle School, St. John the Baptist Church, Salvador Elementary School, Silverado Middle School, Vintage High School, V.O.I.C.E.S., and Wolfe Center.
Peter Hassen said that he was honored to work with everyone in Napa on the Values Project. For more details, surf to http://peterhassen.com/ and click on “The Values Project”.