Muralist Jae Johnson prepares to reveal the A New Narrative mural. Photo Credit: Derrick Waller
Charlottesville has had a history of inequity and piercing poverty considering the wealth and resources of the region. The United Way of Greater Charlottesville has been doing a lot of listening in recent years and is taking a comprehensive approach to listening and community building in an effort to alleviate poverty in Charlottesville. As a way to push this work forward, United Way is tapping into the agency of a community that has not only been marginalized economically but also in storytelling and the local narrative.
The overall campaign is called Envision and part of the storytelling aspect of this campaign is a mural that was unveiled in September. Designed and painted by local artist Jae Johnson on behalf of the United Way of Greater Charlottesville, this mural, titled A New Narrative, represents the journey towards a more equitable community.
Intentionally located on 2nd street next to the Haven, the purpose of this piece is to bring into sharp focus the hope and joy for what Charlottesville can be, juxtaposed against the lived experience of over 10,000 of its residents.
Recent data shows that with rising rent and childcare costs, over 10,000 families experiencing poverty in our community face the harsh reality of being left with around $76 or less a month after these expenses are paid. Of that population, a disproportionate percentage are people of color. That $76 is meant to cover a lengthy list of necessities including diapers & wipes, utilities, food, cell phone, car payment, and more.
“A New Narrative” aims to capture this lived experience but also the hope for what our community can be if together, we commit to breaking down historical and systemic barriers to opportunity and access.
Be sure to go check out the mural next to the Haven on 2nd Street in Downtown Charlottesville.