Painting Our Way Towards a Vibrant Community

teen works on mural project

More than 100 volunteers, community leaders, and local business owners  helped develop the mural on Bonita Drive in 2011.

Soquel will look a bit more vibrant come July, when the Graffiti Removal Project completes it’s newest mural.  As the program manager of the Graffiti Removal Project, murals are one of my favorite projects to work on because of their powerful impact.  Murals not only harness creativity to discourage vandalism but they create an important sense of community ownership.

Studies demonstrate that murals with multi-colored designs deter graffiti for several reasons.  A blank wall is essentially a blank canvas for those inclined towards graffiti. Once someone stakes their claim, it serves as an invitation for other taggers to leave their mark. These vandals are less likely to tag a wall with art on it because they consider themselves to be artists. Additionally, their tag will not show up as well on a multi-colored surface.

Within our program we see this to be true. Our past murals at Axford Drive, Bonita Drive, the KSCO building, and the Aptos Village murals were areas of repeated cleanup and have rarely been tagged since their completion.

Murals are often developed in response to concerns over repetitive vandalism. When community members take a deliberate step to counteract this blight, their actions bring a newfound sense of pride for a community space and this pride has a wonderful way of spreading into the community.

While priming the wall two Sundays ago, our volunteers were in great spirits from the many “thank you’s” and comments of “great work” they received throughout the day from bikers and community members passing by.

One woman stopped to express her appreciation on her way to the Cabrillo Farmers Market. “I’ve been hoping someone would paint this wall for years,” she shared, “It always gets tagged – it will be so nice to have something beautiful to look at on my way to work!”

She stopped by again on her way back from the market and gave the team of volunteers a big bag of fresh blueberries.

When murals reflect aspects of the community, it furthers this sense of pride. Our new mural will feature geometric representations of local produce and agriculture of Soquel as a nod to the old Soquel Farm that the wall borders.

Ultimately, murals bring a heightened level of protection to an otherwise overlooked area and most importantly, murals bring a community together. Local artists, business owners, youth, and even former taggers are all involved in our mural projects. The Graffiti Removal Project is proud to run a program in partnership with Santa Cruz County Probation working with young graffiti artists to re-direct their artistic energy towards productive community outlets.

We know that graffiti is an eyesore for the community.  Annually it causes thousands of dollars in damages for the County and drains resources to cover up the tags. My hope is that these murals not only deter graffiti, but also inspire all community members to take pride in where they live.


Share your ideas with us

• Reach out with a space that could use a mural

• Volunteer with painting

• Donate supplies or services

Visit the Graffiti Removal Project webpage to learn more or email us at



Blog Post written by Haley Turner Coordinator for the Graffiti Removal Project- a volunteer-based initiative to keep the community beautiful and graffiti-free. Last year the program mobilized nearly 200 concerned citizens to remove 33,581 square feet of graffiti throughout the county.


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