Vandalism and urban art of all types is looked at usually as an indicator of urban crime, gang presence, and other less savory presences in areas such as Brooklyn. However, a pioneer government program may be putting a new face on urban art. Red Hook Community Justice Center, a new program being tested on the streets of Brooklyn, is not your standard court room. In a peer review panel moderated by adults, veterans of the program and community members alike evaluate possibly criminal kids, and if they fit, give them a second chance.
By serving the community in a way that works within the interests of the perpetrator, Groundswell Community Mural Project, in conjunction with Red Hook, tasked 15 year old sophomore Josh with the creation of a wall mural for one of Red Hook’s facades. On first time convictions, at risk teens can be sent to a community justice center to find more appropriate ways of rehabilitating them, rather than just rotting away in a jail cell. Emphasis is returned to how much good art can do in the world.
It’s a breath of fresh air to see a different answer out there for at risk youth who would otherwise just get eaten alive by the system. Supported by generous New York based companies such as the Rockefeller foundation, the Groundswell project not only beautifies Brooklyn, but by taking an active interest in these teenagers, the community of Brooklyn stands to do a lot of good for them, too.