Photos: Connections come to life with a street mural supported by H&R Block and Nextdoor partnership

October 30, 2020 : H&R Block

In Cincinnati, a colorful street mural is playing an important role in how the community connects,  thanks to Gary Dangel, the food access coordinator for the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation.

Gary Dangel wears a Make Every Block Better t-shirt while standing in front of the community garden outside Walnut Hills elementary.Dangel runs community gardens across the Walnut Hills neighborhood of Cincinnati, including the gardens across the street from the Frederick Douglass Elementary School. He knew this garden could be even better with one change – a traffic-calming street mural connecting the school and the gardens. Dangel noted, “The students and teachers have to cross a busy street that does not have a school zone crosswalk and where there have been numerous automobile crashes.”

When the nationwide call for projects by H&R Block and Nextdoor launched earlier this year, Dangel nominated a street mural project to help safely connect the school and the community garden. And, ultimately, it was selected from more than 2,000 nominations from all 50 states as one of 10 projects to revitalize neighborhood spaces and spark connections.

Local artist Brandon Hawkins designed a set of murals to help calm traffic and serve as a literal connection between the garden and school. The murals feature themes focused on growing neighborhood connections, nature, and community. Over a weekend in October, H&R Block partnered with Hawkins and the nonprofit ArtWorks to complete the street murals bringing the neighborhood, local H&R Block associates, and students together to paint.

“Part of the purpose of making every block better is to help with social isolation and bring neighborhoods and communities together. We really feel like this mural starts down that road,” said Mark Miller, regional director for H&R Block, who joined a team of local associates to help complete the mural painting.

The new mural will not only help improve safety, but will also serve as a talking point, something neighbors and families from the school can connect over and be a source of pride over the years.  

H&R Block believes in the power of connections and is doing everything it can through Make Every Block Better to connect neighbors with neighbors across the U.S. While the pandemic may be keeping us socially distanced at this time, it has also put a spotlight on just how important connections are to everyone’s well-being.  

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