H&R Block Brightens Seattle’s Ballard Neighborhood with New Community-Painted Mural

January 14, 2022 : H&R Block

Hear from the neighbors of Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood on how H&R Block helped them to create a new space for families and friends to come together.  

“Not only is the meaning of the mural community, but it is the new community. It just means that the end goal and the process can have an impact on the community as we have wanted it to,” said Natalia Sotelo, a Seattle resident and artist who is a part of Urban Artworks.

The Ballard Business District in Seattle was abruptly damaged in 2019 after a devastating fire destroyed several small businesses on the city’s main street. Since then, one building has remained vacant – a reminder of the event.

As a member of the Urban Artworks Mural Apprenticeship Program where she installs public murals throughout King County, Sotelo saw an opportunity to transform the space and create new community connections with the help of a Make Every Block Better grant.

Seattle’s Ballard Business District was awarded a Make Every Block Better grant in 2021 as part of H&R Block and Nextdoor’s partnership to connect neighbors and uplift their communities. For Ballard’s neighbors, a thriving community can really benefit from just sitting down with each other and listening. “It’s wonderful when people can use the new space. The murals give it a sign that somebody loves this space and it’s important to somebody,” said volunteer Christie Wolf.  

In partnership with Urban Artworks, H&R Block and Nextdoor provided a community paint day that allowed neighbors, H&R Block associates, and young artists to come together to paint a new mural on the vacant Business District building. The mural was designed by artists with family roots in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood and included community-specific symbols.

“In the future, I want people to walk by and see that before it was an empty wall and empty space, and I just want it to brighten people’s days up. I want them to get inspired and try to bring some color into their lives, as well,” said Sotelo.

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