News blog for Seattle's Fremont neighborhood

 

Neighbors finish turtle street mural

August 29th, 2010 by Athima Chansanchai

Neighbors who live in and around the intersection of 41st Street and Interlake Avenue North woke up early — some prodded by their excited children — to finish a project that has connected them: a sprawling sea turtle street mural that will not only be a beautiful addition to their neighborhood but also, they hope, a deterrent to speeders.

As the neighborhood is on the flight path to Seatac airport, passengers will get a bright surprise if they happen to look down at the right time. They’ll see this:

Finished turtle

“I’m relieved, but grateful to all the people in the community,” said retired Boeing engineer Bill Lindberg, who has lived in the neighborhood for almost 25 years and who spearheaded the project. “It proved to me how people come together in a community. It takes some coordination and effort. But everybody wants to contribute.”

Lindberg met many new neighbors in the petitioning process set up by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), which required the approval of neighbors who live along streets adjacent to the intersection.

Dozens of volunteers painted until about 7 p.m. last night and started again this morning around 9 a.m. Painting finished with the black outlines at about 4:30 p.m. Neighbors enjoyed a barbecue afterward, while kids jumped off their energy in a giant Blues Clues bouncy ball set-up provided by Brian Eaton, a firefighter who worked a 24-hour shift yesterday and spent all day today painting alongside his wife Kathy and their two young sons, Cooper and Mason, who all painted yesterday.

Turtle overall

Painting process
Cooper Eaton waits for more paint from Michael Sauer, pouring into a container held by Bill Lindberg

Kate Gengo (shown below) moved to Seattle from her native New York city and has lived in the neighborhood for four years. As a single woman, she hasn’t had too many opportunities to get to know her neighbors, who tend to be busy families. But getting involved with the project has changed that.

Kate Gengo

“This is the only way I’m able to meet my neighbors on a personal level,” said Gengo, who is studying to be an elementary school teacher. She is an avid gardener who has chatted with folks on their way to Wallingford Park as she’s worked outside.

Working side by side with her neighbors and their kids on the mural has been a memorable experience for her.

“I love to see kids problem solving, how they think creatively,” she said.

Adults tagged female progeny with special praise.

“The little girls work from dawn to dusk,” said Rachel Marcotte, the artist who came up with the design and who oversaw the chalking and painting. “They’re focused. Workaholics!”

Halle Sauer, 8, who was the first to think of making the design a turtle and who helped paint the turtle’s head and shell, as well as a leaf, has already given the new neighborhood pet a nickname: “Bubbles.”

Marcotte said its real name is “Arthur William,” in deference to Lindberg’s name.
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