By Allen Pierleoni
One creative way to promote Census participation in undercounted farmworker and immigrant communities is through culturally rooted art forms.
That’s why five dramatic murals have joined a related program of original songs and radio and video dramas to promote Census participation in the San Joaquin Valley.
The murals are in highly trafficked areas in the towns of Calwa and Huron in Fresno County; Pixley in Tulare County; and Arvin in Kern County. One of the murals is “mobile,” painted on the side of a truck that travels throughout Stockton in San Joaquin County.
“The purpose is to create ‘surround-sound’ Census messaging in a culturally appropriate way,” says Cindy Quezada, senior program officer at Sierra Health Foundation. “Wall murals are used as public message boards in towns throughout Latin America.”
The murals, painted by local artists, are sponsored by the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund and Empower Vote.
“The point is for people to see things they’re familiar with, which resonate culturally and speak to them in a different way than a traditional (public service announcement) or poster,” Quezada says. “The message is: Complete the Census now.”
The murals depict a variety of grass-roots images of people, lifestyles, landmarks and cultural symbolism that emphasize community and family solidarity in Census participation.
The image in the Calwa mural, for instance, juxtaposes local history and agriculture with residents coming “out of the shadows” to join the Census movement.
“The murals are a constant reminder to complete the Census,” Quezada said. “Our feedback tells us people really appreciate having the art in their neighborhoods.”