Murals beautify buildings, hearts

The Mid Valley Elementary School – St. Francis House mural  was commissioned from Boston artist Alex Cook.

Photo by Julie Raefield-Gobbo.
The Mid Valley Elementary School – St. Francis House mural was commissioned from Boston artist Alex Cook.

Following a calling to “build communities through art,” Alex Cook, a muralist and musician from Boston, worked some magic this week on two local buildings, and in the hearts of the children who use them.

The lucky youths who participated in the mural painting projects at the Mount Hood fire station (backside) and the Mid Valley Elementary historic gym, helped design their murals and, most importantly, became the mural artists themselves.

“The murals always tell a story in pictures,” said Cook, who worked with the children and staff of New Vision preschool and St. Francis House of Odell. “My murals always have a spiritual theme in one way or another.

“Images are a natural way to express one’s internal experience and to share that with others,” said Cook. “This is about coming together through this vehicle, to share with one another. It is about building community.”

For the children of St. Francis House, the mural of brightly colored children and adults that now adorns the wall on the back entrance of the gym is the result of the group’s desire to show all the fun things they do while in the after-school program.

“Whoa ... that is me!” said Christofer Cruz, 5, who posed against the wall when whitewash and yellow outline paint were all that could be seen of the future finished product. SFH supervisor Rebecca Brochu assisted Cook in outlining Cruz and other children in their soon-to-be-painted forms.

“Over the summer we asked kids to draw sketches of their ideas for our mural. It’s not every day that we get a chance to paint something meaningful on walls or to show up in a mural,” said Brochu, who led the children’s planning process prior to Cook’s arrival.


A second photo essay on Cook’s mural for New Vision School will appear in the Oct. 10 edition.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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