Kwadjo Campbell, president of the Poe Mill Neighborhood Association, is one of the biggest driving factors behind changes in the area, and the addition of a new mural is just one of the most recent of several upgrades around Poe Mill.
Campbell, who organized the mural project, wanted to involve the community in creating the mural, so he simply asked for their help painting it.
The Nov. 18 event encouraged the whole community, especially children, to come out and contribute to the mural, and it also created an opportunity to have everyone together and engage in discourse surrounding the developing neighborhood.
Campbell wanted to make sure that the mural was representative of the community as a whole, and utilizing the word “human” in the mural was very important to him. Campbell notes, “The community is changing and has been; it’s one-third Latino, one-third African-American, and one-third white.”
Campbell adds, “We wanted to send a message that human beings live in this community. For a long time, Poe Mill has been stigmatized, you know, very negatively.”
He explains that the mural is about everyone wanting and needing the same things in a community. “We’re human beings, and we want the same things you want for your children and your families: a better quality of life, access to the Swamp Rabbit Trail, decent paying jobs,” Campbell says. “We don’t want over-development in our community and traffic increase exponentially because there’s bad planning in our community. We want the same thing that other people want.”
“We wanted to send a message that human beings live in this community. For a long time, Poe Mill has been stigmatized, you know, very negatively.”
– Kwadjo Campbell
This theme of a common humanity is the reason that Campbell chose to engage the community in creating the mural; he wanted to start a dialogue. “Through events like this, they are able to tell us what they really feel… about the changes to the neighborhood and crime. It was awesome for the purposes of engaging the community,” Campbell says.
Campbell has more murals and events in the works. Poe Mill will be having a job fair in February to help locals find jobs, with the help of Greenville Technical College and engaging local businesses.