SFSC Community Mural

About the Mural

Click on the mural below to enlarge it!

Somerville Food Security Mural

Somerville Food Security Mural

In the Winter of 2013 the Food Security Coalition collected the data that we had been gathering and utilizing about poverty, housing and food security. This included both local surveys and publicly available information from the state. A group of coalition members gathered for a “story-finding” workshop, in which we learned about the different kinds of stories that data can tell and found stories within our own data. We discussed a number of stories and chose one that the group wanted to tell publicly: “The data say that for many people food is not affordable and accessible because of the number of people living in poverty (or undocumented). We want to tell this story because there are resources in Somerville to help.”


This data mural was designed and painted by members of the Somerville Food Security Coalition. The project was designed and facilitated by Emily and Rahul Bhargava of Connection Lab LLC and the MIT Center for Civic Media.

We then met a second time for a visual design workshop where we turned the story into a mural design. We built with pipe cleaners and Legos, drew pictures and did word exercises to explore different ways to represent the story’s ideas. We then combined our favorite of the ideas into a draft design for the mural. The design includes a circle of hands, hands offering and accepting support of different types, quotes and facts about both food insecurity and how to access food resources, and images of the resources that exist in the city to address food insecurity. The yellow and orange rings that circle the design represent the percentage of people in Somerville accessing SNAP benefits from 2002 to 2010. Moving from the center to the corners, the width of the rings increase in years that more people accessed SNAP and become narrower in years that less people accessed SNAP.

Emily refined the design and we looked for space to paint the mural. After many months and as many failed attempts to secure permission to paint on outdoor walls, we decided to paint the design on a banner that can be moved between organizations and displayed at outdoor events.

The banner was painted in only two afternoons (less than 24 hours!) by coalition members, partners from Tufts and local High School students. It is now on rotating display throughout the city.