DALLAS – Some neighbors near Fair Park say they're working to take back their community. They're fighting drugs and blight in the Mill City area, with the help of a new public art display.
"It's the history over here behind Mill City," said Jonathan Gadson as he swept an area at the corner of Collins and Carter streets. That’s where a series of murals have been placed in an area fencing off a large lot.
Gadson says the paintings are part of a mission for positive change in the community.
"[There's] a lot of heroin over here,” he explained. “A lot of people, the majority of people over here, are heroin addicts.”
Neighbors have been watching painted panels appear at the corner of Collins and Carter for about one month. The artwork has been popping up around a lot where drug houses once stood.
Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity saw opportunity here. Last month, it launched a project connecting students from local schools and the community through art.
"It's huge,” said Reese Collins, a neighborhood empowerment director with Dallas Habitat for Humanity. “It's showing that the kids actually want to have an impact and say, this community is ours as well. We want to be involved in this and help change it all together."
The Connecting Through Art project is one of the only public art displays this side of Fair Park. Students from elementary, middle and high schools across South Dallas were encouraged to paint images expressing what Dallas means to them.
Avery Cereceres is one of the young artists whose panel is on display.
"I'm representing my own city,” Cereceres said. “I'm trying to change the future for other people."
Neighbors in Mill City say the public art display has become so popular, they're noticing visitors from outside the community driving by to take photos of the colorful panels.
Deacon Jonathan Triplett says the public art display is restoring a sense of pride in Mill City. A fencing contractor hired neighbors from the area to help set up fencing and handle other jobs with the project.
"It shows that the community does care about their area,” Triplett said. “But we still got a long ways to go."