Community Spotlight: Green Star Movement

Posted by Smita Kishore on

Green Star Movement is a Chicago-based nonprofit that inspires students and communities through the creation of public art. Through an interactive teaching process, students are able to build their self-esteem and confidence, develop crucial teamwork skills, and challenge themselves as they revitalize their urban neighborhoods.

How were they founded?

After working as an after-school arts instructor for several years, Founder and CEO Kamelia Hristeva realized that students in underserved communities lacked meaningful opportunities to exercise their creativity. As many of the buildings and neighborhoods she worked in felt uninspiring—and were often neglected—the idea to create an organization that could inspire students and transform communities through the creation of public art was born.

Photo Source: Green Star Movement

What Makes Them Awesome

Impact: Since their founding in 2005, Green Star Movement has provided more than 6000 students with mural arts programs and successfully transformed 60 public spaces, including, schools, parks, underpasses, and community centers. Their programs prioritize schools that have limited access to art opportunities and have helped inspire and unite students and communities throughout Chicago.

Support: Participants are led through each phase of the mural project by dedicated teaching artists, and collectively decide on meaningful themes for the murals, such as hope, justice, and diversity, through group discussions. They are then taught various artistic techniques that are essential to completing the project and work together as a team to install the mural.

Community: By involving students and community members in every step of the installation process, Green Star Movement goes beyond inspiring a passion for the arts by giving communities true ownership of their creation. Not only does this bring community members together, it also beautifies their environments and inspires them through the work they helped create. The community also comes together to celebrate with a mural-unveiling ceremony after projects are completed.

Photo Source: Green Star Movement

School Connectedness: Green Star Movement’s art programs create a space for students to connect with one another, their schools, and their neighborhood. Research has shown that school connectedness decreases youth's risk to engage in risky behaviors, such as drinking, substance abuse, or gang involvement, and increases their likelihood to stay in school and contribute to their communities.

Bricolage: With the help of their teaching artists, students and community members create bricolage murals. Bricolage is a combination of tile and mirror mosaic, sculpture, painting, and photographs, that is durable and resistant to vandalization and accessible to artists of all ages, which helps students to feel successful as an artist no matter what their abilities.

International Bricolage Exchange: In 2015, Green Star Movement, completed bricolage murals in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, as a part of their artistic exchange initiative. By educating and inspiring youth through these inclusive public art projects and providing them with an opportunity to explore new cultures, Green Star Movement helps empower them to ignite positive change in their communities.

Peace Panda Project: In a response to the increased violence throughout Chicago and the world, Green Star Movement aims to promote peace by engaging youth and community members in conversations about tolerance, empathy, and conflict resolution, and memorializing those ideas through the creation of mini-murals that are installed in their neighborhoods. These murals will highlight the ways in which Chicago communities promote non-violence, tolerance, and inclusivity, while also building on the ideas already in place by neighborhood organizations that are also working towards creating more peaceful communities. Help spread the word with #PeacePandaProject!

Photo Source: Green Star Movement

How to Get Involved

Mural Tours: Looking for a fun art adventure? Take a self-guided walking or bike mural tour throughout different Chicago neighborhoods to explore community-driven public art, and enjoy recommended restaurants and cafes along the way. 

Volunteer: Sign up to volunteer and help create a beautiful mural at a program site. Their teaching artists will show you everything you need to know, so no need to worry if you don’t have experience with art. Grab some family and friends and make a day out of it! 

Take a Class: Take a BYOB make a mosaic class and create a flower pot, coaster set, picture frame, vase, or tray to take home with you. All proceeds support Green Star Movement’s youth and community art programs. Classes are located in Rivernorth and Bridgeport.

Spread the Word: Don’t have time to get involved? No worries! Spreading the word is just as crucial to helping Green Star Movement grow. You can help by following them on social media @GreenStarMovement and sharing this post with family and friends.

 Photo Credit: A.K. Agarwal

A Special Place in Our Hearts

We had the pleasure of helping to raise funds for Green Star Movement’s amazing art programs at their Annual Soiree this year, where guests participated in our interactive art project. This was also our official launch as Simply Smita so it holds an extra special place in our hearts. At the Soiree, guests learned how to blend their own colors and painted in “mosaic tiles” shown above.

We converted this beautiful piece of art into a Limited Edition Lip Balm that is now available for purchase. 25% of profits from these lip balm sales will be donated to Green Star Movement’s art programs! Help us to raise money for this amazing organization and inspire students and communities throughout Chicago by supporting and sharing!! Spread Love 💚 

Do you know of a school or community that can benefit from Green Star Movement’s art programs? Connect with them via email at info@greenstarmovement.org.

Love + Light,

Smita :)

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