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Published September 10 2007

Parshall community cleans up

PARSHALL, N.D. – A summerlong beautification project has dressed up this northwestern North Dakota community and taken steps toward racial harmony.

The project featured a cleanup campaign, flower planting and the start of an effort to paint murals in as many as 23 different locations around the city of 1,000 people.

The project was done through a Northwest Area Foundation program called Horizons, which is designed to reduce poverty and improve communities and is being used by towns across the state.

In Parshall, where about half of the population is American Indian, another goal of the project is to bring together people of different races and cultures.

Project coordinators Charles and Kathryn Garcia are planning a meeting Thursday to further refine Parshall’s goals.

“All of us have a choice in this. All of us can say what we have as a resource to put into our community,” Charles Garcia said. “We want to make sure the community benefits, not a certain few. Everybody has a voice. Everybody has a heart, and everybody has feelings and everybody is counted.”

Over the summer, residents were able to earn credit at city stores during a series of cleanup days, people planted lilac bushes, and Charles Garcia developed designs for murals for himself and school art students to paint. He has created murals for churches in Washington state, where the Garcias lived before moving to Parshall two years ago. He also created a few of the 70 murals in Toppenish, Wash., where the artwork is part of the town’s tourism draw.

One of the goals of Parshall’s murals will be to inform visitors of the town’s history, Garcia said. Each of the art scenes will depict a piece of the town’s past, with space reserved for Parshall’s present and future.

One of Garcia’s murals features the merging of a feather and wheat, representing the native population and area farmers. Pillars at the sides underscore the strength of the bond, and a scissors at the bottom cuts through the word “poverty.”

Potential projects include a youth center, a center for people dealing with drug and alcohol problems and an assistance program for people looking to start home-based businesses.

After the Thursday meeting, Parshall will be eligible for a $1,500 grant from Horizons to organize a nonprofit corporation to spearhead its projects.

Horizons is providing $15,000 in assistance to get projects started. Another $10,000 will be provided at the end of the program to support the projects.

“With the help that is out there, we would have everything we would ever need for our small community,” Garcia said.