As RAW Chiefs, the three high schoolers supervised more than a dozen younger students of the downtown arts organization, in the creation and construction of this thought-provoking piece.
Christian De Leon, another RAW Chief, wrote this on a description label that accompanies the installation: "Lynn is our garden. We choose to lead as RAW Chiefs because we have the opportunity to plant seeds of equality and acceptance in others. We use our open-mindedness to nurture these seeds to help create more unity in our community.
"We have found that a growing pain of being a leader is learning and understanding that your voice is powerful and realizing that it needs to be used in the face of ignorance. We choose to nurture our energy, responsibility, and power through self-care, real talk, and action to spread peace and positivity."
This installation is part of the "city hALL" art initiative, which features works about Lynn, many by its residents, on all four floors of the historic building. It is likely to draw a lot of admirers Tuesday from 5-7 p.m., at a 70th anniversary event that celebrates the roots of the community. It is free and open to all.
"Together We Grow, Growing Pains" is a striking work of art. Yes, it contains pretty hummingbirds, a pink flamingo and colorful flowers, but there are also weeds and cracks in the pavement that threaten to destroy that beauty.
Cruz, clinical supervisor at RAW, said projects such as this teach RAW chiefs about leadership. "You have to nurture that. We want our kids to know that although the city sometimes has a bad reputation, there is hope and they can rise through the weeds and the glass and the cracks. They can still find a way to grow and thrive."
The words "love, care and respect" are prominent on the piece. "We all need that to grow," said Bautista, a sophomore at Lynn Tech. Her hand-painted flower is a bold red. "We all want to stand out, but in different ways. I was a shy little girl. I'd stand in the corner. Now I'm bubbly, once I get to know you." She has attended classes at RAW for about eight years, and relishes her role as a RAW Chief.
Alas' flower, ready to bloom, reveals a smiley face or a third eye. "I made it a little funny and silly. That's kind of what I am," said the English High sophomore, who's been at RAW for five years. "RAW has made me who I am today." He said the older RAW chiefs helped him when, as a sixth-grader, he first came to the youth development organization that's rooted in art therapy. "I always wanted to be a RAW chief. I take it seriously."
The top petal of Marquez's flower has a face that is recycled from a former RAW chief who had a positive affect on his life. Marquez also built many of the birds featured. "More nature, more nurturing" is what we need, said the Classical High senior.
Carolyn Cole, of the Community Development Dept. and director of the Downtown Lynn Cultural District, called the piece "inspirational. It has a wonderful, positive message."
The free event starts at 5 p.m. in City Hall's Veterans' Memorial Lobby. Mayor Thomas McGee and invited guests will briefly address the crowd, then Lynn's Michelle Guzman of Lynn Walking Shoe Tours will guide attendees through the historic building. The event winds down at 7 p.m. Free parking will be available in the city's Andrew Street lot, in the Lynn District Courthouse lot and at metered on-street spots near City Hall.