Arts & Culture Calendar / Events Community Maplewood South Orange Towns

What Are YOU Grateful For? Gratitude Graffiti Project Returns to Maplewood

The following article was submitted by Candice Davenport.

Gratitude Graffiti Project
Gratitude Graffiti Project

“What are you grateful for?” That is the question of the season as the 4th Annual Gratitude Graffiti Project returns to usher in the fall and Thanksgiving season. This year, visit any one of the 24 stores participating in the project throughout the business districts in Maplewood Village, Valley St., Ridgewood Road and Springfield Avenue.

The Gratitude Graffiti Project is a 26-day opportunity to appreciate the good things in one’s life through interactive art. Until November 26, Thanksgiving Day, these stores and schools transform into ‘Gratitude Stops’ where everyone is invited to write or draw one thing they are grateful for. The project ends the day after Thanksgiving and ‘disappears’ until next year. The intent of the project is to give residents a chance to take a moment and reflect on one thing they are grateful for and to tap into their creativity by expressing that thankful thought into words or art, declared respectfully on public spaces.

Stop by any of the participating stores to write or draw one thing you are grateful for:

  • Able Baker
  • Studio 509
  • American Jiu Jitsu
  • Lotus Petals Designs
  • Maplewood Karate
  • Village Ice Cream
  • Kokoro
  • Maplewood Deli and Grille
  • Roman Gourmet
  • Kimaya Kama
  • Shenanigans Toy Store
  • Cedar Ridge Café
  • Stage One Hair Salon
  • West Village Clothing
  • Milk Money Children’s Consignment Store
  • The Framing Mill
  • Lickt Gelato
  • ProElite Nutrition
  • Express Yourself Studios
  • Fringe Hair Salon
  • Viva Z Club
  • Cha Mai Hair Salon
  • Shakti Yoga Studio
  • TLC Pet Supply Store

In its fourth year, the project is going strong and sponsored by the Maplewood Township, Able Baker and Studio 509.  The project is also taking shape in a school version at two of our elementary schools, Clinton Elementary and Jefferson Elementary, thanks to girl scout troops who are coordinating the project on site and bringing the daily practice of expressing gratitude to their schools.

Gratitude Graffiti Project
Gratitude Graffiti Project

The project originated in Maplewood and was created by Candice Davenport and Lucila McElroy. This year, the project is getting a helping hand from art therapist and Maplewood resident, Jessica Charkow who is individually decorating all the windows in town with the inviting question, “What are you grateful for?” Each looks beautiful and reflective of the spirit of each of the individual storefronts.

Gratitude Graffiti Project
Gratitude Graffiti Project

The Gratitude Graffiti Project, with its concept of expressing gratitude creatively, practicing mindfulness and displaying it as public art, has inspired other communities to do the same. The Atlantic Health System, for example, is supporting the program with all four hospital locations offering the project to its visitors, staff and patients on its glass windows or the walls in its main lobbies.

The initiative has also reached other towns in New Jersey, as well as other states across the country. The project has even had requests to be replicated in Johannesburg, South Africa and Amman, Jordan. In a recent email correspondence from a location in Colorado, Candice and Lucila received a note of thanks for “starting a gratitude revolution”. As a resident of Maplewood, Candice is proud that it started right here.

For more information, go to https://thegratitudegraffitiproject.com

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