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Project Timeline


Mural Arts plans to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2009

To mark the occasion the organization begins developing a Citywide Mural Project, which it describes as “one of its most ambitious initiatives to date.”


Mural Arts begins building partners and sponsors for the Citywide project

Leadership Philadelphia, an early partner, planned to mark its 50th anniversary in 2009 by working with local public media station WHYY on a radio series called “This I Believe.” Building on this connection, organizers named the Citywide Mural Project “This We Believe.”

At first, organizers called the Citywide project “City of Believers.” Planning documents show that they changed the name to “This We Believe” in order to be “more inclusive” and “forward thinking.”


Citywide Mural Project launches

Mural Arts issues a Request for Qualifications that invites applications from teams of artists who want to participate in the project.


Review the RFQ

Mural Arts announces two teams of artists selected for This We Believe

Team One: Eric Okdeh, Michelle Angela Ortiz, Kien Nguyen

Team Two: David Guinn, Phillip Adams, Damon Reaves


Community forums, led in collaboration with the Penn Center for Civic Engagement, ask people across the city to share their stories of life in Philadelphia

Community Forum – South. Tuesday, February 24, 2009.
Church of Philadelphia. 17th and Snyder Streets.


Discussion prompt for community forum


Worksheet for community forum participants

Community Forum – Northeast. Wednesday, February 25, 2009.
John Perzel Community Center. 2990 St. Vincent St.


Participant feedback form

Community Forum – Center City. February 26, 2009.
WHYY. Independence Mall West, 150 N. 6th St. 

Photo: Eric Okdeh

Community Forum – West. Tuesday, March 3, 2009
University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. Rosenberger Hall. 600 South 43rd St.

Photo: Eric Okdeh

Community Forum – Southwest. Tuesday, March 10, 2009.
Meyers Recreation Center. 5800 Chester Ave.

Photo: Eric Okdeh

Community Forum – Northwest. Tuesday, March 17, 2009.
St. Martin’s Church. 8000 St. Martin’s Lane.


Meeting invitation 

Community Forum – North. Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Project H.O.M.E. Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs. 1936 Judson St.


Review the meeting notes


Artists Develop Preliminary Mural Designs

Their images build on ideas from the community forums as well as additional research, conversations, and site visits. Mural Arts team members provide feedback during design review meetings.

Preliminary design. Team 1: Eric Okdeh, Michelle Angela Ortiz, Kien Nguyen (2009).



Preliminary design. Team 2: David Guinn, Phillip Adams, Damon Reaves (2009).


Public Vote

Philadelphians voted for the mural design that they wanted to be produced. People could cast a ballot in person at their local library or online. 





Winning Team Announced

Based on a tally of more than 4,500 votes, Philadelphians chose Team 1’s mural to be fabricated.

Read the announcement from Mural Arts



Paint Days

Over the summer Mural Arts invited Philadelphians to participate in physically making the mural.


Sunday, June 21, 2009: Paint Day – Northwest. Allens Lane Art Center. 601 W. Allens Lane. 10am-1pm.

Saturday, June 27, 2009: Paint Day – Northeast. John Perzel Community Center. 2990 St. Vincent Street. 10am-1pm.

Sunday, June 28, 2009: Paint Day – West. Wall St. International. 1431-39 N. 52nd St. 10am-1pm.

Wednesday, July 1: “Paint the Squares” Sunoco Welcome America Celebration. Franklin Square. 6th and Race. 1pm-3pm.

Saturday, July 11: Paint Day – North. The ARC/PDDC. 2350 W. Westmoreland St. 10am-1pm.

Saturday, July 18, 2009: Paint Day – South. Columbus Square. 12th and Wharton. 10am-1pm.

Saturday, July 25, 2009: Paint Day – Southwest. Meyers Recreation Center. 5800 Chester Ave. 10am-1pm.


This We Believe Celebration and Dedication

This We Believe was unveiled and dedicated at 30th Street Station, a transit hub that serves Amtrak passengers as well as local and regional travelers. It remained on display there until October 11, 2009.

Artists Kien Nguyen, Eric Okdeh, and Michelle Angela Ortiz (L to R) speak during the dedication ceremony. Photo: Michael Reali.


This We Believe: Living in the Presence of History. Installation view at 30th Street Station. Photo: Michael Reali.


This We Believe Moves to The Gallery

After appearing at 30th Street Station, This We Believe is reinstalled at The Gallery, an indoor shopping mall connected to a different train station in Center City. 

Photo credit: Eric Okdeh


This We Believe at Wall Ball

This We Believe is the striking backdrop at Wall Ball, Mural Arts’ annual celebration.

Wall Ball Installation of This We Believe


This We Believe Finds New Home

Installation in progress at Anna B. Pratt elementary school. Photo: Eric Okdeh.