Mini-Grant Awardee Spotlight

Music Changing Lives Uses Art & Pop-Up Demonstrations to Create Safer Streets in San Bernardino County


Expanding on the City of Rancho Cucamonga’s CommUNITY Paint Day in 2018, in which community residents came together to transform an intersection, the Los Amigos Community Streets project by Music Changing Lives (MCL) uses art to encourage slower vehicle speeds and create a safer and more enjoyable street. To explore permanent improvements, Music Changing Lives expanded an existing intersection mural on August 28, 2021.

Music Changing Lives shared their thoughts on implementing their Go Human Community Streets Mini-Grant project, and how community partnerships and community engagement played a major role.

Describe how your Go Human Mini-Grant project helps address traffic safety concerns in your community. 

The City of Rancho Cucamonga has heard from multiple community stakeholders over the past few years that there is a concern with vehicle speeds along 9th Street in the Los Amigos Neighborhood. Traffic issues have been a big concern to many families at Los Amigos Elementary School, especially for students who walk to school.  Even crossing guards have felt unsafe because of the drivers’ high speeds. 

In 2018, the City completed the first intersection mural at the corner of Baker Avenue and 9th Street with the goal of increasing visibility within this intersection, which serves as the main entrance to Los Amigos Elementary School. This Mini-Grant project is the perfect opportunity to expand upon that initial mural effort from 2018, and develop the mural with improvements to both encourage slower speeds, as well as encourage walking in the area.  

Music Changing Lives and the City of Rancho Cucamonga were excited to partner on this project to encourage people to be advocates for traffic safety in their neighborhood through creativity and paint. We believe in “Spreading Paint Not Hate.” As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and we start to interact with one another on our streets again, it’s more important than ever to remember that there is room for everyone on our streets and that we need to be kind to one another as we drive, walk, or roll through our communities.  

What role did community partnerships play in the success of your Go Human Mini-Grant project?  

This project would not have been possible without partnerships!  

The community partnerships that have been cultivated over time with the City of Rancho Cucamonga, particularly through its Healthy RC initiative, the Los Amigos Elementary School, and other partnering community-based organizations like the Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP), have played a vital role in ensuring the success of this project. These relationships have been soundly built with trust and mutual respect for what each entity contributes and brings to the community. This is critical in establishing roles and responsibilities, clear expectations, and a positive vision of the project. 

Perhaps more importantly, this multi-partner collaboration allowed Music Changing Lives to optimize its resources (e.g., time, funding, staff, technical expertise, etc.) and deliver the highest quality project possible that the Rancho Cucamonga community, particularly the Los Amigos neighborhood, can embrace wholeheartedly.        

How did you use community input to shape your Go Human Mini-Grant project objective?  

When our organization first started working with the City of Rancho Cucamonga’s Healthy RC Initiative, we were excited to see that the City worked closely with residents, local schools, and a variety of local organizations. When they approached us to partner on this project in the Los Amigos neighborhood, we learned about past efforts to bring public art to the area to function not only as an element of beautification, but also to influence roadway safety around the Los Amigos Elementary School.

The City worked with the school to build a Community School program and through that effort learned about needs and concerns from the school community including parents, teachers, students and neighbors. One of their desires was for the initial mural to be repainted in addition to creating more public art to continue to beautify the area. Most importantly, the community desired additional strategies to reduce the speed of vehicles traveling through the neighborhood along 9th Street between Grove Avenue and Vineyard Avenue.  

We took this feedback and partnered with the City to develop not only a plan to repaint the intersection mural and expand upon that to improve vehicle travel behavior, but also to provide a new experience — a huge sidewalk mural! This new experience will encourage walking in the neighborhood, whether it’s to and from school or the neighborhood park, or to a friend’s home down the street. To be mindful of the continuing safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a survey was distributed to the school community to get feedback about types of symbols and phrases that should be included in the sidewalk mural. Using this feedback, we have developed a one-of-a-kind art piece that will be a symbol of resilience, unity, and compassion. We are thrilled to be able to design a project that helps improve the way people move through this neighborhood, and that literally speaks to their heart! 

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.