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Public Service Research Program

Photo: The town celebrates the mural

The town celebrates the mural

Place-Based Learning and Youth Organizing in a River Town

Knight's Landing is a small rural agricultural community along the Sacramento River. To address (mainly Latino/a-White) racial divisions in the town, a muralist with the help of community youth painted a mural in 2003 on the theme of "A United Community / La Comunidad." The mural was later defaced, and in the search to understand the significance of this vandalism, four youth and the Liaison created and carried out a survey of over 100 residents' attitudes about their town, the mural, the vandalism, and a potential new mural.

After analyzing their research, the youth and Liaison partnered with another muralist to design a new mural based on their findings, with support from two small grants and community donations. The river and the socio-environmental landscape through time emerged as major themes in the survey and thus in the new mural, which has been painted on a building on the town's main street. The town held a celebration to inaugurate the new mural in November 2006.

Project Challenge/Research Question: (Questions selected, from the community survey) What makes Knights Landing especially "Knights Landing"? Why do you think the mural got vandalized? What do you think will happen to Knights Landing when all the new houses are built? If we do another mural, what would be a good theme or community issue for it?

Liaison: Alyssa Nelson, Ph.D. Candidate, Geography (2007).

Site: Knights Landing is a small, rural, unincorporated, agricultural town in eastern Yolo County, located next to the Sacramento River, about 20 miles north of Davis. Approximately 60% of the population is Latina/o, primarily of Mexican decent, and 53% speak Spanish at home. 36% are White. 45% speak only English at home. (2000 Census) Responses from the community survey indicate community pride, and concerns and hopes about what the future will bring.

Partners: Multiple youth and adults, Grafton Elementary School, Knights Landing Citizens' Advisory Committee, Knights Landing Family Resource Center, Yolo County 4-H Youth Development, Maceo Montoya (muralist, 2003), Alicia Siu (muralist, 2006).

Associated Projects/Research: Alyssa's dissertation developed out of the action research conducted by the youth. She utilizes participatory research methods to explore the connections between geography and community muralism.

Project Time Line: 2002 - 2006

Funding: UC Davis, California Council for the Humanities (Story Fund), Sacramento Region Community Foundation / Sierra Health Foundation (GABY Grant)