#Sidewalkvibes art encourages community

By SASHA JOHNS / Community Columnist

The small Shelby County city of Columbiana is a special place.

A tight-knit community that is known for taking care of each other, Columbiana has managed to find ways to encourage its citizens while maintaining physical activity and safe distancing.
Chosen as the county seat in 1826, Columbiana has an old-town charm that lends itself well to those who need to get outside and move during the quarantine.

The Shelby County Arts Council has free chalk available to families who want to participate in spreading cheer through sidewalk art. (Contributed)

Miles of quiet streets and old sidewalks make it easy to take a walk or run without breaking the rules of social distancing.

On March 29, the PTO of Elvin Hill Elementary posted a fun challenge on their group Facebook page that, in a weeks’ time, took off tremendously and found itself an encouraging sponsor to back the idea.
The first #sidewalkvibes chalk art was created on March 29. It was just simple, encouraging messages with the hashtag #sidewalkvibes left on a sidewalk on Main Street.

When the PTO posted the challenge, the idea was for others to get out in their streets, driveways and sidewalks, and make some chalk art for those taking walks to find.
Within days, members of the Shelby County Arts Council saw the art popping up all over town and extended an invitation to their friends all over the city to come and cover the beautiful new sidewalks at the grounds of Old Mill Square.

This invitation came with a first round of chalk donations for anyone who needed it from local sixth grader Emily Dixon, with a request to touch and keep only what you will use.

More chalk is on order for donation from other groups like the Arts Council and can be found at Old Mill Square.

“Since COVID-19 guidelines prevent us from offering shows and art classes at the Arts Council building right now, we are looking for ways to encourage people to keep creating art and keep inspiring others even in the midst of this strange situation,” said Brandy Kellis, vice president of the Shelby County Arts Council Board of Directors. “There is plenty of sidewalk chalk for everyone. My family no longer lives downtown, but we can go and choose a section of the sidewalk away from other people, and just start drawing.”

While the sidewalks of SCAC are now filled with art, it’s not just art, and it’s not just at the Arts Council grounds. People are now leaving special messages and challenges hidden all over town for the friends they miss, posting their art or encouraging messages on social media that challenge their friends to take a walk, find the message and repost it.
#Sidewalkvibes is thriving in Columbiana, but it can be shared anywhere.

The PTO and SCAC board encourage people all over Shelby County to keep making art.

A new public group on Facebook is available to share local chalk art. To join the fun, just look for #sidewalkvibes in Facebook groups.