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Last spring, I worked with Yvonne Gordon from the Branford Art Center to create four First Amendment Walls. With materials bought from Branford Building Supply, we painted pieces of plywood with black chalk paint and attached WE THE PEOPLE at the top of the wall. Dipping our hands in various colors of paint, we placed the imprints on the perimeter of the wall, symbolizing diversity. U.S. senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal generously donated pocket constitutions and we placed them in a holder on the right side of the wall.
In these polarized times, the intent was to create a space where First Amendment rights, specifically, freedom of speech could be exercised openly and inclusively. The constitution is the defining document of this country and we wanted to encourage reading it.
We installed a wall outside the Branford Art Center, and a second was placed outside the front door of the Blackstone Library, and the third is at the entrance of the Branford Early Learning Center at 16 Birch Road.
Each week, a new question is written on the wall, inviting the public to participate and share their thoughts on such topics as empathy, respect, courage, freedom, balance, encouragement, the value of silence, and most recently, what makes Branford special?
In the 16 years I’ve lived in Branford, I’ve never felt more proud of my community and town. I am happy to call Branford home. I thank everyone for their continued participation in the First Amendment Wall project.
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