During these dark times, a little brightness has peeked through in Toluca Lake thanks to a community-wide art project started by resident Rick Garman outside his home on Blix Street. The idea may be small — take a blank tile, decorate it at home with a positive message or image and “plant” it the next time you’re passing by — but the impact has been much greater.
“With all of us being so disconnected with the world and each other right now, this project is just a way to connect with the neighborhood,” Rick says. “Even though we’re all wearing masks and keeping our six-foot distance, if this can bring cheer to an otherwise cheerless situation, why not do it?”
After seeing on social media that a similar initiative had started in another city, Garman was inspired to bring the idea to Toluca Lake. “Although we’re all staying at home, many people are still walking their dogs and getting exercise, so I went to Home Depot and bought 100 bathroom tiles for $8,” he says. “I painted a couple myself and put them outside my home with a sign telling people to take some home and bring them back. The next day, a couple more were added. Now, we’re close to a hundred.”
Garman says he’s seen firsthand how much of an effect the initiative has had around the community. One resident was so moved that she pulled out a Sharpie and began decorating a tile on the spot rather than bringing it home, so that she could contribute to the project faster.
In a time when people are looking for something — anything — to make them smile, Garman’s ingenuity has shown that all of us in Toluca Lake can spread some much-needed cheer around the community if we set our minds to it.
“As a community, don’t be afraid to ask for help — but don’t be afraid to offer, either,” Garman says. “Whether it’s putting out rolls of toilet paper and paper towels or starting your own food bank in your front yard, no idea is truly too small. Just hold on, we’re all going to get through this.”