Vibrant flowers, giant skulls, and colorful chili peppers adorn the walls of 16th Street in Phoenix, Arizona. They are a public celebration of a culture as rich as the colors that splash down this corner of the city. Calle 16 has become the epicenter of this Southwestern community, and the story of this transformation starts not at city hall, but in the kitchen of chef Silvana Salcido Esparza.

When Chef Esparza, chef and owner of the popular restaurant, Barrio Cafe, faced discrimination in her community, she didn’t fight the hatred she felt with more hatred. No, instead she started an initiative completely inspired by the same love that courses through her restaurant. And her impact on the community is palpable.

On this edition of Saturdays Around the World, we’re taking a trip to Phoenix, Arizona in the United States to see the beautiful outcomes of her efforts: Calle 16.

This is a story of persistence and the inspiring outcomes that grace us when love is our weapon of choice in the arena—and it’s one that we can all take note!

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Art—both visual and culinary—has a knack for translating the heart of communities.

There’s almost nothing that expresses love more than food. It represents cultures, family, and nurturing one another from the inside out. Physically filling us with love, it connects us to each other, inspires us, and gives us the energy to do what needs to be done. And just like food, the street art that now fills the walls down Calle 16 is full of the same love; showing the world the beauty and pride in this Phoenix community!

For a quick, wonderful intro to Chef Esparza’s restaurants and the results of the art in Calle 16, take a look at this video from Great Big Story:

Curious to learn a little more about Calle 16 and the people who participated? Check out this video from Arizona PBS!

Find more awesome content from Great Big Story over on their websiteYouTube channel, or by following them on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram!

“There are two distinct languages. There is the verbal, which separates people… and there is the visual that is understood by everybody.” — Yaacov Agam

In the face of discrimination and the threats, the art that this community created showed the beauty that resides inside of them. It celebrates their culture, and now, people travel miles just to take it all in for themselves.

Perhaps this is something we can all apply to our lives. Most, if not all, of the walls residing in us are up because we feel threatened and misunderstood. There’s a tendency to keep what we love to ourselves—to hold it close and protect it from judgment. But the thing is, love is always meant to be shared. It’s the one language that can be understood by anyone.

Art nourishes us from the inside out, just as the food we eat does. So if we want to connect to people we aren’t familiar with, these two routes will show us their hearts clear as day.

For more amazing people sharing the heart of their communities, check out these following articles!

9 minutes

How Cecilia Chiang Changed Food in America

If you’ve ever enjoyed Chinese food in the United States, like potstickers and Peking duck, then we’d like to introduce you to Cecilia Chiang. She's the "Julia Child" of Chinese cuisine, and the story of how she changed the way Americans eat is as remarkable as her influence!

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10 minutes

Graffiti that Brings A Message of Hope

What if graffiti could change communities around the world? The artist el Seed is spreading a message of hope and peace with his unique art form calligraffiti.

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17 minutes

#DialogueCoffee: Why We Need More Difficult Conversations

The world can feel pretty divided right now, but we have a fix for you. It's a technique called #DialogueCoffee and it makes talking to someone with an opposing viewpoint on the world a little easier (and much much more rewarding). Here's the story of how it came to be!

Read More

Our art can show so much more than words.

What do your streets and restaurants say about your community? How could art represent you? And how could it lift up your neighbors?

Stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” —Albert Einstein 

Hey! We’re looking for funding!

We’re just going to come clean with you: we’re running out of money to keep Ever Widening Circles afloat. Do you have any ideas or introductions you can make for us to get closer to funding? Please let us know! Email us directly at hellothere@everwideningcircles.com

Notes:

  1. Great Big Story. “How This Mexican Chef Is Changing Perceptions With Food.” YouTube, Great Big Story, 21 June 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=eikcIIW9rrg&feature=youtu.be. Accessed 23 July 2019.

Sam Burns

Chief Administrative Officer, Head Staff Writer

Sam is a listener, creator, collector of knick-knacks and lover of most, if not all, types of cheese.