When Tricia Keith and her family moved to a new housing development in Whalley, they felt, like their neighbours, that the area needed some fresh energy. It needed some inspiration and a little colour to better reflect the character of the new families in their new community.
So, with her good friend Tracy, Tricia decided to use a love of celebratory art to create a project that would inspire the neighbourhood.
When Tracy found out about the Vancouver Foundation’s Neighbourhood Small Grants (NSG) program through the Surrey Public Library, this was the catalyst to bring their project to life.
With NSG funding, donations from General Paint, Home Depot, the City of Surrey’s re-use paint program and hard work, Tracy, Tricia and her husband designed and sketched two six-foot-high, free-standing portable murals featuring positive messages of hope that could be hosted on each neighbours’ lawn.
The “Host a Hope” murals use bright and youthful illustrations with two messages: “respect,” featuring two neighbours connected by roots of the community, and “kindness,” which shows that “all paths lead us home” and an illustration of two homes connected by one path.
The murals were painted at an annual neighbourhood block party for about 30 residents on Labour Day in 2012.
The project had an immediate effect says Tricia. “The impression was ‘Look what you can do!’… It opened people’s possibilities up, gave them sense of pride, and made them feel connected as a community”.
“I know every area is different with different needs” she says. “What I love about Surrey is the openness to new ideas and the willingness to develop its own distinct culture. There’s an energy that connects people to people, people to themselves and people to nature.”
Host a Hope continues to connect local residents and welcome new ones to the neighbourhood. It is a colourful reminder of the goals of NSG – to empower residents to build stronger, more connected neighbourhoods in metro Vancouver.

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