Writerz Blok was launched in 1999 by the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation as a nomadic program offering kids a legal outlet for graffiti art. Eventually, the crew of graffiti artists and muralists who ran the program landed on a half-acre piece of property owned by the Jacobs Center near Market Creek Plaza in southeastern San Diego.
Anyone is invited to stop by the outdoor urban art park to color the big wooden walls mounted throughout the property with spray paint. By most accounts, the program’s been successful at redirecting graffiti-inclined youth and has helped cut the amount of illegal graffiti in the neighborhood.
But Writerz Blok isn’t satisfied with its success just yet. The group is ready to become an official nonprofit. It also wants to reach more kids and offer more classes that help kids find jobs in creative industries like graphic design. The group needs money to help make that all happen, so this Saturday they’re throwing a party and announcing the launch of a crowdfunding campaign to fund new classrooms, a retail shop, more walls for art and a large stage for community events.
Sergio Gonzalez, a program director at Writerz Blok, said some of the money raised will also help repair the park, which took a beating in some of the recent El Niño storms.
“These are walls that have been around since 2006,” he said, pointing out huge wooden boards covered in thick paint that had fallen to the ground. “So you can imagine the layers and layers of paint that just weighted the walls down and then the rain did the rest.”
Gonzalez said if the campaign is successful, Writerz Blok will be closer to becoming a “self-sustaining social enterprise” that makes money by offering graphic design and other creative services to clients. He said he’s also looking into having Writerz Blok become one of the dozens of diversion programs offered through the county juvenile justice system.