This gigantic mural is making a Mexican neighborhood more 'magical'

Global Voices Online
Las Palmitas and the “macro mural” in its final stage.

Las Palmitas and the “macro mural” in its final stage.

Courtesy of the German Crew collective/Facebook

In the center of a small neighborhood located in the city of Pachuca, Hidalgo, is the largest graffiti mural in all of Mexico. The mural was painted onto a canvas of 200 homes and was inaugurated in July.

But the “macro mural” has done much more than simply give some color to the hillside district of Las Palmitas, a predominantly rural neighborhood with a certain degree of poverty and crime. The collective effort has created jobs, reduced youth violence and instilled a sense of community spirit, turning Las Palmitas into what the project leaders have dubbed the “first magical neighborhood” — a play on the Mexican government’s separate initiative to promote “magical towns” (Pueblos Mágicos) as tourism destinations.

Leading the project was the independent Mexican collective the Germen Crew (Seed Crew), composed of urban artists specializing in graffiti art, mural painting and audiovisual documentary. A group which, through public and street art, aims to give new meaning to public spaces and restore social fabric for the benefit of communities. Their Facebook page reads as follows:

Our work is an artistic offering for our cities. It is through colors, forms, textures, and mixed media that we share our way of making and understanding art. We seek to detonate the seed of possibility by strengthening the hearts and enthusiasm of those

Beyond the collaboration of the local and federal government, which facilitated the materials needed, the project was fueled in large part by the active participation of the 452 families that live in Las Palmitas (about 1,808 people). The residents were consulted throughout the three months that the project lasted, and they also took part in various cultural activities that were held at the same time: workshops, lectures and tours, all with the objective of reducing juvenile delinquency.

The video above documents a workshop on lantern balloons in Las Palmitas. Residents said that the artistic activities were having a positive impact on the neighborhood:

For us it is a festive day in our district, because we are experiencing things we had never experienced before. I see so much harmony and coexistence, above all in our families. I believe that with these events my neighborhood will improve greatly and I d

To view video with English subtitles click here.

In an interview with for magazine, Planisferio, the Seed Crew explained that what makes their approach innovative is their focus on painting not institutional spaces, but rather public plazas, markets and even marginalized areas with significant crime rates. At the same time, they said, their success is the fruit of their collective efforts and group dynamics.

‘The first magical neighborhood of Mexico’

The statement “color is magic” opens a brief video that documents the transformation of Las Palmitas to a vibrant, colorful community.

To view video with English subtitles click here.

With more than 13 years in existence, the Seed Crew has undertaken projects in the Jamaican Market of Mexico City; in the esplanade of the new towns in Ecatepec in Mexico; and in Miravalle, Guadalajara, among many others. Now, they have achieved their aim of transforming Las Palmitas into what they call the “first magical neighborhood of Mexico,” and everything seems to indicate that there is still more to come.

More information about the work of Seed Crew can be found on their pages on Facebook and Instagram, and on their channel on YouTube.

A version of this story was cross-posted at Global Voices, a community of 1,200 bloggers and reporters worldwide.