New group Nourish paints over poverty

Tyler Gieseke

By Hailey Colwell

The faded grass and damp sidewalk of Northrop Mall got a burst of color Friday from a huge canvas painted with letters.

Passing students took turns brushing words like “joy,” “safety” and “love” onto the canvas in red, yellow and green paint. The bright statements all but masked a line of black block letters spelling the word “poverty.”

The artistic statement was brought to the mall by Nourish, a new student group that completes poverty reduction projects with developing communities around the world.

“It’s just a really practical way for University students to make an impact on extreme poverty,” group president Hanna Mihalko said.

This semester, the group is working with University food distributors to fundraise for its upcoming project, Mihalko said. Members of the group have expressed interest in partnering with communities in Latin America, Africa and India. The group will vote for its partner community in two weeks and then map out its project.

She said the group set up the canvas on Northrop Mall to get out the word about the issues that its members work to address.

“I feel like a lot of people on campus know that extreme poverty exists,” Mihalko said, “but I don’t think people always know that…they can do something about it.”

University student Vincent Brinker said he joined the group because of the way it plans to apply the funds it raises.

“We say that we are a country of excess and that we’re guilty for the luxuries that we have,” Brinker said, “but we don’t just embrace what we have and use that as a platform to spread goodness throughout our society…and that shouldn’t be just done by sympathetic giving, that should be done by actively doing something that’s sustainable.”

He said he hopes working with the group will give him the chance to pursue his interest in human rights.

“It doesn’t matter who you’re sleeping with, what you believe in and all that kind of [expletive] that people are fighting about now,” he said. “We’re just individual people, and everybody is different and everybody has shared similarities.”

David Thompson was on the way to his next class when he stopped to paint a word on the canvas.

“It felt good to know that people are out here doing this,” Thompson said.

Though many students paused to look at or contribute to the piece, some continued to pass by.

“I think it’s kind of surprising that people don’t stop,” he said.

By 10 a.m., what had once been a white sheet with black letters on it was already full of color.

“At the beginning of the day it just said ‘poverty,’” Mihalko said, “so we’re hoping that in an hour or two it’ll all be covered up with ways that we can help fight poverty and get people to start thinking about it.”