By Baylie Redman
At its core, the Billings Chamber of Commerce exists to make Billings a better place to live and work. A big part of that is supporting community efforts to improve quality of life. Healthy By Design took a big step towards that goal, listening to the voices of the community and taking action to make the South Side a better place to live. Bringing in members of the South Side Community along with local artist Rachel Larson Long for help, Healthy By Design made sure to capture everything that makes the South Side the “Bright Side of the Tracks.”
The South Park Mural captures a lot of the South Side’s identity. It represents local artists and musicians, churches, events, and even the diversity of its residents. The mural is book-ended by Native American designs and captures the Latino culture that drives the community.
While Rachel Larson Long was the artist that created the design, members of the community of all ages came out to turn the mural into the beautiful work of art it is now. Many of the artists were just at South Park to enjoy the day, but after seeing what was going on, grabbed a paintbrush and got to work. Members from Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch as well as Friendship House also came out to make progress on the mural.
The South Park Mural is just a small step in the process to help re-brand the South Side as “The Bright Side of the Tracks.” Many community members spoke up to Healthy By Design about the lack of community artwork on the South Side. They felt that people had labeled them as the wrong part of town for so long that they wanted to show off what the area really had to offer. That’s when Healthy By Design brought in Rachel Larson Long to help change that. “The Bright Side of the Tracks” is the community’s way of telling Billings that they have something really special on the South Side, and they can’t wait to show it off.