The Shafter Press - Serving the community since 1922

By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

Chalk it up to community


September 19, 2019

Jamie Stewart | The Shafter Press

Stencils were available to help the budding artists

Many people and organizations serving the city got words of encouragement from residents in the first "Walk and Chalk" on sidewalks Monday.

Listen to Shafter, a new community benefit organization in Shafter, hosted the event, where neighbors were invited to meet at City Hall, where they could write encouraging messages to City Hall staff along the sidewalk in front. From there, a one-mile walk began with stops along the way to write more encouraging messages at two more "chalk stations."

The sidewalk along the downtown square was the second station. Then the walk continued along James Street to Sunset Avenue, where the third station ran along Sunset Avenue to include encouraging the Shafter Learning Center students and staff, the Fire Department and the Police Department.

There were a variety of artists on hand, from little ones who didn't know how to spell, to those "young at heart" who had a great time letting that artistic side of themselves out. It was a fun time for all, also touching for a lot of people, including one of the organizers, Melissa Bergen, of Listen to Shafter. "I got emotional and teary eyed a few times along the way, watching kids having such fun in this community event, or seeing how the community came together to celebrate what a great community that we live in."

Jamie Stewart | The Shafter Press

Malachi Dewitt displays his artistic side and patriotism with this drawing of an American flag.

This event drew 65-75 people -- families, teen groups, friends, young and old, people who have lived in Shafter for 40 years, people brand new to Shafter, neighbors, city staff and City Council members. Everyone was welcome and all types of creativity could be seen. There were drawings done by little ones who didn't know how to spell yet, splashes of color left by middle schoolers, encouraging messages left by high school students and retired teachers, and drawings left by all ages. Participants were also encouraged to patronize local restaurants downtown along the way, which a lot of the participants did.

The "Walk and Chalk" event was created to support Shafter's already vibrant walking community and be an encouragement to downtown. Listen to Shafter invited others to host a "Walk and Chalk" event in their neighborhoods or at schools, businesses and churches. More information is available at


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