It was a pleasant walk around the trails for Carrie Anne Pinson and her children until they’d get to the Westhall Trail Tunnel. Pinson, an Albemarle County School teacher; her son Grant, 10, her daughter Caroline, 8, and their three-year-old golden retriever, Harry, were walking more than ever after the schools closed, but the graffiti scribbled on the walls of the tunnel became harder to ignore.
The thoughtless scribbling often had messages that were bewildering and sometimes upsetting to her daughter, Pinson said. “We did a little brainstorming about how we could make it a better place.” Their solution: to paint the tunnel with chalkboard paint and encourage would-be graffiti artists to leave hopeful words and kind messages. They invested in supplies, and with the help of friends and neighbors who also donated paint and chalk, the tunnel was transformed into a positive space. There have been some themes: a teacher appreciation week, and messages for mom on Mother’s Day. Next up is a tribute to fathers for Father’s Day.
Pinson also encourages people to leave messages for friends they’re missing. Leaving art and messages in the tunnel has become so popular that she’d like to expand the space. Anyone wishing to donate chalkboard paint can reach her at [email protected]; those who want to donate chalk can either email her or leave it in a bin located in the tunnel.