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A creative approach to hand-washing

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Brattleboro Reformer

BRATTLEBORO — As Vermont communities slowly emerge from weeks of Stay Home/Stay Safe advisories, they face many pressing needs, including the new health policies as Vermont tries to get local businesses and economies up and running as quickly as possible. These requirements leave many with an important question: Where will I wash my hands?

Initiated by The Human Connection Project and Brattleboro Housing Opportunities, a coalition of Brattleboro individuals and organizations has developed a unique and useful piece of functional street art as an answer. Each "Handy Station" expresses a unique collaboration between a local musician, artist and business, making hand-sanitizing fun. The base units were designed by

Erin Maile O'Keefe to play 20 seconds of music while a patron properly sanitizes their hands. Musical artist Peter Siegel composed the first jingle to include some friendly public safety reminders in a catchy tune. Artist Maddie Pixley worked with The Void business owner Alli Padaigas to style the station's backsplash with a mask-wearing gorilla. Her artwork highlights the six points of downtown conduct written up by the Downtown Brattleboro Alliance.

The goal of this creative venture is both practical — the need for hand-sanitizing and clear reinforcement of public safety expectations — and economical. By employing local artists, Handy Stations are expected to get the creative economy and "Main Street" working together. It works when a business "adopts" one of these custom-designed Handy Stations. Store owners are responsible for placement of the station on the sidewalk during store hours and storing it during off-hours. As functional installation art, the Handy Stations will encourage people to come downtown, shop and maintain safety standards.

The first prototype was unveiled in front of The Void at 109 Main St. in Brattleboro, on June 18. Open Artful Streets is working with a local display company to produce affordable base units, ready for art, messaging and music. Handy Station base units will be flat packed and ready to ship to artist collaborators. OAS continues to seek grants to expand this project to more businesses throughout Brattleboro.

For more information contact: openartfulstreets.org

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