ROANOKE, Va. – A new "L-O-V-E" sign was dedicated and a neighborhood cleanup project took place Saturday, according to the Western Virginia Water Authority.
The newest sign to appear in the valley was a collaborative project between the Southeast Neighborhood group, residents in the area and the Western Virginia Water Authority.
"The story of this public art sign began several years ago with Heather Lyne, a Virginia Tech graduate student (now alum) who interned with Susan Jennings, the city of Roanoke's Arts & Culture coordinator," Western Virginia Water Authority said in a news release. "Lyne began researching public sentiment towards art on the Roanoke River Greenway. That project resulted in a community-led pop-up project aimed at celebrating neighborhood identity."
Officials said Lyne connected with Sunni Purviance, the LOVE SE Project lead and member of the Southeast Action Forum, who had the idea to a create a free-standing "LOVE SE" sign using some of the leftover supplies from Lyne's projects.
Purviance organized six community paint sessions over the course of two months this fall with residents and school-age children from southeast Roanoke, officials said. Each person was asked to paint a representation of their southeast home, school, business, church or any place that they love in southeast Roanoke on a 3x3-inch wooden house-shaped cutout.
Nearly 300 hearts and houses were hand-painted and mounted on the letters to spell L-O-V-E, according to the Western Virginia Water Authority.
Officials said Purviance worked with the Greenway Commission and the Western Virginia Water Authority to dedicate the sign on Western Virginia Water Authority property next to the Bennington Street Greenway Trailhead.
With input from Purviance, staff from the Western Virginia Water Authority built a display to ensure that the community's art would be protected from the elements and displayed for Greenway and Bennington Street users alike to see and enjoy, officials said.
"The L-O-V-E sign represents community residents, volunteers and businesses coming together in a participatory nature to celebrate the southeast Roanoke neighborhood," the Western Virginia Water Authority said.