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Lake Tunnel Mural Inspires Community Involvement and Creativity

Lake Tunnel Mural Inspires Community Involvement and Creativity

Posted: September 12, 2017

Two years ago, Assistant Planner Rose Spieler-Sandberg applied for the Local Spark Award to transform a white, cement pedestrian tunnel into a piece of art. The tunnel leads residents and tourists from downtown Ashland to the Lake Superior waterfront. Ashland, the Historic Mural Capital of Wisconsin is coming together to turn Rose’s dream into a reality.

Beginning in early April of 2016, residents across the community began creating mosaic animals for the mural. Community members were incredibly supportive and positive about the initiative, sparking involvement from high schools, the senior center and the general public. Workshops, scheduled regularly and open to the public, not only provided time to work on the mural but evolved into a central community hub, allowing a wide array of people to meet and connect on a different level than they otherwise would have.

The project was sectioned off into three phases- mosaics, painting and story plaques. Stage three, educational story plaques, was not in Spieler-Sandberg’s original proposal but became an important and crucial aspect of the project. In addition to the visual aspect, the plaques offer an educational element allowing passerby’s to read and learn about the different animals and ecosystems displayed throughout the tunnel.

For Ashland, the highlight of the Lake Tunnel Mural was the opportunity for community members to come together, the creativity and passion that has cumulated from these efforts, and the chance for residents to be a part of something that will exist for generations to come. The mural highlights an otherwise unknown area of the city and bring attention to the downtown, waterfront, and the tunnel itself. 

When asked what advice Spieler-Sandberg would give to someone thinking about applying for the Local Spark Award, “Go for it!” she said. “If you don’t try, you won’t get it!” In addition, she spoke about how one doesn’t need to have a complete idea, or be an expert on the project but rather just needs to put themselves out there and try. Along the way you will continue to learn and there will be people ready and willing to help out. Spieler-Sandberg also spoke about what the award has meant to her. “I wouldn’t have done this if I hadn’t gotten the [Local Spark] award from the Trust. I am grateful to have received this award.”

Learn more about the Local Spark Award at


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