Another City Beautiful Movement?

Aliquippa man seeks to inspire local community through art


Jenna Engel, Staff Writer

Hope is one of those things that humans need to survive. This is not a physical need, but more so a psychological one. This need of hope is exactly what one man is giving to the city of Aliquippa.
Herb Bailey is originally from Nashville, Tennessee and has begun to start a movement in the city of Aliquippa. Bailey runs a coffee shop called the Uncommon Grounds Cafe that is mainly composed of volunteers and missionaries. This group of incredible people has done something that in past years didn’t seem feasible: giving hope to a city who has little left.
“Our goal is to realize the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven here. The reality is we represent His kingdom, so if we are in a community, His kingdom is there in part and so where we live should look different because we bring God with us,” Bailey said.
The Uncommon Grounds Staff has been working to achieve this goal by making the city of Aliquippa more beautiful with art. Behind the cafe itself used to sit a large, blank, concrete wall next to a road that many travel on each day. Now, this wall holds a beautiful mural that depicts the word “hope.”
This mural wasn’t completed by the staff itself, but instead by the community. There is a space between each letter of the word, and in these spaces smaller murals revolving around the idea of hope are painted. The first is painted by children, the second by a teenager and the third by an adult.
Bailey states that he notices people slowing down while driving to take time and look upon the mural, while others stop completely to take pictures. Even though this may seem like nothing but a slight effect on the community, there is still an effect nonetheless. Bailey believes that this organization was started to “offer dignity to a place that has lost a lot of dignity.”
Robert Adamson, born and raised in Aliquippa since the 1950s, has seen many different changes within the community. Being a regular at the cafe, Adamson has grown close with the staff as well as Bailey, and has seen firsthand all of the work that Bailey does for the community. Besides the larger projects that are completed at the hands of the staff, Adamson sees the smaller things that Bailey does that truly show his character.
“Herb’s passion is to see that the community grows spiritually, emotionally, economically and morally,” Adamson said, comparing Bailey to a teacher, counselor and brother to the community. The reason for this comparison is because besides the large projects, he works in small ways to help the community. For example, he frequently takes kids home from the cafe if they are in need of a ride.
Future plans for the organization include more murals, a sculpture garden and making a park by the cafe for the opportunity to play live music. This community will be greatly influenced by Bailey and he hopes to continue giving the city hope and dignity.
Adamson, being part of the community and having the opportunity to see these changes firsthand says, “Herb was exceptional in his own way. Not superior, but exceptional. Because he is exceptional, we as Aliquippa are better off. We are better.”