New nonprofit organization hopes to build diversity and inclusion through public art

In September, United We Go invited ten artists to collaborate with community volunteers to create murals and brighten the inside of a Downtown Bay City alley. 

The murals in an alley near MDL Companies seek to do much more than beautify the community.

In the United We go mural in an alley, the illustrations flow from one artist's work to another.“Our mission at United We Go is we want to bring people closer,” says Gina Anayana, the Founder and President of the nonprofit organization that formed in February 2023.  

“How we bring people closer together is we want to encourage collaboration. We want to support harmony and inclusion through community engagement. We know public art brings people closer together. Through art, it is easier to get people together without speaking too much.”

Public art can inspire and unite a community.
While the murals may be the most visible work of United We Go, it’s not the organization’s only project. United We Go also hosted an I Am Youth Fashion Show and its second annual City of Mural Community Festival in September. As we begin October, Anayana is already making plans for a third festival and more murals.

“We want to celebrate diversity and inclusion,” Anayana says.

United We Go describes the mural as a "tapestry of life's ever-changing essence, weaving together nature's wonders and human connection. It harmoniously blends elements of plants, people, animals, insects, and the four fundamental forces: fire, water, earth, and air."

A written description of the mural, provided by United We Go, also says "this mural radiates the profound theme of 'United through Diversity.' "

Anayana is reaching out to neighboring communities and partnering with area organizations as she seeks to fulfill the United We Go mission.

At one time, Bay City was known as the Mural City. Anyana hopes to restore that reputation. (Learn more about some of the older murals in Downtown Bay City in this Oct. 24, 2019 Route Bay City article.)

Gina Anayana is already making plans for more murals in the community.
None of this happens without community support, Anayana says.

“Without community support this community mural project wouldn’t even be happening or have happened,” Anayana says. “Without the restaurants and coffee shops and Airbnb sponsors and paint sponsors and volunteers, the festival would not even be in Bay City.”

She also credited artists, foundations, and donors for making the murals possible.

Going forward, Anayana wants to increase participation. 
'We Bee-long together,' declares one portion of the mural in the alley.

“Without community, there is no public art,“ she says.

“We definitely invite more local artists to participate because it’s their hometown and home state. We welcome parents and children to come paint with us, so they can have more memories. We would invite different restaurants, different coffee shops, to participate. The need is high.”

United We Go invited ten artists to create eight murals in an downtown alley.
Her goals are literally big. 

“We are focusing on larger scale collaborations locally, out of state or even internationally, to bring this onto the bigger walls.”

Collaboration, diversity, inclusion, and unity all are themes for the murals in the alley.

In November and December, she hopes to send out sponsorship packages inviting additional participation. She’s also meeting with regional arts organizations to coordinate efforts.

Her passion appears to be contagious. 

The murals line one wall of the alley, merging from one scene into another.
“People already have reached out to have us go check out their walls,” she says. “We might do two projects a year.”
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Read more articles by Kathy Roberts.

Kathy Roberts, a graduate of Central Michigan University, moved to Bay City in 1987 to start a career in the newspaper industry. She was a reporter and editor at the Bay City Times for 15 years before leaving to work at the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Covenant HealthCare, and Ohno Design. In 2019, she returned to her storytelling roots as the Managing Editor of Route Bay City. When she’s not editing or writing stories, you can find her reading books, knitting, or visiting the bars of Bay County. You can reach Kathy at