Ribbon Cutting to Celebrate ‘Gather and Grow’ Mural at Rosebud Coffee House

The finished mural at Rosebud Coffee House. Photo providedThe finished mural at Rosebud Coffee House. Photo provided

By Kate H. Elliott—

MUNCIE, IN—Muncie residents are invited to a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 19, to celebrate completion of the “Gather and Grow” mural at Rosebud Coffee House, 1805 S. Hoyt Ave.

The mural — completed by local artist Sarah Shaffer — is a campus & community collaboration between Rosebud and Ball State University’s School of Journalism and Strategic Communication. Lecturer of Journalism Kate Elliott helped guide the creative endeavor.

“Students in my strategic writing class were collaborating with southside non-profits and businesses, including Rosebud, to produce social media content and support other marketing and communications efforts,” Elliott said. “When my students learned that Rosebud’s owner, Tiara Hicks, wanted another mural on the building, they jumped at the opportunity to make it happen.”

Students wrote grant applications, secured the artist, and collaborated with Hicks and Shaffer to finalize a vibrant, interactive mural that blends the campus and Muncie community. Ball State sophomore Seattle Greenwell helped lead the project and paint the mural.

“It was so rewarding and exciting to apply the skills I’ve learned in the classroom — like project management, grant writing and more — to a project in the community. Art is powerful, and this meaningful mural will last for years as a reminder of the partnerships between Ball State and Muncie,” Greenwell said. “I also loved helping to paint the mural at my favorite coffee shop, which is really focused on building community and connection.”

Jenna Bertsch, a junior public relations major, said community-engaged learning has made her coursework meaningful and helped make Muncie feel more like home to her.

“Students who never get out into Muncie during their time here are missing out,” said Bertsch, who is from Cambridge City, Indiana. “Muncie is a wonderful community, and I’m so glad Kate pushed us to get out of our comfort zones and connect with residents and events. It’s enriched my life, and I’ve gotten to make an impact through this class,” she said.

The two were among the first students to show up to help Shaffer paint the mural. Students and community members applied the first coat, while Shaffer added depth and detail. Shaffer said meeting with students and working on the project has deepened her love for public art.

“I am passionate about community engagement through the arts,” said the Indiana native and Ball State graduate. “Art inspires thought, promotes new ideas, and serves to better our community. Art in public spaces sparks conversations that create accessibility to the arts.”

The “Gather and Grow” mural is meant to engage, said Emma Fullen, a 2023 magazine media graduate, who helped with the project. “We hope people will come by and snap a picture of them smelling the rose or hold up their cup like they are capturing drops of coffee in their Rosebud drink,” she explained. “We want the mural to invite people to this gathering place. Rosebud is special.”

The mural is also special to Rosebud’s owner. The flower is Hicks’ favorite color and reminds her of the purple flowers her dad often brought her mom. The rosebud also illustrates the nickname of Hicks’ grandpa, who “always had an open door and a cup of coffee for anybody,” she added. The Muncie native said she strives to infuse his sense of hospitality in the shop, which opened in 2020 “to break down barriers and make the coffee shop experience enjoyable for all.”

Shaffer is a mother of two and has painted two traffic signal boxes as a part of Muncie Arts and Culture Council’s Box! Box! Project. In 2020, Shaffer completed an outdoor mural in Gaston, Indiana.

The mural at Rosebud was one of several projects within Elliott’s classes, which are all focused on storytelling and strategic communications in Muncie’s southside. This semester, students wrote a press release on behalf of the Muncie Public Library; created videos for the Common Market; gathered resident interviews for the 8twelve coalition and collaborated with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Muncie to create reading comprehension bookmarks. They helped facilitate a Career Week with after-school program, Great Achievers, and presented about media literacy to fifth graders at West View Elementary.

“Few efforts are more rewarding than watching students connect in meaningful ways with people and places in the community, and then helping those students transform those engagements into content that creates empathy, understanding and action,” said Elliott, who has worked at Ball State since 2011. “This work opens eyes and changes hearts, and it’s a gift to work with such generous community partners and neighbors.”

The ribbon cutting ceremony is yet another opportunity for connection. Refreshments will be provided, and those involved with the effort will be there to talk about the vision and process.

During the summer, Rosebud is open 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. Book a private meeting space (for free), order and more at rosebudcoffeehouse.com or on socials @rosebudcoffeehouse. Check out Shaffer’s work and connect with her @SarahShafferDesigns. Kate Elliott can be reached at kelliott@bsu.edu.


Kate Elliott is Lecturer of Journalism in the School of Journalism and Strategic Communications at Ball State University.