Proposal Perspectives: Reflections from Week Six

Written by Heather Liang //

Proposal Perspectives: Reflections from Week Six

I think that one of the most amazing aspects about Monument Lab is the agency it gives Philadelphians to shape the identity and future of their city. Known for its litter problem, Philadelphia has taken on the nickname of “Filthadelphia.” I’ve known some passionate Philadelphians who take pride in this moniker, as it captures the “grit” of their city. However, it is admittedly a less-than-glamorous title, and more and more Philadelphians have been pushing to clean up the streets and rebrand the city.

There have been many proposals submitted over the course of Monument Lab that have addressed the trash problem in Philadelphia. Folks have proposed many different ways of cleaning up our neighborhood streets, and raising awareness of the problem.

Garbage Day.jpg
Do you want to be konwn as Trashadelphia?.jpg
Throw Away Your Trash.jpg

Some of these proposals are very straightforward in their goal to reduce littering. They call for more trash cans on city blocks, in hopes that they would discourage people from throwing trash in the street. Jerry Cavill and S. Cohen recognize the prevalence of the littering problem in Philadelphia, and point to the reputation that the city has developed. Mohammed draws from their personal experience of noticing a shortage of public trash cans around their own neighborhood. Each of these respondents are from different areas in Philadelphia - spanning from Upper Darby, to Fairmount, to North Philadelphia, showing the extent of the “Filthadelphia” problem.

Arctic Trash.jpg

Mark’s proposal for more trash cans around the city takes a Philadelphia-cultural twist. They propose trash cans shaped like cartons of Arctic Splash - a signature piece of litter in the Fishtown neighborhood (http://www.fishtownjuice.com/). While Mark is not the first person to try this approach (http://www.phillymag.com/news/2014/07/25/fishtown-juice-arctic-splash-cartons-litterbug-scourge-works-art/) , perhaps this pointed and creative nod to a piece of “Filthadelphia” culture will encourage more people to think about their actions.

 

Make a clean city the Monuments.jpg
Trash monument.jpg
Litter Memorial.jpg

These last 3 proposals are a little less subtle about the problem that they aim to address. Yannick and Angela Mele both propose pieces of art that are created from the trash that Philadelphians produce. This puts the problem in plain sight, and could not only speak to the litter problem in the city, but also encourage people to be more cognizant about the waste that they produce, and suggest efforts toward a more sustainable Philadelphia. While Catlyn’s proposal does not display the actual garbage that is produced in the city, it does illustrate the reality of the litter problem, and its effect on the city’s environment.

In the past few years, Mural Arts has been active in the conversation of facilitating a cleaner Philadelphia. Their projects like Trash Academy (https://www.muralarts.org/artworks/trash-academy/) and Litter Critter bins (http://www.philadelphiastreets.com/sanitation/the-bigbelly-program/litter-critter-big-bellies) have encouraged communities to start talking about waste and sustainability, as well as act on collective social responsibilities relating to trash. Maybe these proposals will be a start to another project that will leave the “Filthadelphia” title in the past.

 

Header image: Trash receptacle made from recycled materials at 7th and Jackson Streets in South Philadelphia. Photo by Steve Weinik. Mural Arts Philadelphia.

Proposal Perspectives: Reflections from Our Third Week

Written by Aileen Walsh //

Proposal Perspectives: Reflections from Our Third Week

As Philadelphians and visitors alike continue to submit their proposals to Monument Lab, there is a community-wide desire for representation of Philadelphia citizens. A mission of Monument Lab is to engage our citizens in the public art produced by the city. Many members of the city wish to depict to honor the daily routines and everyday life of their families and neighbors, of their cultures and neighborhoods.

Monument Lab asks the question “What is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia?” The call to include more historical and public figures from Philadelphia is prominent throughout our weeks of proposals. However, multiple proposals (some of which are included below) offer that the best way to represent the current state of Philadelphia is to portray its citizens -- the very backbone of our community who may otherwise go unnoticed. It is a call to find the art in our everyday lives and in other people. It is a way to venerate the present population of Philadelphia, who will shape and lead our future. Monument Lab asks us to discuss our city's history through the perspective of our art. These proposals to Monument Lab ask the city to tell our future through the perspectives of our people. The portrayal of the public, in addition to the public figures, highlights the pride and sense of community prevalent both at our pop up studios and around our city. It is inspiring to see the love and reverence that our Monument Lab visitors have for one another. As one proposal, by our visitor named Kayla, stated “We are Philadelphia”.

the-citizen.jpg
the-people.jpg
hard-to-read-us.jpg
your-story.jpg

Proposal Perspectives: Reflections from the Second Week

Written by Ian Schwarzenberg //

Proposal Perspectives: Reflections from the Second Week

A common theme that has come up in proposals has been to honor the strengths of the communities Philadelphians form with each other, and the risks these communities form in the face of citywide gentrification. Each of the selected proposers views the issue with a unique perspective, with each person wishing to portray gentrification different as a result. Some proposers wish to portray the systemic issues behind gentrification, some wish to memorialize the physical effects of the process, and some wish to honor Philadelphians’ strong existing bonds with their neighbors.

            Firstly, some of these proposers feel that it is best to portray the causes of gentrification. In this proposal, one Philadelphian wishes to memorialize how gentrification can benefit a small amount of affluent newcomers to a neighborhood while disadvantaging its larger amounts of poorer original residents, which can damage that neighborhood’s community fabric. The proposer blames the negative effects of the capitalist economic system for this, which he portrays in the design elements of the monument idea.

eye-in-the-sky.jpg

Secondly, some of the selected proposers wish to portray gentrification’s physical effects on neighborhoods. This proposal aims to accomplish this by memorializing how development will soon replace vacant lots that held importance to their communities. When urban planners and other associated city officials discuss gentrification, they frequently criticize vacant lots for numerous reasons. Politicians and planners often argue vacant lots serve as holes in the fabrics of communities and drains on tax revenue for city governments. These officials and other community members in various cities rarely contemplate benefits vacant lots can have for communities. According to this proposer, South Philadelphians repurposed a large nearby empty lot into a dog run, where they would come to exercise their dogs and marvel at the views from there. The proposer knows about plans to redevelop the lot, and as a result, they want to construct a monument there to teach future passersby about the lot’s impact on the neighborhood. This proposal represents a unique and important way of examining gentrification by presenting a view on how vacant lots can actually benefit people living near them, contrary to how planners and other city officials tend to see such lots.      

dog-run.jpg

Finally, some of these proposers which to portray gentrification by honoring many Philadelphians’ solid bonds with their neighbors. Each of the selected proposers who touched on this chose to honor such community bonds through simple symbols. These two Philadelphians chose to honor the importance of stoops to the city. These proposers discuss how they see Philadelphia neighborhoods dominated by row homes often lack public places to sit, which leads residents to lounge on the row homes’ stoops. Through this, they can communicate with passersby who live near them, which leads to the formation of community bonds. Affluent newcomers who arrive to such row home neighborhoods in Philadelphia not only displace the original residents and fracture those old community bonds made at these stoops. Memorializing the stoop’s significance in shaping Philadelphia’s neighborhoods can teach affluent newcomers to the city of the impact they have on neighborhoods when they move into them.

stoops.jpg

Gentrification has clearly arrived in Philadelphia, and it is affecting residents in various ways. Each Philadelphian is responding to gentrification in unique ways that are shaped by their backgrounds and how they have experienced Philadelphia throughout the lives they have spent here. Some of these Philadelphians want to portray the systemic issues that cause gentrification, some prefer to memorialize gentrification’s effects on the city through its physical effects, and some wish to honor Philadelphians’ strong bonds they have forged with each other.

Proposal Perspectives: Reflections from Week One on the Data Team

Written by Heather Liang //

Proposal Perspectives: Reflections from Week One on the Data Team

Philadelphia’s rich and complex history is one of the most awe-striking characteristics of the city. What is even more impressive to me, is the commitment of Philadelphians to tell those histories. I am honored to have the experience of learning more and more about Philadelphia’s colorful history through monument proposals, from people who clearly care about telling it.

These are just a few of the proposals that have given me glimpses into the past:

prisoncomplex
native-american-trails.png
ona-judge.png

 

Not only do these proposals discuss Philadelphia history, but they also bring up issues that the city still needs to address.

The proposal about the Philadelphia prison complex was particularly interesting to me. I have never considered the history of Philadelphia’s prison system, but have always been perplexed by the placement of the Federal Detention Center in Center City. Seeing this proposal made me want to dig deeper into the history of prisons of Philadelphia. It prompted me to explore how attitudes towards prisons have shaped the current culture around them, as well as their physical placement in the city. Bringing aspects of Philadelphia’s historical culture to light deepens folks’ understanding of how the city was shaped into what it is today. This proposal further prompts dialogue of the current issue of the prison industrial complex in our country, and its implications on the people of Philadelphia.

Another impressive characteristic of Philadelphia is that, while it is telling and reflecting on its history, it also never stops looking toward nurturing its future:

the-future.png

 

 

From the Archives: Philly Prison Culture

Written by Archives Month Philly //

From the Archives: Philly Prison Culture

Philadelphia, city of firsts, pioneered solitary confinement and the concept of penitence—a prison philosophy that, its advocates hoped, could rescue people from a life of crime. Once the world’s most radical leader in the reconstruction of penal practices and prison spaces, Philadelphia now has the highest rate of incarceration of any large jurisdiction in the country.

From the Archives: From Draisiana to Bicycle

Written by Archives Month Philly //

From the Archives: From Draisiana to Bicycle

Philadelphia has a storied relationship with the bicycle. This Philadelphia bike story begins in 1819, when Charles Willson Peale, a prolific Philadelphia artist best known for his depictions of the American Founding fathers, encountered the The "Draisiana" on display in Baltimore. 

Banner Image: Tyree Guyton, The New White House (formally known as the Dotty Wotty House), 2008. © Heidelberg Archives/Tyree Guyton. (Photograph by Julie MacDonald)