Philly Block Project Strives to Engage South Kensington

South Kensington is one of the most historic areas of Philadelphia, and a new project is helping document it’s past and present.

This past weekend, Philadelphia’s 9th annual Spring Cleanup was hosted for the first time by the Philly Block Project.

The Philly Block Project was launched last October at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center. The project was headed by conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas, curator Kalia Brooks and other artists, including Lisa Fairstein, Wyatt Gallery, Hiroyuki Ito, and Will Steacy. Residents also contributed their own pictures to the project.

The project features photos from one block, the 1700 block of North Third Street, in South Kensington. Project Coordinator Lori Waselchuk says that one block, although picked at random for the project, is emblematic of the South Kensington community

“It really shows a neighborhood that has all the changes. It has all the changes represented in it. It’s got new buildings, It’s got old buildings. It has a lot to present as the story of South Kensington.”

The project is composed of three main components. The first is the photo exhibit inside the PPAC, which opened last October and runs until this August. The project provides a visual narrative about South Kensington’s past and current residents.

“We’re trying to know our neighbors, and find out more about what the neighborhood is like,” said Waskelchuk.

Take a look at the inside the gallery below:

The second exhibit opens on September 8th, and features Hank Willis Thomas’ collection of current photos from the block.

Finally, the Philly Block Project is striving to open community dialogue and engagement. They hold monthly meetings at the PPAC for community members to express their ideas and concerns. “We really do want this to be a collaboration with the residents,” Waselchuk said.

While Waselchuk says it has been a slow and sometimes difficult process of getting the community involved, resident Nicole Lagreca says “It’s really important to try and find a sense of what the community will be like moving forward and how we can work together to achieve that.”

Philly Block Project volunteer James Fulfiller agrees and says, “It’s a good way to get people from that community to share a lot more than we’d normally be able to find out about it,”

Waselchuk says she hopes the project will be able to host other future events for the community. The PPAC also continues to host community classes and workshops.

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