On December 8, 2017, artists, community leaders, and neighbors came together at the Hatfield House, located at 33rd and Girard, to have a much needed Q&A about the Strawberry Mansion community and the many changes that have been occurring in the area. The panelists included Keir Johnston and Ernel Martinez, founding members and artists at Amber Art & Design; Carol Zou, Program Director at Asian Arts Initiative; Tonnetta Graham, Executive Director of Strawberry Mansion CDC; Trisha Sealy and myself (Terrance Snap Shot Anderson), both artists and Strawberry Mansion residents.
To set the tone for the evening’s panel discussion, local talent June Lopez provided melodic tunes throughout the night. DJ Lopez is an improvisational artist, musician, and sound artist who uses his music to heal and inspire. Neighborhood residents joined in and contributed to an intense discussion concerning the future of Strawberry Mansion.
This event was the second in a series of events organized by local art collective Amber Art & Design, in partnership with Fairmount Park Conservancy. Amber Art is working to increase awareness and create opportunities for neighborhood input and an open conversation around the potential investments happening in Fairmount Park.
As I reflect on the events that took place at the Hatfield House on Dec. 8th, I recall how passionate the community leaders were in speaking about the rebuilding of the Strawberry Mansion area. The major question presented that evening was “How can we, as artists and leaders, incorporate art as a process for community conversation, using the Hatfield House and park as a focal point?” It was an atmosphere that allowed everyone to speak their minds about issues that concerned the community and reinvent strategies to bring the younger leaders to the forefront.
My business and creative partner Gabrielle Elisa suggested bringing the elders of the community to the Hatfield House to educate the youth through art history. Others chimed in and suggested that we implement art classes for the whole family, again emphasizing the importance of gearing activities toward youth as the leaders of a new generation.
As a creative artist myself, I see how bringing different age groups together to converse about these issues can help to bring about change and growth. Bridging the gap between those who are from the neighborhood and those who are not means including diverse perspectives, but also finding where people can share experiences and offer new ideas.
We as panelists provided a perspective of how art changed our lives and how we could advance the arts one person at a time. We talked about how important it is to continue to build on this discussion and to continue to break down the communication barriers that affect our growth.
Other takeaways from the event on December 8th:
1. The panel discussion was an open forum that allowed for a non-judgmental atmosphere.
This was a stepping stone for more dialogue. By utilizing the ideas of community leaders, we can bring awareness and action in response to the needs of Strawberry Mansion as a whole.
2. Art is healing no matter what form it comes in.
3. The application of the arts can be a major change for the Strawberry Mansion community.
There are no limits when it comes to art because art comes in endless forms (i.e. dance, painting, instrumentation, etc.)
Amber Art & Design, in partnership with Fairmount Park Conservancy, will be hosting several events over the next 8 months, to continue to create space for conversations about what neighbors would like to see in Fairmount Park. These community conversations will further the discussion around concerns and priorities about the use and development of the park.
About Terrance Snap Shot Anderson:
Terrance Snap Shot Anderson is a writer and photographer based in Philadelphia. He spearheads LaZerGanG Music Group alongside co-partner Gabrielle Elisa of Bourne to Stand Out. LaZerGanG Music Group is a collective union of different brands that promote entertainment worldwide, in a cohesive manner in which to encourage networking and cross promotion. The LaZerGanG brand strives to produce excellence through professionalism and leadership by incorporating videography, photography, and entertainment. The objective of this partnership is to provide coverage and possibilities for upcoming and/or already established brands.