January 09 2013

Philadelphia Mural Arts Program Transforms Downtown Streetscapes

Philly Mosaic MuralThe Philadelphia Mural Arts Program began in 1984 as part of a campaign to eradicate graffiti citywide. Since then, over 3,000 murals have been created; each has become a distinctive part of the city’s landscape. In Philadelphia, mural making provides a unique opportunity for community engagement. It fosters relationships among community members, schools, grassroots organizations, city agencies, and philanthropists.

Public art programs allow individuals to take action to beautify their own communities. Over the years, Philadelphia’s Mural Art Program has brought artists and community members together in a collaborative process that transforms public spaces and individual lives. A recent endeavor of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program is The Porch Light Initiative.

The Porch Light Initiative is a three-year program that creates partnerships between health service providers, artists, community residents, and individuals receiving treatment for behavioral health challenges. Together these partnerships create public art that raises awareness for community health. One recent example of The Porch Light Initiative is The Color of Your Voice Mural completed in October 2012.

The Color of Your Voice Mural

This mural represents the goals of The Porch Light Initiative, which are:

  • Bringing community members together to create public art projects which encourage community ownership and pride;
  • Using art as a tool to connect individuals with behavioral health challenges to each other, health service providers, and the community;
  • Illuminating the challenges faced by individuals with behavioral health issues.

This public art program, along with others, provides a creative tool for expressing community values. Next time you are in Philadelphia make sure to check out this mural and others. You can even take a tour.

Please share some examples of tools for cultural engagement in your community and how urban planners increase community participation.

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Alex Riemondy

Alex Riemondy is a recent graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Environmental Studies, and a Certificate in Urban and Regional Planning. Her interests in urban planning first stemmed from a cross-country bicycle trip in support of affordable housing. During the trip she became fascinated with connecting communities through the development of safe cycling routes. On a bike, she is constantly thinking about her urban environment and how it can grow to meet the needs of her community. Although currently living in Hummelstown, PA - having recently returned from working on a permaculture farm in Costa Rica - she plans to pursue a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning in Southern California. Finding happiness through connecting with her community and environment, she is most interested in improving citizen quality of life though: bicycle and pedestrian planning, green street design, and increasing citizen participation in the planning process.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 9th, 2013 at 9:00 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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