Generally speaking, I have a lot of positive things to say about Philadelphia, especially regarding social action. Though many of us are still cringing over recent budget cuts to city schools, organizations such as First Person Arts are giving us reason to keep the faith. Which is a good thing, because you can’t legitimately call yourself The City of Brotherly Love if you’re not actually promoting community advocacy.
Later today, Philadelphians will have a chance to witness real-time social change at Philly reACTS’ debut event, “The Heart Beneath The Hood.” A collaborative, creative approach to addressing major current events, Philly reACTS is a new initiative by First Person Arts, a non-profit arts organization that transforms the drama of real life into memoir and documentary art experiences.
Driven by newsworthy events, such as the Trayvon Martin case, which is the focus of tonight’s kickoff event and premiere program, Philly reACTS combines live performance art, personal storytelling and interactive audience activities with a collaborative art project (in this case, crafting a flag out of donated hoodies, a symbol of a community united for peace and forward momentum) to keep important causes and issues front-and-center. And, to do it in a safe, unprejudiced environment.
It’s not just about Trayvon Martin, but also about what we should do now, in Philadelphia and beyond.
Organizers also hope to send a message to participants, as they move through each stage of Philly reACTS programs, that there is enormous power in speaking up, and out, in a unified voice.
“The Trayvon Martin verdict stung the Black community with a sadly familiar venom. It also strengthened and unified a multi-cultural, multi-generational group of Americans who share the same vision of justice, value all human life regardless of color or creed and who want to look beyond the hoodie. Through our first Philly reACTs, First Person Arts seeks to bring together a group of artists and community members to lend its unique voice to this dialogue.”
—First Person Arts’ Executive Director, Jamie J. Brunson
I don’t know the status the hoodie collection, as it’s just been a few days since the program was launched, but as hoodies are also being requested to share with partnering organizations, it’s unlikely your contribution will be turned away.
Tonight’s event takes place at 5:30pm in the courtyard of City Hall.
Click here to learn more about both Philly ReACTS and First Person Arts. And, since community involvement is so critical to the success of initiatives such as this one, please share related information on Twitter, Facebook, Google + and anywhere else you think fellow Philadelphians will take interest. Don’t forget to use #PHILLYreACTS. I won’t be able to make it out, but I expect to see coverage on the local news (hint, hint media outlets).