Asian Arts Initiative with Scribe Video Center
Production & Post Production Facilitator - Gary San Angel; Humanities Consultant - Gary McDonogh & Cindy Wong
I Come From A Place by Asian Arts Initiative (Center City)
Since 1993 the Asian Arts Initiative has used the arts to address social issues relevant to Asian Americans and other groups, particularly youth, whose experiences are marginalized in popular culture. Initially founded as a response to racial tensions in Philadelphia, AAI quickly bloomed into a vibrant community arts organization facilitating a broad range of workshops, performances and exhibitions. But in the fall of 2006, the group received notice that their building on the edge of Chinatown would be demolished to make way for the expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. It would be a repeat of a persistent history of displacement for this Center City Asian American community in an era of urban revitalization. I Come From A Place shows AAI staff and members reflecting on their history as they prepare to relocate to a then unknown location and an uncertain future. It demonstrates the capacity of artistic expression in encouraging personal and community empowerment, and portrays the affront to vital urban communities by urban development.
Asian Arts Initiative, a community arts center in Center City Philadelphia, is a unique and vital meeting place where artists and everyday people gather to think critically and creatively about the experiences of Asian Americans. In the coming months, the organization will have to relocate to make way for the expansion of the Convention Center. Through Precious Places, the group aims to record not only their memories but also their opposition to being displaced.
Odunde with Scribe Video Center
Videomaking Consultant - Tina Morton; Humanities Consultant - Jeff Maskovsky, Post Production - Tina Morton
Once “South Philly,” the area along South Street is now “Center City.” As longtime residents around the 2100 block can attest, gentrification has besieged this close-knit neighborhood that is regionally famous for Odunde, an annual African street festival. South Street is located just blocks from Center City's skyscrapers, and with real estate values rising, longtime residents in this neighborhood increasingly face displacement as the borders of Center City march ever southward. It is not the first time that the specter of displacement has arisen here: as residents remember, the Crosstown Expressway threatened thousands of homes in the area until the 1970s. The Taking of South Central...Philadelphia consciously places South Street's predicament in a national context. "Gentrification is like an epidemic," says the narrator. "People are being displaced from Harlem, San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit... where will working class people live?" The video features longtime residents such as Odunde founder Lois A Fernandez, and Lilly Gertrude Capps Venning-Dickerson, known locally as "Miss Buzzy," a 102-year resident of the neighborhood. With the community changing around them, neighbors are increasingly contemplating the future of this vital section of the city that to them will always be South Philadelphia.