Site Visits

Media Mobilizing Project

Independence Hall, PhiladelphiaThe historic Liberty Bell stands outside
Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

The Media Mobilizing Project (MMP) was founded on the conviction that movements begin with the sharing of untold stories. MMP uses multimedia to lift up the experiences of Philadelphians and Pennsylvanians struggling to secure their most basic human rights, uniting grassroots leaders across issues and geography in a network of support, shared lessons, resources, and leadership. Participants met Ronald Blount of the Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania at the holding lot of the 30th Street train station to learn how Philadelphia’s taxi workers, hailing from over 40 different countries, have built a movement virtually from scratch. At their West Philadelphia office, in a beautiful converted 19th century, MMP staff discussed the traditions of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign and local Philadelphia activism and showcased their multimedia work, including short films on Cornel West and Tavis Smiley’s recent Poverty Tour, an anti-deporation rally spearheaded by Philadelphia’s Cambodian-American community, and a protest against fire station brownouts in a Philadelphia neighborhood.

Other resources: montages of MMP’s 2010 and 2011 activities.

Poverty Initiative Indpendence Center

Mural Arts Program  PhiladelphiaOne of hundreds of murals created under the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.

The Poverty Initiative (PI) aims to re-ignite Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign by building and strengthening a national network of grassroots organizations across race, gender, geographical, and religious lines. With a tour of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, participants explored how an argument for human rights has been adopted by social movements throughout US history. Afterwards a visit to North Philadelphia exemplified how grassroots leaders in the city are using rights, religion and diverse community alliances to combat homelessness and gentrification today.

Philadelphia Student Union

The Philadelphia Student Union (PSU) was started by high school students and continues to be led by youth with adult support. PSU uses media as an organizing tool and has a well-developed youth media and communications infrastructure including a youth-produced radio show with podcast subscribers on six continents, and a newsletter distributed to thousands. Participants visited PSU’s home in West Philadelphia, including the Young People’s Computer Center—a local effort to bridge the digital divide that is part of the government’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. Students, alumni, and staff organizers for PSU led a disucssion with participants around youth issues in Philadelphia and wider challenges.

Mural Arts Program

Mural Arts Program  PhiladelphiaThe gallery for Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program in downtown Philadelphia. The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program (MAP) unites artists and communities through a collaborative process to create art that transforms public spaces and individual lives. Participants went on an experiential tour of the neighborhoods of Center City and West Philadelphia, viewing 37 community murals along the way, many of them created through MAP’s restorative justice program. Jane Golden, Executive Director of MAP, led an interactive discussion with participants on using art to help reform the criminal justice system.

Mural Arts Program’s The Guild with Men in Motion in the Community Participants visited MAP’s art gallery in downtown Philadelphia to meet with representatives from MAP’s innovative apprenticeship program: The Guild. Joining the conversation were members of Men In Motion In the Community (MIMIC), a community-based youth development organization that engages the hardest-to-reach young men through mentorships;; the Pennsylvania Prison Society; the Community Lifers Group; and three out of the five men whose sentences have been commuted in Pennsylvania since 1995. Among the key issues discussed were methods of preventing recidivism in the criminal justice system, breaking the school to prison pipeline, and promoting community engagement. With rates of youth unemployment near an all-time high, a whole generation of young people, especially young people of color, are being left behind. Few alternatives exist to being on the street, and preventive programs remain rare compared to initiatives that help kids who have already been in trouble. The discussion touched on the tension between personal transformation and challenging systemic racial injustice, and on the ways in which personal stories and reflections can inspire and inform future efforts.