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Words WORDS Love LOVE Light LIGHT like LIKE

and AND

LoLa38

Art and Writing


The LoLa38 mission is to encourage civic conversation through the artistic activation of the diverse social and geographic assets which make Lower Lancaster Avenue a gateway to West Philadelphia’s arts, culture, and community. www.lola38west.com

We thank and honor the contributors, named and anonymous, for participating in this platform for personal truths. Your histories, contained in these pages and upon the blocks that you live, hold and build memory.

Copyright of all individual pieces remains with the authors and artists. 2017


Crossroads anonymous

Pain /

/

Joy

Devastation

Oppression /

/ /

Hope /

/

Victory

Phoenix rising

Rebellion

Keep it moving

Let’s go

/

/

/

/

Freedom

No matter what

/

The greatest of these is love


Contents Past (Im)perfect I used to see them

Yonique Myrie

8

Married with children, and then

Carol Richardson McCullough

9

Highway of Ruination

Norman Cain

12

Wall of Fame Full of Photos

anonymous

13

My Senior Year

RuNett Ebo Gray

13

Less taken

Lisa Prince

15

The Black Bottom

Chanda Rice

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Detail of Collage

Lauren Lowe

17

Its beauty does not care

anonymous

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Tara B. Hale & Joseph D. Hale Jr.

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Portraits

Ken McFarlane

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Collage

Jasmine James

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Lyrical Present Front Stoop Stories

Photographs by LoLa38

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Collage

Rosalyn Cliett

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Collage

Carin Spotted Eagle

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Photographs by LoLa38

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Like links in a chain-link fence

anonymous

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Collage

Kiera Townsend

29

Collage

Natasha Hajo

30

My Garden

Jordan McCullough

31

Collage

Angela Arrey

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Heads Up

SJ Punderson

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Still Friends after 47 Years

Diana Hillengas

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This is the Place I Go To

Brenda Bailey

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Relationships in my life

Rahkinah Laurel

38

It takes a village

Liz Abrams

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Philly Bustling Flow

Johngeline Ferguson

39

At a Crossroads

Victoria Huggins Peurifoy

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Another empty building...

Earl Hackett

42

The corner store owner leans against the wall

Jennesys Aviles

43

I would sow seeds to...

Carin Spotted Eagle

44

Ages: 8, 15, 55, and Now

anonymous

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Afterword

Anna Drozdowski

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Future Imperative

Acknowledgements

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past (im)perfect


I used to see them Yonique Myrie

I used to see them at the corner, decked out in white shirts with that “all business look” on their face. Growing up there made you foolproof, ruling school, walking with a swag. When the bullets started flying, you hid beneath the creaky beds and hoped to God you didn’t end up dead. White shirts are easily stained and thus began a brain drain. We left in droves but some did stay. Now, years later, they try to whitewash the past away.

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Married, with children, and then Carol Richardson McCullough

Married, with children, and then divorced Like a chain-link fence, lives entwined Yet separated, whole-ly filled with holes That let through light and air, and sound But also a unity of fragments removed Outline of what was once solid The thing is still standing, with support periodic Its grounding allows it to stand Yet the top is barbed, for protection It won’t get cut again Neither will I

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Plans for University City High School Photograph from Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.

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Students of University City High School Photograph from Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.

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Highway of Ruination Norman Cain

He recklessly maneuvered his self-absorbed Come What May impetuous self through The congested traffic of his discombobulated Mind onto the throughway of ruination Eventually tragedy intervened, for on the highway Of expiration, he had a headon collision with reality. He then realized that his fervor for the frivolous Proved furtive, caused him to inherit: vanquished future. The ill-fated illusion he had worn Like a tailored suit of armor, Embellished with rings, watches, and Chains of brazen bling - which were Coordinated with obnoxious bravado Snazzy gangster hats, and sleek, shiny Rides that screamed conspicuous consumption As he rapidly drove across the narrow roads Of righteousness and unhurriedly cruised across The throughway of ruination. Gangster Rap blasting gibberish from his state of the Art speakers led him to the park bench Where he will dejectedly sit with his alcohol Soaked soul throughout forthcoming eternities Shaking his head in pity for the young Swaggering men - who view him with contempt - as they Recklessly maneuver their self-absorbed Come What May Impetuous selves through the Highway of Ruination

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Wall of Fame Full of Photos anonymous

Chanelle posted her photo on the Wall, it went missing the next day. Lockers on both sides. Jerome found it in his locker, but isn’t sure how it got there. Wall of Fame--future Doctors, Lawyers, Presidents, in spite of.

My Senior Year RuNett Ebo Gray

My senior year at Olney High School was filled with traumas and triumphs. One of the trials was the desegregation of Olney High. They claimed it wasn’t necessary but we were quietly bussed to Front and Duncannon to attend. Our prom was a trial because it was in October. We had barely started our senior year and were already going to prom. I had a different escort because my boyfriend and I broke up during the summer. I did pretty well in school which made me happy, but it was the same year as Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. We conducted our own protest by marching from school to City Hall. All the students standing together for something.

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UCHS Parcel view from Wexford Science and Technology Photo by Lola38

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less taken Lisa Prince

dirt three stones my bare toes the dirt wells up between my toes, sprinkles the webbing with fine dust. I scrunch my feet, digging in. grab a pebble and feel its cool against my skin - no bigger than a thumbnail. I think of monkeys. orangutans. visitors to the zoo. we climb fences, with the grass growing higher than our knees, and laugh at the bumblebees stumbling along - fat and laden with pollen, their bellies yellowed like sunshine. out past where we can see is a creek, lousy with trout, though we can never catch one. our fingers and toes numb in the cold, running water. the thick, wet mud slipping between our toes until our feet settle deep. deeper. like the lost city of Atlantis, disappearing into the depths. the sun glinting off of the water, the way it hits windows and skyscrapers - blinding us, until we shield our eyes and look to the trees. grasses. weeds. the empty lot across the street where we once kicked a soccer ball. your father ran over it with his car, yelling at us as though we’d planned to set the street afire with a noise sharp as gunfire. they built condos there last spring, the large dirt movers eating the ground with their insatiable hunger. and me standing there, barefoot, toes dug into the last of our childhood, wondering if you ever looked back.

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The Black Bottom Chanda Rice

The Black Bottom, otherwise known as Mantua, was a proud place, steeped in traditions. As colorful as the Indiana it was named after. Strong and sturdy as the back of a chief. We took care of our own. But now it’s crumbling from within. Selfishness has crept in and One-ness sits patiently, waiting for the ebb tide—when man meets the Southern Shore and God is honored in the universe, when you bring to the table and share with all. But there is a crack in the wall which comes from within. Where parents become children’s friends, where honor is compromised and the old despised. We must not forget who we are. We are a chosen people of God. We must repair.

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Collage by Lauren Lowe

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Artifacts: Its beauty does not care A flower grows even in the most unlikely places. Its beauty does not care of the grime that is near it. It grows and prevails. Blooming. That’s what I see in this place, lots of beautiful flowers. Each has petals of different shades, unique to their experience. It gives a sensation that is humbling.

One of the bricks in front of my house the sidewalks on Powelton and a cherry tree flower.

saxophone music is very relevant here

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*from unsigned postcards delivered to the Bank


Volunteers from PEC and Drexel roller skate with kids from the community Photograph by LoLa38

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lyrical present


Front Stoop Story I was pregnant...again...with my third child. My husband had just started back to school to get his Masters. I hated my job. Having a third child right now just wasn’t in the cards. I was terrified to tell my husband because I did not want him to freak out. I needed him to be focused and not be concerned with having to feed yet another mouth. So what does a dutiful wife do? I didn’t tell him. I wore baggy clothes, hid my morning sickness and kept it moving. It wasn’t until the day-care worker said to me, “Are you pregnant?” that I knew it was time to tell hubby. I felt like a teenage coming to tell my daddy that I was pregnant. After the initial shock, he was ready for the challenge of fatherhood... again! Looking back on the situation and looking at where we are now, I realize how much of a blessing this pregnancy was. I was finally able to quit my job, start my own business as well as being a stay at home mother for my family. What I thought was going to be a struggle turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to our family. -Tara B. Hale While in my second year of completing a Masters degree, I was given some good but surprising news. I was working hard to maintain good grades and strong study habits while attending school every Saturday and Wednesday for two years. Suddenly my wife informed me that she was pregnant with our third child. Not only was she pregnant, but she was four months pregnant. Anxiety, fear, frustration, joy, and excitement were the wave of emotions that I rode when she told me the news. As I remained calm in her presence, I didn’t know what the future would bring, so I just went to bed. The next day I went to class and flooded all of these same emotions onto a good friend of mine. While I laughed and cried at the same time, I realized that through it all, the God I believe in would provide all I needed to be the best father of three that I could be. -Joseph D. Hale Jr.

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The Hale Family

© 2017 Ken McFarlane | WWW.KenMcfarlane.photo

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RuNett Ebo Gray and Victoria Huggins Peurifoy

© 2017 Ken McFarlane | WWW.KenMcfarlane.photo

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Jen Jolles and Lauren Lowe

© 2017 Ken McFarlane | WWW.KenMcfarlane.photo

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Collage by Jasmine James

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Photographs by LoLa38

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Collage by Rosalyn Cliett

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Collage by Carin Spotted Eagle

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Dear Volunteers Installation at United Bank

Photograph by LoLa38

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Collage by Kiera Townsend

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Collage by Natasha Tajo

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My Garden by Jordan McCullough

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Collage by Angela Arrey

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Like links in a chain-link fence* 1. My friend Maureen and I didn’t talk for four years after college. Then we had dinner, then she came to Iowa and approved of my fiance. Then she moved a few blocks from us. Then she was the godmother of my son. 2. We couldn’t make it work out. Arms wrapped around one another but hearts going in opposite directions at the drop of a hat. We kept coming together, kept splitting apart, never knowing how long the ride would last. The tilt-a-whirl ended last year, now a sad, abandoned carnival ride. 3. My relationship with the University of Pennsylvania. I graduated a couple of years ago, and sometimes I feel really disconnected from it. Other times I feel very much a part of it. I still live in West Philly, so now it’s sort of like I’m on the outside looking in. While still benefitting from privileges provided by a Penn education. 4. Stefan: he moved to my hometown in Bulgaria and we met in French class. An international relationship we were quickly best friends. As we both aged through middle school I didn’t like his friends.

*from unsigned postcards delivered to the Bank

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Heads Up SJ Punderson

They Make it look easy Nine foot tall Chain link fence They can hit 300 feet Over left field Heads up We yell at the kids playin’ ball Nine foot tall Fence Separates those kids From us Lady Girl They call me, Sir sometimes Girl’s up to bat. Out of reach That fence Even right field where Balls splash into cool pool I’m At 48th and Brown But I don’t live in this part of town 8/17/17

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Still Friends After 47 Years Diana Hillengas what links were forged across the years that could withstand the slow divide: apart in space, and dreams, and fears we meet in difference, shifting gears to understand each other’s side what links were forged across the years? we dance and laugh in other pairs, we journey far, we wander wide apart in space, and dreams, and fears we explore the hows and whys and wheres of life till dawn, and let the minutes glide… what links were forged across the years? we fought and saw each other’s tears for years we let the friendship slide apart in space, and dreams, and fears then some chance meeting cranked the gears and we meshed for hours, years aside with links we forged across the years my marriage rusts; leukemia rears its ugly head in you, and leads us wide apart in space, and dreams, and fears... by phone and e-mail, talk that cheers (though I fell apart, and your mother died)what links were forged across the years? so long we shared our joys and cares, beyond our needs, beyond our pride, apart in space, and dreams, and fears: what links were forged across the years!

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This is the Place I Go To Brenda Bailey

This is the place I go to for courage, to say no, yes, maybe. This is the place I go to touch the gift I keep hearing about, what is it laughter, service, written words, spoken words, words of comfort. This is the place I go to. I am learning to ignore people telling me what I should be doing, this, that, the other. How do you know what I should be doing? Do you know what you should be doing? When I was a vegetarian and you ate, drank and smoked, did I tell you what to do? To change your eating habits, drinking habits, smoking habits. You were a mean drunk. This is the place I go to scream, holler, curse, overeat, or starve myself. This is the place I go to for me, to be selfish, petty and small. This is the place I go to thank you for delivering me--you took me out of darkness and brought me into the light. Could not see in the darkness, I was walking into walls. This is the place I go to Praise you for opening my eyes, to see what I did not want to see, living like a nocturnal animal, coming out in the darkness to hunt. This is the place I go to for comfort, my soul reaches out to you from my closet, from my place. This is the place I go to for advice, a shoulder to cry on, a listening shoulder, I want you to tell me what I need to do. This is the place I kneel down and pray for forgiveness. This is the place I go to share my secrets. I know you will not betray me, nor will you use them against me.

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This is the place I go to, I know you are there waiting, you are there without judgment, you are there with love. This is the place I go to DAILY. This is the place I remember you came for me, brought me out of myself. This is the place I go to and look at myself in the light. It is alright to be me. I thank you for who you made me. This is the place I go to and say, “Father, I Praise you, Jesus, I Love you, Holy Spirit I adore you.� AMEN

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Relationship in my life Rahkinah Laurel

A chain-link fence relationship in my life is with my sister. We went to the concerts together... then we have to go back to school, work. A chain link fence relationship. I went to consortium coloring, socializing with people. Latifa went back to working with ill, elder patients. A month later we came back together. Respectively, helping mother, cooking for her my brother and I, cleaning the PHA house all the time for her; my brother cooking for her until the food piles up like money piled up in safes in the bank. My brother goes back to work at Lincoln Financial Field, I go back to Drexel or Consortium... a chain link fence.

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It takes a village Liz Abrams

In my old neighborhood, as a child I never got over the old ladies, who sat en masse - watching, commenting, gossiping, picking apart, bickering, making bets, sending us to the store for newspapers, soda, pastries, as we made our five-and-dimes for the next days. I did not realize, in the 1940s, that these old ladies performed duties as homemade security guards and our extended family.

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Collage by Johngeline Ferguson

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At a Crossroads Victoria Huggins Peurifoy

Folks on their phones crossing the street A child running in the street and being hit A car stuck on a train track Mother walking her twins Dog surveying the crosswalk Hundreds of people waiting to cross the street A car stuck in the middle of a tree...after hydroplaning A van flipped upside down A person lying in the street A father kissing his baby Girls playing double dutch A man chasing a bus to get to a woman leaning from the bus

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future imperative


Another empty building on another commercial space Earl Hackett

As I sit in this strange place, I’m reminded of what it used to be. I remember the fanfare of the new UNB (United National Bank). I came in to bank and I smiled, Black Capitalism had arrived in the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection. I’m from Motown, and we get down. I even came to do a meet and greet, as they were trying to wet their feet, to increase their community involvement. At one time, I may have tried to touch base with the CEO. Oh yes! I’m bold, in that way. If you want to get something done, start at the top. Why let a subordinate stop you in your flow. Anybody can say NO, but only the top can say, GO! I’m listened to the Major (Major Jackson) and I was a Captain (US Army). As a military veteran writing is what we do. Mail call was an important part of each day. To get letters, meant you wrote letters, that’s something you had to do. It was a sign that you had family or someone who cared enough to write from back home. You never wanted a “Dear John Letter” because that meant that Jodie had you girl, and she was gone. We sang about it daily, on our little four mile run.

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Writing is even more important when you are a long way from home. Even farther with you travel on silver wings to where people speak foreign languages. I recently wrote a letter to my youngest son. I went back to when I was a son. Vietnam was going on, but I was sent to Germany. You don’t have to be in the war, to be in harm’s way. There is the heat of battle and the cold war of danger. I’m not a poet, but sometimes you wouldn’t know it. I don’t rap and I can barely sing, but when I get to writing, I do my thing. I am the Duke of Earl, and I’m still looking for my girl, so I can still give her, my final twirl. In the words of Major Jackson – “I have not disappeared. The boulevard is full of my steps.” I would like to add that “Motown is where I’m bound.”

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The corner store owner leans against the wall Jennesys Aviles The corner store owner leans against the wall of his shop smoking a cigarette and asking everyone how their day’s been going A woman relaxes on her stoop, singing about the weather and flowers and birds Young boys practice wheelies on their mountain bikes, riding up and down the streets Volunteers paint tulips along the walls enclosing Spring Garden bridge James Dupree’s art studio appears suddenly and shines among all the new construction Vegetables blossom in the community garden

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I would sow seeds to... Carin Spotted Eagle

grow peace Tweeting messages of love instead of staying in pieces I would sow these seeds with hope for a better tomorrow Loving, like the global society planting material like diamond twinkling around, My Dear grow, grow, groovy situation(s) a Garden of Writers Room Poets the world of Katharine Drexel’s university and the ants inside this pop-up garden once known as University City High

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Collage by Patricia Burton

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Skylight Writing by anonymous Photograph from Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA.

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Ages: 8, 15, 55, and Now* Now—age 77 Then—age 15 More kissing then. Less money now. # When I was 15 I still let them call me girl, and “she” shivered slimy in my ears. Now I am 18 and “Jesse” waterfalls of her tongue like it was meant to be, and I greet “him” like an old friend. # At age 8: I grew up in West and Southwest. The only time I ever visited Lancaster Avenue was for the exterminator, when parents were running errands. We never patronized local businesses, or visited local residents. Now, I’m 25 years old, and the area has gentrified, and I work here. Condos everywhere. Same exterminator! #

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*from unsigned postcards delivered to the Bank


At age 8, there was both yelling and silence. Times when I felt like things would not get better. Words sounded like little prods by needles, as if I had to react to each one and work to make something better. Words like: Here, There, Weekend, Lying, Lawyers, Money, Schedule, Remember, Night, Light. I am now age 20. I hear many more words, but I still feel the spots where they used to prod. Words now are like tools and their discoveries. Words like: Learn, Give, Listen, Feel, Observe, Use, Drive, Now, More, and Sand. I have a while to go before I reach 55, but, who knows, 20 could feel like yesterday soon enough. I want to feel more words and remember then all in some way. I want to feel the words as if I was still 20. Words that are like needles I hold in my hand, sewing the blanket of my life, and not stopping, even if my hands get tired. Words like: Keep, Light, Ever, Love, More, Friends, Hope, and Learn. I am always ready to learn. #

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Afterword Anna Drozdowski

Throughout LoLa38 we asked questions about the pace of change in the Promise Zone. We wondered (through art making, participating, watching, and listening) about progress and her many signifiers. With student housing and skyscraping on the near horizon, and hopes of Amazon’s HQ2 piggybacking on the developing Schuylkill Banks, the ground is both fertile and unstable. With our partners: Drexel’s Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, the People’s Emergency Center CDC and Wexford Science + Technology, LoLa38 talked about holding the line on Lancaster Avenue’s last frontier – the space between the former University City High School and United Bank. Three unlikely players coming to the table were seeking participation and the wisdom of residents, and were able to grant access to spaces which can seem impenetrable when in transition. As we gathered over the spring and summer of 2017 to question and celebrate this corner, the long-view of this shared geography has proven poetic and oftentimes prophetic, as have the words of newer residents. Whether the distance is six months or six decades, the amount of flux is visible to both the students and seniors who have penned these contributions. Soon, humans will once again inhabit the Bank and build upon the UCHS parcel: re-populating a former civic resource and re-establishing the street grid in UCity Square. The words in this anthology give homage to the layers of history poured and paved in these two places.

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These stories are born from the landscape and those occupying it; belonging to a place that is being re-made with both shovels and sentiment. In this space called UCity Square, West Philly, University City, The Bottom, the list goes on...are many different communities rubbing together along the Avenue. There is not one common understanding of that word, community, though over and over we discovered common desires for connection. What we have learned is that there is tremendous pride in this patch of Philadelphia and many who claim it as their own. The writers have reminded us that there is more than one memory, that a shared future requires collective action, and that there is far more nuance in the relationship between people and place than could ever be summarized in this slim volume.


CREDITS

Thank you to all of those who helped make the works included here possible: Wexford Science + Technology, The Lindy Institute at Drexel University. the People’s Emergency Center CDC, Writers Room, LOLA38, and the William Penn Foundation. Appreciation to Jen Jolles and Lauren Lowe for their assistance at many LoLa38 workshops. The opinions expressed in this report (work, etc.) are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the William Penn Foundation.


ATTRIBUTIONS

Thanks to LoLa Photographers whose pictures appear throughout this book: Brandon Donte’, Ken McFarlane, Keith McManus, Timothy Sandor, and Jen Strickland. The sketch included in Carin Spotted Eagle’s collage is a drawing by Jacklynn Niemiec. Thanks to the Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, for permissions to include works; also to Ken McFarlane (www. KenMcfarlane.photo) for his work with the LoLa38 story-telling and permission to include three of his portraits here. Past (Im)perfect images based on art by Natasha Hajo. Lyrical Present images of installation by Melanie Booth, “America.” Future Imperative images of installation by Gabrielle Patterson, “Remember, Reflect, Reimagine.”


ABOUT ANONYMOUS Anonymous contributions are primarily gleaned from postcards sent to us or dropped of at the Bank in response to calls for writings on specific and varied prompts. These prompts asked the writers to reflect on the spirit of this place, and on the histories and stories of this place, and beyond.

WRITERS ROOM Writers Room is a place for writing, reading, thinking, and being. Here, members of the Mantua, Powelton, and Drexel communities are creating a shared story.

THE BOOK Editors: Valerie Fox with Kirsten Kaschock & Rachel Wenrick Book Design: Miles Waldron


Profile for Writers Room

WRITERS ROOM | Words Like Love + Light: LoLa 38 Art and Writing  

A book of collected writing resulting from a collaboration between LoLa 38 and Writers Room. Members of the Writers Room community and parti...

WRITERS ROOM | Words Like Love + Light: LoLa 38 Art and Writing  

A book of collected writing resulting from a collaboration between LoLa 38 and Writers Room. Members of the Writers Room community and parti...

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