Southwark School at 9th and Mifflin Streets is gearing up for an exciting redesign of the 9th Street courtyard into a true community space. Since February, Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Restored Spaces Initiative, in collaboration with the Spanish trash-focused artist collective Basurama – which translates to “Trash-o-rama” – has worked with community members, Southwark School students, faculty, and staff, to design and produce furniture for the currently empty space.
At the beginning of the school year, Mural Arts installed the mural “Weaving Culture” on the north side of the 9th Street courtyard. This vibrant mural was designed in collaboration with Southwark students, parents, faculty and staff.
Earlier this year, Southwark parents and neighbors had an opportunity to design the new benches and planters that will be placed in the courtyard in front of the mural. The distinctive feature of the design, and a specialty of artist collective Basurama, is that all of the fixtures will be built from recycled materials, including, very appropriately, old school desks.
The design process has been a real community effort. The meetings, during which several translators were present, have been well attended by a true cross-section of the community found in and around Southwark School.
The final design was presented on April 23rd at a meeting where the community had the opportunity to discuss and vote on the design and the placement of benches and planters within the space. After some discussion and careful deliberation the final arrangement and orientation of the fixtures were agreed upon unanimously.
The first phase of the courtyard construction is taking place this week, June 4th to June 8th. While some highly-skilled work will be done by professionals, community members (and others) are welcome and encouraged to participate in the collaborative build. Just stop by the site between 10 a.m. and noon or 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to lend a hand. A second construction phase will occur this fall.
After this week’s build-out is completed, a representative of artist collective Basurama will address the community at Bok on June 11th at 6 pm. Basurama will be joined by Ron Whyte (activist and blogger, Deep Green Philly), Nic Esposito (Director, City of Philadelphia Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet), and Raquel de Anda (artist; Director of Public Engagement, No Longer Empty). Register or find more information about the event here.