What defines the urban environment? How do the ways we engage and navigate the 21st century world and its many dimensions–natural and industrial, digital and virtual–ultimately shape the nature of human experience and our impact on the planet? The Urban Ecology Arts Exchange is a community-driven collaborative engaging artists, urban green spaces, and Haverford College students and professors in diverse ecologies at the intersection of art and science, teaching and learning, spirit and nature. Through creative exploration and critical investigation, the Urban Ecology Arts Exchange addresses these and other questions about our ever-changing relationship to human and non-human environments.
Li Sumpter, Ph.D. is a multidisciplinary artist/educator who employs strategies of creative resistance and mythic design to address existential threats to self, community, humanity and the planet. Her academic research and artistic practice merge media ecology and afrofuturism, environmental justice and land sovereignty as a praxis of freedom. Li is Founder/Creative Director of MythMedia Studios, an adjunct professor in Curatorial Studies at Moore College of Art and Design, Director of Community Readiness and Resilience at North Philly Peace Park and core staff at BlackStar Film Festival.
East Park Revitalization Alliance
Suku John joined EPRA in 2008. Prior to that he was a geologist studying climate change over the past 12,000 years.
North Philly Peace Park
Tommy Joshua is a urban outdoorsman, grassroots community organizer and radical city planner. In 2012 he lead the establishment of the North Philly Peace Park, a charitable urban ecology campus in an effort to address hunger and deep poverty in North Philadelphia. He currently lives in North Philadelphia, where he was born and raised and is a passionate advocate for the “Peace Town Plan” an ethical redevelopment project which seeks to radically transform and empower Philadelphia’s impoverished communities through the combined power of design, education, art and ecology.
Director of Community Partnerships
North Philly Peace Park
Pili X is a member of the community in North Philly and an ambassador for Indego’s Better Bike Share Partnership team. As a hip-hop and visual artist and community organizer, Pili’s work and interests focus on urban farming, education and urban development.
Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery
Paulette Rhone is a founding board member of the Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery and has served as the organization’s president since January of 2012. The Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery was incorporated in April of 2011 when the cemetery closed and its sole mission is the conservancy of this historic burial ground. She has been a driving force behind the Friends organization and was instrumental in creating alliances with the City of Philadelphia, members of the death care industry, community partners, horticultural and ecological organizations, institutional lot holders and the families of Mount Moriah’s residents. She also serves on the board of the Mount Moriah Cemetery Preservation Corporation, which is the court ordered Receiver of the cemetery and its assets as well as the board of Empowered CDC, a Southwest Philadelphia community development corporation. Paulette retired from the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2007 where she was the Region III Budget Analyst for over 20 years. She currently serves as the executive director of the Land Health Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting people to nature through education and land revitalization in urban communities. Civic engagement and land restoration have become her passions and she looks forward to the next 30 plus years of living life to its fullest pursuing those passions.
Assistant Professor of Biology
Director of Environmental Studies
Jonathan Wilson is a paleobotanist at Haverford College who studies how forests evolved. He grew up gardening and collecting rocks in Southern California and found his calling in paleontology. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Earth and Planetary Science from Johns Hopkins University, his Ph.D. from Harvard University, and was a postdoctoral scientist at Caltech before arriving at Haverford. He teaches and conducts research in the Biology and Environmental Studies programs. Jonathan has done field work in Australia, Namibia, Puerto Rico, and across the continental United States. He likes math and will eat any fruit, including durian.
Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Studies
Joshua Moses teaches anthropology and environmental studies at Haverford College. He has worked on religious response to the attacks of September 11th and Hurricane Katrina, studying the formation of disaster expertise (“disaster religious and spiritual care”) in what he calls the current “New Age of Anxiety.” He has engaged with Nunatsiavut Inuit communities in northern Labrador on inequality, dispossession, community wellbeing, migration and identity in the context of recent land claim settlements and large-scale resource extraction, and with Alaska youth on community health and wellbeing. Joshua has also conducted research in the Northwest Territories on migration, housing and homelessness. His focus on action research, collaborative research methods, and community-engaged research has led him to work with several of Philadelphia-area community organizations that focus on food justice and urban ecological education. These include The North Philly Peace Park, East Park Revitalization Alliance, and Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery. Joshua is also interested in the response of higher education to climate change, and the ways we are (or are not) preparing students for futures that society itself struggles to imagine.
Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Meeting
10am-12pm, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
Members of the Urban Ecology Arts Exchange met to discuss the following questions:
As faculty members imbedded in this collaborative, how do you imagine students will participate across the various components of the project as imagined by faculty, non-profit, and artist(s)? What varied kinds of expertise will be shared between the different collaborators?
Describe the role of the artist(s) and how they will contribute in the stages of planning, programming, and assessment. As the artist, what sorts of activities or engagement do you imagine your work will catalyze? How will this project inform, activate, and generate content for your own creative practice?
As the non-profit partner, talk about your strategic goals in the near and long-term, and how the project supports those goals. What are the specific outcomes for the non-profit in this project?
With the above in mind, outline five salient events or activities you are planning in relation to the overall goals for the project, including any affected audiences, ideas for venue and programmatic activities.
How might the work of the Collaborative be sustained beyond this project? Here you might expand on the goals and outcomes included in the original proposal and consider both the measurable and intangible results that will be present at the conclusion of the collaborative and beyond.Read less
Li Sumpter, Lead Artist
Artist in Residence
Li Sumpter is an artist, educator, community organizer and scholar who lives in Philadelphia. She will be an artist in residence at Haverford College during the Fall 2017 Semester and will be on campus from throughout the semester leading class visits and workshops.Read less
Mount Moriah, Lead Non-Profit Partner
10am - 12pm, Mount Moriah Cemetery, 6201 Kingsessing Ave, Philadelphia
Members of the Urban Acology Arts Exchange collaborative team met at Mount Moriah Cemetery to discuss the specific needs of Mount Moriah. We met several staff members and walked the grounds of the cemetery.Read less
North Philly Peace Park, Lead Non-Profit Partner
10am - 12pm, North Philly Peace Park, 2216 W Jefferson St, Philadelphia
Members of the Urban Acology Arts Exchange collaborative team met at North Philly Peace Park to discuss the specific needs of the Peace Park. We met with several community members and spoke with many people from the neighborhood about their dreams for the Peace Park.Read less
East Park Revitalization Alliance, Lead Non-Profit Partner
10am - 12pm, East Park Revitalization Alliance, 1737 N 31st St, Philadelphia
Members of the Urban Ecology collaborative team met at East Park to discuss the specific needs of the East Park Revitalization Alliance. We visited several of the EPRA sites and talked about how PACC could strengthen the EPRA after school program.Read less
Case Studies in Environmental Issues: Concepts, Contexts, & Conundrums Course Visit w/ Li Sumpter Class, Lead Artist
11:30am-1pm, Haverford College
Artist Li Sumpter presented her work on afro-futurism and community resilience in the face of environmental apocalypse. Li created a survey for the students in the class to test their knowledge and expectations of a future climate disaster.Read less
Bus Trip w/ Case Studies in Environmental Issues
9am-5pm, Mount Moriah, East Park Revitilization Alliance, North Philly Peace Park
On Saturday, October 7th, 34 students from ENVS 101: Case Studies in Environmental Issues; Concepts, Contexts, and Conundrums did a site visit with Paulette Rhone, President of the Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery; Suku John, Executive Director, East Park Revitalization Alliance (EPRA); Tommy Joshua, Executive Director, North Philly Peace Park and Pili X, Director of Community Partnerships, North Philly Peace Park.Read less
"Urban Ecosystem Justice" w/ Scott Kellogg
Presentation & Discussion
6:30–8pm, Bartram's Garden, 5400 Lindbergh Blvd, Philadelphia
With a growing awareness of the interconnectedness of social and ecological systems, there is an increased recognition of the idea of cities as ecosystems. Until recently, the field of urban ecology was centered on the study of ecology in cities as opposed to the ecology of cities. This new paradigm sees urban environments as complex adaptive systems, hybrids of human and non-human co-evolutionary processes. Much of the field of urban ecosystem studies is still dominated, however, from a top-down planning and government perspective that has little relevance to the lived experience of the average urban resident.
What would it mean to merge the concept of urban ecology with a social justice analysis? How do questions of access, equity, and fairness apply to the biophysical dimensions of urban ecosystems such as soils, watersheds, biodiversity, waste cycles, and atmospheres? Is it possible to construct an ethic of ‘urban biocultural diversity’ where mutually symbiotic relationships are created between the human and non-human elements of a city, capable of meeting the material needs of residents while simultaneously regenerating the socio-ecological health of the urban ecosystem?
Drawing upon both theoretical possibilities and real-world examples, this workshop will frame these questions and propose solutions.
Topics to be explored include:
• DIY river remediation: floating restorers
• Resilient airsheds: reclaiming urban atmospheres
• Community-based bioremediation of contaminated soils
• Ecologically Regenerative Micro-Industries: turning wastes into soil
• Urban biocultural diversity: biodiversity and social justice linked
Lessons and experiences will be drawn from the past five years of running the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center in Albany, NY, an urban environmental education center that integrates an urban ecosystem justice youth curriculum into a demonstration site of sustainable tools and technologies.
Scott Kellogg is the co-author of the book Toolbox for Sustainable City Living: A Do-it-Ourselves Guide (South End Press) and the primary teacher of R.U.S.T. – The Regenerative Urban Sustainability Training, an intensive weekend workshop in urban ecological living skills that has been attended by over 700 people since it was first taught in 2006.
Currently, Scott is the Educational Director at the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center, an urban environmental educational center in Albany, NY. It is a demonstration of environmental technologies and sustainable micro industries applicable in today’s cities. Radix contains a solar heated bioshelter greenhouse that contains an integrated food production system involving fish, plants, rabbits, worms, chickens, ducks, silkworms, and black soldier flies.Read less
Oyster Mushroom Production with Urban Waste Products, Microgreens & Intensive Indoor Vegetable Production w/ Scott Kellogg
1:30–3:30pm, East Park Revitalization Alliance, 1737 N 31st St, Philadelphia
Students from Joshua Moses’s capstone course were joined by students from Bryn Mawr, Temple University and community members from Strawberry Mansion and participated in a workshop led by Albany New York activist, Scott Kellogg. During the workshop, participants learnt about how mushroom spawn and dwarf grey shoot seeds can grow in urban waste products such as coffee grounds and cardboard. Each participant left with a tray of microgreens and a bag of mushrooms to grow at home.Read less
Conference Presentation at BUGS with Li Sumpter and Tommy Joshua
Black Urban Grower's Conference, Atlanta, GA
PACC is sending Li Sumpter, Tommy Joshua and Josh Moses to the Black Urban Growers conference in Atlanta, GA from November 10th – November 12th. Li and Tommy will be presenting on “Black Farmers Are the Afrofuture: Part 2 | Eco-Design and Creative Resistance” including a presentation about the collaborative work being done in their PACC project, Urban Ecology Arts Exchange.
Details about the presentation: This interactive, solution-based workshop considers the role of black and brown farmers facing ecological and social crises that threaten food security, the survival of urban communities and ultimately, life on Planet Earth through examining potential threats to urban farmers and the communities they serve from natural disasters and public health pandemics to economic collapse and various forms of warfare with offering basic tools and strategies for survival.Read less
"Mapping Emergent Biodiversity" w/ Dylan Gauthier
2-3:30pm, North Philly Peace Park, 2216 W Jefferson St, Philadelphia
Artist, curator, and educator Dylan Gauthier will lead a workshop with Pili X, Director of Community Partnerships at North Philly Peace Park, which will map connections between the main Peace Park site and satellite gardens in the neighborhood, develop a taxonomy and catalog of the immanent and emergent biodiversity of neighborhood lots and reclaimed land, and discuss ways to reinforce resilience and preparedness in the area.Read less
Supper Club Scinema
6:30–9:30pm, Haverford College, VCAM, 2nd Floor
A curated blend of the cinematic and culinary arts for film and food lovers with a taste for the experimental. Plant-based plates are locally sourced and creatively prepared while select short films explore the speculative future through the lens of ecology and science fiction. “The End of Eating Everything” directed by Wangechi Mutu; “Bladerunner 2022” directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, and “Pumzi” directed by Wanuri Kahiu were screened at the event. Produced by Li Sumpter with food by Gangster Vegan (Camille and Vinny Kent), music by DJ John Morrison, and documentation by Dominique Nichole.Read less
North Philly Peace Park Peace on Earth Day
1-5:00pm, North Philly Peace Park, 2216 W Jefferson St, Philadelphia