Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Meet Fast Forward Presenters >> Li Sumpter, Maya Thomas, Nyasha Felder, & Tommy Joshua Caison

What is your Big Idea for Philadelphia?
Mimu Ina: Can Design Empower a Community?

Creating healthier organically grown, locally produced, and affordable food options is a critical topic in health communities and is vital to resolving food desert crises in urban areas. As urban revitalization efforts continue to grow in Philadelphian communities, retaining cultural significance in a changing contemporary urban area depends on creating value and community assets. It has been the goal of The North Philly Peace Park to rehabilitate abandoned spaces and grow local produce and also offer a pedagogical environment that teaches urban farming techniques and healthy living for local communities. The North Philly Peace Park Pavilion project will be utilized for hosting classes, events, and workshops while also serving as a pedagogical tool. It is equipped with renewable energy sources, water collection, an ebb and fl ow hydroponic system, and other urban farming techniques within and around the pavilion. It is the goal of the North Philly Peace Park to demonstrate working methods that can be recreating on private land and within non private areas that are discrete and non-impactful to housing materials. As urban populations continue to grow, food shortages are becoming more prevalent, it is our mission to see the potential in abandoned land and food deserts to become productive sources of food supply and community building.

Li Sumpter
Li Sumpter, Ph.D. is an artist and independent researcher who employs mythic literacy and eco-conscious design as modes of creative resistance, community empowerment and ecological change. Her academic work and socially engaged art projects synergize world building and afrofuturism, environmental justice and land sovereignty as a praxis of freedom. Li is Founder/Creative Director of MythMedia Studios and currently Lead Artist-in- Residence for the Urban Ecology Arts Exchange of Haverford College’s PACC project. Li also serves as Director of Community Readiness and Resilience at North Philly Peace Park, adjunct professor in Curatorial Studies at Moore College of Art and Design and core staff at the BlackStar Film Festival. In 2016 and 2017, Li was awarded an Art and Change Grant from the Leeway Foundation for Graffiti in the Grass—an interactive, site-specific graphic novel set in future Philadelphia. Graffiti includes a survival map insert designed for life and community resilience against un/natural disaster and societal collapse. 

Maya Thomas
Maya Thomas is a University of Pennsylvania Alumni and has graduated with a Masters of Historic Preservation in 2016. She along with her colleagues began researching the redevelopment of Sharswood neighborhood and how it may impact the historic district. That work led to Maya, as president of the student group, Diverse Design, to seek out new strategies that did not exclude grassroots community assets such as North Philly Peace Park. Maya is a Los Angeles native interested in history and art and their intersections in the built environment.

Nyasha Felder is an Alumni from the University of Pennsylvania School of Design and Morgan State University. She holds both a Masters Degree in Architecture and Landscape Architecture and has served as the President of Diverse Design at PennDesign from 2014 to 2015 of which she has been responsible for organizing annual academic forums for students and professionals to foster a dialogue between the academic, professional, and surrounding communities centered on environmental justice, social justice, environmental resilience, race, economics, gender and sexual orientation for a more inclusive and socially aware public spaces. In her own work, she seeks to fuse together Afro-futurism, dematerialized networks, science fiction, landscape resilience, green infrastructure, economic development, and sustainable agriculture to produce place and spaces centered on the unique narratives of the Afro American experience, resilience, dichotomy, double -consciousness, identity, and deterritorilization.  

Tommy Joshua Caison is a urban outdoorsman, grassroots community organizer and radical city planner. In 2012 he led the establishment of the North Philly Peace Park, an “charitable urban ecology campus” to address hunger, violence and deep poverty in North Philadelphia. He currently lives in North Philadelphia, where he was born and raised. Today Tommy works alongside a committed team of designer, educators, urban growers, healers, students and neighborhood activists to complete the rebuild of the North Philly Peace Park at its permanent flagship site while overseeing the expansion of the project into an interdisciplinary social movement for the establishment of "Peace Town", an ecology focused "new city" of which the NPPP is only its first cornerstone. 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.

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