Awardee: Carolyn Chernoff

Primary Artistic Medium: Literary Arts


What Was Here is a zine project looking at local history. What happened on your block or at the local store or park last week? What happened 100 years ago? Who told you?

Through minizines (8-page books made from a single sheet of paper), people will tell their stories and memories of place. These zines will be compiled on a website and connected to a GoogleMap to highlight everyday culture, everyday stories, and everyday resistance. Neighborhoods change or are changed. Gentrification often wipes out local stories. But through zines and a digital archive, our stories let people know what was here.

I anticipate holding zine-making and oral history projects in local libraries throughout the Philadelphia region, with at least one workshop in each major region: North Philly, the Northeast, Germantown, Center City, South Philly, Southwest Philly, and West Philly. Minizines made by workshop participants will also be reproduced and available for free at local libraries and the sites the zines memorialize.

In these hands-on workshops, local residents will practice telling stories and asking others for theirs. We will also make minizines that ask and answer the question, What was here?