Awardee: JJ Tiziou
Primary Artistic Medium: Multidisciplinary
Walk Around Philadelphia is an interactive community experience that transforms participants’ understanding of the city through an exploration of its perimeter. This ~100mile journey around the city’s edge is now in its fifth year, with each year bringing new audiences.
Arising from a Knight Foundation-funded collaborative artist residency in 2016, Walk Around Philadelphia led to the creation of a sold out storytelling performance and exhibit at the Philadelphia History Museum and annual retracing of the perimeter.
As interest has grown, I have continued to find new ways to expand the experience through a series of reportback events and by inviting others to join me in the walk. This project encourages Philadelphians to connect to each other through their encounters of the perimeter as they grow in their understanding of who their neighbors are and what their city encompasses.
This September, I offered the first truly “public” version of Walk Around Philadelphia with an “organize-your-own-group” and “choose-your-own-adventure” version undertaken by ~150 participants in conjunction with the Fringe Festival. A group of mixed-income homeschooled high school students who have set out on the walk have currently made it halfway around the perimeter and are continuing until they complete it.
The most recent iteration of the walk increased access significantly in three ways:
A kit of maps and supplies supplemented by online resources to supported walkers in undertaking the exploration on their own time with their own groups; cash stipends were offered to those needing financial support in order to facilitate their participation; ASL interpretation of the online reportback event made the entire project accessible to members of the deaf community.
To create a more inclusive experience, I propose a series of further accessibility steps.
With this first grant, I will engage Nicole Sardella to narrate the perimeter for audience members who are blind or have low vision. Sardella is a local expert who provides audio-description of performing arts events.
We will create in-person audio-described tours at appropriate locations such as Glen Foerd & the Heinz Wildlife Refuge. We will test live-streamed walks and a podcast episode. This will create rich content beneficial not just to the blind community but to all who have an interest in the city.
Lisa Sonneborn at the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, Vicki Landers at Disability Pride Philadelphia, and the team at Art-Reach are all potential partners who have expressed interest in helping facilitate access to the walk.
As more funds become available and public health concerns allow, next phases will include ADA-accessible shuttle service to locations around the perimeter, a fully accessible website for resources related to the walk, increased stipends & support for walkers, community events around the perimeter, guided tours as well as walks that match individuals of different backgrounds to engage in the exploration together.