Awardee: Li Sumpter – Multidisciplinary – Round 2 Awardee

Impact Statement:

The COZY CATASTROPHE (CC) escape room aims to create an immersive story-based experience for Philly residents + visitors that cultivates a deeper connection to the city, the land and its connecting ecosystems. The primary goal of this project is to build stronger eco-awareness and survival skill sets among BIPOC communities in Philly and the greater Delaware Valley that have practical application in real-world environments and emergency scenarios.

The CC escape room project is a collaborative effort engaging local and national artists, organizational partners and community activists. These collaborations support gaming design, user experience, set/installation locations and production, and programming support. Through a curated series of art-based gaming installations, CC “gamers” experience Roxi RedMoon’s epic ride through the multiverse by participating in similar trials she encounters in GRAFFITI IN THE GRASS – the afrofuturist story that informs this project.

The installation and gaming design will also be informed by a cohort of local BIPOC artists and makers, eco-activists, land-based survivalists and scholars that will provide knowledge and expertise about Philadelphia’s urban communities and the land and eco-systems that surround and sustain them. This knowledge and related data collected will be translated into key information to be “gamified” or, translated into information CC participants will be tested on that relate to specific “art of survival” skill sets this project aims to cultivate.

This project will collaborate and consult with community artists, activists and field experts to create “art of survival” gaming installations and land-based challenges while also amplifying their amazing work in their respective fields to a wider community. Challenges will connect to the following areas:

  • DELAWARE VALLEY RIVERS, WATERSHED + WILDLIFE: Challenges focus on cultivating knowledge of Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, key watershed lands that surround them and indigenous wildlife that inhabit both elements of the ecosystem.
  • LAND-BASED KNOWLEDGE, WISDOM + WELLNESS: Challenges focus on Lenni Lenape history, eco-spiritual + apothecary wellness and wilderness survival skills
  • URBAN MAPPING + SURVIVAL: Challenges focus on local monuments of memory, time and space and mapping Philly’s city streets, landscape elevation and best escape routes according to various emergency threats.
  • PHILLY MYTHS AND LEGENDS: Challenges test participant’s knowledge of Philly history and myths, real-life and fictional heroes from all sectors of arts and culture.
  • TIME, MEMORY AND LIBERATION TECHNOLOGIES: Challenges focus on testing memory and pattern recognition while highlighting Philly’s connection to historic paths to freedom via the Underground Railroad and the afrofuturist movement.

If this project proceeds to Round 3, a full list of confirmed/potential collaborators and drafts of installation designs will be provided.

Climate crisis and its relationship to racial/environmental injustice is an issue impacting the nation and populations across the planet. This is a mobile public art project that was always intended to travel. The next phase of the project will involve travel to U.S. cities with similar issues within their urban centers/ecosystems with hopes of building and relationships and an action network with like-minded BIPOC communities across the country who want to use the arts and storytelling as tools for creative problem-solving, emergency prep and future worldbuilding.