Ria G  – 3D Visual Arts – Group 2, Round 2 Awardee

Customized honor boxes for growing grassroots collaborative newspaper.

Impact Statement

First, I just want to thank everyone! This is such an exciting opportunity for me and I am delighted to speak to the real need my project satisfies for the different communities I seek to engage. I feel strongly that neighborhood pride goes hand in hand with civic involvement, so I’ll target under-resourced parts of the city that could use a bump of both.

The honor boxes will be customized works of art, highlighting local landmarks, celebrating the people, businesses, organizations, etc. who make each community special. In addition, the boxes can connect to real resources with QR codes, and also of course every month the “window” changes with a new cover illustration that I hope will be validating and uplifting.

For neighbors who stop to investigate The Local paper inside, they’ll find a publication that’s full of community voices just like theirs. Readers could be inspired to sign a petition, join a group, attend an event or even contribute their own photos and stories. They’ll learn history, empathy, and positive perspectives. They’ll be better able to see themselves as an informed, empowered part of the world around them.

For me personally, securing the funding for this project would not just be an amazing honor to create art for people who need it, but it’d be so huge for The Local — obviously as their cover artist, I would like them to succeed (and hire all my friends!). But also, the paper is a big labor of love every month that I’m proud to be a part of. I really do believe that local art and neighborhood stories have special power to make real change.

These artistic newspaper “outposts” will help spread The Local’s playful, inclusive, socially-conscious content to new readers, sponsors and contributors who could potentially collaborate on reporting and possibly even discover a sustainable new grassroots news model. I feel great things can happen when you activate people with images and information that resonate on a local, personal level.

Engagement-wise, neighbors will be involved at every step of this project, from choosing locations to the design, and even construction. Since The Local is a part of WHYY’s News & Information Community Exchange (N.I.C.E.), I can tap into grassroots platforms all over Philly for input and assistance in producing art that authentically represents the people living and working in each neighborhood. Finally, as a photographer, I’ll document this cooperative process for The Local paper, to highlight everyone who participates and celebrate art for the common good.

In short, my project will mean truth, understanding, imagination, and self-expression where we need it most in our city. Thank you again for this incredible opportunity.