SHE’s GG – Multidisciplinary – Group 2, Round 2 Awardee
The History Bike Project offers “ride-by” hyperlocal history for communities in Philadelphia.
It has been long established that in order to learn from the past, it is essential to record and preserve it for the future. Art, primarily performance and conceptual, is my preferred form of activism to promote positive social awareness. For the selected communities, the evolution of The History Bike Project means that the hyperlocal histories, which are often overlooked in Black and Brown neighborhoods, will now be shared for more people to learn about their neighborhoods and perhaps get inspired to do their own historical investigations. Collaborations between local shops like the West Philly non-profit, Neighborhood Bike Works, an organization dedicated to giving youth, in underserved communities, an opportunity to develop skills and earn a bike through sweat equity is an ideal potential partnership in that its mission states, it expands horizons by offering opportunities to discover new places by bike. Maker spaces such as Hive76, Tiny WPA, and NextFab are prime sites to get modifications done to create the cargo aka Box Bike needed to transport the required supplies to present history ride-bys. The story of the cargo bike is noteworthy itself, especially in how it cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions while providing safe transportation. It is my desire, as an artist and community member, to preserve the air quality and safety of the places I perform when I can. Furthermore, because The History Bike Project is scalable and tractable, it can be easily changed, replicated, and molded to fit the specific needs of different communities, it can be adopted, adapted, and used all over. A memorable legacy would be to create something that has traction not only in Philadelphia but in other cities around the world. While spectators will not ride on the history bike, for safety reasons, the ride-by historian/performer will engage with audiences when stops are made along the route. Skits, questions and answers and props are all used to pull the spectator into the experience. History cards and route slips offers tangible educational take-a-ways. Bike routes are selected based on the previously mentioned criteria and what I call its visibility status, in other words, does it get much notice or is it “invisible”? “Invisible neighborhoods” are often left off tourist maps even though they offer rich and exciting history. For those who live, work or visit these neighborhoods, a ride-by history lesson can be an unexpectedly positive experience to counter a lot of the negativity we have been recently dealing with in Philadelphia. There is an emphasis on neighborhoods of color and immigrant populations. In addition to history cards that supply more facts to viewers, there will be a suggestion box, paper-based and online where people can recommend neighborhoods for a history bike route. The history bike is a workable model that can be converted to walking tours conducted in-person or virtually.