Placing community central in Site/Sound: Revealing the Rail Park

By Shawn Sheu, Director of Community Engagement & Programs

For three weeks in October, we teamed up with Mural Arts Philadelphia and the American Composers Forum: Philadelphia Chapter for the unique opportunity to explore the past, present, and future of the Rail Park alongside thousands of Philadelphians and visitors from all over the region.  Through innovative public art installations, community-driven programs, and conversations about art and community, Site/Sound: Revealing the Rail Park asked you to consider what the future of this new public space could mean for our City.

Putting community at the center made this festival vibrant and unique. Through community-driven events and programs, Site/Sound highlighted and celebrated the diversity of our neighborhoods.

Through the festival microgrant program, we asked our communities to dream up their own ways of revealing the Rail Park, the history of the City, and its people.

Ali Ruffner and Ben Emmanuel used their grants to create Voices of the Neighborhood, an audio installation and portraits that pieced together conversations with residents in Chinatown North/Callowhill about what the Rail Park – and the changes that come with it – means to them. 

The Bethesda Project hosted Losang Samten, former Buddhist monk and artist, for Mandala Meditation, the creation and dismantling of a sacred sand mandala.

Auntie Kym explored the railroad as a center of movement and connection through spoken word and sound.

Kyodaiko honored the long history of Asian labor on railroads across the country through a taiko drumming performance.

Pecola Breedlove & the Freedom Party hosted a special evening of spoken word, inviting poets to share their neighborhood histories in Homegrown.  

The Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation hosted a Chinatown Anti-Displacement walk as part of their 8-part series.

Nina Valdera created a striking LED sculpture of railroad tracks moving into the horizon.

Parks for Chinatown hosted a Family Day to encourage Chinatown families to use the Rail Park as play and recreation space.

As for the Rail Park, we are just getting started.  This park will be unlike any other in the City; it will be made for, and used by, each and every one of you. But we need your help. Want to get involved? Sign up for our newsletter and reach out on our Contact Us page!