In September, neighbors from the 2000 block of East Madison Street and local organizations held the first of five “Lots of Lots of Love” community workshop events. The art workshops that took place during the events allowed community members to share their ideas for a new mural that will be painted on the side of a rowhouse at 3240 Kensington Ave.
The workshops were organized by Mural Arts Philadelphia’s John C. Zerbe and Paige Phillips in partnership with Impact Services and Kensington Corridor Trust. Wells Fargo and the City’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) provided funding for the workshops.
I live on East Madison Street, and my neighbors were excited to have these events on smaller blocks in the area. Our area is often ignored for the more populated parts of the neighborhood. We feel abandoned. Events like “Lots of Lots of Love” let the people who live here feel more accepted and wanted. These events also help us live better lives by building community and inspiring residents to improve the quality of life in the area.
Community members flock to the ‘Lots of Lots of Love’ workshop events
The first event on Sept. 12 was held at the corner lot of the 2000 block of East Madison Street. More than a dozen people showed up, including community members, youth, We CAN – Change & Action Now, and Mural Arts.
Led by their block captain “Miss Angie,” a small group of community members even came over from the 1900 block of East Madison Street. Miss Angie and my mom “Miss Neyda,” another block captain, have worked long and hard for many years to improve living conditions for residents and kids. I noticed both women were pleased with the event and the turnout, as were the other residents and kids.
The next event was held on Sept. 19 at the available lot on 3240 Kensington Ave. where the mural will be painted. The turnout was bigger than expected. Many children, families, and organizations participated in the event. There were also many activities, including Mural Arts teaching the kids how to spray paint.
On Oct. 3, another one of the events was held on the block outside of McVeigh Park and Recreation Center at 400-64 E. Ontario St. The turnout was huge. There was a crowd of about 70 people, including the different organizations tabling at the event. Community members spent time at the arts table painting, coloring, and drawing. Many people passing by stopped and danced along to the music the DJ was playing.
Besides the activities, residents were able to apply for and use many of the resources provided by the organizations, such as Mural Arts, New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC), By Faith Health And Healing, Somerset Neighbors For Better Living, and Impact Services. Most of the organizations also handed out flyers, nicknacks, and snacks.
The next event on Oct. 17 was once again hosted at 3240 Kensington Ave. This event had a food truck and dancers, much to the enjoyment of the kids who spent hours dancing and learning new dance moves. Another group taught pottery making, and many people stopped by to check out that station, including a reporter who stopped by to interview community members. A group of painters and other artists spent the day creating elaborate artwork on giant canvases and answering questions from the neighborhood kids.
The final “Lots of Lots of Love” event was hosted on the 2000 block of East Madison Street on Oct. 24. The event was a resource fair focused on transitions and moving on and moving through all the trauma that has happened to community members during and before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The third event on Oct. 3 was probably the most attended by neighbors out of the five workshop events. In the end, many community members, including myself, left each event happy. We’re all excited about the changes that are coming to the area.
Editors: Solmaira Valerio, Zari Tarazona, Henry Savage / Designer: Henry Savage