City, nonprofit promoting "global profile" of the area
September 1, 2013
Pushing Philadelphia forward as a world center, the Mayor's Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs and the nonprofit Global Philadelphia Association are rolling out more than 100 public events, starting Sunday and running through Nov. 1, to promote "international consciousness" and a "global profile" for the region.
Hawking the metropolis as a multicultural mecca, the first week brings a "Cultural Passport to PHL," 24 events designed to showcase local diversity, including a celebration of Mexican Independence Day; an exhibition, "Photography Without Borders"; a Caribbean film night; a naturalization ceremony at the National Constitution Center; a soccer tournament hosted by the United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia; and a roundtable discussion on the status of Philadelphia's Vietnamese community.
"As some of you have heard me say on more than a couple of occasions, unless you are an American Indian, everyone came from somewhere else," Mayor Nutter said at GPA's first meeting two years ago. "The internationalism of Philadelphia, the wonderful opportunity to bring tourists and visitors and ultimately residents to our city, is tremendously important."
The Philadelphia area "is an extraordinarily international region, but for too long has kept that a secret," GPA board chairman John F. Smith III said at the campaign's spring start. "We look forward to changing that through GlobalPhilly2013."
Scheduled for the coming weeks are immigrant-heritage walking tours, chef-inspired tastings of foreign fare, dance, music and craft exhibitions in immigrant neighborhoods, and scores of ethnic-themed activities.
The GlobalPhilly2013 logo was created by the Mexican-born graphic artist Ute Kraidy of Bala Cynwyd. It depicts a sea of international flags spilling out from the Liberty Bell and emblazoned, "The World Is Happening in PHL."
The initiative "offers an opportunity to hold up and share the work that so many of us are already doing" but do not necessarily have the marketing budgets to promote, said Heidi West, director of Drexel University's office of international programs.
Drexel will host several global-themed events through Nov. 1, including a five-artist photography exhibition, "Perspectives on Peace," organized loosely around the theme of "sanctuary, in Philadelphia and around the world," said its curator, Karl Seifert.
The featured artists are Eric Mencher, Sarah Bones, Laurence Salzmann, Anthony Wood, and Noah Addis. Included with their photographs of Philadelphia-area immigrants are images from Guatemala, Israel, Mexico, Egypt, and India.
Another visual component in the cavalcade of events is "Southeast by Southeast," a collaboration of the Mural Arts Program, Refugee Mental Health Collaborative, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services, and Lutheran Children and Family Services.
In 2012, the behavioral health department asked Mural Arts "to explore the issue of trauma and resilience" among the city's recently arrived Bhutanese, Burmese, and Nepali refugee populations, said Mural Arts executive director Jane Golden. The work would serve as "an alternative therapy model," she said.
Working from a bare-bones storefront on Seventh Street in South Philadelphia, "we wanted to build a supportive community space for immigrant and refugee families to learn about one another," said Golden, "and incorporate their voices into public arts projects that we planned for the neighborhood."
Photographs of the resulting wall art will premiere at a storefront reception next Saturday.
"Any city that considers itself a world city, or aspires to that, has to think about the diversity of the people living here, how we draw new people to the city, and how we work with new immigrants," said Golden.
"Cities are dynamic, fluid, and have to be ready. What is the city of the future? Where do we want to be?"