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Changing the Narrative

A short documentary on how Lindy's Urban Innovation Fellows are challenging convention and helping communities tell their stories

Title card from Change the Narrative Documentary

September 11, 2019

Two years ago this month, the Lindy Institute selected its inaugural cohort of innovation fellows, Priya Mammen, Mike O’Bryan and Chris Spahr, who were chosen for their passion for urban problem-solving and their potential to positively impact communities in Philadelphia. In recognition of their work, we engaged documentarian Wren Rene to shadow them and share their work through a short film. Wren’s focus was to document how each fellow is helping to change the narrative in her/his community while recognizing members of that community who represent the invaluable contribution of vast networks of people in solving urban challenges. We hope you’ll watch and share!

The fellows were selected from a large and diverse pool of applicants from across the city and received $15,000 and support from the Lindy and Drexel academic families, including participating in the Urban Innovation Summit and being mentored by the incomparable Jeremy Nowak. We are so proud of their affiliation with Lindy! Learn more about their work below:

Chris Spahr used his fellowship to support the development of a community outreach strategy to inform his innovative proposal to fund the Centennial Parkside CDC through renewable energy generation. Working with insite collaborative and Ebony Suns Enterprises,  Chris hosted a successful community wide process, which culminated at the Our Dreams, Our Future Community Dinner, at Horticulture Hall in Fairmount Park. During his fellowship, he has also helped the Centennial Parkside CDC become a community partner in the development of Schuylkill Yards. Chris and his team continue to work with East Parkside residents to build a green economy that promotes sustainable development without displacement of the existing neighborhood population. You can follow Chris’s work here.

Mike O’Bryan focused his fellowship on developing a strategy for a consultancy that works with organizations and employers to transform how they understand and support human development, interaction, and performance. During that time he delivered trainings and workshops for orgs that included The Philadelphia Youth Network, ArtistYear, and NeighborWorks America. His fellowship also helped him leverage a grant from the University of the Arts’ Corzo Center for the Creative Economy. He continues to serve as Director of Youth And Young Adult Initiatives at The Village of Arts and Humanities. Follow Mike here.

Priya Mammen developed a leadership platform to share her vision of Emergency Departments as partners in urban public health, not only to address the social determinants of health in many Philadelphia communities, but to confront public health crises, such as the opioid crisis, on the front lines..  Since her fellowship began, her ideas, proposals and expertise have garnered attention from the US Department of Labor, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, city agencies, such as Philadelphia Department of Health and DBHIDS, and community organizations.  She has shared her thought leadership at TEDx,in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst, among others. She leads several advisory committees in both public and private sectors, sits on the Board of Directors of Pathways to Housing, PA and was elected to the Board of Trustees of the College of Physicians. Follow Priya here.

The Urban Innovation Fellows Program was created through the generous support of the William Penn Foundation, Wyncote Foundation and Knight Foundation.