Sep 18, 2015

Join us on Saturday at the Mifflin Square Alliance Festival!

by: Carly Rapaport-Stein

On Saturday, September 19, Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge, a joint venture between Cohabitation Strategies (CohStra) and Mural Arts, will have its third and final action, the Mifflin Square Alliance Festival, from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m.

The Mifflin Square Alliance Festival is a major moment of public cohesion and visibility in a year-long residency of Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge. Since May, Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge has taken residence in a vacant lot in South Philadelphia, a lot situated at the center of seven ethnically and culturally diverse South Philly communities.

Bringing people together, especially where there is a lack of communication between diverse groups, is at the nexus of social and artistic practice, a space Mural Arts has been exploring for the past 30 years. Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge, however, is a new iteration of Mural Arts’ foci. In it, CohStra is exploring a new way of galvanizing communities over the long-term by incubating future projects within a community context, using grassroots research and exploratory cultural experiences to engage the stories, interests, and challenges of people.

CohStra planned Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge around a series of three actions, each designed to bring diverse communities together in conversation. The first two actions brought neighbors together to discuss ideas for exchanging skills and creativity, as well as ideas that could strengthen each resident’s ties to the neighborhood and each other.

On Saturday, at the third action, Mural Arts and CohStra will put up a large, temporary art installation in the center of Mifflin Square, a large and well-used public space in South Philadelphia. The park will play host to a range of fun and fascinating events, all driven by the interests of the neighborhoods’ residents. Teams of residents planned out the activities, forming committees to organize and drive each portion of the project forward. Saturday’s festivities will include:

  • Live music, talk shows, dance, and storytelling

  • Creative hands-on activities for kids

  • Tips from Trash Academy on keeping the neighborhood clean

  • Workshops for idea-sharing with local community organizations

  • A South Philly Food Contest to discover the best cook in the neighborhood

Playgrounds will continue on September 29th with a follow-up meeting at the hub, 632 Jackson Street, and all are welcome to attend. A report of the outcomes of the project will be presented at a major convening in South Philadelphia on November 13th, and you can find more details on our website:

Major support for Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. The Environmental Justice Initiative is made possible by visionary support from PTS Foundation. Additional support to Environmental Justice is provided by City of Philadelphia Department of Human Services, FAO Schwarz Family Foundation, Fondation d’entreprise Hermes, and Surdna Foundation. Project partner:LandHealth Institute. Media Partner: Next City.

Last updated: Jun 3, 2020

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