The Neighborhood Yes Fund celebrates the creative talents of our Southwest neighbors and friends and provides mini-grants in support of creative expression, connection to nature, community well-being and youth engagement.
What makes the Yes Fund different? A community advisory board from the South Kingsessing/North Elmwood neighborhood guides the decisions.
In 2016, fifteen awards were given to movers, shakers and all-around community leaders in the neighborhood around Bartram’s Garden. These leaders organized block-cleanups, taught video production, promoted literacy, showcased local performing artists, and came together to a picnic at Bartram’s Garden at the end of the year to celebrate, share their projects, and meet each other.
My most powerful memory from teaching film production in the Cameras Converting Communities program was completing the project. I remember the looks on their faces. Huge smiles and laughter as they exchanged “secret” handshakes. The “yaaassss!” of affirmation from the sistas in the program. I reciprocated that energy as I held back tears when Tue Campbell, the actor who played the teen father, lit up and said “wow Bro. Morris I can’t believe we really did it”. I said “we did king, we did”. – Kyle Morris, Coordinator/Instructor
Yes Fund leaders met again in 2017 with staff from Bartram’s Garden and Mural Arts to grow the program. Inspired by their shared goals and connections, this group brainstormed and developed bigger collaborations to pursue this year:
Local high school students cultivated their leadership this summer at the Farm, organizing their own outreach and greening service projects beyond the Garden’s borders and into its surrounding community. Legacy Crew members received a stipend to work on special projects with local community garden expert Qiana Ganges. The students wrote, directed, and performed a puppet show about healthy eating, and performed it for young children at Woodland Academy. They gave an encore performance at the summer-end celebration of the Farm program for the neighborhood. Legacy Crew members also helped tend the garden beds at Woodland Academy, John Bartram High School, and Tilden Middle School, and they presented healthy eating options at the AFRICOM Health Forum.
[The classroom] felt busy. There was a lot of action, movement, children. It felt good. Funny, but not ha-ha funny: we were doing something. It felt like something different, but different that was working.
Yes Fund leaders supported a series of events celebrating the cultural diversity of Southwest Philadelphia. So far this year, events include a Kickback Festival, a nature-based paint-and-sip workshop for community artists, an organized bicycle excursion on the Bartram’s Mile Trail, and a soccer tournament. Yes Fund leaders are also planning activities to take place at the Harvest Fest and JB Jawn at Bartram’s Garden on October 15th.
When I did the YES Fund, I had already had in mind to do a back-to- school drive. One of my neighbors said, Yeah. My son, you gave him enough supplies to last until June. It just felt good because to be acknowledged that whatever you did, touched somebody else. That was my whole thing. It wasn’t about getting accolades or anything. It was this is just what I do. – Adriane Parks
The Neighborhood Yes Fund was created by Bartram’s Garden and Mural Arts Philadelphia with support from ArtPlace, a national art foundation.
For more info, check out the Mural Arts Yes Fund Blog from this Spring