The Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge Neighborhood Convening, held in South Philadelphia on November 13 and 14, 2015, was a working convening on cooperation, civic engagement, and gentrification. It featured talks and round-tables with neighborhood stakeholders and community members, local and international activists, planners, curators, artists, and politicians.

The convening began with an in-depth presentation of CohStra’s research report on South Philadelphia. Everyone present received a copy of this report, which details a year’s worth of qualitative and quantitative research, as well as narratives about the experiences of CohStra and their neighborhood parnters on the Playgrounds project.

If you missed the convening, you can still get the report online for free. Download it here:

Part one: 

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Part two: 

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Part three: 

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Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge was built as a pilot project to test new ways for Mural Arts to engage communities through social practice. CohStra’s work is process-oriented action research, and while major actions can be documented through photographs and videos, these actions are built on daily interactions, tensions, and partnerships which are much more difficult to record.

Reflections on Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge features four critical essays by key thinkers on the Playgrounds project: curator Lucía Sanromán, community organizer Beth Uzwiak, project manager Shari Hersh, and Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD, who acted as assessor for CohStra’s project.

The four essays presented here discuss particular challenges posed by Playgrounds, as well as learnings which apply across social practice, focusing on the various roles individuals played and how various partners worked together to build a process-based project.

Reflections on Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge:

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Major support for Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.