Residents, artists gather to discuss the meaning of work


Compulsory. Unethical. Character building. These were some of the terms used to describe work by the 45 community members who participated in “How We Fish“, an event held Monday night at Germantown’s United Methodist Church.

The event was the fifth in a series of creative brainstorming sessions that brought together visual artists, human services organizations, labor activists, community leaders and residents to share thoughts about work. Artists from Social Impact Studios and the Mural Arts Program will incorporate these ideas into a mural honoring the spirit of the Philadelphia workforce.  Mural Arts Special Projects Manager Netanel Portier said that for the creation of the mural they wanted to “engage in something that is creative and uplifting to the whole community”.

Participants came from Germantown, Mt. Airy, West Philadelphia and other neighborhoods across the city as well as nearby suburbs.  As participants arranged themselves at four tables moderator Harris Sokoloff encouraged them to, “sit with as few of your friends a possible.  If you sit with your friends you won’t learn as much.”  Then he began the discussion by asking “what role does work play in your life”?

Facilitators helped move the dicussions along and used flip charts to take notes on the discussion and to write up a list of the kinds of jobs held by participants. Sandwich maker, day care worker, lifeguard and city clerk were named.  A woman who had worked in a donut shop described how the dough machine went crazy on her first day, spewing ropes of dough onto the floor.  A young man described feeling frustrated and defeated by his inability to find a job.

Participants were treated to a dinner of herbed salmon, braised steak, beet salad and risotto prepared by the chefs at Barclay Prime.  JEVS, a non profit organization that provides job resources and training was on hand to help job seekers. 

When completed the mural will be located at the corner of 8th and Cherry streets.

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