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🗣️ "Art as the Messenger"


Photo by Steve Johnson / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Travis Loop
Guests: Tiffany Ledesma | Project Manager | CDM Smith &
Maura Jarvis | Consultant to the Philadelphia Water Department | Trans-Pacific Engineering Corporation
Category: 🗣️ Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:08] TL: “The Philadelphia Water Department has been working with educators, with artists for a very long time, [but] more on the education front. But over the past decade or so the Water Department has been partnering with the Mural Arts of Philadelphia. And so through that vehicle, we've been able to explore a lot of different types of engagement interventions that […] less typical […] [and] a lot more of the adult population. […] I think the bottom line is that in communications, you have to use a variety of tools to reach different audiences. And we need to remember that art and culture is a tool for communications, and it works and it's helpful when you're trying to talk about science and technical content as well.”

[3:59] TL: “The theme of water and art, I think, are integrated. I think, first of all, everybody can connect to drinking water. We all use it every day, whether we're drinking from the faucet, or just using water in the shower, but everybody can connect to water. And everybody has an experience beyond just drinking it that I think connects to that more, soulful side, whether you're jumping in the ocean or you're listening to a creek. There's so many different elements of water that I think connect with us in these metaphysical ways beyond just providing us with our drinking water, minimum daily intake. So there's a lot of opportunity to go in a lot of creative directions when you're talking about water.”

[6:47] MJ: “We can bring water and art together in ways that people really didn't even imagine. [One] particular project that we're looking at right now is at the site of […] a former vacant lot that was completely transformed. […] The community, partners, water department all came together and created something really beautiful. So we put a rain garden here, which manages stormwater, we have the the mural project where the community members were actually helping to paint the mural and were involved in community meetings where they learned both about the upcoming project and about environmental education, watershed protection, they're learning about all these things in our presentations about green infrastructure, but then on top of that they're parties participating in a process that beautifies an asset in their community.”

[9:29] TL: “In terms of murals we’re the mural city of the world. There's […] over 1000 murals in Philadelphia. But in terms of the Water Department, engaging artists, I would say we've done […] at least 50 in the city. […] We worked with two communities more recently in North Philadelphia, predominantly Latino community and African American black community. And we used research data about drinking water in Philadelphia as our motivation for bringing artists and muralist specifically, in addition to singers to really help the community […] better connect to feeling more comfortable drinking tap water at home.”

[11:05] TL: “In Philadelphia, specifically, we do know that the folks that are drinking the most amount of tap water are white, affluent, educated customers. And so on the flip side, the people who have the least resources, the people who have the least amount of education, the people who […] peak English as a second language, those populations […] are the ones that are drinking the most bottled water at home. And so […] there's definitely a disparity. […] The reasons why are varied. There's everything from your culture, like I grew up […] in Puerto Rico, and I never drank tap water [there]. So when I came here, I was very hesitant to drink tap water. But obviously, now I'm a huge proponent of it, because I understand it's safe, but it took me a little while to feel that I could trust the source. […] And in addition to that, there's been a history of distrust between community people and utility and government. […] So we know that we have very high quality water in Philadelphia, we're very fortunate that way. And we felt it was important […] that the folks especially that couldn't […] afford bottled water would feel more confident drinking tap water at home.”

[25:40] TL: “We were very fortunate that the US Water Alliance partnered with Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Tucson, and Madison. And they worked with us over the past year, […] to figure out how we can move the needle in […] arts, water and culture world. And so they've been really wonderful in providing support to grant funding to artists, to help us really use new ways to push arts and culture and in the space that we're in with water and climate change.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 30 min | 🗓️ 07/06/2021
✅ Time saved: 28 min