Saturday, December 8, 2012

Personalizing Place in the Latino Community

North 5th & Lehigh,  El Centro de Oro
 Latino communities transform public places in their communities into personal ones. These transformations fit with the idea of making a home, for a specific place is more than a house or address; it is the space plus the emotional and intellectual connections that were built into it over time. In the book Diálogos, Placemaking in Latino Communities, the writers discuss one definition of place as referring to “territorialized local communities, collective memories associated with territory, claims of authenticity by local actors, phenomenological associations with locales, and social relationships among people in territorial communities.”[1] In other words, place connotes a community’s shared history and experience. The Latino communities of Philadelphia demonstrate this with the music blaring from windows, the murals they choose to put on the sides of their buildings, and the colors with which they embellish their shops. It is, too, in the names they use to identify their areas (el Barrio, el Centro de Oro) and in the names of institutions and businesses that string neighborhoods together (HACE, Centro Musical, Roberto Clemente High School, Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Taller Puertorriqueño). It is also marked in the colors and patterns of their national symbols that adorn their busineses, like the white cross with the alternating red & blue of the Dominican Republic’s flag, in the bands of green, white and red of the Mexican flag or in the sky blue, white and red stripes of the Puerto Rican flag. Each can be read as a multifaceted proclamation of identity, of coming from one region, of having staked a claim in this area, in this space and for this moment in time.

Betsy Casañas mural, "Cruzando el Charco," N. 5th  and Dauphin
Taller Puertorriqueño (Taller) recognizes its connection to the community. It knows that through its work it has been questioning the misnomer of "Badlands" to the area it is in, and reclaiming the pride of culture and contributions of Latinos in this community. With its Meet the Author Series[2], its Annual Arturo Schomburg Symposium[3] and collaborations with universities and colleges, Taller crosses boundaries, challenges stereotypes and inspires civic engagement. In its youth education programs it fosters knowledge of arts, cultural history and critical thinking; its 20 years of association with the Philadelphia Art Museum is a great indicator of being a leader in using art as a bridge to cultural and community understanding. It knows it has been playing a role as an anchor of the neighborhood’s identity, and as a resource and gateway to and for the Latino community. Students and patrons, both from around the city and within the neighborhood, come to Taller to learn about the city’s Puerto Rican roots and its ever-increasing Latino diversity. More importantly within its programs, it offers context and a safe place to discuss and confront very delicate and volatile issues such as gentrification and the long history of prejudice and classism towards Latino's in this country. To better understand Taller’s place and its place-making role in the Latino community of Philadelphia, we must look to its

Flag Raising 9-2011 2
Raising the Puerto Rican flag in Taller  Puertorriqueño

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Photos of El Sol Sale Para Todos Screening

Photos the discussion after the screening of el Sol Sale Para Todos on Saturday.   The discussion topics ranged from the problems of Mexican faces with immigrating to the US, to the Mexican organizations started to address these trouble and integration with the Latino community of North Philadelphia.  There were even discussions about how the younger generations in the US loosing is their ability to communicate comfortably in Spanish.

In attendance was Dalia O'Gorman, from Casa Monarca, as well people from the Norris Square Neighborhood Project.  The Executive Director of Taller Puertorriqueño, Carmen Febo San Miguel introduced documentarian's Laura Deutch, Carlos Pascual Sanchez, and Leticia Roa Nixon.