Academy Town Square Presents: Flooding in Philadelphia's Eastwick Community
Saturday, October 16, 2021
7:00 PM-8:00 PM
The recent passage of Hurricane Ida, and Tropical Storm Isaias before it, reminded us of the physical vulnerability of the Greater Philadelphia region to extreme precipitation.
While climate change is likely making flooding worse, communities such as Eastwick in Southwest Philly have endured repeated, catastrophic flooding for decades. News reports, videos and photographs have captured some of the physical damage, but the mental and emotional toll that these events have had on local residents is less visible. Flooding is just one of several environmental injustices faced by this community. Because of its proximity to the airport, highways, industrial complexes and landfills, locals have also had to endure pollution of the air, water and soil.
Yet, as Carolyn Moseley, an organizer for Eastwick United describes, residents refuse to be “flown over, flooded and forgotten.” They have fought for decades for recognition and restorative justice and will continue the fight, even as media and government attention ebbs and flows with the flood waters.
In this special Academy Town Square, residents of Eastwick will share their challenges as well as their determined spirit — describing the history of a remarkable community organizing effort and raising awareness of what we can do to support it.
This Academy Town Square is being presented in coordination with the exhibition Gideon Mendel: Drowning World at the Academy. The exhibition features 37 photographs, two found-object displays and a video by leading contemporary photographer Gideon Mendel, a native of Johannesburg, South Africa. Mendel began photographing major floods in 2007 when one in the United Kingdom and another in India occurred within two weeks of each other. Their proximity struck him as a shared vulnerability that seemed to unite people.
This unique photographic exploration of flooding offers a stark portrayal of the human condition within the context of overwhelming climate events around the world. The exhibition includes color images of some of the poorest and wealthiest communities on the planet, all exposed to the floodwater that envelops them. Drowning World is on view through Sunday, Oct. 17.
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