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Widener Partners with Chester Arts Community for Urban Harvest Festival Nov. 12

Widener University’s College of Arts and Sciences in partnership with Chester’s MJ Freed Theater will host an “urban harvest festival” that celebrates collaborative arts and community development projects that they have seeded and nurtured over the past year. The free public event is Saturday, Nov. 12, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the MJ Freed Theater, 515 Avenue of the States, Chester, Pa.

urban harvestThe Urban Harvest Festival will showcase a wide variety of projects, including interactive demonstrations, exhibits, performances and an open market featuring fresh produce and healthy food items.  Local vendors such as Open Mike’s Café and a food truck will sell refreshments, and there will be free ice cream samples.

The program of activities and displays features participants in the Boundaries and Bridges Project. Funded by the Barra Foundation and led by Dr. Sharon Meagher, dean of Widener’s College of Arts & Sciences, and Devon Walls, director of Artist Warehouse and the MJ Freed Theater, the purpose of Boundaries and Bridges is to utilize art and art methodologies to strengthen and create new collaborative relationships between Widener and the greater Chester community. 

The Urban Harvest Festival participants took at least one Boundaries and Bridges workshop on an art form and creative placemaking to learn how the arts can give voice to community members and provide positive experiences of collaboration that build trust and community. Workshops brought Widener faculty, staff and students together with members of the greater Chester community so that they could network with one another and work together to strengthen their community by engaging in arts practices.

After completing a workshop, participants were eligible to apply for seed money to then develop their own creative placemaking projects in the community. Featured projects include “Sowing Good Seeds,” which joins Chester urban farmers, a local nutritionist, local poets and artists, and Widener creative writing and environmental science faculty and students. Together, they developed a healthy eating educational project that made learning fun through art. At the Urban Harvest Festival, participants will offer cooking displays with tastings and explain their project. Participants in “The Art Spot” will display young people’s summer arts projects that were created during a collaborative camp project and host spoken word performances. “Building Bridges Through the Lens” participants will exhibit the photographs taken by Widener and Chester students during a photography workshop that encouraged participants to explore and photograph each other’s worlds. Finally, contributors to “The World Split Open” women’s oral history project will share stories that they have collected thus far.

Festival attendees will have the opportunity to learn how to get involved in future Boundaries and Bridges activities as well as new and related creative placemaking projects in the City of Chester. 

To learn more about the Boundaries and Bridges grant-funded programs and/or to sign up to be on the information list, visit the project website at: http://bridgechester.org. To also learn more about the event, contact the project coordinators at bridgechester5@gmail.com, or call Meagher at 610-499-4336 or Walls at 215-586-1325.

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener comprises eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses are in Chester and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del. Visit the university website, www.widener.edu.