Southwest Seniors & 4th Graders

South West Seniors and Wilson Elementary
Philly, PA
Winter-Spring 2007

My friend Mariel Waloff and I co-facilitated this project, working with seniors from the South West Community Enrichment Center and 4th graders from Alexander Wilson Elementary, collaborating on a show about the past and future of the Woodland Avenue neighborhood of Southwest Philly. Due to scheduling constraints, all the collaborators couldn’t always meet in the same room (though the school and the senior center are next door to one another.) Therefore, Mariel and I sometimes acted as conduits between them- working with the 4th graders to develop questions about the neighborhood and recording the seniors’ oral histories…They painted together, traded versions of the script back and forth, and the seniors coached a group of girls making up dances to perform between sections of the show (based on each era that the show traveled through (in a time-machine telephone booth)). The participants were met with uproarious applause when they performed the show for students, families and neighborhood elders. Many of the kids and seniors told me this project was the first time they had actually talked to people of a different generation about what Woodland Ave. used to feel like or what they imagined for its future.

Photo credit: Jack Ohly, Mariel Waloff, and others