What is Philly Works?
This weekend I found some wonderful old tools at the West Philly Tool Exchange. I paid a small amount of money and spent a little bit of time with my son on Saturday cleaning up and talking about the value of the tools. We discussed how good tools will last a very long time and can be used for an amazingly diverse set of purposes if one is clever and cares for them. The most important thing I emphasized to my son is understanding your tools and their value. Once you have this knowledge, you add their value to your own, making much more possible.
This is largely how I view what we are doing with Philly Works. We are finding value and doing our best to give these values new possibility. For several years we put a show together during Design Philadelphia of fantastic things designed and made in Philadelphia. The aim of the exhibits were to celebrate the makers, their processes, the tools, their spaces, etc. We also began the task of putting an online tool together that could better communicate these values to the Philadelphia Community. We have a long way to go with this, but are excited by the potential it will offer. We have been promoting the idea of easier collaboration, creating the argument that Philadelphia is, in a very real sense, a large and thriving workspace with abundant tools and affordances embedded in the everyday around us.
With the Qualities of Life Exhibit our aim is both to create discussion and attempts at collaboration among the same people we have been working with over the past few years- specific to topics that are critical to the “why” of our daily activity and efforts in Philadelphia. In turn, the Qualities of Life Exhibit will hopefully give us an opportunity to better articulate what we want Philadelphia to be and what our place is in it. Through the various ways we will be documenting the processes involved, and through activities dedicated to reflecting on and synthesizing the feedback of those participating and accomplishing work, we hope to create a better understanding of what values Philly Works can offer as we move forward.
How can we connect and leverage the light social network of creative talent with the more tangible, old-school networks of physical space, tools, and projects? How can we do this and create new opportunity along the way for what these combined talents could offer the larger questions and problems our communities are challenged with? We want others to recognize that we are at a special moment and place that gives us an enormous contextual basis for carrying a conversation forward- about what it means to create, make, and produce as a culture; to participate directly in the real world that surrounds us. It was, and is, tied to our identity as a city.
These are the desires and questions we are engaging with. The question of “What is Philly Works?” will have to wait a bit longer to be fully flushed out. It is the wonderful part about all of this, the not knowing. It means we are exploring new territory, and that is pretty exciting.