The Philadelphia Water Department invites artists, community leaders, or organizations to participate in the Germantown Rising Ideas Community Arts Project.

The art project aims to increase creative engagement about flooding in Germantown, and better inform communities about water-climate issues. This project is part of the Department’s participation in the US Water Alliance’s Water, Arts, and Culture Accelerator, an initiative advancing climate-related water solutions through municipal water and local arts partnerships. 

“They[US Water Alliance] invited cities to submit grant proposals so that the cities could take on an arts creative process to connect with impacted communities on flooding and climate change,” PWD’s Project manager of the Public Engagement Team, Tiffany Ledesma says. “We’re basically going to give an artist $20,000 to help us figure out what an appropriate creative process could look like.”

Philadelphia was among four other cities selected by the US Water Alliance to participate; Little Rock, AK; Madison, WI; New Orleans, and Tucson, AZ were others. Each city creates a team of water utility professionals, artists, or cultural leaders to co-design the project. PWD is currently working with the Germantown Community Flood Risk Task Force to recruit an artist.

PWD selected Germantown because of its challenging flooding history; with hard to find solutions, and a stream that once flowed throughout the community. The neighborhood experiences infrastructure and flash flooding, because homes were built on top of old creeks and sewers. This past summer, neighbors discussed flooding in the Belfield section of East Germantown on Facebook. 

PWD projects climate change will increase more flooding events in the future. This reality can make the topic of flooding a challenging and sensitive issue in Germantown— and why staying informed could help.  

But PWD’s Community Outreach Specialist and East Germantown resident Maura Javis says the project will simultaneously provide healing conversations and spaces.  

“So having some sort of Arts Initiative gives us an opportunity to have a conversation about something in Germantown that is very difficult to talk about,” Jarvis says. “A lot of people have had personal experiences, I would even go so far as to say trauma associated with flooding in Germantown and so we want to be able to carefully approach that in a setting where people feel comfortable,”

The team is still looking for applicants of all arts and community backgrounds. While an art project could be associated with only fine arts, Jarvis and Ledesma express an interest in other skills like storytelling or spoken word. The project will be funded with an all-inclusive budget of $20,000, including travel, production costs, and more. 

For more information on how to stay safe during flooding and how to prevent damage, visit  PWD’s Why Germantown Floods Guide. For more information on how to be part of the Germantown Rising Ideas Community Project, visit the call-for-artist guide with instructions on applying. 

Application deadline is Jan. 25