The People’s Lot. (GIH | Rasheed Ajamu)

The Germantown Avenue and Church Lane intersection stands as one of the most notable corridors in Germantown. Home to Uncle Bobbies, the newer Mighty Writers Germantown base, the biweekly Germantown Farmers Market, and a section of the newly deemed Germantown Arts District, foot traffic is always heavier in this part of the neighborhood. This Saturday, OURchive will host its second-ever People’s Fest right there.

OURchive is a community organization founded to save arts and cultures in the neighborhood while supporting the people who create it. The organization’s founder and current Executive Director (ED), Victor Jackson, used his Poetry Foundation Fellowship award to help establish the organization four years ago. OURchive strives to provide programs and resources in art, literacy, and social justice in non-traditional ways.

Jackson elaborates, saying, “You have a blend of us saving work traditionally, like an archive, and then you have us doing things like the food lot and the People’s fridges and things like that. And then you also have us producing spaces like the People’s Lot, which is a space dedicated to studying what people will do with a free art space.”

Over the past four years, the People’s Lot has become a place where neighbors and community groups have come to put on programs, workshops, and celebrations. Saturday will mark a new chapter for the organization, as the People’s Fest will celebrate Jackson’s finale as ED of the organization and make room for a more community-powered direction. As a signifier of new horizons, guests can participate in a featured activity: helping paint some walls white.

The people’s Lot during Community Joy Day in October 2022. (GIH | Rasheed Ajamu)

“Three sponsored walls will be staying,” Jackson says. “Outside of those, we’ll be turning everything white again to give folks a new year of dabbling inside the lot and doing cool stuff.”

Jackson says the transition will bring more opportunities for community members and groups to use the lot to experiment and try new projects or just to enjoy the space. Jackson also mentions that OURchive’s community council is open for new members, which the organization hopes will help to take charge of using the lot. 

While he will no longer be the ED of OURchive, Jackson will also transition into being a board member, working to bring on a new leader. He says his favorite part of the past four years has been testing if people will show up to do interesting things if you give them the resources.

“The answer is yes,” Jackson says. “People will show up to paint, build, experiment, do avant-garde work, help out, and feed people. Those are some of the most important things I think I’ve gotten out of the organization. You just need to be able to provide a venue and a pathway to be able to do things. And people will show up.”

Jackson looks forward to Saturday and encourages neighbors to come out and join the celebration, saying, “Come party, come dance, play some double-dutch, draw on the sidewalk–do whatever you want to do. Let’s just get it done. Period.”

The People’s Fest will block off Church Lane this Saturday from noon until 7 p.m. for a day of celebration. There will be food, drinks, music, and activities for neighbors to enjoy. Neighbors will also see how the space is already transforming, with food being grown by community group GREAT, a new storage shed, and more. 

While their website is set to launch later this year, folks can stay updated with OURchive via Instagram at @ourchive215