Garden to Garden Artway

City of Asylum Pittsburgh

Funding Received: 2013
Pittsburgh, PA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
October 8, 2013

Image: Audience members at the Jazz-Poetry Concert and Writers in the Gardens; Photo by Renee Rosensteel

Reflection and Update
The Artway is about creating spaces and opportunities for diverse neighbors to gather and where literature and art challenge and inspire us to re-imagine and make a better home together. September has been all about scale. City of Asylum’s Jazz-Poetry Concert brought more than 650 people to Sampsonia Way for an evening of poetry, prose, and jazz with an acclaimed, international ensemble of musicians and writers (plus one magician). That same afternoon, 60 people came out for an hour-long poetry reading called “Writers in the Gardens,” an event where local writers read site-specific works created especially for the occasion. As they read, the writers wandered in and out of private gardens along the Artway. A few days later, 120 people participated in “I Don’t Know What I’d Do If I Couldn’t Speak My Mind,” a 6-hour community reading of poetry and prose on the theme of free speech, held on the Artway near the site of the Alphabet Reading Garden. These three events brought many new visitors to the Artway, and just as importantly, they offered our Northside community three unique opportunities to engage with us as volunteers, sharing gifts of time and talent at each event. More than 50 people volunteered at Jazz-Poetry Concert, including 20 additional volunteers who worked at “Writers in the Gardens” and 60 more (including our volunteer readers and emcees) who worked at “Speak My Mind.” It takes a village to make a home. Up next: unannounced visits by villagers. We’ve (almost) got an app for that.

Recent Wins
PBS NewsHour came to City of Asylum in June, and recorded this feature, for which the transcript is available.

Volunteerism runs deep in our community, and it’s important to provide many more, different opportunities for volunteers to participate in the Artway.