Posted January 7, 2016
Temple sponsors North Philadelphia community park and mural
The Generation II Generation mural highlights the history of Temple's neighbors.
Joseph V. Labolito
Milton Pollard can recall a time when Bouvier Street was a tightly knit community.
Pollard’s grandfather, Roger Williams was a Philadelphia police officer who kept trouble away from the neighborhood, and his grandmother Lucy provided daily discipline for local children from her stoop near the end of the block.
“This is the kind of project that really helps bring our neighbors and the Temple community together for a good cause.”
-- Beverly Coleman, assistant vice president for community relations and economic development
As time passed, families moved, the demographic changed and several houses fell into disrepair. Some residences, like the one that used to sit across the street from Pollard, were leveled and left vacant and unkempt.
“It was horrible; it looked like a jungle,” Pollard recalled. “One day I was sitting on my stoop and thought, ‘Why not make this lot into a community park?’ I knew the space had potential—it was just a matter of getting to the right people to make something happen.”
When the Office of Community Relations and the Department of Campus Safety Services staff heard that Pollard wanted to make improvements to Bouvier, they stepped in to lend a hand.
“Creating the mural took the help of students, administrators and members of the North Philadelphia community,” said Beverly Coleman, assistant vice president for community relations and economic development. “This is the kind of project that really helps bring our neighbors and the Temple community together for a good cause.”
In addition to funding the landscaping, Temple supported the creation of Generation II Generation, a full-scale mural designed to honor the families who helped maintain the Bouvier Street community.
“This block has a lot of history,” said Gabe Tiberino of the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. “I wanted to design a mural that acknowledged all of the families that helped establish the community.”
To do that Tiberino used colorful images of children playing, abstract shapes and the names of the men and women who raised their families on Bouvier Street.
Students from By Any Means Necessary Dance Co., Society of Emerging African Leaders and Temple Student Government helped prime the wall and even assisted with a few design elements.
As a resident of the neighborhood, Emily Susavage, Class of 2016, a student in the School of Media and Communication, is hopeful that the park will make her feel more connected to her neighbors.
“We don’t always have an opportunity to get to know the residents of this neighborhood. I think the park will encourage students to spend more time getting to know the history of North Philadelphia,” she said.
Pollard, who also created the tables and benches for the pocket park, is already looking forward to planning gatherings once the weather is a little warmer.
“The mural is dedicated to the pioneers of the block,” said Pollard. “Now this block is officially part of Philadelphia’s history. I hope that it will continue to be regarded as a historical site for generations to come.”