(January 18th, 2021) Bridesburg, PA – The pandemic and winter weather has slowed most neighborhood activities to a standstill. But something is still humming along, nourishing people, and being welcomed into homes across Bridesburg: pizza!
This occurred to community artists Aislinn Pentecost-Farren and Mary Welcome as they pondered how to inspire neighbors about the upcoming Bridesburg Riverfront Park at Orthodox Street and Delaware Avenue. Riverfront North Partnership and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation plan to start construction of Phase 1 later this year. The park will be the first public riverfront access in Bridesburg in two generations. Riverfront North has hired the artists to encourage creative thinking about the park’s future.
To celebrate the upcoming park, Aislinn and Mary designed an interactive, limited-edition pizza box that will carry all the large pizzas at Old English for several weeks. Old photos, trivia, coloring, poetry, history and more will cover the pizza box on all sides.
To Welcome, “a pizza is more than a pandemic take-out option; pizza is a place where we can share ideas, tell stories, and time travel together. Pizza is a platform for community imagination!”
“A park is a space of community possibility, where people can play, share, and steward a space together. Before the park is built, it only exists in our imaginations, so that space of possibility is essentially limitless. The pizza box is a slice of the park for people to experiment with,” said Pentecost-Farren. “We wanted friends or family to be able to gather around and play together, learn something, and connect to the river, just like they’ll be able to when the park is finished.”
“When Covid-19 stopped all in-person programming in its tracks, we did not want to lose the momentum that was starting to build around Bridesburg Riverfront Park, said Gina Craigo, Community Engagement Manager of Riverfront North Partnership. “Pizza delivery is one of the few things that continued without interruption, and unprecedented times call for innovative new ideas. We’re excited to hear the community’s response to this.”
This project is part of a two-year series of artist-lead community engagements by Philadelphia artist and curator Aislinn Pentecost-Farren. Riverfront North Partnership commissioned her to develop creative projects that inspire interest and a sense of investment in the riverfront park. Her other projects in Bridesburg have included art and nature workshops at the Rec Center, and a video series called Bridesburg River Ways. As shutdowns changed the nature of how we can interact, she teamed up with collaborator Mary Welcome to develop ideas in response to the changing social restrictions.
The pizza box is available at Old English Pizza on Richmond Street at Orthodox Street until supplies run out. Order a large size to check out the project! Follow the project and view submissions to the drawing activity at riverfrontnorth.org/pizza, or follow @riverfrontnorth and #ThisPizzaIsAPark on social media.
All photos below are cleared for press use. Attribution to “Riverfront North Partnership”.