Precious Places Community History Project Vol. 1

Produced by: 
Scribe Video Center and various community organizations
Year: 
2007
Duration: 
150 min

Scribe Video Center’s
Precious Places Community History Project Vol. 1

While tourists head straight for the city’s official “Historic District” and native Philadelphian’s think they have seen it all, Scribe Video Center’sPrecious Places Community History Project reveals bypassed neighborhood sites as bright landmarks that surprise and inspire residents and visitors alike. Using the video documentary as a storytelling medium, neighborhood residents have come together to document the oral histories of their communities. Over the past 6 years Scribe has collaborated with community groups from Philadelphia, Chester, Ardmore, and Camden to produce 59 community histories. Precious Places is a regional history, an occasion for neighbors to tell their own stories about and the people and places that make their communities unique. This DVD features 15 films assembled into 5 programs of approximately 30 minutes in length.

Program 1

The Taking of Bodine: Never Forget by Community Leadership Institute (North Philadelphia).
The Taking of Bodine confronts the displacement of residents in North Philadelphia through the Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI). Led by neighborhood organizer Rosemary Cubas, the Community Leadership Institute contends that many good neighbors are being pushed out, houses bulldozed and land devalued in a plan that promises “development”, but not for the current residents. Read more

St. Augustine Church, Philadelphia: Immigration & Filipino Transformation by Filipino American National Historical Society (Olde City). The Filipino-American community, long a vital part of the city’s history, has played a crucial role in the re-birth of St. Augustine’s Church at 4th and Vine, a church that has been a center for immigrant communities for over two centuries. Read more

Buried Stones, Buried Dreams by Mt. Moriah Preservation Society (Southwest Philadelphia). Mount Moriah, a cemetery that holds the last remain of many Civil War veterans, has fallen into disrepair. The children and grandchildren of those buried at the cemetery, along with area neighbors, explore the historic significance of the Mt. Moriah and raise important questions about our responsibilities to the dead. Read more
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Program 2

Next Stop: Freedom by Frankford Group Ministry (Frankford). Frankford is one of the oldest communities in the county that came to be called Philadelphia. A group of local high school students record the oral histories of community elders, documenting the rich history of Frankford and exploring the ties of churches near Frankford Avenue to the Underground Railroad. Read more

Traveling the Avenue: A Story of History, Faith, Culture and Civic Action by Germantown Historical Society (Germantown) documents six historic landmarks along Germantown Avenue in Northwest Philadelphia. This virtual tour stops at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, the St. Vincent DePaul Roman Catholic Church, Germantown Town Hall, the Johnson House Museum, the Sedgwick Cultural Center and Valley Green. Read more

Investing in the Vision: Perspectives on the Uptown by Uptown Entertainment & Development Corporation (North Philadelphia). Musicians, patrons, an architect, and a wide variety of North Philadelphia neighbors tell the story of the famed but closed Uptown Theatre. An effort has been organized to revive this show place that played a critical role in the Rhythm and Blues cultural revolution of the 1950s and 60s. This film includes the last interview with famed impresario and radio personality Georgie Woods. Read more
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Program 3

Cliveden Park: Our Tree of Life by District Community Action Council (Mt. Airy). Musician and community icon Byard Lancaster uses the metaphor of the great 200- year-old oak tree in the middle of Cliveden Park to introduce us to the neighborhood. Across generations, the park is a place where residents of East Mt. Airy, through their care and upkeep of this green space, show their love for their community and each other.Read more

An Elder’s Story by Chester Consortium for Creative Community (Chester). The large electric sign once proclaimed “What Chester Makes Makes Chester.” These words begin the story of former glory of a great industrial center. Residents look at the past and contemplate what the future holds for the city. Read more

Unhushed! by The Still Standing Project (Camden). Community historian Beverly Roberts had covered a hidden truth about Pomona Hall, an 18th century plantation owned by the Cooper family, the founders of Camden. Unhushed! pays tribute to the enslaved Africans who worked on this farm in what is now the center of Camden. Read more

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Program 4

The Taking of South Central…Philadelphia by Odunde (South Central Philadelphia). What was once “South Philly” is now “Center City.” Community members of what had been for 100 years a predominantly African American community talk about gentrification and the past and future of South Central. As real estate values rise, some long-term residents face displacement from the neighborhood. Read more

A Place of Hope by Oxford Circle Mennonite Church (Oxford Circle, Northeast Philadelphia) Once a suburb of Philadelphia, Oxford Circle is a neighborhood in Northeast Philadelphia in transition. The church serves as a bridge between old and new residents. Read more

Rising on the Hill by Audenried Beacon Center (South Philadelphia). On the eve of the demolition of the Tasker Homes and the Audenried School, residents talk about their community that borders the Schuylkill. High school students in particular try to understand why their school will be destroyed and what the future might bring. Read more

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Program 5

Villa African Colobo by Grupo Motivos (North Philadelphia). Grupo Motivos is an organization of women of Puerto Rican ancestry who have transformed the landscape of North Philadelphia. Villa Africana Cólobo, their newest project, is Norris Square’s first African garden. It is a place where community members gather to learn about their African cultural heritage and celebrate the influence of African culture in Puerto Rico and America through art, dance, music and agriculture.Read more

The Aqua Lounge by African Cultural Art Forum (West Philadelphia). During the 1960s, the Aqua Lounge was the place to hear to progressive jazz artists in Philadelphia. The building on 52nd Street has continued to be a center for culture and now houses the African Cultural Art Forum.Read more

I Come From A Place by Asian Arts Initiative (Center City) The Asian Arts Initiative reflects on their history as they prepare to relocate as a result of the demolition of the Gilbert Building to make way for Pennsylvania Convention Center expansion. Read more

"Precious Places moves documentary practice away from the individualistic and idiosyncratic, typified in projects likeSupersize Me (2004, by Morgan Spurlock) and Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004, by Michael Moore), towards collaborative interactions between neighborhoods, filmmakers, and scholars who create new histories. As a result, the project constitutes more than an intervention into the conceptualization of documentary. Importing concepts from postcolonial studies, the project shows how to embody difficult and sprawling polyvcalities and microhistories as a way to reclaim and revitalize ideas about the archive, history and memory. Rather than creating a single authorial vision, Precious Places advances the collaborative ethnographic and historical model, where community participants become the authors and not simply the objects of community history."
-- an excerpt from Patricia Zimmerman's article "Imbedded Public Histories" published in Afterimage, March/April 2006

Public Screenings, Broadcasts and Festivals: 

Philadelphia Film Festival, 2005, 2007
Athens Film Festival
Harlem Film Festival
WHYY TV 12, Philadelphia