Precious Places Community History Project Vol. 2

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

Scribe Video Center’s
Precious Places Community History Project Vol. 2

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 three years Scribe has collaborated with community groups from Philadelphia, Chester, Ardmore, and Camden to produce 41 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 6

Pride of the Hill by Cramer Hill Residents Association (North Camden). The stable, working class community of Cramer Hill is slated to be bulldozed by eminent domain. Life-long residents talk about growing up in this neighborhood along the Delaware River and document their struggle to save their homes. Read more

The Manayunk Club by Manayunk Neighborhood Council (Manayunk). The Manayunk Club, a 19th century mansion, was once the social center of the community. It was destroyed by fire in 2001, at the start of the current real estate boom. Manayunk neighbors talk about the heritage of the club and their relationship to the changing community. Read more

Ardmore, A Village at Risk by Save Ardmore Coalition (Ardmore). Lancaster Avenue in Ardmore is a street of small family owned shops. It is also the heart of the community. Neighbors must now fight off efforts to take over their properties by eminent domain so that the land can be sold to more profitable, upscale stores. Read more 
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Program 7

Fair Hill: To Badlands and Back Again by Fair Hill Cemetery (North Philadelphia). The Fair Hill Burial Ground is a 300-year-old Quaker cemetery in North Philadelphia on Germantown Avenue. To the Badlands and Back documents the partnership between concerned local residents and Quaker activists to transform the historic cemetery from a dumping ground and hangout for drug pushers to a safe green space. Read more

Girard Avenue – A New Destination by West Girard Community Council (North Philadelphia). Girard Avenue has been a shopping district and a major thoroughfare, but also a border between neighborhoods. Girard Avenue – A New Destination documents the multifaceted transformation of the Brewerytown and West Girard neighborhoods through the voices of area residents and business owners. Read more

Southwark: 30 Years and Growing by the Neighborhood Gardens Association and Southwark Queen’s Village Community Garden (South Philadelphia). Queen Village Community Garden is one of Philadelphia’s oldest community gardens. Aside from transforming a vacant lot into a green space, it also serves as a bridge and meeting place for diverse ethnic communities. The story of the garden is told through the gardeners who continue to make it bloom. Read more 
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Program 8

Parkside: A Camden Neighborhood by Jewish Camden Partnership and The Parkside Business and Community (Camden) documents the history of the Parkside neighborhood of Camden and two groups of residents who have inhabited the land. From the early 1900s to the 1950s, Parkside was a thriving Jewish community. From the 1960s until today, this green community by the park has been home to predominantly African American residents. Read more

Putting the "Nice" Back in "the Town" by Nicetown CDC (Nicetown). The Stenton Mansion on North 18th Street, has roots in the 18th century. It was the home of James Logan, an early governor of Pennsylvania, as well as Dinah, an enslaved African woman. Neighborhood residents recount the story of Dinah saving the house from fire as metaphor of what must be done today to rejuvenate Nicetown. Read more

The Things that Put Powelton on the Map by Powelton Village Civic Association (West Philadelphia). Powelton had long been a center of progressive Philadelphia politics. A series of conversations with long-time Powelton residents explores the history of this unique Philadelphia neighborhood, which since the 1900s has been an incubator for social activism. Read more

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Program 9

From the Del to the El: a Neighborhood Evolving by New Kensington CDC (Kensington) tells the story of Fishtown-Kensington’s evolution through the history of four churches in the neighborhood – St. Michael’s Roman Catholic, East Baptist Church, Gallery Church and the Circle of Hope. Read more

A Community in Transition by Friends’ Neighborhood Guild (North Philadelphia) The Friends Housing Cooperative is an on-going experiment in cooperative living. Designed as an interracial residential community, the Housing Coop continues to be a vital force in North Central Philadelphia.Read more

Bridging Yesterday with Tomorrow by Tacony Civic Association (Tacony) Before being incorporated into Philadelphia, Tacony was an independent village on the Delaware River. Bridging Yesterday with Tomorrow examines the roots of Tacony as a former factory town and the lasting impact of the 19th century factory owner Henry Diston, who envisioned a planned community for his workers. Read more

"It [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

Press: 

April 8, 2004 - Philadelphia City Paper, Day in the Life

May 6, 2004 - Northeast Times, Getting Neighborhoods in Focus

Public Screenings, Broadcasts and Festivals: 

2005 Athens International Film and Video Festival (tied for first place in the documentary category, winning for Best Expression of a Community on Film), Athens, OH
2005 & 2007 Philadelphia Film Festival, Philadelphia, PA
2006 Harlem Film Festival, Harlem, NY
2006-2007 Council on Foundations’ 39th Annual Film & Video Festival