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Purpose of the seed funding:  The Barra Foundation made funding available through the Boundaries and Bridges grant so that Boundaries and Bridges catalyst workshop participants could act on ideas generated by the workshops with the aim of building more bridges and strengthening community and collaboration in Chester.  Funding was available for stipends for the project proposers/directors, materials, hiring local artists, and/or hiring Widener students to assist with the project.


Eligibility:  Applicants must have lived, worked, studied or volunteered in Chester AND have participated in a Boundaries and Bridges catalyst workshop (the full-day workshops that also feature an evening event 1-2 days before). 

Check out our seed money projects below


Sowing Good Seeds

The Goal – Educate youth/adults to preserve the culture of healthy living. This hands-on interactive workshop will explore the origin of produce; explore creative ways to prepare healthy foods, and natural ways to preserve foods.


This project will be facilitated in four weekly, three hour sessions with each week focusing on a different topic related to healthy living. Each workshop will have activities to nurture the mind, body, and spirit. Learners will experience hands on activities that will enrich their lives overall. This project will sow seeds of good habits that will impact participants' lives forever. The weekly experience will be captured using art (i.e. writing, drawing, painting) and compiled in a book for each participant. This will be their graduation gift if they attend all four sessions.

The Facilitators - LaNoana Odom, Terrence Topping-Brown, Bonita Taylor, and Paul Trevz

The Artist - Misty Sol

Timeline and Status - The workshops were officially complete at the end of August. The group published a book that shares participant weekly expressions that will be available for purchase at the Urban Harvest Festival, along with additional participants and allies of the project, continued to meet throughout the month of September to discuss the possibility of creating a cooperative organization to manage the space and create a sustainable business model. Together they are a group of growers, educators, wellness service providers and passionate folks who are looking to build a grass roots, multidisciplinary organization to support food security and wellness in Chester. 

The group, called Plant it Planet, was selected to be a part of Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance. Some members of this group were also accepted to a coop incubation program located on the west coast. Check out this article for more information about Plant it, Planet and their involvement with Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance. 

Building Bridges Through the Lens

The Goal- To bring 10 Chester high school students (from both Chester high school and the STEM high school) together with 10 Widener University students to learn about each other's lives through photography. 

There will be three meetings throughout the fall, starting in September. During these meetings the students will have an opportunity to pick a partner, learn about the cameras they will be using for the project, gain some practical knowledge and experience with photography, while photographing their partner's world. The students will select photos that will be displayed at the fall gallery opening in November, at Art on Avenue of the States gallery. 


The Facilitators - Linda Braceland and Devon Walls

Timeline and Status - The workshop took place on three dates over two weeks. The workshop included get-to-know-you activities, basic photography training, learned about the cameras, and spent an entire session visiting various locations in Chester, photographing their partner's world. Students had an opportunity to help select the best 2 photographs from each student, to be displayed in an exhibit at Art on Avenue of the States gallery. The opening reception of the show will take place on Friday, November 11th from 6:00 - 9:00pm and the exhibit will run until January 6, 2017. The art gallery will also be open for public viewing during the Urban Harvest Festival. 

Chester Summer Canning Challenge

The Goal - For nearly a decade, Widener University has been hosting a summer program, Chester Summer Challenge, for rising 10th, 11th, and 12th graders who are enrolled in Chester Education Foundation's programming. Science is a new addition to the summer program where the students perform biology experiments and present them at a culminating event at the program's end. They are looking to build on the interdisciplinary approach with the theme of food justice and community sustainability by taking the students outside the classroom each week. The students will visit Taylor Arboretum and the Ruth Bennett Farm. After these visits, the students will learn how to make low sugar fruit preserves, taking the process from stem to mason jar. There will also be a focus on the science of the canning process. Students will present family members with a decorated jar of preserves at the culminating event and read a poem or reflection on the experience of being involved in community revitalization and education. 

The Facilitators - Jayne Thompson, Ruth Cary, Bruce Grant, Jeanine Rastatter, Misty Sol, Terrence Topping-Brown, and Paul Trefz. 

Timeline and Status - This program took place over the summer, and each week they took students out of the classroom and into the natural world. The students visited Taylor Arboretum, Stetser Elementary farm, learned how to make low sugar fruit jam, focused on the science of the canning process, and prepared a reflection on their experiences. 

In addition, with the help of community members Misty Sol and Paul Trefz, students learned to make ice cream with ice and plastic bags and an old-fashioned hand crank ice cream maker. They added fresh fruit and experimented with flavors. They served ice cream at their culminating event, at the Widener Magazine launch party, and will provide free samples at the Urban Harvest Festival. This part of the project is continuing; they are trying to create the quintessential Chester flavor! Check out this document for some photos. 

The World Split Open 

The Goal - The World Split Open story collaborative is inspired by Muriel Rukeyser's poem, "Kathe Kollwitz," which asks a question and provides an answer: "What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life?/The world would split open." Since January of 2016, the Chester Writers House, Widener University's community writing center, has been hosting a women's writing group for those who live, work and study in Chester. They created a safe space where participants can share stories and write. They developed the World Split Open story collaboratie as a way of reaching out to other women to encourage them to tell their own stories, joining other women in sharing life experiences and exploring their sense of agency. 

Each story collaborative member will find girls or women who live, work or study in Chester who would like to participate as story tellers. Each story will be transcribed, culminating in a collection and manuscript. 

The Facilitator - Jayne Thompson

Participants - Hilda Campbell, Ashley DiRienzo, Theresa Flood, Marybeth Homan, Laura Knox, Lakesha Logan, Stephanie Perez, Misty Sol, Sunni Tarver, Arleen Geathers, and Denina Hood. 

Timeline and Status - The group meets on a regular basis and has already collected a number of stories. They will read some of these stories on November 12th at the Urban Harvest Festival. In other exciting news, the World Split Open story collaborative received a commitment from a publisher to publish their book once it's complete!

Art Connects Us

The Goal - To offer four week art classes on Monday and Wednesday mornings for 2.5 hours from July 6th to August 3rd. Artist Marcy Morris introduces fine arts skills including drawing, acrylic painting, collage, and mosaic techniques. Ms. Marcy's lessons highlight personal discovery, observation and collaboration.


Morris is inspired by artists Andrew Turner and Van Buren Payne along with the many talented artists of Chester, and applies historial reference to her sessions by utilizing the paintings displayed at the MJ Freed Theatre as examples of various techniques and themes. Universal themes of empowerment, hope, brokenness, restoration and celebration are shared by Marcy Morris and the evolving stories from student art. Each lesson concludes with an open critique and dialogue to help inspire students for future lessons. 

The Facilitator - Marcy Morris

Timeline and Status - Art Connects Us summer camp merged with The Art Spot summer camp, to provide an all encompassing summer experience for Chester youth. The summer camp took place over give weeks, two days a week for three hours. Students gained experience in figure drawing, acrylic painting on canvas, mosaic, and creative writing. Each session focused on observation, reflection, collaboration, and healing. 

Art instruction was taught by Marcy Morris and Devon Walls. Creative writing was taught by Jayne Thompson. The camp was coordinated by Devon Walls and Annette Pyatt. Check out this document for some photos from the summer camp. 


Tiny Food Forest Wagon

The Goal - Create a mobile permaculture installation that will be used to teach the community about sustainable food systems, wellness, and African American history. The wagon will have built-in benches, a chalk board, farm tools, seasonal crops, and literature including coloring pages, recipes, information about the project and permaculture. It can also include maps or information about the location of gardens and permaculture food sources in Chester. The mobile wagon will travel to various community hubs including gardens, schools, churches, community centers, libraries and vacant lots. The goal is to also have a GPS component, where community members can see where the wagon is currently located in the city. 


The Facilitators - Misty Sol, Paul Trefz, Terrence Topping-Brown

Timeline and status - The goal is to have the wagon built and completed in the spring 2017. 

Chester Youth Speaks


The Goal - Chester Youth Speaks will be a weekly spoken word club at Chester's Stetser Elementary school for 6th grade students. This club will be facilitated by two professional spoken word artists. They intend to create a safe space where participants can share stories, write, and practice speaking and performing in front of an audience. The focus will be on teaching figurative language and performance skills, while encouraging team work and collaboration and promoting leadership and self-esteem. 


The Facilitators - Sunni Tarver, Wilquann "Q" Dorsey


Participants - Tyler Goodman, Chester Writers House

Timeline and Status - This spoken word club will begin at Stetser Elementary at the beginning of November 2016 and will end in May 2017. 


Phenomenal Women's Network, Gems on Fire Workshop


The Goal - The Phenomenal Women's Network presents the 3rd Annual Gems on Fire Empowerment Workshop and Celebration for girls and women. Their theme this year is "Discovering & Walking in Your Purpose." Their goal is to provide age appropriate empowerment workshops for both girls (ages 7-12 & 13-17) and women (ages 18 & up) in hopes to promote community, sisterhood, and unity. In addition to the workshops, there will be a powerful keynote speaker, creative writing, interview with Chester Writers House, theme take away craft, spoken word and dance performance and a sister circle.


The Facilitator - LaKesha C. Logan


Participants - Tara F. Jones, Biba Atta, Shinelle Graves, Monika Rhodes, Marcy Morris, Jayne Thompson


Timeline and Status - This workshop will be taking place on Saturday, November 5, 2016.

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