Futures Beyond Refining

Futures Beyond Refining brings together neighborhood residents, artists, climate activists, public health advocates, and individuals concerned with lives, land, air, and water long contaminated by the oil refinery in South Philadelphia.

Futures Beyond Refining header image

Futures Beyond Refining is an on-going project that asks Philadelphians to imagine what the oil refinery that sits alongside the lower Schyulkill River in South Philadelphia might look like in 100 years. What could grow there? What could we cultivate? What sounds, smells, and sights can we imagine experiencing there? The gallery below offers answers to these questions from Philadelphia residents in the form of postcards addressed to their public officials from the Year 2100. Want to contribute your own? Scroll to the bottom of this page for info on how to add your postcard to the gallery.

Read recent articles about the project in Penn Arts & Sciences' Omnia Magazine and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Listen to recent Data Remediations podcast episodes related to the project: Episode 8 (Midnight Oil: Futures Beyond Refining) and Episode 9 (Environmental Justice in Gray's Ferry).

Future Beyond Refining Gallery: The Refinery Site in 2100

Click on the blue icon in the bottom left corner to view the full-screen gallery.

Futures Beyond Refining Event, December 11, 2019

Futures Beyond Refining kicked-off with an event on Dec 11, 2019 bringing together neighborhood residents, artists, climate activists, public health advocates, and individuals concerned with lives, land, air, and water long contaminated by the oil refinery in South Philadelphia last operated by Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES). The event was organized by a group of graduate students at the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities aiming to forge connections and promote dialogue between neighbors and allies interested in a non-refining future on the site of the refinery complex. 

The June 21, 2019 explosion should mark the beginning of a safer, cleaner future for the neighborhood and the City of Philadelphia. The repercussions of decades of refinery use will endure and are being compounded by rising sea levels and other local climate impacts. These concerns must be addressed now. 

The event asked participants to imagine what this place will look like in 100 years. Participants were invited to co-create a space to share stories, desires, and ideas for the future. Event organizers worked with local community members to facilitate a tour of areas adjacent to the refinery.

Fenceline Community Tour

Starting at the Audenried High School at 10am, we heard the stories and voices of community residents as they lead us on a one mile long tour of their neighborhood in Grays Ferry

Tour Route

 

 

 

Fenceline Tour Guides

Tammy Reeves headshot

 

Mrs.Tammy Reeves is the Event Coordinator for Resident Action Committee 2 where she carries on the legacy of her father-in-law Mr. Charles Reeves, Sr. She has lived in the Grays Ferry community all her life and attended the James Alcorn elementary and Charles Youth Audenried schools. She hopes this tour results in the closure of the Philadelphia refinery.

Charles Reeves

 

Mr. Charles Reeves, Jr. has been a resident of Grays Ferry for sixty years. He is the Founding President of the Tasker-Morris Neighbors Association where he works to carry on the legacy of Mr. Kyle Shenandoah. He hopes this tour results in greater awareness about how the refinery has affected the community over the last hundred years.

Melissa Toby

 

Mrs. Melissa Toby has been a resident of South Philly for almost 39 years. Melissa is currently raising her family in South Philly and is involved in, and dedicated to the schools her children attend. Melissa hopes this tour of her community, and the surrounding area in which the refinery sits, will offer a more positive outlook on this neighborhood by highlighting local families memories

Lightning Talk Speakers

Sylvia Bennett at an action

Mrs. Sylvia Bennett

Sylvia Bennett, 75, has lived at 32nd and Dickinson Streets for 50 years, and remembers having to evacuate her house in the 1970s and ’80s because of large fires at the refinery. A retired behavioral health worker, she is now a member of Philly Thrive, a group that speaks out about health concerns related to the refinery. The cause is personal; Bennett said two of her daughters have cancer, and she worries that their illnesses are linked to living so close to the complex.

This text is courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer, read the full article here . The photo was taken by Kimberly Paynter/WHYY

joe minott headshot

Mr. Joseph Otis Minott, Esq

Joseph Minott has been Executive Director and Chief Counsel for Clean Air Council for more than three decades and supervises all Council projects. He is an expert on transportation, urban air pollution, environmental justice issues, the Clean Air Act. and regulatory policies in Pennsylvania. He holds an M.A. in political science from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from Villanova University School of Law.

Click here for Joseph Minott's Lightning Talk Slides.

Click here to read Joseph Minott's presentation.

Dr. Pouné Saberi headshot

Dr. Pouné Saberi

Dr. Pouné Saberi, MD, MPH has been a doctor for 15 years, currently specializing in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.  She is the president of the Board of Directors for Physicians for Social Responsibility. Her work focuses on health impacts of fossil fuels and climate change, and health benefits of transitioning to clean renewable energy sources for all.

Click here for Pouné Saberi's Lightening Talk slides.

peter decarlo headshot

Dr. Peter DeCarlo

Dr. Peter DeCarlo is a professor of Environmental Engineering with research focused on the air we breathe both indoors and out, and how human activities alter the composition of the atmosphere impacting air quality and changing the climate.

 

Click here for Peter DeCarlo's Lightning Talk slides.

marilyn howarth headshot

 

Dr. Marilyn Howarth

Marilyn Howarth is an occupational and environmental medicine physician who focuses on environmental policy and science through which it is informed.  Her work with the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology engages legislators, regulators, medical providers and community members around environmental problems locally and nationally.

 

Click here for Marilyn Howarth's Lightning Talk Slides.

meenal raval headshot

Meenal Raval

Meenal is a full-time activist, focusing on voluntary simplicity, zero-waste, local food, transportation electrification, energy efficiency and rooftop solar. She produces weekly mailings of local climate events across many groups in greater Philadelphia, found online at 350philly.org/calendar; writes for GRID magazine; is a catalyst for Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 teams in Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties. After an interview about climate on PhillyCAM’s People Power Lunch Hour, Meenal began producing Philly Talks Climate this spring; offering a climate-focused perspective on local news.

Click here for Meenal Raval's Lightning Talk Slides.

Arts-based Visioning Workshop

The last event of the afternoon was an arts-based visioning workshop with Beth Uzwiak from Ethnologica. Participants created artful postcards to send to their chosen elected official from 2100 with their vision for what the site might look like 80 years from now. Want to contribute your own vision for the refinery site in 2100? You can contribute a postcard to our gallery (above) or even host your own postcard-making workshop with friends or community members. Follow the steps below:

  1. Download the workshop here.
  2. Download the postcard prompts here.
  3. Upload your postcard to our Google Form here.
Beth Uzwiak headshot

 

Dr. Beth Uzwiak is Research Director of Ethnologica. Ethnologica invites voices and stories into research and evaluation processes hat may not otherwise be heard, through participatory and art-based methods. As anthropologists, they bring cross-cultural competencies to their projects and are guided by values of inclusion, with the goal of increasing gender, racial and economic equity.