Waterway Arts Initiative: Germantown

With a central focus on community engagement, the initiative brings together an alliance of residents, artists, and scientists to investigate flooding in Germantown, utilizing multidisciplinary research, community science, and creative storytelling.

The coalition includes Germantown residents, local artists, and Academy scientists. Each member brings a critical perspective to the project, from data science and installation art to firsthand experience with flooding in the neighborhood. Learn more about the team below ↓

Throughout the project, the creative team will collaboratively develop a series of participatory community events and artistic projects focused on flooding and its emotional toll, providing platforms for residents to bring their personal stories to light, while participating in workshops with neighbors and friends.

In the fall of 2024, the creative team will utilize the research, stories, and materials developed through the project and share a culminating artistic work within the community. The initiative will conclude in winter 2025 with an exhibition and panel discussion hosted at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

This project builds on PWD’s commitment to creative engagement in communities surrounding water-related issues and urban flash flooding, along with prior projects such as Wingo-WHAT?!.

flooding at the intersection of E. Haines St. and Crittenden St. fills covers the street, sidewalks on both sides, and spills into the parkland at Awbury Recreation Center. A police car blocks the road in the background as an officer approaches a stranded vehicle. Other cars seem to have been lifted from their parking places by the rising water.
Flooding at the intersection of E. Haines St. and Crittenden St. in Germantown.
Wingohocking Creek being enclosed to form a sewer, 1916

For more information on flooding, the city’s flood management programs, and Germantown-focused information, check out these resources:

TitleAuthorFile Type
Philadelphia Flood Management Programweb
Philadelphia Flood Management Programweb
Philadelphia Office of Emergency Managementweb
Philadelphia Office of Emergency Managementpdf
Philadelphia Water Departmentblog
Philadelphia Water Departmentweb
Philadelphia Water Departmentweb
CH2M Hill Engineerspdf

Phoebe Bachman

Phoebe Bachman (she/they) is an artist, facilitator, curator, and activist based in South Philadelphia. Over the past decade, they have cultivated an interdisciplinary creative path grounded in collaboration and social justice. Their work centers on amplifying ongoing acts of resistance with a focus on economic, gender, and racial justice. Their diverse methodologies include mapping and collage, interventions in public spaces, developing popular education tools, and facilitating engaging events. Selected projects include The People’s Budget, a public art initiative reimagining Philadelphia’s City Budget (2021-2024); The View from Here, an exhibit featuring artists from SCI Phoenix and San Quentin (2024); End the Exception, a multi-disciplinary project advocating for the end of the exception clause in the 13th Amendment (2020-2024). Moon in Venus, a project dedicated to supporting women facing financial stress in Liverpool (2020-2022). 

Bachman holds a BFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, and an MA from the Center for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths College, University of London. They are a member of Urban Front, a transnational cooperative consultancy, Rising Wing, a Philadelphia-based arts professional network, and the Philadelphia Revenue Project; and have worked with institutions such as Mural Arts Philadelphia, The Free Library of Philadelphia, Worth Rises (New York), Anti-Recidivism Coalition (Los Angeles), Arts for Healing and Justice Network (Los Angeles), BAK (Utrecht), Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Creative Time (New York).

Akilah Chatman

Akilah Chatman (they/them) is a community-based researcher and social scientist, educator and student, organizer, and storyteller driven by their experience of being a Queer first generation Jamaican-American raised in South Florida, Florida. School years were spent in the states experiencing what it means to be Black in America, while summers were spent being Jamaican in Jamaica and feeling at home in the sea, rivers, waterfalls, and mountains. Driven by this, Akilah works to strengthen communities’ connections to their land in culturally sensitive ways.

Akilah graduated from Drexel University in 2022 with a degree in environmental science, and then went on to do Fulbright in Cambodia where they worked as an environmental and sustainability consultant. Their current role is at The Academy of Natural Sciences where they coordinate Science Shop, a community-based participatory research program, and are developing a program to address urban farming, and land stewardship issues in Philadelphia.

Akilah is an adventure seeker who enjoys climbing waterfalls and jumping off cliffs, hiking volcanoes and glaciers, and has gone skydiving three times. When spending time in doors Akilah likes to create; whether it be a multicourse dinner party, altering clothes, exploring various textile art forms, or painting on anything but a canvas they love to keep their hands moving. The trajectory of their work, both professionally and personally, is to explore storytelling through combining the arts and sciences, combining the two parts of their heart.

Winn Costantini

Winn (he/they) is an Environmental Planning and Policy Scientist at the Academy of Natural Sciences. He contributes to a portfolio of projects related to environmental and climate justice in Philadelphia and the Delaware River Basin, with an emphasis on geospatial analysis.

He holds a Master of City Planning degree from MIT. Their graduate work focused on the role of workforce development in climate, economic, and racial justice movements, as well as using geospatial analysis to improve water affordability and accessibility in U.S. cities.

Winn completed his undergraduate degree at Williams College, where they studied psychology and environmental policy. They live in West Philadelphia with their partner, Teddy, and two cats, Momo and Fishke. 

Ryan Strand Greenberg

Ryan Strand Greenberg (he/him) is a community-driven curator who collaborates with artists, scholars, institutions, and communities on projects and programs in neighborhoods and public educational contexts. These programs combine the power of care, creative expression, storytelling, research, and civic engagement to nurture connections between people, public histories, and our environment(s). His work has been showcased at museums, historic sites, neighborhoods, gardens, transit stations, rivers, cemeteries, and storefronts. Select projects include: Waterway Arts Initiative (2024) nkwiluntàmën: I long for it; I am lonesome for it (such as the sound of a drum)(2023), Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Artist in Residence (2022), Kensington Healing Verse (2021), Boat People (2020), Ghost Ship (2019), Blue Sky or Sky Blue (2018) among others.

Ryan is currently the Senior Director of Creative Development and Partnerships at the Academy of Natural Sciences, a Curatorial Consultant for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, Project Manager at Monument Lab, Lead Host for James Turrell’s Skyspace @ Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting, and a member of Philadelphia Contemporary’s advisory board, Rising Wing.

Ryan lives in the Germantown section of Philadelphia with his spouse Britney, mother-in-law Eunsuk, and pets Paisley, Valentine, and Hoagie.

Maura Jarvis

Maura Jarvis is a Program Manager at the US Water Alliance, a national nonprofit organization advancing policies and programs that build a sustainable water future for all. She specializes in community engagement for the Alliance’s Equitable Infrastructure initiative and serves as a liaison for HBCU partnerships. Prior to joining the Alliance, Maura spent seven years working within the Philadelphia Water Department’s (PWD) Public Affairs division. Rising through the ranks from intern to Assistant Manager of the Public Engagement team, she led community outreach for the Green City, Clean Waters program and served as PWD’s superhero mascot, Water Woman. Specializing in connecting culturally with residents, Maura is passionate about the role art and creative interventions can play in engaging communities in conversations around water quality and climate resilience.

Maura has been recognized on multiple national platforms for her efforts to thoughtfully engage historically underserved communities in sustainability initiatives. These accolades include WaterNow Alliance’s Emerging Leader Award, recognition in Drexel Magazine’s 40 Under 40, and a US Water Prize in the category of Outstanding Rising One Water Leader. A proud Philadelphia native and lifelong resident of Germantown, Maura graduated from the Philadelphia High School for Girls and holds a custom, interdisciplinary degree in Sustainable Product Development from Drexel University. Maura is passionate about advocating for environmental justice and equity in her hometown and beyond.

Naomieh Jovin

Naomieh Jovin (she/her) is a first-generation Haitian-American artist. In her work, Jovin utilizes appropriated photos from old family albums in conjunction with her photographs to illustrate the complex concepts of resistance and intergenerational trauma, and how these experiences are carried in our bodies and passed down across generations.

Jovin holds a BFA in Photography and Digital Arts from Moore College of Art & Design (’17). Jovin’s work has been featured in prominent publications such as The Nation, Aperture, the New York Times and Vogue Italia. In recognition of her artistic achievements, Jovin was named a 2021 PEW Fellow in the Arts and a 2022 Magnum Counter Histories Fellow.

Kaitlin Pomerantz

Kaitlin Pomerantz (she/they) is a Philadelphia-based artist, educator and writer. Pomerantz works across mediums, with attention to material life cycles. Through sculpture, spatial intervention, image making, printed matter and text, Pomerantz considers narratives of place and the ecological and social relations and histories unfolding within it. Pomerantz’ work is informed by land art, industrial and natural histories, discard studies, ecological grief + justice, liberatory and land-based pedagogy.

Pomerantz is the founder of MATTERS, an arts education initiative connecting artists and designers to materials, materials to labor and land. Pomerantz is a mentor at the School of Visual Arts and a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania.

Please visit kaitlinpomerantz.com for published writings, exhibition information, curatorial projects, and more.

Alexis Schulman

Alexis Schulman (she/her) leads the Environmental Policy, Planning, and Innovation section in the Academy of Natural Science’s (ANS) Patrick Center for Environmental Research. She is also an assistant research professor in Drexel’s Biodiversity, Earth, and Environmental Science and directs the undergraduate program in environmental studies and sustainability.

She is an environmental planner and social scientist interested in understanding what drives “green,” resilient innovation in urban infrastructure, policy, and planning. Much of her work starts from the questions: Why do some communities and governments choose to embrace more sustainable practices, and how do those practices become entrenched as the new status quo?

At ANS she oversees several community-based projects that are testing innovative approaches to equitable neighborhood greening and collaborative environmental research, including the “Resilient Communities Stormwater Initiative” and “Science Shop.”

She holds a PhD and MCP from MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and a BSE in environmental engineering from Princeton University. 

Keisha Whatley

Raised in West Philadelphia, Keisha Whatley (she/her) is a Philadelphia artist who graduated from the High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. At a very young age, Keisha excelled at the drawing and painting discipline and went on to study at Parsons School of Design (NY), The School of Visual Arts (NY) and The Art Institute of Philadelphia (PA). Using her creativity as the main ingredient, her work aims to create something aesthetically beautiful while challenging viewers to question beliefs, inherent biases and the need for compassion in everyday life. She started Custom Arts Studio, LLC, a full service visual arts business, in 2014. 

Her work can be seen at The Please Touch Museum, The Black Writers Museum and The Colored Girls Museum, both in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Her work has also been exhibited at The Barnes Foundation Museum on the Ben Franklin Parkway and spotlighted on QVC and The Home Shopping Network. 

In 2021, Keisha started the community arts & education organization the Germantown ArtHaus. Keisha currently leads a team of 3 at Custom Arts Studio, mentors small businesses throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio, and supports the Waterways Arts Initiative with project management.  Sometimes… she sleeps. Keisha lives with her family in East Mt. Airy and a rescued cat, proudly named Peter. She’s awesome!

Rev. Chester Williams

Rev. Chester Harold Williams, Founder and President of the Chew and Belfield Neighbors Club, Inc. works tirelessly to help his community, located in the Northwest Section of Philadelphia, PA. For more than 30 years, he has served as Block Captain for the 6200 block of Chew Avenue, and is the Committee Person representing constituents in his area of Philadelphia.

He partners with neighboring civic groups and works diligently to get the voices of his homeowner and renting neighbors heard and their needs addressed. Recent issues he has represented include: the replacement of SEPTA’s ailing Chew Avenue Bridge, improved safety measures at SEPTA’s Washington Lane Regional Train Station; flooding in area homes and streets; identifying greening opportunities in the neighborhood; and job opportunities, including for ex-offenders, to name a few.

He became an Ordained Minister during his high school tenure and served his nation in the Vietnam War from 1967-1969 as a Combat Medic in the Big Red 1/18th Infantry of the United States Army.