First Accelerator resident’s work connecting with incarcerated community members featured in Inquirer

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“Staying in touch with people who are incarcerated doesn’t just help the people [who are] locked up, it really helps keep the community together.”Reek, Neighborhood Artist

The Accelerator Residency is an initiative of the new Civic Power Studio. An evolution of our SPACES model, the Accelerator invests directly in neighborhood artists so they can rapidly prototype and evolve their creative ideas for nurturing community relationships. 

Our first Accelerator artist, Tyreek Dekeyser, is the creator and host of Broz Nite, a bi-monthly letter writing night that connects families and loved ones estranged due to incarceration. 

As an Accelerator resident, Tyreek and mentor David Flores designed a Free Family Portrait and Letter Writing Day.  Attendees included their pictures with letters to incarcerated family and friends and received a free print for themselves. The event generated over 50 letters for incarcerated community members.

An Inquirer article about the event generated numerous inquiries by Philadelphians who want to support Tyreek’s work through donations or organizing letter-writing campaigns. 

Journalism Samantha Melamed wrote, “In a zip code with the city’s highest incarceration rate — including blocks where one in five boys will end up in prison as adults, according to the U.S. Census Opportunity Atlas — it seems almost everyone has someone locked away behind chain link and razor wire. … Dekeyser sees an urgent need to reach past those barriers. “If the community pulled together, there would be less crime,” he said. “It’s people not getting along.” This event is just one creative response to building connection between community members.

These are stories that deserve to be heard and nurtured — especially now. In 2020, civic participation will shape our city, state and nation. Consider becoming a Village Guardian today, and support people power and community leadership.