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Do Something: Look for Signs of Solidarity

Artists hang love-message-laden banners on more than 30 local buildings on Inauguration Day. Plus: A silent auction to benefit Philly's only LGBTQ homeless shelter, Women's March and more ways to be an upstanding citizen this week

Every Monday we round up a handful of fun ways to get involved throughout the week to make your city better. Have ideas for upcoming events? Email tips here.

Dedicate Time to MLK Day

Philadelphia claims to host the largest Martin Luther King Day of Service in the nation, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding something to do to commemorate the memory and legacy of the great doctor. Organizers of the 22nd MLK Day of Service have curated a massive list of events and opportunities—most of which involve lending a helping hand to those in need in the Greater Philadelphia Region. Last year, they say, tens of thousands of children, seniors and families reaped the benefits of MLK Day activities, which included everything from volunteering to donating money and goods. Mlkdayofservice.org has a comprehensive list of ways to get involved, like a volunteer day and community reading in Historic Fair Hill. Or you could opt to just head to the National Constitution Center, which is hosting an entire day’s worth of educational activities. Find out more about that here. If your schedule doesn’t allow all the hustle bustle, doing something as small as lighting a candle or reacquainting yourself with King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is enough to make your own personal mark on the day. Hey, it’s the little things, right? Monday, January 16, all day, all over the city. 

Learn Civics at the Library

On Friday, as Donald Trump raises his hand to begin his daunting new job as President of the United States, the Free Library hosts an informative event aimed at helping local citizens stay on top of their civic duty game. The Inauguration Day Civic Engagement Fair welcomes local and national groups who will provide information on everything from spearheading community projects to bring change to your neighborhood to locating social services and learning how to run for public office. A little earlier in the week, on January 17, the Library hosts another civic-minded—and creative—to-do called Protest Plates: Plant-Based Cooking for Social Change. There, attendees can join a tune-filled and hands-on cooking class that “explores social change through the intersections of food and music.” Friday, January 20, 11 a.m., Central Branch of the Free Library, 1901 Vine Street. 

Get Steppin' for Women's Rights

Women’s March Philadelphia takes place Saturday to give locals a chance to walk in solidarity with those participating in the much larger Women’s March in Washington D.C. The day welcomes folks of all genders, races, ages and creeds to take to the streets in the name of protecting the civil liberties, civil rights, and equality for women everywhere. The march begins at 10 a.m. in Logan Square and winds its way to Eakins Oval. There, Mayor Jim Kenney will join state and local politicians, and representatives from organizations like Planned Parenthood, Women’s Law Project and the Philadelphia Commission for Women for an afternoon rally from noon to 3 p.m. Attendees are asked to pre-register for the event here. To really show your appreciation, help local organizers offset the costs of planning the event with a donation here. Money will go toward paying for things like city fees, insurance and Porta Potties (which we’ll all be relieved to see). Saturday, January 21, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., free, Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Support the LGBTQ Home for Hope

In all of Pennsylvania, there is but a single homeless shelter designated specifically for LGBTQ folks: Philadelphia’s Home for Hope. Facilities like this are extremely important, because studies have repeatedly shown that LGBTQ people—especially those who are transgender—have a disproportionately harder time accessing regular shelters because of discrimination and the threat of hate-related violence within. To make sure Home for Hope is able to keep its doors open to continue providing a safe space for those who need it, a group of local citizens have organized a silent auction at Dirty Frank’s. Attendees can bid on a selection of goods, take part in a cake raffle and donate much-needed cleaning supplies and household products. Money raised will help the shelter pay for roughly $9,000 in monthly expenses. To sweeten the pot, PECO has agreed to match proceeds from this bash up to $5,000, so your contribution will be doubly appreciated. Sunday, January 22, noon-4 p.m., Dirty Frank’s, 347 S. 13th Street. 

Look for Signs of Solidarity

On Friday, the same day President-Elect Donald Trump takes the Oath of Office, Signs of Solidarity will unfurl on buildings across the city. The movement is a public-art protest against hate and divisiveness organized by curator Eric Preisendanz, street artist Aubrie Costello, photographer Conor Gray and Conrad Benner, founder of StreetsDept.com.

The signs, some of which started going up Wednesday night, come in all shapes and sizes and will display overt messages of love and inclusivity created by Philadelphia artists. One banner by muralist Michelle Angela Ortiz, for example, will read “You can’t take away our Resilience, our Beauty, our Humanity, our Strength … Aqui me Quedo (Here I will Stay).” Another by spoken word artist Lindo Yes and live painter Parrish94 says “This is not normal. But we are not normal either. We will change the ordinary by being extraordinary.”

Organizers stress that this isn’t necessarily a protest against Donald Trump, but “a reaction to what appears to be a global shift toward fear and exclusivity” that just so happens to coincide with his transition to power. The idea began with the intention to hang banners on private homes in the city, but quickly grew to include more than 30 local businesses and organizations, including William Way Community Center, Johnny Brenda’s, Broad Street Ministry and La Colombe—the location smack dab in the heart of the city at Dilworth Park.

The initiative offers a chance for all of us to get involved by inviting folks to download and print four of the artists’ messages via the Signs of Solidarity Facebook event page. These can be hung on your front door, in your car or set as your social media profile photo. You can also spread the love on social media by snapping pics of signs around the city and sharing them with #SignsofSolidarity. Friday, January 20, 8 a.m.-11 p.m., all around the city. 

Header photo by Conrad Benner/StreetsDept.com

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