Chester Made 2018-19 Events

Re-imagine the past, and reclaim Chester's future in the Chester Made Exploration Zone! All events are free and open to the public—but advance registration is requested. Details and registration for upcoming events are listed below, sign up to attend today!

Photo courtesy of muralist sarah heyward

Light Up The Night

On Wednesday, April 17th, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Chester Made will host Light Up The Night, a tactical urbanism event comprised of a pop-up, outdoor art gallery, spoken work performances, local catering and more! This FREE event will take place on the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge in Chester, PA and will kick off Take Back The Night events on Widener University campus.

Help us keep track of numbers by registering to attend here.

Original support for the Chester Made Cultural Exploration Zone was provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

Policing The Truth

Policing The Truth is a multi-faceted presentation and panel discussion that examines how editors, every-day people, and media managers filter and forward information to the public.

The event will take place Thursday, April 25, 2019 from 6-8PM at the MJ Freed Theater, 515 Avenue of the States, Chester, PA  19013.

Policing The Truth explores the issues of the day and evaluates how consumers are influenced by seemingly infinite and often incongruent information. Policing The Truth will put media, corporations and communities under a critical microscope of consideration and analyzes how power creates content, how power curates content and how power corrupts content.

Addressing the idea of policing the truth is a panel of highly respected media representatives and social advocates, including Chester environmental activist Zulene Mayfield, WURD President & CEO Sara Lomax Reese and Host Eric 'Brother Shomari' Grimes, and Superintendent of Police at Upper Darby Police Dept. Mike Chitwood. Each panelist will have three minutes to elaborate on what policing the truth means for them in their line of work. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Marimow, our confirmed guest speaker, will open the program with a 10-minute talk about what policing the truth has meant in his career. Seasoned journalist and reconciliation expert Ulysses Slaughter, project manager for the Chester Made project, will moderate both the panel discussion and a 20-minute question and answer session.

At the conclusion of our discussion, it is our hope that the audience will be better informed about current events, policies that impact information dissemination and strategies to support community development and sustainability through information sharing.

If you plan to attend, please RSVP on the Eventbrite page.

We thank The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and the Pulitzer Prizes for their partnership.


Illuminate Chester: Deshong Art Museum Teaser

Illuminate Chester

"Illuminate Chester" will bring light to the stories that have defined Chester's past and are shaping the city's future.

Through a campaign and special events, stories will be collected from Chester residents and shared broadly in and outside the community. Some of the most powerful will be professionally produced into short documentary-style videos, or other multimedia projects, and publicized.

Visit our Illuminate Chester webpage to view premiered mini-documentaries and details about upcoming screening events.

This series is made possible with funding from PECO.


A Look at Past Events

Remembering Walker 'Baby' Carter

Walker Carter was a beloved member of the Chester community having graduated from Chester High in 1974, attending Widener University where he made history in football and track & field, both as a player and later a coach, and working as a dedicated PECO lineman for many years. On Thursday, March 14th Chester Made celebrated with family, friends, neighbors and old classmates and co-workers who shared stories, tears and laughter in commemoration of a good man who is surely missed.  View Walker's mini-documentary here.

Click here to view more photos on our Facebook page.

Chester: Whose History Is It, Anyway?

November  7, 2018

Delaware County Historical Society, 408 Avenue of the States, Chester PA

On Nov. 7th Pulitzer Prize winning author Steven Hahn presented an invigorating lecture on the role of Black people in the emancipation of slaves. This was followed by an enlightening panel discussion with Julie Rainbow, Eric ‘Brother Shomari’ Grimes, and Jordan B. Smith on matters including the purpose of history, story ownership and interpretation, and every day people holding the key to answering the question, whose history is it anyway?

Check out more photos from the event here!

Broken Pieces Art Series

July 20-September 8, 2018

Devon Walls and Chester artists and healers, including Misty Sol, Van Buren Payne, India Famous on Jupiter, and Fatima Hafiz-Wahid, explored and expanded their creativity along with participants through a variety of artistic mediums--painting, fine arts, spoken word, meditation and yoga. Chester's dynamic diversity was celebrated through creative expressions which ultimately strengthened the fabric of the Chester community.

Click here to see photos and read more about this incredible series of workshop.

Telling Chester Stories with Tanisha LaVerne Grant 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

MJ Freed Theater, 515 Avenue of the States, Chester, PA

Tanisha LaVerne Grant joined Chester Made and MJ Freed Theater in presenting Telling Chester Stories. She led an all-day workshop and presented an evening lecture where she shared her skills and gave everyone an inside look at the day in the life of an entertainment journalist from Chester, PA. Thank you to participants who attended the workshop and showed their skills in the "guerrilla journalism" activity. Check out some of their amazing stories on our Youtube channel.

We also had fantasatic coverage by local community reporters Stefan Roots on The Stefan Roots Blog and Amanda Has Joy on the Chester View, check them out!

Campers holding their certificates of completion and wearing their archivist gloves. Photo Credit: Greg Irvin.

Chester Made’s Camp LegaCy: Making My Museum

Tuesday, July 24 through Thursday, July 26 at MJ Freed Theater

This year's Chester Made Summer Humanities Camp, Camp LegaCy: Making My Museum, was a success! Campers learned about their city's history, created their own triptychs and brought in artifacts that represent their legacy. They were presented with certificates of completion and archivist gloves so they can continue upholding the values and skills gained throughout the week. Check out our coverage on 6abc action news here!

Ouigi Theodore (Center Right) and local Chester Made artists, entrepreneurs and business owners. Photo Credit: Greg Irvin.

Community Branding & The Hundred Year Plan: Everything is Useful!

Friday, May 4, 6:30-8pm

MJ Freed Theater, 515 Avenue of the States, Chester, PA

MJ Freed Theater, Butcher Shop Rehab and Chester Made hosted an evening with Ouigi Theodore, creative director and founder of The Brooklyn Circus.  Ouigi presented Community Branding & The Hundred Year Plan: Everything is Useful,  and explored how Chester’s history, culture and unique identity can create a community brand that sets it apart from brands not grounded in community and brings what everyone has to offer to the forefront.

Deborah "Debbie" Montgomery, JR the Legend, and Twyla "Ms. T" Simpkins with their artifacts. Photo credit: Greg Irvin

Archaeology and Identity: Connecting People and Things

Community Talk and Workshop April 20-21, 2018

MJ Freed Theater, 515 Avenue of the States, Chester, PA

After exploring various sites said to be part of Chester’s secret underground passage ways, Rebecca Yamin joined Chester Made historians and residents for an enthusiastic presentation of Archaeology and Identity: Connecting People and Things.

Then on Saturday, a small group of participants shared stories and connected over objects that hold significant meaning in their lives. With Rebecca's historical insight, we recognized how these object truly connect us to the past and how together these artifacts and our stories create a profile of the community not clouded in myth.

City Visionaries: Lessons from Chester, Chicago and Detroit  

March 16-17, 2018

MJ Freed Theater, 515 Avenue of the States, Chester, PA 19013

Chester Made, Devon Walls, L. Ward and Kenya Abdul Hadi hosted Chicago's Theaster Gates and Detroit's Kimberly Driggins for a reception and lively, informative talk on creative and cultural rebuilding  in their communities.

Participants thought about how we can, with or best selves, make our cities better, Kimberly and Theaster presented about people-focused approaches to development, and visionaries from all over exchanged ideas about reclaiming, repurposing and rebuilding their cities with arts, culture and their communities.

Learn more about Devon Walls, Theaster Gates and Kimberly Driggins. Listen to Devon Walls talk about the transformation of downtown Chester in this video about a mural by artist Mary Lacy.  Devon Walls is Director of MJ Freed, President of New Day Chester and Founder of Artist Warehouse.  Next watch Gates’s TED Talk on how he got involved as an artist and social activist in rebuilding his neighborhood in the South Side of Chicago. Gates is currently Professor in the Department of Visual Arts and Director of the Place Lab at the University of Chicago.  Then hear from distinguished city planner, Kimberly Driggins, when she was LOEB Fellow at Harvard about her early work in creative placemaking in Washington, DC.  Driggins is now Director of Strategic Planning in the City of Detroit’s Planning and Development Department and the Mayor’s representative for arts and culture for the City of Detroit. 


Tools 101: Desk Building Workshop

February 21 & 24, 2018

Chester Made Makerspace, 511 Avenue of the States, Chester, PA

Students, families, and friends who attended this session of Tools 101 worked with Jeff Pond of The Public Workshop and Tyler Rodkey of Painting Freedom Ministries to learn some tool basics and build their own compact wall desk. We hope these desks will be as useful as they were fun to create!

Biography of a Place: Power and Justice at the 1724 Court House

February 24, 2018

MJ Freed Theater, 515 Avenue of the States, Chester, PA

As follow up to re-imagining the past through the lens of power and place with Laura Barraclough on Feb. 2-3Chester Made, Widener University, and collaborating community historians toured the city's Court House with Carol Fireng of Chester Historical Preservation Committee, delved into archives with Margaret Johnson at Delaware County Historical Society, and explored new ideas for remapping Chester together.

Chester Community History Programs

February 2-3, 2018

MJ Freed Theater, 515 Avenue of the States, Chester, PA

On Friday, people who live, work, study, and play in Chester gathered to tell a different story of the city they love. Yale historian and author of A People’s Guide to Los Angeles,  Laura Barraclough, shared examples of remapping efforts in LA and cities alike in her presentation, “Insurgent Scholarship and Radical Tourism: The Making of ‘A People’s Guide’.”

Attendees were then invited to “Re-mapping Chester: Spaces of Struggle, Resistance, and Solidarity,” on Saturday to reflect on social movements that have taken place in Chester and how place-based narratives are powerful resources in amplifying a more genuine history of the city. 

Frame Your History Build

January 27, 2018

Chester Made Makerspace, 511 Avenue of the States, Chester, PA

Participants built a picture frame—and celebrated their family history—with Emily Bunker of The Public Workshop. Each person learned the step-by-step process to measure, cut, and create their own personalized frame that they got to take home! The frames now showcase memorable photos and one-of-a-kind artwork which holds special meaning in this community.

A Chester Story Screening and Discussion

January 15, 2018

MJ Freed Theater, 515 Avenue of the States, Chester PA

Chester Made and MJ Freed Theater hosted a special showing of "A Chester Story"—a documentary experience written, produced and directed by Ulysses 'Butch' Slaughter and Devon Walls. View more photos from the event on the Chester Made Facebook page and check out press coverge on The Stefan Roots Blog as well as The Delaware County Daily Times.



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