Urban Creators will host the fourth annual Hoodstock Festival at Life Do Grow Farm, on Saturday at the urban farm in North Philadelphia.
The festival, in partnership with the Philadelphia Museum of Arts' PHL Assembled and Soil Generation, will have performances, a dance party, vendors, a petting zoo and pony rides, an organic farmers' market, art gallery, and a graffiti invitational where artists will repaint a massive wall facing York Street. The goal is to bring artists, community organizers, and the neighborhood together. This year's theme is land and liberation, tying in the importance of food and freedom.
"You can't feed people without the land to grow the food," said Sonia Galiber, director of operations at Urban Creators. "Freedom starts with land. Freedom starts with what you eat."
For Jeannine Kayembe, co-executive director of Urban Creators, the relationship between art and nature is symbiotic. "The way art is created and the way plants are grown are the same," she said. "Nature inspires as much as art does."
Lyonzo Vargas, cofounder of Global Village, has hosted two of the Village's biweekly jam sessions at the farm. He said that, once he stepped on the soil, he could feel that connection. "Everything we do is to bring [us] back to the roots," said Vargas, who will host Cuban drummers at Hoodstock's jam. "When we brought [the jam session] to the farm, and it had that natural feel … it's basically how our ancestors did it."
He described the Village Jam as a space where you could "express how you feel about your reality right in nature." The sessions comprise improvisational drumming, singing, rapping, and dancing. Everyone can have an opportunity on the mic and contribute to the musical ambiance.
Kayembe said the act of farming was a catalyst not only for art, but also for social change. Though "food desert" has been the term assigned to North Philadelphia's lack of fresh-food options, Kayembe said, she prefers the term "food apartheid."
"There are people that are saying Whole Foods and farmers' markets don't belong in neighborhoods like in North Philly," she said.
Organizations like Urban Creators and events like Hoodstock, she said, aim to push through the racism and classism that fuels "food apartheid." Especially by bringing race, class, sexuality, and gender identification together in one safe and celebratory space.
"Celebration, for us, is activism," she said. "It's radical, us being happy in a time [like this]. We're liberating ourselves with joy."