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Thoughts about cities, plus news of Philly Community Wireless and two solid opportunities

Roberta prefaces the News and Opportunities with a heartfelt musing about the importance of cities, since so many are being destroyed right now in Ukraine. Meanwhile, there is news about free public wifi in Philadelphia and several opportunities.

An imaginary map painted on cardboard shows floating landmasses named city names and the whole thing labeled "Places We Love."
“Places We Love,” planning map for the project, “Jack in the Box.” acrylic on cardboard, @1999. Courtesy of the artists

Thoughts about the destruction of cities

Hi, I’ve been reading a lot of science fiction and climate fiction since the pandemic started, and the fictional landscapes are big characters in all of the stories, for obvious reasons. And cities loom large in those imagined landscapes, even real cities, like New York and Zurich. Cities are bigger than life – awe inspiring constructions, human-made, and places where creativity happens, where artists congregate and work, where people of all stripes want to live. Like most of the world, I love cities. My best trip ever is a trip to a city. Libby and I once painted an autobiographical map of of the world for a project we were doing, with places important to us we named the floating landmasses for the cities that were ultimately what mattered to us.

Today, I read in the New York Times: “Major cities including Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol are under assault as Russia resorts to destroying cities that it has been unable to seize.” (emphasis added)

The concept of destroying cities when an invader is not able to seize them is jarring but also obvious. Of course you destroy the cities if your aim is to destroy a people, a culture, a government, a history, and your aim is to make your culture, people, government and history dominate. Predatory and horrifying. We need to stop and consider the importance of cities and consider their destruction along with the destruction of all the people in them. We don’t know if the Ukrainian cities targeted for destruction will rebuild. But I am truly hoping they will. They deserve a new Marshall Plan and the world’s help to bring them back to life. The predator must be stopped.

NEWS – Community Wifi in Philly

Videographer Eli Laban, who did four amazing videos for Artblog in 2016, wrote that he did a project about the Community Wifi for the group that created it, and worked on an animation — with his father — to explain the technology.

Did you know there’s a free, community-owned wifi network bringing equal internet access to Kensington, Philadelphia? Check out this short promotional video I made for Philly Community Wireless, an organization working to build free community wifi networks in the city, as part of the latest The Big Picture Alliance project, with more to come this spring. In addition to the first video, I also teamed up with my dad, Terry LaBan of Breakthrough Visuals, to create a short animation explaining the technology behind community wifi networks. More about Eli at his website.

Eli’s Artblog videos:
Overview of the Creative Africa show at PMA
Francis Kere
Akinbode Akinbiyi
Walé Oyéjidé of Ikiré Jones


Podcasting: Should your organization consider launching a podcast?
March 25, 2022, 12pm to 2pm, online
A presentation of the Arts and Business Council

Speakers include:
Roberta Fallon, Executive Director, Artblog
Paul Farber, Director, Monument Lab
Dr. Kimberly McGlonn, Founder & CEO, Grant Blvd
Joy Montefusco, Director of Digital Editorial, The Franklin Institute
Christopher Plant, Founder, RADIOKISMET
Laiya St. Clair, On-Air Personality, Content Creator, and Talent Booker


Request for Proposals for Art-Reach’s Cultural Accessibility Conference (Online) – Deadline April 3rd, 2022

Art-Reach invites participants to submit proposals for the 4th annual Cultural Accessibility Conference Online from September 20-22, 2022. This conference engages attendees to establish a better understanding of cultural accessibility within the arts, culture, music, dance and public garden sector with relevant topics that build tools, knowledge, and an international network of allies and resources.

Art-Reach’s Conference Review Committee welcomes proposals from different career levels and experiences. An honorarium will be awarded to each presenter as well as free admission to the full three-day conference. Conference attendees will have 3 weeks of access to conference content.

A selection committee made up of previous presenters, Art-Reach partners, Disability self-advocates, and ACCESS Jawn members (network of previous conference attendees) will review proposals and coordinate with presenters upon receipt of a full and complete proposal.

Click here to read the full RFP, including detailed descriptions of content areas and presentation formats.
The deadline for proposal submissions is Monday, April 3rd, 2022. Please reach out for any questions or clarifications to Katie Samson, Director of Education at

African American woman, Marian Anderson, poses for the camera in a ball gown in a photograph by Carl Vechten
Marian Anderson. Photo by Carl Van Vechten. This work is from the Carl Van Vechten Photographs collection at the Library of Congress. Public Domain

Request for Qualifications: Marian Anderson Sculpture Commission – Deadline for Submissions May 1, 2022

The sculpture honoring the Philadelphia contralto and civil rights leader would be the first permanent “named African American female’s likeness to be honored in sculptural form in the City of Philadelphia,” the RFQ states. The goal is to “display a strong likeness of Marian Anderson, capture the powerful and gifted spirit of the contralto as well as her energy as a civil rights trailblazer and her dignity in the face of injustice.”

Planned to be sited outside of the Academy of Music, the sculpture is already envisioned as being cast by the artist in traditional bronze.

”It obviously needs to be someone quite experienced already in the field of figurative sculpture, and it needs to be a beautiful likeness of Marian Anderson,” said Theresa Rose, the Philadelphia art consultant working with the project.

RFQs are due by May 1 and semifinalists will be chosen by late May. Finalists are expected to present proposals in September, with an artist to be selected later that month.

Deadline: May 1, 2022
Learn More about how to apply
Learn about the Association for Public Art’s connection to the project