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Urban Autobiographies

A city-wide writing program launched in Philadelphia in April this year. It's called the Autobiography Project. The program invited residents of the city to tell their own life stories ? or simply individual stories taken from their lives ? in 300 words or less. The Project even sponsored community writing workshops for those Philadelphians unsure of their literary abilities ? and some of these were so successful that similar groups may yet become regular fixtures at the institutions involved. Over 340 such memoirs were submitted over a six-week period. A panel of local writers and cultural figures then chose 20 particularly memorable autobiographies, and these were printed as full-size posters, complete with a photograph of each author, and installed within bus shelters throughout the city.

In many ways, the most interesting aspect of the Autobiography Project is how it has briefly reclaimed a handful of Philadelphia's bus shelters and transport routes in the name of public life and personal narrative.

A similar program was conducted in Austin, Texas, some years ago, but Philadelphia's addition of the bus shelter displays was masterful.

Read more at World Changing.

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