GlobalPhilly™ 2013 Seeks to Change the Conversation about Philadelphia

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Gabi Chepurny, for GPA -- In many regards, Philadelphia is the zenith of American iconography. This legacy, however, may have inadvertently limited the city’s reputation. Despite the quintessential American things about Philadelphia, there are a million others that represent international aspects of the city that many of its visitors and residents may not recognize. A certain non-profit exists to change that.

This fall, the Global Philadelphia Association is poised to direct a regional conversation change about Philadelphia. From September 15 through November 1, the Association and its network of over 120 members are devoting a 47 day spotlight to the many international dimensions in the City of Brotherly Love. The GlobalPhilly™ 2013 exposition will be the first of its kind for Philadelphia and will exemplify the global aspects of the city through seven different categories: advocacy, arts, commerce, cuisine, education, heritage and sports.

GPA Board Chair and President John F. Smith III sums up the month-and-a-half long exposition like this: “GlobalPhilly™ 2013 is about raising the awareness of this region as to its international past, present and future.”

To make GlobalPhilly™ an even more accessible experience, information about the exposition has been consolidated into a Passport; a booklet containing detailed listings for the six weeks of events. The free Passport showcases events chronologically, providing the where, when and what of every listing. The printed version features 82 events, but the online version will accommodate the 82 and about 20 more.

The Passport makes a literal connection to one of the events: a private tour of Philadelphia International Airport. A lucky group of Global Philadelphia Association members will get to see the inner workings of an airport that sees approximately 4.3 million international passengers annually.

It’s the hope of Global Philadelphia Association Executive Director, Zabeth Teelucksingh, that GP13, as it is affectionately known, will really show off the international side of Philadelphia, a city inextricably tied to the American narrative of the Constitution and the Founding Fathers.

“I think GP13 really helps to brand Philadelphia. It certainly helps to push the city back out into the international realm,” she says.

In Teelucksingh's view, Philadelphia is often tied to a small list of cliches, overshadowing the vast number of international assets of the city.

Teelucksingh says, “There [are] these funny sort of stereotypes, the cheesesteak, the Liberty Bell, when in fact Philadelphia is so much more.”

Many events carry a cultural aspect. One is the Mexican Independence Day Festival, which will take place September 15 at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing. The festival will highlight a culture that makes up part of Philadelphia’s population, much like many other occasions that are part of the 47-day celebration.

Other events presented by beloved institutions like the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Mural Arts Program are community-oriented initiatives meant to engage citizens on a large, continuous scale. The Free Library is offering a “Global Culture Digital Exposition” throughout GlobalPhilly™ 2013 at the main branch, while the Mural Arts Program’s “What We Sow” multiple-month series will culminate in October with a special performance art piece entitled “The Meal.”

The Cuisine component of GlobalPhilly™ 2013 is actually a collaboration of seven renowned Philadelphia restaurants that have partnered with GPA to let diners experience a global side of Philly through their palettes. Sbraga, Bistrot La Minette, La Calaca Feliz, Tashan, Zama, Zinc and Han Dynasty have all created dishes specifically for GP13. The different plates will be part of the respective restaurants’ specials menus, and some will come with a wine or cocktail pairing of the diner’s choice.

GlobalPhilly™ 2013 will serve as an eye-opening series of events throughout the diverse and multicultural city of Philadelphia. The primary aim of this work, as Global Philadelphia Association views it, is to pave the way for economic and social prosperity in the long term. GlobalPhilly™ 2013 is part of the the movement towards an even greater Philadelphia by giving Philadelphia citizens their first modern, international exposition in which they can participate on many levels.

Photo credit: Hassan Ammar