In 2014 Philadelphia was declared a Sanctuary City. This new status offers an official promise that individuals who have fled their country due to foreign conflict, racial or religious persecution, and political alliances or opinions, can find safe haven in Philadelphia. Between 2014-2015 alone, the Refugee Resettlement Program (RRP), has helped over 3,000 refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries resettle in the city and throughout Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia’s controversial status as a Sanctuary City has asked us to rethink the physical, economic, social, and spiritual boundaries that map our city’s current identity. Philadelphia is said to be a city of blocks: while one neighborhood is ushered into a “resurgence,” the one directly beside it stands still and waits for rent to rise, is dismissed as “sketchy” by its new next-door neighbors. Block by block the city shifts, offering space for some while pushing others out. Each block has its own havens and protections: across the city, locals fill our mosques, temples, synagogues, and churches to share a morning of peaceful reflection and community. At dusk in a bar, cafe, living room, or basement, writers and musicians gather to perform. Post-election, protest signs and banners are carried high by hundreds, rivers of citizens pouring out to surround our landmarks and flood Center City traffic. But for every march, there is also a partition, a heckler, a stream of silent passersby who look the other way, a swastika sprayed on a Broad St. storefront, a rash of stickers for skinhead hate groups spreading through the shared streets of college campuses and historically black neighborhoods. Block by block, our city is reckoning with itself.
For APIARY 8, we asked Philly artists to explore what it means to live as a target in your own city, under threat. For APIARY 9, we want to hear about your sanctuary: the one space where a targeted body is sheltered from attack, without exception. Where is that space for you in Philadelphia? Does it exist yet? If not, what should it look like?
Sanctuary can be a brick and mortar institution, a spot on the map, a shifting group of people, a community, or a shared ritual. Sanctuary is also a space of contradiction and tension: it is a place of unconditional safe harbor, but by design, that refuge must be granted by a guard or gatekeeper who works to keep the sanctuary “safe.” This city’s borders are drawn as hard lines on a map or black-and-white items of legislation, but in reality, our city’s border is like a membrane. It is as porous and alive as the borders of our own bodies, and we are the ones who accept or reject who passes through that membrane, who decide which new bodies are allowed to thrive in our city’s shared space. What makes a true sanctuary, and how does Philly fulfill or fail its status as a Sanctuary City? How can we, as the citizens who shape Philadelphia's identity, help our city live up to this claim?
To send in your work, visit our Submittable page using the links provided below. We can't wait to witness your Sanctuary.
In addition to our Issue 9 call, we're always looking for unthemed content for our website! Interested in appearing in the APIARY HIVE? Visit our ROLLING SUBMISSIONS page to learn how to get published on our website!