by Paula M. Riley
“We want to celebrate what brings us together, not what divides us,” said Dwayne Wharton, organizer of Northwest Nice Up – Party with a Purpose on Saturday, July 20, at 6311 Germantown Ave. from 5 p.m. to midnight.
Everyone is invited to attend this outdoor art and music event featuring local bands, popular DJs, local foods and benefiting the Food Trust (thefoodtrust.org). This Philadelphia based nonprofit works to ensure everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions.
In Wharton’s professional life he serves as the director of external affairs for the Food Trust but Northwest Nice Up is not officially sponsored by the Food Trust. Profits from the party will support its programs.
“I am a community member first and foremost,” said Wharton.
A lifelong resident of the Mt. Airy/Germantown area, Wharton loves the community and appreciates Mt. Airy’s rich history of inclusion and diversity, yet he acknowledges that creating a diverse environment takes work.
“I don’t want to sugarcoat the reality – sometimes it takes a lot of effort to bring together people with cultural differences,” Wharton said.
After reading Philadelphia Magazine’s article “Being White in Philly,” Wharton reacted as many did across the region, feeling as though the author’s attempt to start a dialogue about bridging racial divides resulted in perpetuating racial stereotypes.
In the essay, author Robert Huber, a Mt. Airy resident, interviewed a number of white residents of the city’s Fairmount neighborhood about their attitudes towards African Americans. The story was remarkably controversial and subjected Huber and Philly Magazine editor, Tom McGrath, to substantial criticism.
“It truly missed the mark, and we wanted to do something,” Wharton said.
Together with his good friend and CHCA board member Rob Lamb, Wharton began plans to “Nice Up Northwest” by throwing a backyard jam party and welcoming people of all backgrounds to celebrate the rich diversity in the region.
Martin Madden and Arthur “AJ” Horan generously donated their recently transformed property at 6311 Germantown Ave., and Vivian Rowe and George Jackson volunteered to help. Many other supporters joined and, with much sweat equity, they cleared weeds and debris and built a 30-foot high stage with bamboo roofing for the party.
The intentionally selected musical entertainment, food options, and kids’ games represent a range of backgrounds. Lucky Ole Souls, Mini Trini and Little Baby Ice Cream trucks are among the food vendors. Children are invited to the party (until dark) for video game competitions on a big screen, ping pong, pedal race cars by Berg Toys, hula hoops, jump rope, and more. Graffiti artist Tommy Lamb will be creating a live outdoor mural throughout the event.
Partygoers will enjoy Kuf Knotz, an organic hip hop diverse band known for promoting positive vibes for the universe; Halfro, a diverse group of recent grads from Temple University and Agent Moosehood, a progressive instrumental band with a great horn section. Wharton may work at the DJ booth, and Rob Lamb may showcase his rap skills.
“It’s going to be a great party,” said Lamb. “Best of all, it’s benefitting an awesome organization. The Food Trust’s work to help create healthy lifestyle in underdeveloped neighborhoods is totally amazing.”
A $10 cover charge donation is requested of adults – kids are welcome until dark at no charge. For more information go to nwniceup.ticketbud.com/nwniceup.