48 Students Clear a Path for Creativity with Heart of Camden

August 29, 2012 Sarah Schwartz

Arcadia University students remove rotting flooring at the old firehouse at 1813 Broadway in Camden, N.J.

The chiming of hammers and crowbars could be heard blocks away. As part of Arcadia University's Day of Service, 48 students traveled to Camden, N.J., to help Heart of Camden create a welcoming space for art and craftsmanship in Waterfront South on Aug. 27. Sleeves rolled, dust masks in place, they removed rotting floorboards and beams, preparing a beautiful but deteriorating firehouse for a transformation.

It’s the belief of the organization that the energy and ingenuity of artists will make a difference in the neighborhood, in particular the emerging creative and commercial corridor of Broadway south of Ferry Avenue. Making moderately-priced studio space available will help create an artistic community that is diverse, comprised of both residents and friends of Camden.

“It’s a really big deal for the community,” says Christopher Haw of Heart of Camden, who oversaw the students’ work. “Even a small development can make all the difference.” In alignment with what social scientists term the Broken Window Theory, Haw hopes that rehabbing structures such as 1813 Broadway will give rise to a renaissance. “The more you have abandoned, vacant and broken buildings, the more crime, drug dealing and prostitution the community will have. This neighborhood has a lot of that and we’re trying to fight back by putting every abandoned space back into real, productive use.”

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