After the ‘Boundaries and Bridges’ Film Fest last weekend, Butch Slaughter asked Bill Nix and myself our thoughts. Bill is a Widener alum and had a good experience as a student. I shared that I earned college credits as a Chester High senior when I took calculus at Widener in the ‘Star Honors’ program. We both credited James ‘Buddy’ Harper as the guy attending Widener who showed us that being a Widener student was cool.
Most of the films at the fest came from the Chester resident perspective that Widener hasn’t been a welcoming place in our city through the years based on the experiences of the film makers. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any films presented by Widener students to counter that narrative.
For as long as I can remember, Widener students have contributed to the Chester community. Much of it has been small projects to give their students experience working in schools, health centers, or social agencies, and they’ve always participated in the annual city clean ups. But much of that work has gone unnoticed unless we are directly involved in those concerns.
Thanks to the burgeoning arts community growing on Ave of the States, Widener students have been seen in large numbers on many occasions in downtown Chester. The collaborative ‘Boundaries and Bridges’ project has formalized an unending array of activities that attract Widener students to Chester and Chester residents to the campus.
I’ve always argued that the Widener community doesn’t ‘come across the bridge’ because Chester doesn’t give them a reason to. Thankfully for the arts, the bridges are less of a divide and more of a connector.