What is Trash Academy? 

The trash and litter polluting the streets of our city has earned it the unfortunate nickname of ‘Filthadelphia.’ Trash Academy, a project of Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Restored Spaces Initiative, uses art and creativity as a vehicle to change both our communities and how they are perceived. Our program is based on the philosophy of collaboration; the research and initiative of community members fuels a shared process of education, reflection, advocacy and intervention. Trash Academy embraces the values of environmental justice, believing that those who are most impacted by environmental challenges are the ones who must be at the forefront of crafting solutions. Trash Academy also encourages youth leadership, positioning young people to take the lead in educating and transforming their own communities. Now in its fourth year, Trash Academy continues to invigorate both inner and public spaces in some of the city’s most litter-strewn neighborhoods: Mifflin Square Park area and Strawberry Mansion, as well as more broadly in West, North and South Philly. Trash Academy uses arts-based social practice to pursue the following goals:

    • Convene residents to focus on, understand, address and manage trash in their households and on the streets of their neighborhoods

    • Engage community members in participant-led research, education, advocacy, and civic engagement

    • Create and test innovative, grassroots solutions to the issue of trash though horizontal collaborative processes

    • Cultivate a city-wide network of neighborhood experts who act as local waste management resources for their communities


Trash Academy is a project of Restored Spaces, an initiative of Mural Arts Philadelphia, and is funded by City of Philadelphia Streets Department, PTS Foundation, City of Philadelphia, FAO Schwartz Family Foundation, Philadelphia Youth Network and Cannuscio Rader Family Foundation.

PROJECT ORGANIZERS: Shari Hersh, Margaret Kearney, Ron Whyte, Ciara Williams, Kyla van Buren

COLLABORATORS: Patricia Barrera, Hilary Brashear, Isayah Bray, Avery Broughton, Timell Floyd, Breyelle Gupton, Breyon Harris, Diane Hemsley, Daniel Lipshutz, Merletta Matthews, Jada Orr, PHLASK, Scott Quitel, RAIR, Christine Rhodes, Bella Robinson, Paige Scott-Cooper, Mona Singletary, Sophie Taylor-Havens, Tiny WPA, Joy Waldinger, Shamaur Williams, Eva Wŏ, Isaiah Alamo, Peggy Hartzell

PARTNERS: City of Philadelphia Streets Department, Clean Water Action, LOMO Environmental Committee, Mural Arts Art Education Department, Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee, South Philadelphia High School Environmental Science Class, Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet

for more information

Contact us at trashacademy@muralarts.org or shari.hersh@muralarts.org. Follow us on instagram at @trash.academy and like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TrashAcademy

Photo by Mike Reali

Photo by Mike Reali