Tuesday, March 31, 2009
This landmark has graced the South Philadelphia neighborhood since 1808. The fascinating brickwork that has become synonymous with Philadelphia can still be seen on the tower today. The tower was the first of its kind in the United States because it represented a new technology manufacturing lead ammunition at a quicker and cheaper rate. Thomas Sparks and John Bishop came up with the idea for the tower.
The Sparks Shot Tower was a large contributor to the War of 1812. During the war, the tower was manufacturing and selling ammunition to the federal government. Because Bishop was a Quaker and did not support war, he left the partnership with Sparks. Four generations of Sparks owned the Shot Tower until it was sold in 1903. Ten years later, the city bought the tower area and created playgrounds for local poor immigrants. This eventually evolved into the indoor basketball recreation center that the tower is today. The entrance to the actual tower is currently sealed off and has been for many years.
John Casey, Gabrielle DiPietro and DaVonne Armstrong
A multiracial upbringing created my understanding of many different religious beliefs. Like many other Afro-Cubans, I grew up practicing Yoruba, a religion West African in nature with strong Roman Catholic undertones.
The Yoruba Mass is similar to that of the Roman Catholic Church, with the exception of dancing, drums and music. Placing all rumors about Yoruba aside, during my years of practicing, I have yet to see a sacrifice of the animal or human kind. Frankly, the only things I’ve ever seen thrown off of a bridge are fruit and honey for Oshun during ODUNDE.
Hunting Park, rich in Afro-Latino culture, has a large number of Yoruba and La Regla, or Santería practitioners. Lately my family and I have been experiencing times that call for oraciónes de más, extra prayer. Hearing various family members in my head, I went out to the neighborhood in search of la botánica, the religious supply store.
As I explained to my teammate Kurtis during our first journey to the neighborhood in January, many people view botánicas as “occult shops,” in reality they are the exact opposite – though there are a number of exceptions.
Regla priestess and Hunting Park resident, Wanda Diaz, is familiar with botánicas. Her family owns one in Manhattan’s Losaida neighborhood. Diaz says, botánicas as well as the "Diasporic" religions are feared because people have been raised to fear them.
“Botánicas don’t hurt anyone, they [people] hurt themselves from ignorance,” she adds.
Derived from Greek, later Latin, meaning plant, many botánicas sell herbal remedies in addition to candles, rosaries and estatuas de santos, figurines depicting the saints.
After asking Diaz and shoppers at Cousin’s Supermarket, my daylong search for la botánica ends at a very familiar street corner...
Stay tuned for what happens next!
By Cris Robinson, Kendra Howard and Kurtis Lee.
MURL, Group 22 - Hunting Park
Many in Mantua are expecting and hoping for a much-needed boom in business in their area. This part of the city in West Philadelphia quietly bordering Drexel University was once a more powerful area for small businesses to thrive amongst a full neighborhood of residents.
After driving through Mantua on a regular basis, it is clear that this has become a more residential controlled area, with very few small businesses spotted throughout. There are many businesses that can be seen while passing through the area, although many of them are boarded up and closed, with no sign of opening in the future.
As of early February, 2009, Mayor Nutter has noticed the importance of bringing businesses back into various areas of Philadelphia, including Mantua. City officials have planned on providing $13 million to help jump-start city businesses and neighborhoods.
Certain areas in Mantua will become affected by this new initiative for boosting business; they plan on placing business strips with hopes that their potential for economic growth are more than high, and will eventually expand business in the area.
Many hope that this will create a ripple effect throughout the Mantua area, causing residents and neighbors to take more care into their section and begin repairing their properties. Others are just excited for the new job opportunities this will bring, as high city taxes and lack of growth throughout the area has caused many businesses to close.
Of the $13 million the Mayor is planning to provide for business strips including Mantua, Mt. Airy, Roxborough, Olney and Fairhill, $12 million of that money will be federal tax credits.
It seems that the Mayor finally recognized that certain parts of his city were seriously struggling and is willing to lend more then a thoughtful word or two of encouragement. He's actually taking action and making a powerful gesture to aid these communities and therefore the city of Philadelphia as a whole.
By Rachael Hidalgo, Jacalyn Clay and James Brotherton
Group 19 Mantua/Parkside
The primary justification for the proposed closure of Gillespie – which is named for lifelong Philadelphia public servant and descendant of Benjamin Franklin Elizabeth Duane Gillespie (1821-1901) – is lack of enrollment. There are just 173 students currently enrolled for the 2008-2009 academic year, down from 663 in 2003-2004. The school has lost students at dramatic rate every year since 2003.
The declines in enrollment are the result of the addition of middle grades at other neighborhood schools. For example, in the 2009-2010 school year, nearby M. Hall Stanton and Grover Cleveland Schools will add eighth grades, and Edward T. Steel will add seventh grade.
Stemming from declining enrollment is the next reason for the school’s proposed closure: underutilization of space. Since only 173 students are enrolled and the school’s capacity is 1,232, this year Gillespie’s educational operations were condensed from five floors to just two. Currently just 14 percent of the school’s available space is in use.
Gillespie has not met the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standard for math and reading proficiency mandated in the No Child Left Behind Act in each of its last six academic years, according to the School District of Philadelphia. In 2008, 52 percent of seventh graders tested below basic proficiency in math and 46 percent scored below basic proficiency in reading. In the same year, 56 percent of Gillespie eighth graders scored below basic in math and 53 percent scored below basic in reading.
The 59 seventh grade students currently enrolled will be allowed to finish and graduate as Gillespie students but will be taught in a designated section of Simon Gratz High School, located nearby at 18th Street and Hunting Park Avenue.
Gillespie is one of two schools that the School Reform Commission is considering closing over the next few years. The other, William Penn High School on North Broad Street, would close its doors in June 2010 if the measure is approved.
Tim Bratton, Trisha Fleurimond, Todd Miller
“A mazurki is a special flat cake filled with plum jelly and honey that’s a little bit crunchy because it’s coated in a paste of nuts and almonds,” explains Gosia Zadrozna, an employee at Tom’s. Zadrozna notes that a mazurki is a traditional item included in Easter Sunday brunch that appears on the table along with several specialty meats, salads and sauces.
Babkas are another top-selling dessert for Tom’s Bakery around Easter. “A babka is a very traditional Polish cake or bread,” says Zadrozna. “They are marbleized and covered usually in chocolate or cinnamon. Sometimes they are plain, other times filled with cheese or fruit.” Raisins and other dried fruits are often incorporated into babkas, the Polish word for “grandmother.” Traditionally, babkas were shaped with a flared, triangular bottom, resembling a woman’s skirt.
Business hasn’t changed since the transition from Julia’s to Tom’s was made six months ago. But the menu has—slightly. “We no longer do lunches,” explains Zadrozna. “Just bakery items. But people still come here over lunchtime. It’s our busiest time of the day.” After the Easter rush concludes less than two weeks from now, normal business will resume at Tom’s. Students from Our Lady of Port Richmond, the Catholic elementary school just across the street, will come after school for donuts. Elderly members of the Polish community will stop by in the afternoon for coffee and a babka. New Jersey residents will cross the bridge for Tom’s best-selling cheesecake, available in a variety of flavors. While Tom’s caters to the Polish population in Port Richmond, it’s certainly not unpopular among non-Polish residents. “People who come here do so because they love the desserts. Polish or American. Kids and adults,” says Zadrozna.
By Lydie Miller, Meghan Grever and Anthony Trivelli
With our crazy schedules, the only time Group 15 can go to Germantown together is on Wednesdays. It seems as if every single Wednesday we went, it was freezing cold outside. We decided to take on Germantown today, one of the nicest days so far this year!
Walking around without shivering or carrying an umbrella definitely made us appreciate Germantown so much more and we were able to talk to many more people on the street. I think they were even more willing to talk today. We walked past Pulaski Avenue, an area which we hadn't explored yet. It was nice to get a better feel and approach to the "other side" of Chelten Avenue, and we even tried to get some more story ideas for our individual projects.
Although our group has been having some problems in Germantown, today felt somewhat like a fresh start and showed us that there are people that are willing to talk and there are tons of story in this community known as Germantown!
Jennifer Campbell, Anna Conzelman, Tom Wolfe
I did the ride along on Friday, Jan. 30, after speaking with several officers during the course of the week. I arrived at 11 a.m., and after signing consent forms and putting on bulletproof vest, I hit the road with Thrasher around 11:30.
What ensued was an an approximately two-hour tour of the district, mostly of Strawberry Mansion. I observed as Thrasher responded to calls, patrolled the neighborhood and talked about his brief time as an officer. I was in the front seat - and sometimes standing next to him as he was on duty - with my pen and pad. He watched as I wrote down his words and thoughts, which I informed him would be published for a class.
The ride-along was eye opening. I got to see the darker side of Strawberry Mansion - one I knew was there, but residents won't talk about to reporters. And I got to see Thrasher do his job as he does it everyday. As I reported in my story, part of that job includes derogatory comments about the people of Strawberry Mansion.
The story blew up over the weekend. At the end of last week, I was receiving calls from friends at FOX and the Daily News. This morning, I received a request to be on the radio with Michael Smerconish. I declined all interviews and explained why.
I stand by my story 100 percent. I have the notes and documentation to back up the article. Professor Harper kindly offered to remove the story from the site, but I feel that would be an admission of guilt. However, I hope that by refusing interviews, my name will be used as little as possible in conjunction with the situation. The reason for this is because I run an online magazine for Northeast Philadelphia - my home, and the home of mostly white people who are cops or who are related to cops. Aside from the commentary on domelights, I've also received several angry e-mails via the contact page on my site. Since I wrote the article for class, not my site, I prefer to keep the two separate. I've recently applied for a grant to monetize my site and am planning promotional events at which city politicians are scheduled to appear. Despite the accuracy of the story, I fear that if too many people view me as a "cop hater" who "made this up to sensationalize a boring ride," as some e-mails have stated, I will not be able to formally launch my site.
A story ran in the Daily News yesterday morning. Another story ran last night on FOX, and The Clog reported on the article, as well. The Inquirer has a piece on it this morning, and several other news outlets, including NBC10 have picked it up. On Tuesday night, I agreed to speak with Claudia Gomez at FOX because I felt by ignoring so many requests, it would appear I have something to hide.
This has been a huge lesson for me. I expected people to be outraged by the article because of the harsh language, but I did not expect the accuracy to be questioned. Professors Harper and Washington have been very supportive, as have several other professors and administrators. More than anything, this has been frustrating. I've missed classes, spent nearly an hour listening to nasty voice mails and have now received e-mails criticizing the "provocative clothing" I wore in my last-minute interview with FOX. This has become bigger than I expected and has taken over more parts of my life than I have expected. I hope that it does not affect my future reporting for MURL.
The closest full-service hospital to Fishtown, which also dutifully serves the residents of Port Richmond, Kensington and other surrounding neighborhoods, will reopen as the Northeastern Ambulatory Care Center, a multi-specialty outpatient center featuring pre-natal and non-emergency care, according to Temple Health Services.
The hospital, which has serviced the community for nearly 100 years, reportedly posted over $6.5 million in losses last year said officials and is projected to lose another $15 million this year. In conjunction with the closing, nearly 800 employees stand to lose their jobs.
While inpatient and emergency services will fall victim to Temple's plans, the new center will offer cancer, cardiac, digestive disease and orthopedic care on an outpatient basis. Radiological services and lab work will continue to be performed on-site.
Current patients will be able to access impatient services at Temple University Hospital after June 30. Over the next few weeks, representatives from both Northeastern and Temple will meet with community groups to discuss how the changes will affect patients and the neighborhoods reliant upon their services.
While Fishtown is hardly the only Philadelphia neighborhood facing diminishing health care services and options - the past decade has seen over 7 closures in the greater Philadelphia area - the loss of a hospital is a devastating blow to the neighborhood. While Temple has made provisions to continue care in their newly expanded hospital on Broad Street, that facility is over 20 blocks from Northeastern using conservative measures. Only time will tell what the impact of losing their hospital will levy upon the residents of Fishtown.
Monday, March 30, 2009
While the Philadelphia Police report that homicides, shootings and violent crimes are down drastically in the targeted districts. The PPD reports that in the nine targeted districts, homicide has dropped 40 percent, shootings 30 percent and violent crime dropped 7.5 percent. A look at the numbers hints at different trends While in the last three years overall crime may be down, in most districts violent crime has risen in the past year. Many districts have seen increases in rapes over the years, especially from 2007-2008. Is the effect of the targeting wearing off?
Last month, the Philadelphia Police Department announced it was adding three new districts to the list of targeted ones. Two of these, Districts 23 and 24, are the districts that cover the majority of N. Broad from Girard to Erie. This is a major change for our neighborhood. Now, the entirety of our neighborhood is targeted.
On March 20, the United Bank of Philadelphia branch at Jefferson and Broad was robbed, as well as the Rite Aid across the street, in District 23. United Bank Branch Manager Jonathan Robinson mentioned in a phone conversation that the police are working to catch the robbery suspect and that he was aware of the new targeting of the district of his bank. He declined to allow a video interview inside the bank. I suspect security concerns were to blame. Will business and residents along N. Broad soon feel safer as a result of the new targeting?
A photograph of the suspect in the robbery of United Bank from security cameras,
curtosey of ABCnews.com.
This week was a tough time for group six. With classes resuming right after a semi-interesting Spring Break, it is understandable not being able to jump back into the grove of things. For some reason or another, group six seemed to have the hardest time with this feat. Whether it is the familiar itch of senioritis or just the reluctance to take responsibility, this is the part of the semester that I feared. As if trying to schedule an interview with a source while balancing a full-time job and three other classes isn’t difficult enough. The added pressures of constantly checking in on group members to make sure they’re doing their share of work is just plain bothersome. To realize this now, more than three-quarters of the way into our "final stretch", is a little nerve-racking. I fear that things may only get worse, but this is the portion of my college life where conquering the stressors of teamwork is most important.
I did plan to blog about the experience of interviewing a city official, hence the unconnected photo. Unfortunately I was halted in that pursuit simply because I am awake, late night, completing an assignment that was originally given to another member of my group. So I thought it would be interesting if this blog spoke instead to the hardships of the college journalist—something my peers know all about.
Now I do not wish to go pointing fingers and making a fuss about something as tiny as a 300-word blog –but if group six were a cohesive group I know I wouldn’t be facing this dilemma now. There are usually three kinds of people in every group: the hard worker, the slacker and the go to guy. No doubt these roles fluctuate every now and again, given different circumstances, but just think how upsetting that slacker is to the go to guy and the hard worker. So next time you feel like you don’t want to spend all day in the Tech editing or all night hovering over a laptop trying to make a deadline…just think, somebody’s got to do it. Why not you? After all, we are paying for this type of stress.
Week after week, the neighborhood opens up to us. People we have talked to for previous interviews are more than willing to help guide us towards the next story and slowly we feel more welcome. The language barrier is unavoidable but it has become more of a joke than a crutch. But this week, as the girls hit the streets to investigate the vacant houses and properties in Fairhill, I found a group of interviewees every bit as inaccessible as we once thought the neighborhood was: the government.
To find some answers behind the large number of boarded up homes in the area, we spent days leaving messages and emails for government and nonprofit officials, each time emphasizing the time constraints we faced. Some people in the private or nonprofit sector were quick to help, others guarded their office and information as though scared to confront the reality of our questions. During the interviews, some, such as Councilwoman Quiñones-Sánchez were realistic about the problem and solutions to the blight. Others did not answer our inquiries.
The experience shed new light on the people who have helped us along our path. The people who live every day with the problems of the inner city, who pass vacant buildings and open air drug markets on their way to work or have watched the neighborhood change, they are the ones willing and eager to help us. People who know the stories worth telling from the streets of Fairhill are ready to tell them. For the bureaucracy responsible for oversight in the area, student journalists are not a high priority.
With exception of the councilwoman, government offices that I called made me long for vacant detail. When a vacant house makes you feel more welcome than our honorable elected officials, a reorganization of priorities is called for.
Myles Aion, Team 5 Fairhill
As we walked along Roosevelt Boulevard today I heard a car blaring music that made me stop. It was like nothing I’ve ever heard, certainly not on any Philadelphia radio stations. It was rap music mixed with an Arabic and Indian sound. It was exotic and refreshing. I kept hearing this different kind of music throughout the day as we scoured the streets for interviews. I needed to find out what this music was and where it came from. As we crossed over Erie and Broad we walked passed a guy cleaning his car. As we got closer I realized he was playing the music I had been hearing all day. I asked him what it was. He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “You really don’t know what kind of music this is”? To which I responded “No, that’s why asking”. He went on to tell me it’s a kind of music called Soca, which originated in Trinidad and Tobago and is popular in Caribbean countries. He said many people in the area listen to it because of their Caribbean heritage.
Soca music is a blend of calypso and classical Indian music. It was invented in the 1960’s. It spread throughout the Caribbean islands in such countries as Guyana, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, United States Virgin Islands and The Bahamas. Soca music today is often electronic or mixed with rap, as I had heard in our neighborhood. It is currently one of the most popular Caribbean genres of music in the world.
The man who was nice enough to discuss Soca music with me said he’s been listening to it since he was a kid. John is a long time resident of Nicetown. He said he’s seen many Soca artists perform in North Philly. He even mixes Soca music in at home during his free time.
Lauren Pappas, Brian Myszkowski, Laura Yacoe. Allegheny, Tioga, Nicetown
Sunday, March 29, 2009
With less than a year under its belt, the Memphis Taproom restaurant and bar has quickly become one of the most popular hangouts for Kensington residents. Located on 2331 E. Cumberland Street in the heart of Kensington, the Taproom has experienced success that few restaurants can have in their first few years of business, especially during a recession. Once you step inside, it's not hard to imagine why. The small restaurant offers an atmosphere and "quality over quantity" attitude that is hard to find in low-income areas. The Memphis Taprooms beer selection is comprised of just under a dozen beers on tap, as well as a few dozen more bottled beers, and almost every brew and ale has a distinctive quality or heritage to it. The Taproom prides itself with offering variety and diversity in their beer selections, and smaller brews like Lagunitas IPA stand out among the crowd. The Taproom also features a bottled Dogfish Head 90-minute IPA, a rare find in almost any Philly bar.
The Taproom features a full brunch, lunch, and dinner menu as well. Try the Suicide Rings for a spicy appetizer if you’re brave enough. The dinner menu also features a local favorite to neighboring Port Richmond residents, a spicy Kielbasa dish named after the town itself.
With their one-year anniversary coming up, The Memphis Taproom is the talk of the town, and the future looks bright for these local business owners.
Group One - Peter Morris, Kylee Messner, Holland Baldrige
Every Murder Is Real was founded by Victoria Greene, the mother of Emir Greene, who was murdered in 1997. The non profit offers educational services to Philadelphia to try and stop senseless acts of violence in our city. E.M.I.R. (a play on words with Emir Greene’s name) also reaches out to the loved ones of homicide victims to provide counseling and grief services.
Victoria Greene had to go through what no mother ever wants to, and had to cope with the fact that her son was killed over drugs and violence. She now wants to help other families cope with the loss of a son, daughter, sister or brother. I think this is a great organization, and her story really moves me. I think it is great that people are really getting involved with the community and trying to help out, instead of just leaving the responsibility up to city programs. To read more about Victoria and her story, here is the link to the City Paper cover story, about ten years ago: http://www.citypaper.net/articles/050798/cov.deadson.shtml. To learn more on Every Murder is Real, visit their website at http://www.everymurderisreal.org/
-Amanda Hill, Erika Ransom, Steve Urgo- Germantown
The sun was beaming down on a peaceful day in Hunting Park, completely disguising the problems some residents are facing daily. I had the opportunity to visit a Dominican beauty salon called a New Day in Hunting Park where me and my partners asked a few questions to clients and stylists about the neighborhood and what improvements needed to be addressed. Even though, both clients and employees spoke English they felt more comfortable speaking in Spanish, and luckily for me there was no language barrier because my partner Marcos speaks Spanish fluently. Rosaora Rivera, who is a resident of the area and a client of the salon says, “On Fairhill street, there has been construction going on for about a year now and it hasn’t finished, people’s houses get flooded when it rains because the water seeps down to their basements from all of the holes on the street.” Many people began to nod there heads agreeing to her comment which began intimate conversations amongst other people in the salon.
Outside from the salon Malika Askew, 30, says she is disturbed about the summer activities because so many programs have been cut and does not know where she is going to place her children for this summer. Interestingly enough, Askew went on about the potential casinos crisis in Philadelphia and says, “Nutter really needs to bring those casinos in to help shape Philadelphia back to what it should be and help families get jobs and get people spending again.” I asked Malika if she had spoken to any officials about her concerns, she said, “I don’t think it would matter because they won’t listen.” Is some of the problems the Mayor’s fault or is it because more people will not stand up and address important issue possibly creating a significant impact?
Group 8 Hunting Park: Mereb Gebremariam, Marcos Rios, Maureen Coulter
The assortment of signs--Korean, American, Vietnamese and so on--lining the Fifth Street business district, showcases the rich diversity in the area. The smell of the Caribbean welcomes us as an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables are at our fingertips while we walk along the strikingly clean corridor. Momentarily, we would be meeting with Barbara Bishop and Paul Aylesworth, two individuals who can take a good bit of credit for the noticeable revival of the Fifth Street neighborhood.
As we walk through the door at the Business Development Services, we see a multitude of photographs showing different areas within the Olney region, maps and digitally enhanced photos showing what things could look like after all goals have been met. Bishop and Aylesworth welcome us into their office and share with us their devotion to the Fifth and Olney Revitalization Project.
It is something that particularly holds a place in Barbara's heart, as she has been a resident of Olney for 40 years now. She and her husband bought a used sidewalk-sweeping machine and hired someone to clean outside of storefronts six days a week. It is a task that has done wonders for the appearance of the neighborhood and with future plans that include the additions of new crosswalks, cameras and storefront lighting, Bishop and her colleagues seem to have an unwavering determination to get the area back on its feet.
Paul Aylesworth was kind enough to offer us both a reccomendation for lunch and a meeting with local pawnshop owner, Dean Rubenstein. As we made our way into his narrow shop, cigarette smoke lingered in the air while jewelry cases and Philadelphia sports memorabilia lined the walls. Rubenstein, a Philadelphian born and raised, offered us a glimpse into the world of small business within the area and told us of his concerns for local merchants in regards to tax increases in Mayor Nutter's new budget proposal. It was wonderful talking to him because it put a face with the anxiety that many are feeling, and really allowed us to better understand what we were here doing in the first place.
After a delicioucly spicy lunch of chicken roti at reccomended local Caribbean eatery, Hot & Tasty--a worthwhile stop thanks to our server's entertaining multitasking of preparing our lunch and spinning his turntables--we finished up our long day through the Fifth Street district. Meeting with Barbara, Paul and Dean, and dining amongst locals, showed us a new side to the community that we had not really seen just yet. Although we had to leave, there was a mutual consensus that we wanted to stay there longer and take in more. One thing is for sure, we will be heading back to Fifth Street.
Group 9 Olney/Logan: Casey Snyder, Mari Saito and Julio Nunez
On Friday, Group 3 spoke with Carla Puppin, Executive Director of the Queen Village Neighbors Association, who told us that as long as the casino threatens other neighborhoods in Philadelphia, she would continue her fight against Foxwoods.
Puppin, who helped move Foxwoods Casino away from Queen Village, is not satisfied with the casino’s new proposed location at The Gallery at Market East in Center City. She feels the casino could pose the same threat to Chinatown that it once did to Queen Village and the other neighborhoods in South Philadelphia.
According to a report by Casino-Free Philadelphia, casinos typically have a negative impact on their surrounding communities. Issues such as traffic, crime and adolescent gambling are common problems associated with most casinos. There are other viable places for a casino in Philadelphia, Puppin argues, there is no need for a casino to be located near Philadelphia communities.
According to the Queen Village Neighborhoods Association website, no other major U.S. city has built casinos near urban homes, so why start now in Philadelphia?
Puppin, like most residents in South of South Street, feel strongly against having a casino located near schools, places of worship, playgrounds or even homes. Even though the Foxwoods Casino is no longer proposed for construction in South Philadelphia, South of South Street residents are still willing to fight the casinos as long as they threaten other neighborhoods in the city.
- Monday, Team 3 – South of South Street: Laura Mailey & Scott Simpson
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I specifically focused on how the community would benefit from keeping its pool open. For this blog, I’m not trying to recap the story I wrote — but rather, write about something that I couldn’t fit into the piece because of space and content. The overall effect of the pool staying open was obviously good. Mander’s summer programs would stay in tact because of it, people in a low-income community would have a place to go, and crime would likely be reduced.
But Caterina Roman, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Temple University, noted that one negative side effect could arise because of keeping Mander’s pool open. “If you shut down certain pools and leave others open, people won’t stop going to them. They’ll just swim at the one a few blocks away, instead of the one right across the street,” she says. “And when you displace people, you might be moving them into gang territory — or you may bring together two neighborhoods that have historically feuded.”
While it’s clearly conjecture, Roman says that she’s basing it off a similar study that she did in 2003. Her study examined the effect of closing one school and displacing kids into another one. She found that violence increased, due to opposing gangs and people being forced to be in close quarters together.
Overall, I think it’s obvious that the pool remaining open is a good thing. But Roman’s theory is still something we should keep in mind.
The Logan Olney EPIC group, a stakeholder committee operated by Carson Valley Children’s Aid, unites each month to work together to end truancy and delinquency among the community’s youth.
Its March meeting was recently held at the Holy Trinity-Bethlehem Presbyterian Church in Logan. Among those in attendance were residents, parents, students, School District of Philadelphia representatives and community activists.
Logan Olney EPIC members were provided with invaluable information from school officials on “Imagine 2014,” the district’s latest strategic plan aimed at “closing failing schools and embracing bold new educational approaches with proven track records for success that include in-district restructuring and external partnerships.”
With a 47 percent high school drop-out rate, being a student in a failing district often means tolerating mediocrity and excuses.
According to draft version of “Imagine 2014,” the district is looking for community organizations like the Logan Olney EPIC stakeholder group to choose instructional models with a proven track record of success that best fits the needs and desires of particular neighborhoods.
Topics covered during the meeting included how parents and school communities will be invited to review proposals, recommend the curriculum of their choice, participate in site visitations and assist students in transitioning into Renaissance Schools (schools that will replace failing ones).
Those in attendance had a number of questions about the “Imagine 2014” plan.
So far, the district has not identified the criteria to determine which schools will become Renaissance Schools. There will be an extensive set of data and performance measures that will be used to review each school’s progress over an extended period of time.
Group 21 Olney/Logan: Brittany Diggs, Jess Geoghan and Andrew Forgotch
Photo Credit: Microsoft Corporation
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
“Welcome to Philadelphia’s Italian Market,” the opening line of the Ninth Street website begins. “the oldest and largest working outdoor market in the United States.” We turned the corner of Washington and Ninth, to find a crowded narrow street, jammed with wooden stands packed with fresh fish, fruits and vegetables, and a variety of store fronts; people in every direction, making moving with video equipment all the more difficult, but showing the ever present necessity of this row of businesses to these eager customers. We went there on a whim, hoping to find a story worthy of M.U.R.L.’s stagnant web pages and found a gateway to one of the most dominant cultures in our historic city.
I can’t speak for my other group members but I was most definitely inspired by our day trip to this “bizarre medieval atmosphere” of these historic establishments. Each shop had a character waiting for us to film and display for our readers and viewers, just as the site promised. Jordan, an employee of A. Esposito’s Inc., a butcher’s on the corner of Carpenter Street, became my particular favorite. He helped paint a picture for us “youngsters” of how the Italian Market used to look. How it used to stretch past Washington Street, all the way down to Pat’s and Geno’s, resembling, almost identically, the Italian Market of the famous Rocky movies. He had a very Italian style persona, one that was truly genuine and obviously a part of his personality. His slanted smile and black Godfather-esque cap recalled for me images of those previously mentioned Rocky movies that were definitely more for him than just a cinema-ized depiction of Italians. It was, and still is, very much how they are.
Reporting on the conditions of the Italian Market of 2009, gave us some insight not only of how our troubled economy is effecting family owned businesses in Philadelphia, but it also gave us the opportunity to experience, as students, the true to life culture and people who have lived and worked in that neighborhood for over one hundred years. It was an experience I will take with me as I continue to service this community with quality journalism.
Group 16: John Casey, Gabbi DiPietro, and DaVonne Armstrong