Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Every year on the last Saturday of September, the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade takes place. Seeing as the Fairhill section of Philadelphia hosts the largest number of Hispanics in the city, it is no surprise that Fifth and Lehigh Streets were a part of the main attraction. The day consisted of a huge parade, tons of street vendors, concerts, moon bounces, games and lots of other family fun activities.
Latino people from all over the country traveled to Philadelphia this past weekend to take part in the festivities. Jose Ayala, told me he and his family come all the way from California each year to partake in the parade. To show his Puerto Rican pride, he sells t-shirts, flags and other souvenirs out of the back of his van. He says the parade and Halloween are his two most profitable occasions.
Despite the rain on Saturday, Lehigh Avenue was still jam packed with many proud Puerto Rican families who were extremely proud to be there celebrating their culture. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that this tradition will continue on for many years to come.
By Samantha Bucher and Jarrett Barbour
Group 1, Fairhill
Previously Karen worked for 23 years selling vitamins and sees her new business as a healthy offshoot of that. The Blacksons plan to have three more citywide locations within the next five years. When we asked her where she found all the appetizing looking pomegranates, pineapples and other fruits she told us they only buy from local farmers. Finding the farmers online and around their home, the only thing they have to deal with is picking up the produce. The small shop is inviting and convenient with a huge parking lot out front.
Seeing that there are only two farmers' markets in Germantown, and only held one day of the week, Healthy Nutrition will bring another option to the tables of Germantown. By offering fresh, locally grown fruit the residents will have a healthier option every day of the week, not just Monday and Wednesdays. The Blacksons also sell assorted nuts, Swedish Fish and a few bottles of vitamins.
Team 10: Maria Santilli & Kali Wyrosdic
"It was like opening a world for me," she said. Levikoff, who commutes to the senior center from Balwynne Park on Tuesdays and Fridays for ceramics classes and on Wednesdays for sewing.
"If I weren't busy with so many other things, I'd come more often," Levikoff said.
Levikoff has been working in theater since the 1970s, when she helped film numerous documentaries about women's progress. She currently works for a branch of the Circle Theatre doing improv.
"Not like comedy - a dramatic kind," she said.
Levikoff said she's gotten to the point where she's "happy with every single birthday," and she wishes more seniors would feel the same way.
"I try to tell other people who are my age [about the Senior Cneter], and I try to tell my friends' parents, who may be in their eighties," Levikoff said, adding she loves meeting new people at the Senior Center and learning what they did before they retired as much as she loves the classes.
"I really think there's people who tend not to go out [for different reasons]," she said, "but at a certain stage in your life, you could come here and find your place. And it's a wonderful place."
By Tracy Galloway and Maria Zankey
Group 18, Technically Philly
The design team from the Girard Avenue Interchange Improvement Project (GIR) which is a part of the PennDOT reconstruction of I-95 between Allegheny Avenue and the Ben Franklin Bridge. This major rehabilatation and redesign project will affect much of Port Richmond, Fishtown and other surrounding areas. The goal is to implement safety and aesthetic elements that make the residental and roadway areas around the Delaware Riverfront more accessible and attractive. Elements such as underpasses, walkways and public usage facilities are among some of the structures that are planned to be constructed between 2011 and 2018. The contract for the project opens at the end of the year and construction should begin in the spring of next year.
Some opposition to the impact the project would have on existing houses and buildings was heard at the meeting, but overall, response was positive to the forthcoming changes in the neighborhood's appearance.
By Chesney Davis and Ashley Huber
Team 12, Port Richmond
Alfred Dorman, business district manager for Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation, told me that I had to meet Henry.
Henry owns China House, a Chinese restaurant located in Ogontz Plaza.
“Henry is a true success story of Ogontz Avenue,” Dorman said.
Originally owning several Chinese restaurants scattered throughout the city, Henry has closed his other locations and operates only out of West Oak Lane.
Dorman jokes that he persuaded Henry to move his business into the Ogontz Plaza, but the prospect of having a business in a vibrant growing area didn’t need much persuasion.
“You can count on Henry for anything,” Dorman said. “His food and service has always been consistent, that’s why so many people come to him.”
West Oak Lane is a predominately African American neighborhood, but there are populations from all over the world residing in this neighborhood. There are many Asian business owners and Dorman explained that he reached out and created an Asian forum to better acquaint himself with the diversity that lives in the Northwest.
“We have all kinds of people here, Chinese, Korean, Indian, Afghan, you name it,” Dorman said.
In a neighborhood that is widely advertised as being an all black area, Henry proudly considers himself part of West Oak Lane.
By Samantha Krotzer and Andrew Whitlatch
When people think of the Historical scenes in Germantown, Philadelphia people think of the Johnson House, Maxwell Mansion, and the Grumblethorpe site. Yet on the corner of Price and Germantown Avenue exists a unique building that was once filled with lively Civil War Veterans.
The ACES Museum aims to honor Black and Minority Veterans of World War II and their families. Historically, the site was a 'home' to many Veterans and so it now a memorial of their history. During the Vietnam War, the ace of spades was known as the death card.
“It’s a place where black veterans came before they went to war, and some never made it home,” said the founder of ACES, A.V. Hankins, MD, FACP.
Dr. Hankins founded the ACES Museum after a conversation that she had on an airplane sparked her interest. During the conversation, a man handed Dr. Hankins a pamphlet advertising a Negro soldier’s party at 5801 Germantown Avenue Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ironically enough Dr. Hankins was using that building to practice medicine. She began to then discover the history of that location and its significance.
On the third floor was what was known as Parker Hall. In 2002 Parker Hall was certified as a historical site by the Historical Society. The ACES Museum brings an educational component into the museum. They recognize the veterans of WWII, and strive to educate community members about their history.
Despite its historic value, the ACES Museum is currently facing some challenges with Parker Hall. The city is not allowing the museum to open up the floor. As side of those circumstances, the public are welcome to visit the first floor on Tuesdays. Whenever the museum can, they do their best to serve their community.
“We had a wonderful fourth of July program,” said Dr. Hankins.
The event was a celebration and embracing the ships that came back into the city. Dr. Hankins describes them like an “unofficial U.S.O.” Dr. Hankins believes that for a community affected by a negativity, such as drugs, educational programs can be a way to benefit the children within the community. SIn 2004, the ACES Museum added programs for the kids such as the “Puppets with History” show, which is a program that aims to teach children about civil war veterans’ history. This program coincides with ACES’s motto, Respect The Past, Nurture The Future.
“We are now respected,” Dr. Hankins said, “and the daycares and the schools in the area can all benefit from their experience with ACES.”
Dr. Hankins has set high goals for the museum. She would like to see the museum become handicap accessible so that more people can see the exhibits. Dr. Hankins considers WWII to be particularly important for black people because it pushed the Great Migration and the Civil Rights Movement. By educating members of the Germantown community, she hopes people can become more community-orientated and instead of accepting the 'get rich or die trying' motto promoted by the streets, they can embrace the ACES' view as expressed by Dr. Hankins, "we love you more than money."
For more information about the ACES Museum please visit www.acesmuseum.org or call 215 842-3742.
By Keisha Frazier and Lisa Wilk - Team: 16
On Monday, a quiet afternoon on Olney’s Fifth Street commercial district was interrupted with sirens and yellow tape when police shot a robbery suspect in the local library after he attacked a police officer with a knife.
At around 2:30 p.m. a man entered a shoe store and held up the owner at knife-point. After taking the man’s cash, he ran two doors down to the local branch of the Philadelphia Free Library to hide.
When officers arrived in response to the robbery, they confronted the suspect inside the library. It was then, according to reports, that he tried to attack the officers with the knife. The officers opened fire and shot him once.
The North Fifth Street Revitalization Project, a nonprofit located two blocks away, operates surveillance cameras along the street as part of its plan to clean up the area. The tapes were handed over to police, and the suspect was recorded entering and exiting from the shoe store.
Other reports identified the man as Mark Cottman, who has had 13 previous arrests for charges including sexual assault, theft, burglary, and robbery.
Following the incident, the library closed for the rest of the day and cancelled its afterschool programs.
By Zack Shapiro and Michelle Kraus
Group Six: Olney/East Oak Lane
Eventually, one of the members of the publishing company started collecting donations of books to be sent to prisons after more prisoners started sending letters.
Today, a group of volunteers work six times a month to handle thousands of book requests they get from inmates each month. The group, called Books Thru Bars, takes donations of books literally “by the car-full,” said Tim Dunn, a volunteer since 1992.
Dunn said New Society Publishers folded in the early 1990s but Books Thru Bars continued to serve prisoners and moved their location to the A Space at 47th Street and Baltimore Avenue in 1992. Dunn has been there ever since.
Prisoners request books by theme or genre, not by title, giving license to the volunteers to choose from their library of donated books for a fit for the prisoners. The organization gets requests for non-fiction books, novels and even dictionaries.
Before sending out books, volunteers flip through them to ensure nothing else is in them, as many prisons do not allow paper clips or compact discs, such as those available in textbooks.
At their most recent gathering, nearly 20 volunteers worked on four tables wrapping books in paper grocery bags, while others read letters from prisoners and scavenged bookshelves.
By Sean Rossman and Drew O'Meara
Team 7: Cedar Park
The 0.25milliliter syringe lies waiting on the sterile counter in the examination room for its vaccine to enter its new host. The nurse preps the patient using alcohol, rubbing it over the skin for sterilization. As the nurse flicks the needle, the young woman tenses up, anticipating the sharp prick as the potential life saving serum enters her veins.
Many people will have a similar experience to this young woman when they receive a flu shot this season. The problem is many people are choosing not to get the H1N1 Flu vaccine.
“Patients are already coming in with flu like symptoms at Nazareth Hospital located in Northeast Philadelphia,” says Christine Kerrigan, who works as a physician’s assistant in the emergency room. “People don’t have to be getting sick had they already gotten the flu vaccine.”
According to Kerrigan, one in two people do not get the shot, based on her experience working as a pediatrician at We Care Pediatrics.
“People are afraid of getting the shot because it is new and they believe not tested enough,” says Marcia Klein, a pediatrician at We Care Pediatrics. “What they don’t understand is that every year the shot is new because it is made for the new strain that emerges. That is why H1N1 is included this year.”
Influenza can occur at any time so it is important to get the vaccine as soon as possible. The vaccine came out early this year and all measures are being taken to ensure everyone receives the opportunity to get it. For example, flu clinics are emerging on weekends and at night for people that cannot get to his or her doctor’s normal hours.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 26,000 people die from flu related symptoms each year in the United States.
“H1N1 is a serious illness that can be prevented,” says Klein. “The bottom line is people are not dying from the shot.”
By Nicole Dalrymple and Shaun Gallagher
Team 3: Northeast Philadelphia
Sunday marked the 48th annual Puerto Rican Day Parade in Philadelphia and hundreds of Puerto Rican citizens gathered to celebrate. The publicized parade, including a visitor from our mayor, took place along J.F.K. Boulevard, 16th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The parade began at noon and ended around 5:00 p.m. What most people don’t know is that during this parade a second Puerto Rican parade was taking place in the city.
After visiting this second parade, it was easy to see which was livelier. According to parade participant Jennifer Rodriguez, the parade started around 9 a.m. and had plans to end around midnight. It started around Kensington Avenue and rode into North Philly along Front Street, 2nd Street, and 5th Streets.
Puerto Rican citizens watched on as others hung out of cars blasting traditional music with flags displayed in every place possible. Included in the second parade were bicycles attached with audio speakers and young men weaving in and out of traffic on horses. Vendors lined the streets of Kensington and North Philly selling everything from Puerto Rican flags to empanadas. Most people were dressed head to toe in red and white and all were radiating positive energy and pride. Rodriguez describes the day as a time to “focus on liberty, not forget the past, but live in the now…it’s just a day that it feels good to be Puerto Rican.”
By Kait Privitera and Eric Pellini
Group 15: Kensington
Since the 1960s, when the original group of parents, teachers and educators first started running fundraisers to continue with the evolution of educational facilities for the betterment of neighborhood kids, volunteers have been working hard to keep the Fox Chase branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia up to date.
And that support continued last Saturday, Sept. 25, with the hosting of a craft and demo show that was thrown outside the library doors from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., to help raise money for future advances in educational technology.
Local vendors, selling everything from Phillies lawn ornaments to handmade beaded jewelry, setup shop in the libraries small entrance plaza.
Dolores Charlton sat with her son, Mike Sciarra, at his white tent selling handcrafted Philadelphia sports signs as well as holiday ornaments.
“My son makes everything,” Charlton said. “Last year he did craft shows at [Father] Judge [High School], [Holy] Ghost [Preparatory School] and made out pretty good. He can’t really make anything up, but he can copy anything. He can do the Phillies sign, and Turkey’s off the TV, and all kinds of pictures and cartoons. That’s his artistic talent.”
Money from tent-rental fees, auction raffles and 50-50 chances were donated to the library, along with the money from soft pretzel, hotdog, bottled water and neighborhood- history book sales.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
On 156 West School House Lane in Germantown sits a nondescript house that bares the name Teen Challenge on it’s front. Initially one might think that it’s a summer camp for local teens, but in reality Teen Challenge is a faith based rehabilitation program that has existed since the 1950s.
The School House Lane house itself is a male only facility, with the women’s facility at 329 E Wister St.
“The program itself has a 75 percent success rate. We focus on the spiritual side of drug and alcohol abuse, we really think that these addictions have a spiritual base. It’s not about drugs and alcohol, it’s about improving life,” said Tomika Vines, who oversees development and public relations for Teen Challenge Philadelphia. Vines herself is a graduate of the program who stayed with Teen Challenge as a staff member in their extended training program.
The 14 month men’s program begins with the induction phase, which focuses on removing people from their addictive surroundings. Once there they focus on prayer while Teen Challenge has the inductees work in a work therapy program within the Germantown area. After that, they go to the Rehrersburg facility in Central Pennsylvania for the second part of the program. That location has less supervision than the Germantown facility and is a step closer to
“Even when this trial is over there’s always something else” Vines says of the program. Although she later added “I could never take another job. Even though I’m making minimum wage I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Today the real Andy Nolan is here with friends Carlos and Michael-Ann; tending to the mosaic wall that provides a safe-haven to an eclectic mix of tomatoes, grapes, peppers, herbs and raspberries springing through the soil.
This inner city Eden is Nolan’s brainchild.
However, the garden needed extra assistance to flourish into what it is today.
By becoming a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) area Nolan and others were able to provide a number of plots to members of the community. With these plots individuals were given the opportunity to grow their own plants/vegetables within the garden and sell them for profit.
“[The garden] didn’t really take off until the two friends of mine decided to do this CSA. Until then it was just me and the people from the neighborhood. After that it made the other lots possible,” says Nolan.
Members of the community tend to the garden as often as possible, usually on Saturdays. Many volunteers make time to help maintain the thriving plots of land.
“A lot of us have full-time jobs so we just get out here as often as possible,” says Nolan.
Nolan also says that the children of the community have played a major role in the continued progress of the gardens.
“Kids love to come and help. We have kids we’ve actually hired to work here.”
For Nolan, the collection of greenery is more then he could have ever imagined.
“It’s my dream garden,” he says. “I love it.”
By Brittany Miller and Kenneth Marone
Team 14: Hunting Park
Chantay Love, E.M.I.R. program director, said the rally was the first one acknowledged in the city.
“The community is affected by this devastation, and the purpose of the event is to have the voices of relatives and friends of [homicide] victims heard,” she said. “They need to know we care about them.”
Participants released a balloon representing each loved one who had been murdered.
As the balloons rose into the air, several community members took turns singing. Jermaine Long, 23, said his cousin Samantha Brown was killed in 2007 when a gunman shot her 45 times.
“It wasn’t just her death, but the message God was trying to send me – next year it might be you,” Long said before he began to rap.
“Losing a loved one is a wake-up call,” Long added. “It’s time for us to open our minds and move forward.”
Program Director Love made sure everyone in attendance signed the petition E.M.I.R. had at its table. The grassroots organization plans on sending the petition to Gov. Ed Rendell and the White House.
“We’re sending it to let officials know that today, these people made their voices heard,” she said.
E.M.I.R. organizers expected 200 signatures on the petition by the end of the day.
By Josh Fernandez and Kristen Mosbrucker
Historic Penn Treaty Park is located on Delaware Avenue and is a beautiful site that overlooks the western banks of the Delaware River. A member of the Fairmont Park Commission, the park hosts a plethora of walkers, school groups, families and other groups every day.
However with the opening of the SugarHouse Casino directly next to the park community, members are concerned about what may happen to the beautiful park. SugarHouse and Penn Treaty Park are separated now by a tree line and many SugarHouse workers can be seen on a regular basis in the park, enjoying their breaks in the sun. Concerns have been raised about whether or not the clientele at the park will change now that the casino had opened.
What we do know is that the SugarHouse has spent 4.6 million dollars on a new bike path to and from the casino and on restoring and re-landscaping the area around the park. The path will be completed by springtime and the casino hopes that visitors will use this to enjoy the scenery behind the casino. The casino hopes that the money donated to the park will help bring more community members in to enjoy what Penn Treaty has to offer, and will bring more cyclists and runners as well.
Tyler Laurie & Lauren Macaluso
At least one business owner in the Piazza is excited about this development. “The idea of a hotel is awesome,” said Dylan Epstein, owner of Dylan’s Gallery. “Pathmark should be good for our business.” Epstein added, with a chuckle, that the supermarket meant he would actually be able to go grocery shopping.
With local pro-development sentiment in mind, the zoning issues surrounding the supermarket and proposed hotel will be profound. One of the big issues will be how much parking to offer at both facilities. On the one hand, Northern Liberties has become choked with cars as a result of the Piazza and the Shops at Liberties Walk, and it is hard to imagine the area’s narrow streets handling very much more traffic. On the other hand, the area is relatively poorly served by SEPTA, with no Regional Rail service and two Market-Frankford stops at the edges of Northern Liberties.
Construction workers at the site of the incoming Pathmark supermarket.
By Andy Sharpe and Taara Savage-El
Team 19: Plan Philly
A small group of boys stand on the sidelines of a worn-out football field. They’re no taller than five feet, top heavy and covered head to toe in bulky pads. The lines on the ground are faint, and the goal posts are rusty and crooked. The boys are huddled around two large tractor tires. One boy crouches behind each tire, hands clenching the black rubber, legs slowly extending until the tire stands upright—about as tall as the boys. These are the Nicetown Titans.
The Titans meet in Stenton Park for practice. “All our home games are in Stenton,” says Coach Nick Carter, “most of the boys are from this area.” The park, which sits between Wyoming Avenue and Courtland Street on North 16th was also home to James Logan, which Logan is named after. James Logan’s house, built in the 18th century, remains as a historical landmark and visitor center, guarded by high barbed-wire fences. The remainder of the park is less than polished.
Chain-link fences lay on the ground collecting trash; graffiti mars picnic tables, benches and asphalt. The disrepair does not turn away sports teams. “They play baseball here, football, and the soccer team went undefeated,” explains Carter, “they won city Championships.”
The Titans are a part of the Pop-Warner Football League, which is a nationwide organization that emphasizes academic excellence through team sports. There are six teams in the Titans' eight through eleven year-old player division.
“Our team is family oriented,” explains Carter. Many of the parents help out with the team. They attend the practices and prepare the players for their games. The turnout for this Tuesdays practice is slim: “we’re missing a few players because of this weather,” confesses Carter, unconcerned. The boys, still lifting the enormous tire, are broken up by Carter: it’s time for laps. Without one complaint, the boys take off, there’s a game to win on Saturday.
By Alex Onkow and Stacey Naughton
Monday, September 27, 2010
Lea Coyle and Aigner Cleveland
She’s been in apart of West Philadelphia’s Cedar Park for 15 years and is still on a mission. Monica Allison, the President of the Cedar Park Neighborhood Association, grew up at 60th and Baltimore. And just three years ago this Saturday Cedar Park, just a few blocks from home, was renovated and is now the center of the community’s development and Cedar Park Fest. The Cedar Park Neighborhood Association is about creating a connected a society. One of the association’s projects is to bring equilibrium between East 50th and West 50th and build an old fashioned community. Whether the “other side of Cedar Park” residents approve of the merger including “yoga shops” and town gatherings, changes will happen.
But there are some troubles everyone can’t run home from, the real estate tax hike. The real estate tax hike was raised 9.9% this spring and originally was planned to bring Philadelphia’s deficit to an end. Allison believes the increase, although said to be temporary, will hurt Cedar Park Senior citizens because some barely survive now.
Despite the tax hike, President Monica Allison’s faith in Cedar Park and West Philadelphia is still strong, growing and “a great neighborhood” with “great diversity and food.”