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Lee Stabert: A new challenge in an old hometown

Sometimes the things that feel most familiar are those we understand the least. I grew up in Philadelphia—in Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill to be exact—and always felt deeply connected to the city. I attended school here; I went for runs in Fairmount Park; I could argue with vigor that Dalessandro's made the best cheesesteak in town (they still do); I knew that getting stuck behind a bus on Germantown Avenue could ruin a perfectly good morning; I was bat mitzvahed on Lincoln Drive and watched the light show at Wanamakers every year with my grandfather. Even after I moved away, I carried my hometown like a talisman, becoming my group of college friends' resident deranged Eagles fan and dazzling people in Nashville (my early-20s stomping ground) with soliloquies on the perfect soft pretzel.

But the Philadelphia I thought I knew was a fixed mark—it had little in common with the dynamic, perpetually-shifting urban landscape that exists today. I moved back in 2008, and realized I had a lot to learn. (When the Phillies actually won the World Series my first fall back in town, I should have known things were different.) I spent hours walking the streets, ate too much water ice and, through my job as managing editor at Grid magazine, dove headlong into the city's vibrant sustainability scene. Yes, Philadelphia was still hoagies, Mummers and quirky neighborhoods, but it was also urban farms, tech startups, green building, world-class beer, bike lanes and some of the best Mexican food on the east coast. I was smitten all over again.

As a writer for Grid, City Paper and Flying Kite, I have aquired an intimate knowledge of this new Philadelphia. I've interviewed entrepreneurs, farmers, educators, artists, musicians, community organizers, chefs, city officials and fashion designers. The amazing thing is that I feel I've barely scratched the surface.

As managing editor of Flying Kite, my plan is to scratch, and dig, and unearth. I want to expose more of this ever-evolving city to readers, while taking time to honor our traditions and institutions. And at moments when something new joins with something old, creating something awesome, you can be sure that Flying Kite will be there.

As something new (a web-only magazine) doing something very old (local journalism), Flying Kite is one of those stories. The team—publisher Michelle Freeman and outgoing editor Joe Petrucci—have already built this publication into something valuable. With their innovative On the Ground program, they've taken a rootless internet publication and given it a physical representation in the city. Flying Kite might not be printed on paper, but it exists IRL. I can't wait to help Michelle grow the program, bringing you more exciting events and opportunities for community-building.

So, as I take the helm, know that my (e-)door is always open, just like our door at On the Ground. Tell me about the city you know—the people, the events, the only-in-Philly gems—and we'll try to explore it at Flying Kite. 
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