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Make it to the Greater Philadelphia Manufacturing Summit

There are over 5,000 small, medium and large manufacturers in greater Philadelphia, one-third of all manufacturers in Pennsylvania. They design and produce everything from chocolate to rocket launchers to medical devices to state-of-the-art helicopters, powered by high-precision machining, electronics and electrical-equipment-contract manufacturing. 

On Friday, October 3, the Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center (DVIRC) is hosting the Greater Philadelphia Manufacturing Summit to demonstrate the vigor of this essential sector.

According to DVIRC, "manufacturing is a healthy and diverse economic powerhouse that supports over 150,000 jobs, and contributes millions to the regional economy."  

"DVIRC’s entire focus in on helping manufacturers to grow profitably as they are a critical component of our regional economy in terms of jobs, technology and innovation," adds DVIRC president Barry Miller. "The goal of the summit is to share manufacturing best practices, particularly around workforce but inclusive of advanced manufacturing practices as well."

Miller expects about 250 manufacturers and those who support the manufacturing sector to attend, especially economic development professionals and representatives of the region's workforce investment boards.

The program will feature keynote speaker Adam Steltzner, lead landing engineer of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover Project; his topic: "Breakthrough Innovation: Making the Impossible, Possible." Other programming will focus on strategies for growth, strategies for continuous improvement, innovation in workforce development and energy. 
 
The all-day summit will be held at Simeone Automotive Museum (6825-31 Norwitch Drive) in Philadelphia. 

Source: Barry Miller, DVIRC
Writer: Elise Vider

MilkCrate, a Yelp for local sustainable living, launches on Indiegogo

Morgan Berman was living in West Philadelphia when she experienced what she calls her "first burst of sustainability consciousness," and began attempting to live a life that was aligned with her newfound values.

She joined a neighborhood food co-op, took a job as Grid magazine's director for community engagement, and slowly became more involved in the local sustainability scene.
 
"But there wasn't a central hub where I could go and understand what sustainability means," recalls Berman. "It didn't feel like anyone had quite created the tool that people need to answer their quick questions about [sustainable living]."
 
Berman's new app for Android and iOS, MilkCrate, aims to fill that void -- initially here in Philadelphia, and if the app takes off, nationally.
 
Described by its nine-person team as a digital hub for sustainability, MilkCrate currently exists as a database-style listings service -- not unlike Yelp -- with a collection of more than 1,600 Philly-area businesses that operate sustainably and promote economically responsible practices.

"Everything from fashion to food to furniture [to] energy," explains Berman in a video created for the app's current crowdfunding campaign. "Anything you could possibly want that fits into your local, sustainable lifestyle."   
  
At the moment, MilkCrate-approved businesses are organized in both listings and map layouts. But with the infusion of the $20,000 Berman hopes to raise through an Indiegogo campaign (launched on August 25), users will be able to write reviews, add news businesses, and search by keyword and neighborhood.      
 
Perks for campaign funders include MilkCrate T-shirts and tickets to the app's upcoming launch party. Click here to donate. 

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Morgan Berman, MilkCrate

A pop-up park blooms at the Destination Frankford pop-up gallery project

The art-centric Destination Frankford initiative has been active since early spring with a mission of reclaiming, rediscovering and reanimating the formerly industrial Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood of Frankford, primarily through a process known as creative placemaking.
 
Thanks to a grant from ArtPlace America -- a national association that supports placemaking projects -- Destination Frankford was able to transform a vacant and dilapidated neighborhood storefront into the Destination Frankford Gallery.      
 
Two of the three exhibitions scheduled to take place in the pop-up gallery have already happened. The first, Reclaim, featured art constructed from items reclaimed by the Dumpster Divers of Philadelphia. The second, Rediscover, was a photography show featuring work exploring the city's often overlooked urban terrain.  
 
According to Ian Litwin of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, the Frankford CDC "wanted to keep the energy we built around the gallery going," so the opening reception of the gallery's third and final show might prove to be the project's most important event yet.
 
That reception will kick off at noon on June 28 and feature the unveiling ceremony for a pop-up park in the vacant city-owned lot adjacent to the gallery. The temporary space will host film screenings, art shows and live music events.  
 
The show itself, appropriately dubbed Reanimate, will run every Saturday through July 26, and feature work from the Philadelphia Sculptors organization.
 
Unfortunately, Destination Frankford's previously announced plan to install a trio of sculptures by artist Christine Rojek in Womrath Park won't be happening, but Litwin promises "we are exploring ways to keep the gallery or some sort of community in the building going."
 
Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Ian Litwin, Philadelphia City Planning Commission

Recycled Artists in Residency, a program for innovators in creative reuse, officially launches

After spending two years as a pilot creative reuse project, Recycled Artist In Residency (RAIR) is officially launching. The program provides local artists with 1,000 square feet of studio space, private offices, welding and woodworking equipment, and a daily supply of tens of thousands of tons of post-consumer construction materials. The organization is currently accepting applications from individuals and collaborative groups.
 
RAIR was founded by Fern Gookin while she was a grad student in Philadelphia University's Masters of Sustainable Design program. She hoped to bring attention to sustainability issues through art and design. Gookin partnered with Billy Dufall, a local artist whose reuse projects include racing "toilet tricycles" and furniture made from building insulation. 
 
The program is hosted by Revolution Recovery, a construction waste recycling plant located in the Northeast; they donate the space and raw supplies. The time spent in the pilot stage gave RAIR the chance to fine tune the partnership and develop safety protocols.
 
"It's nontraditional to have artists working in a very busy operational facility," says Gookin. "We have to be aware that we're guests in the house."
 
RAIR has two tracks: the Standard Track is a one-to-four month residency, while the Biggie-Shorty asks the artist to build a "big project" in one to two weeks and then return the materials to the recycling stream. Artists document their process online.  
 
"It gives the artists the ability to experiment and work with materials at a different scale than they might be used to," explains Gookin. "It's less about making a piece of work that can be crated and shipped -- it's letting the creativity be the focus."
 
In its first year, RAIR will accept anywhere from three to eight local artists. They encourage artists and designers who are interested in reuse to apply regardless of discipline.
 
Source: Fern Gookin, Recycled Artist In Residency
Writer: Dana Henry

A 41-hour digital fast to raise digital divide awareness

Could you step away from the keyboard? This weekend, Philly Tech Week (PTW) curator Tayyib Smith, in conjunction with KEYSPOTS, asked the tech community and everyone else in the city to participate in a 41 hour digital fast beginning Saturday April 21 at 3 p.m. No computer. No email. No social media. No mobile apps (those participating in Philly Startup Weekend get a fast pass). The fast ended when PTW began, with breakfast on Monday (April 23) at 8 a.m.

Brandon Shockley, a content associate at Mighty Engine, did his best to participate in the fast, but couldn't make it even a quarter of the way. "I can't say I was successful, despite my best efforts. I cracked," reports Shockley. "The internet is habit forming. I made it about 7 hours, and then had to go back to the safety of my inbox."
 
Nearly half of Philadelphia lacks basic computer skills and internet access, according to Smith, who did make it through an internet free weekend in which he says he stopped himself 15 or 20 times from reaching for his phone and computer.

In the lead-up to Philly Tech Week, Smith, founder of 215mag and Little Giant Creative, called attention "to the 41% of Philadelphians who still don’t have basic computer skills and Internet access, which essentially means a  lack of basic opportunity." Smith curates this year’s Access and Policy track for Philly Tech Week.
 
"One of the biggest dangers to the people in our city who can’t communicate digitally is the risk of being underrepresented in media, government, and culture," says Smith, who notes that a new discourse is being developed, the language of programming, and it seems to him as if a monolithic group of people are explaining that language, disproportionately affecting minorities. "That’s why the first step is closing our city’s digital divide is raising awareness of this issue."
 
Smith hopes the fast will help publicize KEYSPOTS, an initiative of the Freedom Rings Partnership, that offers over 80 public computing sites where residents can get free internet access and training. "Do nothing and support our efforts," reads a banner on the website. Well, not totally nothing. In the next few days, Smith encourages connected people to spread the word about the fast via Facebook, Twitter and email. And then shut it all down. 

Source: Tayyib Smith, Digital FAST, Brandon Shockley, Mighty Engine
Writer: Sue Spolan

Local tech VP appointed to FCC's advisory committee on diversity

Brigitte Daniel is on her way up, literally. By the time you read this, Daniel will be on a seven-week fact-finding mission through Southeast Asia funded by an Eisenhower Fellowship. But wait,  that's not all. Daniel was just appointed to the Federal Communications Commission’s Federal Advisory Committee on Diversity in the Digital Age. We'll get back to that tour of India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore in a minute.

How about that FCC appointment? Daniel, an attorney and Executive Vice President of Wilco Electronic Systems, is one of the youngest appointees to the committee and the only representative from Philadelphia. The committee will meet in Washington, DC to ensure that minorities and low income communities get broadband access. "It's being reframed as a civil rights issue of the 21st century," says Daniel, who adds that increasingly, institutional interactions require internet access. If you want to apply for a job, apply to college, and get social services, you need the web.

Wilco is a family business founded by Will Daniel, Brigitte's father. One of Wilco’s primary missions is to provide low cost, high speed advanced telecommunication services to minorities and underserved communities in the Greater Philadelphia area.  “One of the reasons I was appointed to the diversity committee for the FCC was because Wilco served as a catalyst to bring together the various partners and community groups that formed the Philadelphia Freedom Rings Partnership. Freedom Rings is a citywide consortium of educational institutions, municipalities, The City of Philadelphia, and Wilco, which had the goal of providing high speed access to underserved and economically stressed areas."

While Freedom Rings provides free access to participants, Daniel stresses that ultimately, the goal is affordable service. "When you start talking about free, it's hard to be sustainable. Someone will always have to pay for it." Daniel adds that if the service is free it will perceived to have less value. "Our whole point is to make it affordable." To prove that point, Wilco customers can get digital cable, high speed internet and a laptop for under $50 a month. "It's our version of the triple play," says Daniel.

Back to that whirlwind trip to the other side of the globe: Daniel is a 2011 Eisenhower Fellow. The India and Sri Lanka segments of her seven week trip are funded by the fellowship; she added the other destinations in order to gather even more knowledge of emerging technologies and policies for connecting impoverished populations.

Daniel returns in December and begins a two-year term at the FCC while remaining at Wilco. "Whatever we recommend, I hope it's taken to heart. At Wilco, we are on the ground, in the trenches. If the FCC takes our policy recommendations seriously, that's exciting."

Source: Brigitte Daniel, Wilco Electronic Systems
Writer: Sue Spolan

State of Young Philly has never looked better

If you want to know how young Philly's doing, let me sum it up for you: smart and good looking. From the highest reaches of government right down to our youngest up and comers, there's never been a more attractive bunch of people in charge.

The second annual State of Young Philly, convened by the all-volunteer Young Involved Philadelphia for a two-week run, was a series of six events designed to engage, connect and represent citizens. Targeting community engagement, education, sustainability and the creative economy, State of Young Philly drew close to 1,000 young professionals and representatives from over 50 organizations in the city, according to organizers. From the first packed event at World Cafe Live on Oct. 4 to the standing-room only crowd at the finale at The Gershman Y, the crowd was diverse in age and background and alike in its forward-thinking approach.

Claire Robertson-Kraft, Young Involved Philadelphia Board Chair, says, "When I first moved to Philadelphia just over a decade ago, I was initially struck by the negativity of the city. But the spirit in the discussions over the course of the past few weeks has been very different than that initial perception I got when I first moved here. Rather than focusing solely on what was in need of improvement, each of the discussions was as much about how to build on already existing innovation and assets the city has to offer."

Alain Joinville, Public Affairs Coordinator for the city's Department of Parks and Recreation and a Young Involved Philly board member, adds, "It was easier to get partnering organizations involved. The State of Young Philly series is the biggest and most audacious project our organization has undertaken in its 11-year history, and we did it pretty well last year, so we are seen as a credible organization in the eyes of the City's leaders and leading organizations."

Robertson-Kraft points to several initiatives that launched in the lead-up to this year's State of Young Philly: a local version of the online web portal Change By Us,a partnership with United Way to improve Philadelphia public education, entry into the Open Data Philly challenge, and social media hashtags #WhyILovePhilly and #PhillyArts.

But ultimately, the draw of State of Young Philly is the promise of doing good combined with a commitment to fun. Reports Robertson-Kraft, "Let’s just say that the after-party went into the late hours of the night. At all of our events, we strive to achieve that perfect balance of meaningful conversation and a good time."

It's a whole new take on a thousand points of light.

Source: Claire Robertson-Kraft, Young Involved Philly
Writer: Sue Spolan

Open Data Race lets you vote for data sets that are most fit for public consumption

Data collection and dissemination: how much fun is that? If you are participating in Philadelphia's Open Data Race, you might actually squeeze a good time out of otherwise flat statistics. Voting in the Open Data Race is open to the public until Oct. 27, and currently, you can make your opinion known on which of 24 data sets you would like to see made public.

"We hope to generate excitement around open data," says Deborah Boyer, project manager at Philadelphia-based Azavea. Nominations contributed by non-profit organizations were reviewed by OpenDataPhilly partners, namely Azavea, NPower Pennsylvania, The William Penn Foundation, and Technically Philly.

It's probably too early to judge, but right now the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia's request for stats on reported bike thefts is atop the rankings with 55 votes, followed by Demographic Info for Individuals Accessing Shelter Services submitted by Back on My Feet with 50 votes. Other organizations represented in the voting ranks include the Committee of 70, The Urban Tree Connection and The Sustainable Business Network.

Boyer says, "Public participation has been a key feature of OpenDataPhilly and is also crucial to the Open Data Race. We encourage people to submit data sets for inclusion in OpenDataPhilly or nominate data they would like to see made available."

Boyer points to difficulties municipalities might have in identifying which data is most needed. "Through Open Data Race, non-profit organizations have the opportunity to let the city and OpenDataPhilly partners know what information they need to fulfill their missions."

Winners, to be announced on Friday, Oct. 28, will receive cash prizes. First place gets $2,000, second place gets $1,000, and third receives $500. At that point, the fun really begins, when OpenDataPhilly works with the city to unlock the requested sets and then hosts hack-a-thons to create applications that use the data.

Source: Deborah Boyer, Azavea/OpenDataPhilly
Writer: Sue Spolan

Student business plans out of North Philly, Bustleton take NFTE honors

It's never too soon to start your own business. Two Philadelphia high school students have won a business plan competition hosted by the Philadelphia chapter of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). Bianca Nieves, a senior at Esperanza Academy in North Philadelphia, won for a business based on her grandmother's Hispanic spice recipe, called Grandma's Secret.

Viktor Vabishevich, a junior at George Washington High School was the runner-up for Vito Lawns, a landscaping business that's already quite successful. Based in the Somerton section of Northeast Philadelphia, Viktor reports he takes care of around 40 neighbors' lawns after school and has made enough money to purchase two cars, while saving up for college.

Philadelphia NFTE serves over 1,500 students in 20 area schools. "These kids are coming from environments where they don't have the luxury of spending time with video games," says Sylvia Watts McKinney, Executive Director of NFTE Philadelphia. "These are kids with innately good business acumen, and they're put before a group of people who encourage them to take advantage of that talent."

NFTE's mentoring program runs throughout the entire school year, bringing dozens of area business leaders to high school students. McKinney reports that over 60 volunteers and judges participate. "Not only do we go to schools and teach them, but there are also opportunities throughout the year to meet entrepreneurs at Drexel and Community College of Philadelphia, helping students to build a resume, and teaching them how to get a job. We have coaches at Wharton and Temple." By bringing students to college campuses, says McKinney, the NFTE program demystifies the academic experience for kids who may be the first in their families to go to college.

McKinney reports that this year's business plan presentations were quite sophisticated, and in many cases could go head to head in competitions with adults. Vabishevich, who received a check for $1,000, and Nieves, who was awarded $1,500, will now advance to the national competition, held this fall in New York City.

Source: Sylvia Watts McKinney, NFTE; Viktor Vabishevich, Vito Lawns
Writer: Sue Spolan

Move over ice cream man, Healthy Carts are coming to Philly neighborhoods

Some Philadelphia neighborhoods have no choice about the food residents can buy. Corner stores stocked with sugary and salty processed snacks, Chinese take-out and pizza shops are the only options in many low-income areas of the city. The city's brand new Healthy Carts Initiative offers a solution to food deserts as well as providing employment to vendors.

"The program came out of the Get Healthy Philly Initiative," says Healthy Cart Coordinator Rachel Hynes, who is now accepting applications from individuals and organizations. "We approved the first five applications last week." Ultimately, the goal is to set up 20 vendors in this first pilot year.

Healthy Cart operators receive free small business training, waived fees, a streamlined inspection process and free EBT machines, which allow processing of debit, credit and food stamps/SNAP cards. "We are covering the minimum monthly EBT fees through March," says Hynes.

Vendors will be allowed to sell cut fruit and vegetables, as long as the chopping occurs in an approved kitchen. The initiative is administered by the Office of Food Protection, a division of the Department of Public Health, and the same group that oversees the city's growing fleet of food trucks.

To figure out which areas get carts, says Hynes, the Healthy Carts program employs a GIS (Geographic Information Specialist) who has mapped out the areas which are most in need. It's a matter of finding a balance of where there's a need and where cart owners will be successful, according to Hynes, who used the Green Cart program in New York as a springboard but added more features to the Philly program.

Cart owners can make a living wage, says Hynes, if they are out seven days a week and establish a routine. Vendors need to come up with their own business models and are responsible for sourcing, purchasing, storing and displaying their goods, with training from the city. Healthy Carts plans to partner with local community organizations and recreation centers to promote the new program.

Source: Rachel Hynes, Healthy Carts
Writer: Sue Spolan


FLYING BYTES: SEPTA's TransitView, MAC founder raises $75M, and Phila. Printworks strikes chord

Flying Bytes is a recurring roundup of innovation and quick updates on the people and companies we're covering:

SEPTA launches TransitView

Back in January, we reported that SEPTA was weeks away from launching a real-time, system wide tracking program. The future is finally here. Like SEPTA's TrainView for regional rail, the new TransitView provides live updates on the whereabouts of buses and trolleys throughout the city. Also launched: SMS Transit Schedule Information, allowing customers to receive a text with the next four scheduled trips, and Schedules to Go, a mobile website function that provides information on the next ten scheduled trips.

Shah closes $72 million IPO with Universal Business Payment Solutions

Following a hot tip, we learned that Bipin Shah, creator of the MAC, was seeking $72 million for payments startup Universal Business Payment Solutions. On May 13, UPBS (NASDAQ: UBPSU) got its money. According to Shah's partner Peter Davidson, "we closed on 12 million shares at $6.00 per share. The underwriters have a 45 day option to cover any over-allotments, which they have not exercised to date." Investors include hedge fund magnate J. Kyle Bass, who purchased about 800,000 shares.

Philadelphia Printworks up, running, finding its market

The lovely ladies at the helm of Philadelphia Printworks are going full speed with their new T-shirt business. Co-founder April Pugh reports that most of PPW's customer base has come from custom work, particularly from local indie rock artists. PPW loves its rockers right back and offers a band discount. Pugh says she and partner Ruth Paloma Rivera-Perez are now seeking partnerships with retail outlets and will be selling at upcoming summer festivals.

Specticast expands with EuroArts partnership
Digital entertainment distribution company Specticast continues to widen its reach. The company, which we originally profiled back in April, announced an exclusive partnership with EuroArts, bringing live and pre-recorded events from Berlin's Philharmonie, The Sheldonian Theater at Oxford University, and Madrid's Teatro Real, according to Mark Rupp, SpectiCast president.

Source: Andrew Busch, SEPTA; Peter Davidson, UBPS; April Pugh, PPW; Mark Rupp, Specticast
Writer: Sue Spolan

Green data center at former Bucks County steel mill could create up to 1,100 jobs

On the banks of the Delaware River, a green data center is set to rise from the remains of an old steel mill. David Crocker, CEO of Steel Orca LLC, says that while demand for data centers is growing at about 18 percent per year, supply is growing at only 5 percent every year. With many older data centers becoming obsolete in the face of new technology and increased power requirements, Steel Orca's goal is to build the greenest data center in the world, powered entirely by renewable energy sources. "Three to five percent of all energy generated in the United States goes into data centers. You can appreciate that data centers have a responsibility to be as efficient as possible," says Crocker.

As power density increases, so do cooling requirements. Steel Orca's planned center near Fairless Hills in Bucks County will require 100 megawatts of power, with an ultimate goal of 300,000 square feet of 'white space,' the term coined to describe the area where the servers are located, with a total footprint of 730,000 square feet.

The data center is in now the planning stage. HP has signed on to lead the design and construction team, with help from GE, Gilbane Construction and Villanova University Professor Alphonso Ortega. Ideas in the works include a triple failsafe power system, river water as a cooling mechanism, solar panels and and wind turbine generation.

Crocker terms the future center "a source of technological renaissance in the Delaware Valley," eventually creating 1,100 jobs in Bucks County. Steel Orca has completed a first round of funding with more than 50 investors, and Crocker projects that the first phase of the center, with at least 50,000 square feet of white space, will go online in the second quarter of 2012.

Source: David Crocker, Steel Orca
Writer: Sue Spolan

Harvest From the Hood: Greensgrow and Philadelphia Brewing Company team up to produce hometown ale

Philadelphia Brewing Company's newest "Select Series" brew Harvest From The Hood is known as a wet-hop ale. When hop flowers are harvested, they are traditionally dried so that they can be shipped to breweries across the country. But with wet-hop ale, you get the hops into the boiler within 24 hours of the harvest to get the maximum flavor. PBC is located in Kensington, where there isn't a hops plant for 3,000 miles, but these beer barons weren't going to let a little thing like that stop them.

Through a partnership with the urban agriculturalists Greensgrow Farms, PBC brewers grew the hops on urban farm space both in their own courtyard and on Greensgrow's farmland, creating the world's freshest wet-hop ale and bringing a new brewing style to the table this harvest season.

"When you think about how things were marketed years ago, everybody bought something from their neighborhood," says PBC sales rep Tony Madjor. "Even with beer, especially in the Northeast, all the breweries were very regional and, in some cases, just in their own neighborhood."

Harvest From The Hood is the first beer in the PBC Select Series, a group of high-concept brews PBC hopes to offer seasonally while it works on its next great "session" beer.  On November 15, the company celebrates the release of Winter Wunder, a spiced ale containing plums, dates, cinnamon, allspice, clove, and a sprinkle of ginger. Mid-December will bring Shackamaximum, a chocolate imperial stout. And Kilty Pleasure, a Scottish ale, comes in January. These seasonal offerings will toy with local tastebuds, offering an endearing seasonal treat as well as sparking the creativity for PBC brewers.

"We are only approaching our third full year of brewing so we are looking at where the market is going but also looking at styles that we want to make," says Madjor. "We would like to keep this around though and have it come out every October.

Source: Tony Madjor, Philadelphia Brewing Company
Writer: John Steele

Ignite Philly 6 gives Philadelphia's big ideas five good minutes

When geek-themed slideshow franchise Ignite came to Philly in 2008, the event could have taken many forms. As only the second city to host an Ignite event, founder Geoff DiMasi (of P'unk Avenue fame) was unsure how to play it at first. So he went to the originators for guidance. Started in Seattle by O'Reilly Media Technology Evangelist Brady Forrest and Bre Pettis of Makerbot.com, Ignite was designed to introduce Seattle to its own tech and entrepreneurial scene, allowing presenters five minutes to talk about, well, pretty much anything.

After meeting Ignite's inner circle at South By Southwest, DiMasi decided he wanted to start Ignite in his hometown and decided that a traditional conference vibe was so not Philly. So he brought it to Fishtown rock club Johnny Brendas, charged five bucks and set the speakers loose. Five sold out events later, Ignite is going strong and No. 6 is set to be the largest event yet.

"Some people run it like a business and have it in an auditorium and people sit very demurely and listen very carefully to everything," says DiMasi. "We have taken the punk rock approach where you pay your five bucks, it's at Johnny Brendas, it's meant to be really fun and spirited so that the speakers feel like rock stars."

The event used to be free but as attendance increased, DiMasi began charging to donate the profits to worthy causes. Philadelphia Food Trust received money as well as all-girl rock summer camp Girls Rock Philly. With the $1,250 they received, Girls Rock Philly was able to offer scholarships to girls who couldn't afford the camp.

"That culture of giving back to the scene in Philadelphia is what inspires me," says DiMasi. "Someone came up, they shared their idea, and we try to find something that will have a real impact on the city. Coming up with that mechanism is something we are really proud of."

Source: Geoff DiMasi, P'unk Avenue
Writer: John Steele

Artists and activists gather for Crane's Community Arts Festival

Who didn't love art class as a kid? Painting, drawing, playing with clay; it was almost like a second recess. A group of artists and education reformers hope to remind the Fishtown community both young and old of the joys of arts education this week as they host Community Arts Fest, a series of hands-on art projects and booths featured at the Crane Arts Building this Sunday. Community Arts Fest  (CAFe) will give the varied artistic leaders of Philadelphia the chance to introduce themselves to one of the city's most creative neighborhoods.

"We're all collectively working together to promote what's available to families because all of these arts groups are fighting over the same little bit of money," says Rachel Zimmerman, Executive Director of visual arts group and CAFe presenter InLiquid. "Hopefully, by expanding awareness, we will get more people involved. There is a ton of stuff happening in Philadelphia geared toward arts education but few people know what's happening."

Along with introducing Fishtown to some fine arts education interests, CAFe will serve as a fundraiser for local youth programs at The Cruz Recreation Center and the new ArtsRising "ArtsZones", which are now being established as hubs of arts and cultural activities for students and their families throughout the Philadelphia area. Collected donations will strengthen existing after-school programs and fund new ones.

"It's not so much an exhibition so much as each group will be leading an activity," says Zimmerman. "The idea is to engage kids but also to engage adults to get them invested in what is happening in the community at large."

Source: Rachel Zimmerman, InLiquid
Writer: John Steele
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