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Bartram's Garden hosts first annual 'orchard to table' dinner

By now, we've all had a taste of farm to table, but how about orchard to table?

The Philadelphia Orchard Project (POP) -- with help from hosting Bartram’s Garden (near our summer On the Ground home in Kingsessing) -- is launching its first annual Orchard to Table Dinner for 50 lucky guests.

"This is the first year we’ve planned something like this and we’re really excited," says POP second-year intern Alyssa Schimmel, who specializes in promoting POP fundraising collaborations with businesses and other organizations.

The dinner will take place at Bartram's Garden in Southwest Philadelphia, 5 - 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 13; the cost is $60 per person. The evening will kick off with a tour of the orchard at Bartram’s led by POP Executive Director Phil Forsyth, followed by a happy hour featuring beverage Yards Brewing Co., Crime & Punishment Brewing Co., and Kuran Cider.

Main courses will be provided by local farm-to-table caterer Seedling and Sage, with dishes including pecan chicken with wilted arugula salad, or a vegetable creation made with produce from Philly Foodworks. Mycopolitan Mushrooms will serve up specially foraged hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, Brine Street Pickelry is bringing the pickles, Metropolitan Bakery has the bread covered, and the coffee is courtesy of ReAnimator Coffee. The meal will be served family-style from platters at joint tables. Artisans, local food and horticulture vendors, and live music will also be on hand throughout the night.

"We’re really focusing on our native fruiting trees," explains Shimmel. "What plants do we use in orchard spaces? And how can we familiarize them to a larger audience?"

That means local apples, pears and figs.

It’s all about "bringing people together for food that’s grown in local farms, and using that to highlight the power food has in our community," she adds.

Proceeds from the dinner will support more community orchards. Each year, POP works on five to 10 newly planted groves across the city with help from volunteers. Dollars from the new fundraiser will help pay for the plants and planting, enable education with the help of on-site POP liaisons, and go towards upkeep.

POP currently manages 54 community orchards comprised of 1028 fruit trees and those numbers are growing every year. After the September 13 dinner, supporters can check out the group’s sixth annual Philadelphia Orchard Week (October 8-16) featuring harvest festivals and other events across the city. Volunteers are also needed for fall planting season, running late September through mid-November.

"This dinner is going to be a great showcase of a lot of wonderful work being done in the community, both by the Orchard Project and all of our partners," says Schimmel. "We feel very fortunate to be in partnership with all those who are working on making local food more accessible."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Alyssa Schimmel, the Philadelphia Orchard Project

Follow all our work #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).

On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

Shofuso and Japan America Society merger strengthens Japanese roots in Philly

Many Philadelphians don’t know it, but our city has a rich legacy of cultural and economic ties with Japan dating back to the mid-1800s.

"There’s this long history of friendship, academic interchange and business interchange," says Kim Andrews, Executive Director of the new Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia (JASGP), which this summer officially merged with the Friends of the Japanese House and Garden (FJHG).

The first Japanese envoys to visit Philadelphia arrived in 1860 and the plantings at the Shofuso Japanese House and Gardens in Fairmount Park near Parkside (our old On the Ground haunt) were installed in 1876. The depth of this history is interesting for an East Coast region with a relatively small Japanese and Japanese-American population (a 2010 survey of the five-county area reported about 3,000 people of Japanese heritage).

"It’s not very large, but it is a very deep and important cultural history," says Andrews.

When she became executive director at FJHG, the idea of joining forces with JASGP had "been bubbling in the atmosphere for a long time" -- the two nonprofits had a lot of overlap in their missions.

FJHG’s two main programmatic goals were interpreting, maintaining and preserving the Japanese house and garden; and creating arts and cultural programming. JASGP’s two-fold mission was building connections between businesses in Philadelphia and Japan, and hosting Japanese arts and cultural events.

The merged organizations' three-fold mission wasn’t hard to develop: to continue the Shofuso stewardship, to "enrich connections between the business and government sectors of Japan and Philadelphia," and "to offer educational public programs about Japanese art, business and culture."

In terms of staffing and budget, JASGP is now the second-largest Japan America society among 37 across the country (second only to New York).

Andrews notes that the original JASGP brought excellent national and international business and political connections to the table, as well as a strong relationship with the Japanese Consulate in New York. It also produced Philly's annual Cherry Blossom Festival, which drew about 14,000 people this year, and which, according to Andrews, is considered one of the U.S.'s most authentic Japanese-style festivals.

For their part, FJHG board members were "subject area experts" on Japanese culture, art and preservation.

"It’s been a really good mix," she says.

In the immediate future, there won’t be much evolution in programming as the two organizations get settled. (The merger was funded by Philly’s Nonprofit Repositioning Fund). The board will take a strategic planning retreat next month, and in 2017 embark on a new formal strategic plan with funding from the William Penn Foundation. New programming should roll out by 2018.

Besides the goal of furthering appreciation for the deep roots of Japanese heritage in Philly, the two nonprofits' merger is good news for the city in general. As Andrews explains, stakeholders no longer have to split donations, and the organization can streamline its budgets and operations on everything from payroll to newsletters while working towards the new joint mission.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Kim Andrews, the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia

Follow all our work #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).

On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

EXTRA: Community dollars support big transitions at Bartram's Garden

This summer, Flying Kite's On the Ground program took an in-depth look at Bartram’s Garden, a historic horticultural gem on the banks of the Schuylkill River. Now there’s a chance for all Philadelphians to make a big difference for the site.

Gearing up to be more accessible than ever to city-dwellers with the completion of the Bartram’s Mile trail, the 45-acre national historic landmark recently reopened the renovated original Bartram House for public tours, as well as the Ann Bartram Carr Garden. Another burgeoning program is the four-acre Community Farm and Food Resource Center, a formerly a disused baseball field and tennis court. (Here’s an in-depth look at the amazing work blooming at the farm.)

This summer, the nonprofit launched a crowdfunding campaign aimed at raising $30,000 for the farm.

"What we’re doing is raising funds for stipends for the students, the farm co-directors' salaries, and all of the supplies that are needed," explains Bartram’s Assistant Director Stephanie Phillips.

Currently, the campaign has raised almost $7,000. If they can hit $10,000 by September 30, a large donor will match those funds with another $10,000.

"It means a lot to us," says Phillips of donors who give even a few dollars (the campaign currently has attracted supporters donating as little as $5 or up to $200). "The support goes a long way, because this is a very lean program that has a pretty huge impact."

The accumulation of those small donations signals the huge community investment in programs at Bartram’s and locals’ desire to keeping them running.

"We see this Go Fund Me campaign as a way to get our feet under us while we do more longterm strategic fundraising," adds Phillips. That can take the form of government grants, but those dollars move slowly and Bartram’s is already "looking to get outside of our borders."

For example, giving garden boxes to residents of nearby Wheeler Street, and helping them learn how to garden for themselves at home outside of Bartram’s fields and greenhouses.

Anyone who wants to pitch in to support Bartram’s workers, programming and supplies can donate to the historic site’s campaign through September 30, 2016.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Stephanie Phillips, Bartram’s Garden

Follow all our work #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).

On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

Greenworks strives towards a more sustainable Philadelphia

Greenworks, a comprehensive sustainability plan for the City of Philadelphia, was launched in 2009. Now it's time to update and streamline the program's policies and goals, making them more accessible and actionable to the public.

On August 9, the Office of Sustainability held an open house at the Innovation Lab on the top floor of the Municipal Services Building. Office of Sustainability Director Christine Knapp spoke about "updating the framework" of Greenworks. After years of developing new policies and integrating them into the machine of local government, Greenworks is turning outward. The updated plan, as developed with continued public feedback, will be "more people-focused," said Knapp.

Rolled out under Knapp’s predecessor Katherine Gajewski, Greenworks is under the umbrella of the national Urban Sustainability Directors Network. Other participating cities include Seattle, Boston, New York City and Chicago. Those cities are also beginning to gather feedback and study changes to their inaugural sustainability programs, as well as share best practices.

The public wants "to see us go deeper at the neighborhood level," say Knapp, to emphasize the viability of sustainable practices on every block in everyday life. Supporters also are hoping for a greater sense of urgency to the sustainability plan, which could go beyond short term goals and emphasize the longterm global impact of taking action on problems like climate change. People also see the opportunity to improve access to the program so no neighborhoods, regardless of socio-economic status, are left out of sustainability programs.        

The original Greenworks concept, with its long list of complicated goals, proved confusing to the public. Through community meetings, expert roundtables, an online survey and social media outreach, the plan is being streamlined into eight "longterm visions."

These include: All Philadelphians use clean energy that they can afford; all Philadelphians have sustainable access to safe and affordable transportation; and all Philadelphians benefit from parks, trees, stormwater management and waterways.

These and the other five vision statements will continue to evolve as they incorporate feedback from the well-attended open house. After a brief presentation and Q&A, the crowd was able to move around the room and brainstorm ideas on Post-it notes, placing them on boards dedicated to topics like waste, transportation, sustainable business and education, energy, and food and water, with space for suggestions on the individual, neighborhood and institutional level.

Knapp estimated that an updated Greenworks plan will launch in late October 2016.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Christine Knapp, the Office of Sustainability 

Meetings at the 12th Police District are fertile ground for community connections

By 6:05 p.m. on a hot July night in Southwest Philly, the line to get into the 12th Police District building at 65th Street and Woodland Avenue stretched out the door. It was time for another monthly community meeting in Kingsessing (our current On the Ground home).

Led by community outreach specialist Officer Arnold Mitchell in partnership with the Southwest CDC and other supporters, these popular meetings take place on the second Wednesday of every month. They draw a wide cross-section of local residents for informational sharing, dialogue on local issues, a friendly meal and raffle prizes.

The District's July meeting featured speakers from the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, including Refuge Manager Lamar Gore. He talked about the Refuge’s goal of educating, engaging with, and connecting to Southwest Philadelphians, who may not realize that this world-class piece of nature -- preserved near the Philadelphia airport as "America’s First Urban Refuge" -- is accessible by SEPTA bus and regional rail.

Gore explained that the "education" portion of the John Heinz mission has involved a lot of work in local schools, getting kids acquainted with this resource in their backyard. The engagement part includes a growing roster of activities available at the Refuge including kayaking (other Heinz speakers solicited programming ideas from attendees and expressed interest in brainstorming with block captains). "Connecting" has many components, from developing new avenues of communication between the Refuge and the community,to  overcoming language barriers for people who might want to visit, to identifying transportation barriers that might keep folks from traveling to the Refuge.

Gore also detailed a Heinz Refuge plan to transform one of Kingsessing's vacant lots (location TBD) into an educational community green space in partnership with Audubon Pennsylvania. (You can read more about the project in our On the Ground coverage here.)

Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) West Philadelphia Outreach Specialist Daniel Schupsky helmed the second half of the meeting, focusing the Green City, Clean Waters program, which will bring improvements in green stormwater infrastructure to the area over the next few years.

He explained the cheaper and more beautifying option of "green" versus "gray" stormwater management projects to mitigate polluting overflow from the overburdened combined sewer system still used in many parts of the city. Schupsky explained that a gray system of pipes and holding tanks for extra water could cost the city up to $10 billion, while green efforts like rain gardens, green roofs, stormwater planters, tree trenches breezeways and more will cost about $2 billion, and be worth the temporary inconvenience of construction.

"This is what we want for the future," he said. "This is what we want for our neighborhood. The conversation starts with meetings like this."

One attendee who lives near 80th and Lindbergh Boulevard declined to share her name with Flying Kite, but said she’s been attending the meetings because it’s good to learn how other people are tackling local issues: "You want to know what’s going on in your community, not just on your block," she said.

The next 12th District Community Meeting is on Wednesday, August 10 at 7 p.m. at the District headquarters at 65th Street and Woodland Avenue.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: 12th Police District Community Meeting speakers

Follow all our work #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).

On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

MilkCrate for Communities helps companies and institutions reward sustainable living

About a year and a half ago, local startup MilkCrate began an incubator residency through Project Liberty. This came after a potent mix of bartering, bootstrapping and crowdfunding helped to launch the sustainable-living app. Now the company is ready to add a major new level to their platform that goes beyond individual users.
The free MilkCrate app officially launched in early 2015 as a resource for people who want an easy way to connect to socially and environmentally conscious businesses and services. It has since expanded beyond Philly to Denver, Boston and Asheville. Co-founder and CEO Morgan Berman, who earned a master’s degree in sustainable design from Philadelphia University, was pleased to see traction from the original concept, but the team quickly realized that more was on the table.
"We actually took a pretty radical approach to both our business model and our product," she says of the revamp, launching this month.
MilkCrate for Communities isn’t replacing the original free app -- it’s an add-on service that companies, universities and other enterprises will be able to purchase and extend as a perk to their employees, students or residents. It will also let buyers quantify and collect data on real-life social- and eco-conscious practices within their organizations, which can be harnessed both for external branding and marketing as well as internal messaging, all while encouraging sustainable living.
The company realizes that app platforms aimed at boosting sustainable practices at large institutions or companies already exist, but MilkCrate has a major edge because they already have a comprehensive localized directory and calendar within their existing product.  
Berman says MilkCrate for Communities is a premium, private "game-ified" social experience that clients can tailor for their users. Members of participating groups can download the free app and, unlike in the public version, log in and begin earning points for things like checking into a farm-to-table restaurant or fair-trade coffee shop, signing up for a composting service or CSA, or volunteering.
Participating companies and schools can use MilkCrate to tabulate the eco-friendly and socially conscious steps users make, and incentivize them with quarterly or semester-based rewards.
The first official buyer of the MilkCrate for Communities platform is Berman’s own alma mater, Philadelphia University, which will launch the experience for students and faculty this summer. Other clients are already in the pipeline, including the co-working provider Benjamin’s Desk, home to MilkCrate’s offices. Berman says a customized pilot product for Comcast is also in the works.
"We are looking for more corporate and academic clients that want to be part of the big launch this summer,"she adds. Anyone who wants to bring a demo of MilkCrate for Communities to their campus or office can get in touch.
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Morgan Berman, MilkCrate 

Primal Supply Meats brings sustainably-raised, nose-to-tail products to the masses

Even for farm-to-table chefs who are invested in serving humanely and sustainably sourced meat, connecting to the right supplier is difficult.
"It’s just a really broken chain," explains former Kensington Quarters (KQ) head butcher Heather Marold Thomason. Many chefs and home cooks want to minimize waste and know exactly where their meat comes from, "but it’s not easy for anybody to use whole animals."
Enter Thomason's new company Primal Supply Meats.
Over the last year, the idea for the startup evolved as she got to know her customers at KQ’s retail meat counter. Word was spreading around the city about the quality of the locally sourced meat for sale at this Frankford Avenue retail/restaurant hybrid.
"More and more people were approaching us," she recalls. "We had a really awesome relationship with people in the Fishtown area who were our everyday customers." She also began to notice shoppers coming from other parts of town -- from South Philly to Mt. Airy -- saying they wished KQ delivered or had other locations. "I also had a lot of chefs approaching me, saying, 'How are you getting this meat? Can you help me?'"
She realized there were farm-to-table chefs all over the city who aren’t able to take a whole animal into their kitchen, but didn't want pre-cut frozen meat either.
Primal Supply Meats, while not a retail counter like KQ’s, bridges that gap, acting as a liaison between farmers and chefs. The entire butchered animal is used, but shared among as many as three or four different clients asking for different cuts.
"I think that our customers have actually been receptive to what we’re doing and their responsibility as customers," says Thomason. With a fresh, whole-animal model at the KQ counter, part of her job was guiding customers to what was available that would also suit their tastes and needs. "Our customers were super-receptive to that."
That’s part of why she has high hopes for the CSA-like subscription model Primal will launch in a few weeks (those interested can visit the website). Individuals or families will be able to purchase meat packages on a rolling month-to-month basis, and have confidence in knowing where their meat is coming from.
While she hopes Primal will eventually gain its own space, it’s currently operating in West Philly via a partnership with the new FDA-certified facility 1732 Meats. For trucking and cold storage, Primal is partnering with North Philly’s Common Market.
This summer, things are still getting off the ground -- Thomason is visiting farmers one-on-one, learning both sides of the business.

"We’re working on getting all the infrastructure in place, making sure our supply chain works and our production processes are solid," she says. "[That way] we can make sure we’re ready to meet demand as it comes."
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Heather Marold Thomason, Primal Supply Meats

Strawberry Mansion celebrates first Schuylkill River Arts Day

The Strawberry Mansion area (our recent On the Ground home) has plenty of artists, but there’s rarely an opportunity for them to come together on their home turf, says INVISIBLE RIVER spokesperson Sylvana Joseph. The Schuylkill River Arts Day (SRAD) on July 16 is going to change that.
Founded in 2009 by Artistic and Executive Director Alie Vidich, INVISIBLE RIVER has been "celebrating our local rivers through live public performances and river advocacy." A mix of art, programming and interactive outdoor offerings serve the mission of engaging the public with both the Schuylkill and the Delaware.
For the last few years, Vidich has created one of Philly’s most eye-popping interdisciplinary performance events: an aerial dance suspended from the Strawberry Mansion Bridge, with audience members watching on shore or from boats on the river below. Beck Epoch, this year’s incarnation of the show (an "aerial exploration of swinging, swimming, swiveling and suspension from above the Schuylkill River") is coming up on Friday, July 15 and Saturday, July 16. Audience members will be able to watch for free from the eastern shore near the bridge, or they can buy a ticket to watch by boat on the river itself (everyone should arrive by 6:15 p.m.).
SRAD will kick off at 10 a.m. at Mander Recreation Center with an interactive drum and dance procession led by the Strawberry Mansion-based group Positive Movement and the African Diaspora Artist Collective. The group will take Boxers’ Trail from the rec center to Kelly Drive, where the arts fest will take over until 2 p.m. Other performers include Kulu Mele, Anne-Marie Mulgrew & Dancers Co, Almanac Dance Circus Theatre and many more. (Here’s the full line-up of participating artists.) There will be visual arts, crafts, and even fishing and boating lessons. Families are encouraged to bring a picnic and stay for the day.   
"We’re really focused on getting the Strawberry Mansion area and the people in that area to come, to use the Schuylkill River [and] learn about the river," says Joseph. "All of us that live in the Philadelphia live right in proximity to all of these great things, but we never use them. There are many musicians and dancers and artists of all stripes that live in that area but leave the area to perform -- it’s great to have this opportunity to have people from the area perform in the area."
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Sylvana Joseph, INVISIBLE RIVER

Follow all our work #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).

On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

What's next for the Philadelphia School District?

Last Tuesday, the latest Exchange PHL Breakfast Series drew a crowd of over forty people for a special conversation on the future of the School District of Philadelphia.

Hosted by the nonprofit-centric co-working space, these morning meetups bring a dynamic group to the Friends Center on Cheery Street. On June 21, attendees represented a wide range of organizations eager to hear Fund for the School District of Philadelphia President and CEO Donna Frisby-Greenwood discuss "Engaging with the School District of Philadelphia.”

Those organizations included People’s Emergency Center, Philly Fellows, Women of Tomorrow, the Fleischer Art Memorial, Philadelphia Young Playwrights, the William Penn Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth & Family Services, and many more.

Frisby-Greenwood provided a snapshot of the District and its challenges: It serves a total of 135,000 children (not including the 50,000 students who attend charter schools), 39 percent of whom live below the poverty line. It encompasses 149 elementary schools, and 69 middle and high schools. During the 2014-2015 school year, PSSA performance at District schools reached a proficient or advanced level in 37 percent of schools for science, 32 percent for English, and just 17 percent for math.

So what is the District doing to better harness resources for its students?

The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia is a reactivation of the former Philadelphia Children First Fund. Upon assuming his role as superintendent, Dr. William Hite "wanted a more robust fund," explained Frisby-Greenwood. Under its new name, this arm of the School District went from being a passive "fiscal agent" for dollars already arriving at the School District to a much more active development force as well as a way to "identify and coordinate partnerships on behalf of the District."

One major funding goal supports the District’s ongoing efforts to make sure every child is reading at grade level by fourth grade. (Last year, we took a closer look at this initiative for teacher coaching and new classroom libraries, funded in part by grants from the William Penn and Lenfest foundations.)

Other initiatives on deck include the continued roll-out of sustainability and recycling goals within the School District’s GreenFutures program (here’s our piece from earlier this year), and a push to get automatic electric defibrillators into every elementary school, which, unlike middle and high schools, often lack the life-saving devices.

The organization also aims to create a database of Philadelphia School District alumni; develop a comprehensive listing and map of private, nonprofit, and corporate partners for individual city schools; and improve outreach to garner more school partners, especially in schools which currently lack this community investment.

"I’ll remind everyone we’re just a year in as a team," said Frisby-Greenwood of the revamped Fund and its staff -- she envisions good things ahead for the District.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Donna Frisby-Greenwood, the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia 

Flying Kite is the media partner for the Exchange PHL's Breakfast Series.

Empowered CDC expands community-driven change in Southwest Philly

Regina Young never set out to found a community development corporation. A New Haven, Conn., native who now lives and works in Southwest Philadelphia, she had a career in teaching and social work before going back to school for her masters in community development.

She says her inspiration for the CDC simply came from living in the neighborhood and interacting with friends and family there. In 2014, she launched Empowered Community Development Corporation out of Meyers Recreation Center at 58th Street and Kingsessing Avenue, not far from Flying Kite’s new On the Ground digs.  

Southwest CDC has been operating in the neighborhood for decades, but Young still saw a need for her group.

"The geographic area of Southwest is so large," she says. "It’s just pretty evident that one organization cannot possibly effectively handle all of the community in this particular area."

Young sees Empowered CDC as part of a local matrix that will see success in cooperation.

"This has to be a collaborative approach," she explains. "There’s not anything that can be done that’s sustainable if we’re an island. We have to deal with other organizations; we have to really get the community reinvested in beautifying and building and transforming the Southwest area."

Currently, Empowered holds some programs out of Myers, but because of needed building repairs there, the organization has moved its offices temporarily to nearby Tilden Middle School.

Their health and wellness program is the one Young is most excited about: A recent community garden initiative in a former vacant lot has spurred beautification, education, healthy food access, safe space for seniors and youth, and community cohesion. Empowered obtained a lease for three lots on the 2000 block of Cecil Street, and in the course of a year, formed a community garden club and installed benches and garden beds for flowers, fruits and veggies. This summer, the CDC is launching new educational programs around the garden for youth, seniors and everyone in between.  

"I charged the community with really leading the design of what this parcel of land looks like," says Young.

And the transformation there is spreading.

"It started with the garden," she explains, but now locals are saying, "if we can do this with a parcel of land, what can we do with our own block?" It’s lead to new painting, more street cleaning, a movement to get planters installed, and "really being a more cohesive block. That’s what Empowered is all about."

The organization is still new, but Young has high hopes for building and utilizing the skills of community members.

"Our biggest asset as an organization, being very new, is simply human capital: understanding how relationships matter, how communities have a voice," she says. "That’s what really propels us as an organization."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Regina Young, Empowered CDC

Follow all our work #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).

On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

Knight Cities Challenge funds the development of 20 new Philly cooperatives

"There are many different expressions of cooperation and mutual aid in Philadelphia, among very diverse groups of people," explains Caitlin Quigley of the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA). Now, thanks to a $146,000 award from the national Knight Cities Challenge (check out our peek at the four Philly winners here), the organization hopes to expand interest in co-ops citywide.

PACA’s Knight-funded 20 Book Clubs, 20 Cooperative Businesses initiative aims to gather learning groups of six to 12 people from a variety of Philly neighborhoods. The organization will help guide the book clubs through a tailored process to master the building blocks of building a cooperatively-run business of any type, based on the community’s interests and needs.

So what exactly is a "co-op"?

A cooperative grocery store (like Philly’s Weavers Way or Mariposa), for example, "is a business you own with your neighbors," explains Quigley. "You make decisions about the products that are on the shelves, how the co-op should treat its workers; how the co-op should decide how to be in the community.”

The latter includes things like representation at events, education and outreach, and making donations.

"You and your fellow co-owners can decide how you want that business to serve you," she adds.

And while grocery stores might be the most prominent local example, PACA is a consortium of all kinds of co-ops across many industries. These range from banks to housing to community gardens, green space, or land trusts, or child-care or artist co-ops.

The 20 Book Clubs, 20 Cooperative Businesses project, operating on a year-long grant cycle from April 2016 to April 2017, will continue outreach this summer, with the goal of organizing project participants by September. Each group will meet twice a month for six months, with guidance from PACA staffers and volunteers, and a comprehensive curriculum of suggested learning materials, from books and comics to field trips and podcasts.

Author Dr. Jessica Gordon Nembhard, whose book Collective Courage is a major inspiration for the project, is collaborating with PACA on the study guide.

In March of next year, participating groups will convene at a large event that will include cooperative business pitches. Beyond that, PACA hopes to support interested groups in more intensive business planning, such as drafting articles of incorporation and writing bylaws.

"Not all of the groups that do the book clubs are going to necessarily decide to move onto this phase," says Quigley, but that’s ok. "Even if it doesn’t happen right now…They have a new set of tools and perspectives that they can bring to anything they do in their communities from then on." Ultimately, it’s about building "a strong movement around a just and inclusive economy, with all of these different sectors of cooperatives and their members."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Caitlin Quigley, Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance

Meet Broad Street Ministry's new executive director

Last summer, we featured Broad Street Ministry (BSM), a powerful local organization offering an ever-expanding range of services and resources for thousands of Philadelphians experiencing homelessness, poverty, housing or food insecurity. This month, BSM is installing a dynamic and dedicated new leader: Michael J. Dahl.

"I had a desire to start working with the most vulnerable in our community at the grassroots level," says Dahl of what prompted him to make this career shift (he’s former senior vice president of Pew Charitable Trusts, overseeing the Philadelphia program). "It became a personal matter -- where do I think I could have the most impact at this point in my life, in my career? I was looking around for what the next chapter could be."

He was impressed by BSM’s model and services. He went and volunteered, and participating himself is what confirmed his desire to get involved.

A Stanford alum, Dahl is taking over for BSM founder Rev. Bill Golderer, who left the organization last November to seek a seat in U.S. Congress (Golderer will remain on the BSM Board of Directors through the transition).

Before his 15 years with Pew -- which encompassed planning, public policy, fundraising, evaluation, research, finance and legal affairs -- Dahl had a hand in two successful business startups spanning strategic advisory, and insurance and financial services software. He was also an economic, tax and policy advisor to Senator Bill Bradley.

Dahl argues that it’s become far too easy for us as a society to "dehumanize" entire populations. He appreciates BSM’s rigorous approach not only to programming (including offerings as diverse as art classes and mail service for people without homes), but to evaluating and strengthening its approach.

"I come from the model that if ain’t broke, fix it," he says of applying ongoing, measurement-based improvements. "How can we do a better job of helping these people, people who are facing hunger or housing insecurity? Can we help them find their way to reclaim their lives and become more productive citizens?"

Dahl especially appreciates the existing Broad Street Hospitality Collaborative, "but I think the real upside is once you gain the trust, what are the fleet of services and supports that can be provided that truly let these people move back into society?" He’s also a fan of BSM's inclusivity as a faith-based organization that’s "open to all faiths, and people of no faith."

Dahl will officially start as BSM’s new executive director on June 13.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Michael J. Dahl, Broad Street Ministry 

Philadelphia Public History Truck brings 'a houseless museum' to Asian Arts Initiative

How do you get local history out of the museum and into the neighborhood? For about three years, Erin Bernard -- founder of the Philadelphia Public History Truck (PPHT) -- has been exploring the answers: "I had this intention to create projects with people in Philadelphia neighborhoods, as opposed to for them at a museum," she says. 

A traveling oral history and research repository, block party instigator, and capsule of local culture, PPHT and its newest off-road installation are coming soon to the Pearl Street storefront at Asian Arts Initiative (our former On the Ground Home). 

The Temple grad first got the idea for PPHT -- which Bernard calls a culmination of her degrees in journalism and history, her work in nonprofit public relations, and a lot of strolling past food trucks -- back in spring 2013. She approached community groups with her plan. The East Kensington Neighbors Association (EKNA) proved an enthusiastic early partner; former EKNA president Jeff Carpineta even donated a truck.

PPHT is now on the cusp of completing its third year-long neighborhood cycle -- Kensington, then North Philadelphia, and most recently Chinatown North/Callowhill. Its next project in the Fairhill neighborhood (in partnership with Taller Puertorriqueño) is now getting started.

Each of the truck’s "exhibit cycles" has nine parts, beginning with a neighborhood association partnership, growing into oral history interviews, a storytelling and "neighborhood object"-themed block party, archival research, community art happenings, a temporary exhibit in a neighborhood building, and then a compression of the exhibit back into the truck, to bring the stories to other neighborhoods.

At Asian Arts June 3 through 25, PPHT’s will present, "A Houseless Museum: Home and Displacement Around the Vine Street Expressway." Bernard volunteered at the nearby Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission and part of the History Truck’s mission in that neighborhood became researching how to best serve "a transient community."

The exhibit, which features stories from the neighborhood’s homeless community, will have a cabinet with supplies like socks, t-shirts and dry shampoo for those who need them. There will also be a TV installation playing the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation-provided documentary "Save Chinatown," detailing the demolition wrought by construction of the Vine Street Expressway. There will be artwork by Pew fellow and Chinatown North resident Leroy Johnson, and "archival reproductions and text, and space for people to explore actual historical documents," says Bernard.

The show also incorporates work from Bernard’s graduate students in the Museum Exhibition Planning and Design program at University of the Arts, as well as local high school students they mentored.

"I’ve found working in this neighborhood extremely difficult, compared to the work in Kensington and North Philadelphia," explains Bernard of her stint in Callowhill/Chinatown North. "It’s a very transitional community…That’s part of the story."

Not all of the neighborhood’s community groups agree on the way forward when it comes to development, including projects like the Reading Viaduct rail park project.

"There are a lot of serious issues of contention as to who owns the space," she explains. "I think that’s part of the reason it’s been challenging to have a history truck here, but it’s always good to learn something new."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Erin Bernard, the Philadelphia Public History Truck

Follow all our work #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).

On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

On the Ground: What does a longtime local print paper mean to Southwest Philadelphia?

Soon Flying Kite will be landing in the Southwest Philadelphia neighborhood of Kingsessing for our On the Ground program, and we’re starting things off by connecting with a publication that’s been on the ground there for a long time: since 1946, to be exact.

The Southwest Globe Times was the inaugural publication of Joseph Bartash's Bartash Printing (a company legacy that continues in Southwest Philly today thanks to Bartash’s son-in-law Sidney Simon and Simon’s son Michael).

From the beginning, the Globe Times focused determinedly on disseminating good news throughout the community. It hit a peak circulation of about 30,000 homes in the 1950s. Bartash, who went on to publish several other community papers, retained the Globe Times for the longest. He ceased publishing it in 2002 and died in 2007 at the age of 93.

"There was a two-year hiatus while various people in the community tried to start it up again," says Ted Behr, a Southwest Community Development Corporation volunteer who manages the Globe Times’s new incarnation. In 2004, Bartash agreed to sell the name to the CDC on the merits of "their unique characteristics as a nonprofit working within the community for its general well-being."

The paper re-appeared in 2005; to this day, Bartash is listed on the masthead as publisher emeritus. The Globe comes out in print and online on the first and third Friday of every month.

"We characterize ourselves as the good news newspaper because we try to only publish the positive activities of people," explains Behr. Southwest Philly "has more than its share of negative [news]. We counterbalance that with stories about people and groups doing things to improve the quality of life here."

Behr is a North Jersey native who moved to Wayne in 1971 after an international career in the pharmaceutical business that also included 16 years of teaching business courses at Eastern University and Beijing University.

He’s a member of Wayne Presbyterian Church and its non-profit community service arm CityLights, which partners with groups in Southwest Philadelphia, and that’s how he began working with Southwest CDC.

"I see my work with the paper as a calling," he says. Globe Times stories typically focus on figures like effective block captains, "outstanding teachers," and neighborhood leaders.

Block captains are integral to the paper’s circulation: For the last four years, they’ve volunteered for door-to-door delivery of about half the paper’s print copies. Other copies are picked up by the public at locations like the ShopRite grocery store in Eastwick -- it's the paper’s largest distribution point, with over 700 copies departing the rack there.

Even in 2016, a hyperlocal print paper is important, argues Behr. When the newspaper re-launched a decade ago, fewer than 15 percent of Southwest Philly homes had internet access. Today, he estimates that percentage has doubled, but there’s still a massive digital divide for many residents.

Southwest CDC is currently working with the 12th Police District and the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee to increase circulation and delivery of the paper. The publication is partly supported by ads from local businesses, but still operates at a loss of about 20 percent a year, a gap that donors at Wayne Presbyterian fill.

"We like to feel that our readers take ownership of ideas behind the paper," says Behr. "There are good people working in Southwest Philadelphia to make the community better. Dedicated public servants; dedicated people from block to block. We feel that’s what life is all about… We believe that our young people and our elderly people need a positive vision for the future."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Ted Behr, the Southwest Globe Times

Follow all our work #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).

On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

Keep Philadelphia Beautiful litter convenings continue to draw a crowd

Late last year, Keep Philadelphia Beautiful (KPB) launched a series of what Executive Director Michelle Feldman calls "Litter Convenings." They offer a platform for city agencies and residents to come together to tackle the problems of trash and littering in integrated and transparent ways.

The first session took place in October 2015; consortium members included the Commerce Department, the Streets Department, the Philadelphia Association of CDCs and the Philly chapter of the Local Initiative Support Coalition (LISC). There was a follow-up session in January, and on May 11, KPB organized a panel discussion featuring leaders from the Streets Department’s Philly SWEEP, the City’s Community Life Improvement Programs (CLIP), the Department of Licenses and Inspections, the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee (PMBC) and Philly 311.

Attendees represented groups and agencies such as the Office of Sustainability, the Village of Arts and Humanities, the Friends of Pennypack Park, the Commerce Department, South of South Neighborhood Association, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), LISC, the North 22nd Street Business Association, and Councilman William Greenlee’s office. Feldman framed the discussion as a chance to be "proactive rather than reactive" to issues of illegal dumping and trash in Philly.

The lively conversation on the 16th floor of the Municipal Services Building included an update on the City’s growing success in removing unlicensed clothing donation bins, which often become a magnet for illegal dumping. These bins can gain permits for placement on commercially zoned private property, but not on public right-of-ways like sidewalks and street corners, where they routinely reside. After a call to 311, L&I may note and tag the offending bins, but it’s the Streets Department that performs the removal.

Participants also discussed efforts to make Philly 311 -- the city’s non-emergency reporting line for civic issues like graffiti, overgrown vacant lots, illegal dumping and litter -- more accessible to the public through a mobile application and better integration of services with agencies who handle 311 tips.

Misunderstandings can arise when Philly 311 reports a case as closed when the issue has not visibly been resolved. This is because the agency can’t report publicly on outcomes like fines, and other agencies (from PWD to the Streets Department) open their own case file on the issue once they receive it, separate from the Philly 311 report.

Updates from CLIP included graffiti removal efforts and a community service program that employs non-violent ex-offenders on city cleanups. PMBC reported on its active work with up to 800 block captains from across the city. The organization provides supplies for cleanups and sponsors clean block contests with prizes ranging from $300 to $1,000 dollars to be used for further beautification of the block.

In KPB news, applications for the organization’s 2016 microgrants are due on May 27; they include two $,1500 grants and two $1,000 grants (guidelines available here). And on June 22, KPB will team with Young Involved Philadelphia for a Cleaning + Greening 101 panel at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: Keep Philadelphia Beautiful Litter Convening speakers

Worried about lead? The Academy of Natural Sciences asks 'What's in Our Water?'

Last week, the Academy of Natural Sciences hosted "What’s in Our Water?," a free town square discussion and expert Q&A for Philadelphians wondering about the quality of their drinking water after harmful lead levels in Newark, New Jersey and Flint, Michigan made headlines.

David Velinsky, Academy vice president of the Patrick Center for Environmental Research, led the presentation. He introduced Debra McCarty, commissioner of the Philadelphia Water Department; Lynn Thorp, the national campaigns director for Clean Water Action; and Dr. Jerry Fagliano, chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at Drexel’s Dornsife School of Public Health.

Velinsky touched on the source of Philly’s drinking water: the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, and the history of human use of lead in urban and residential infrastructure and industrial products, from Roman aqueducts to batteries to lead paint and leaded gasoline.

In the 1970s, lead in paint and gasoline accounted for relatively high blood lead levels in the first ever large-scale American survey. According to Fagliano, back then, the average child had a blood lead level of 15 micrograms per deciliter. Now, it’s less than two micrograms per deciliter, thanks to sweeping federal legislation to keep lead out of our homes and fuel.

"Lead is a potent neurotoxin," especially for young people, he explained.

"Water is not the primary source of lead for children," added McCarty: It’s dust and paint from houses built before 1978. There is no lead in any of Philly’s 3,200 miles of water mains. But on the private side, PWD estimates that about 10 percent of Philly homes have lead service lines from the water main to the house. This is likely only in unrenovated homes built before 1950. These homes may also have lead in old plumbing pipes, soldering or fixtures.

PWD works with any concerned client to test, monitor and offer affordable fixes for elevated lead levels that come from private plumbing.

McCarty said those worried about lead in their pipes can simply make sure to run the tap for a few minutes before drinking the water, which flushes out any liquid that might have been sitting in the plumbing lines for more than a few hours. The City also has a program offering zero-interest loans to customers who want to replace private-property lead pipes. PWD has a dedicated webpage for lead inquiries as well as a phone hotline: 215-685-6300.

"Flint is an incredible tragedy in many, many ways," said McCarty as she explained why the same scenario will never happen in Philly. For example, Flint officials changed the source of the water itself, with none of the anti-corrosion treatments residential pipes in Philly have, and did not comply with EPA standards for sampling and reporting lead and copper levels.

"Treatment decisions are always made on the best science," she insisted.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: David Velinsky, the Academy of Natural Sciences; Debra McCarty, the Philadelphia Water Department

Weckerly's Ice Cream to open its first retail location in Fishtown

Philly ice cream connoisseurs have something to look forward to. Currently, if you want some top-rated Weckerly’s Ice Cream, you have to buy it by the pint (or sandwich) at a local cafe, food retailer or farmers' market, but now the company is gearing up to open its very own brick-and-mortar location on a bustling stretch of Girard Avenue in Fishtown.

Fronted by husband-and-wife team Jen and Andy Satinsky, Weckerly’s launched in late 2012 in West Philly’s Spruce Hill neighborhood. In 2014, the micro-creamery moved to Port Richmond’s Globe Dye Works.

"At that time, we really did want to open a retail shop eventually in West Philadelphia," says Andy. But the search proved difficult, so they broadened the hunt. With some help from New Kensington Community Development Corporation, they discovered a 350-square-foot shop at 9 West Girard Avenue, and knew it was the perfect place (they’ll still make their ice cream at Globe Dye Works).

"We definitely wanted a neighborhood," says Andy. "We wanted to be amongst families and homeowners, and people who engage in activities in their neighborhood."

Jen is an experienced pastry chef (her maiden name, Weckerle, inspired the company's moniker). A former bicycle mechanic, Andy eventually left his job to focus on the business full-time.

"[Jen] is the reason we make ice cream and have an ice cream company," he insists. "She’s the heartbeat of everything."

The company is known for unusual flavors such as buckwheat sour cherry and lemon verbena black raspberry, but "we do embrace the classics," he adds. "There’s a place for a vanilla ice cream made with grass-fed milk and cream and good-quality vanilla bean…that tastes like ice cream would have tasted 50 years ago."

Weckerly’s more adventurous combinations are inspired by the company’s mission to source seasonal ingredients from local farms. This is partly why the Satinskys need to grow their business with a retail location, rather than increasing wholesale production. With their own shop, they can stick with their model and showcase small batches of exclusive flavors -- perhaps only five gallons at a time.  

"There are aspects to the way we operate that don’t lend themselves well to a rapidly growing wholesale business," explains Andy, noting the difficulty of scaling up while still working exclusively with local farms.

The new Girard Avenue shop will be open year-round seven days a week, offering a selection of signature ice cream sandwiches and hand-dipped cups and cones, with six rotating ice cream flavors and two sorbets.

They couple isn't sure of an opening date yet, but hope to launch by late summer or early fall. Fans can follow along for the latest @Weckerlys on Twitter and Instagram, and on Facebook.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Andy Satinsky, Weckerly’s 

Local to Global: The Greater Philadelphia Export Plan wants to boost billions in business

How can a local economy make a global debut? In December 2014, Flying Kite spoke with the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia about the launch of its Greater Philadelphia Export Plan, conducted in partnership with the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia. After more than a year of market analysis -- along with surveys and interviews with local businesses -- the finalized study and a plan of action were released this month.
According to the Economy League, 86 percent of global economic growth is projected to happen outside the U.S. between now and 2020, but only one percent of U.S. companies currently export, with a small majority of that one percent exporting to only one market. Philadelphia already boasts $32 billion in exports annually, but with the right support, that number could grow significantly.
This metro export plan, made possible by a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, convened experts (including business leaders and state and federal trade officials) in southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and northern Delaware.
The initiative got an important boost in January 2015 when study partners learned that they’d be among seven other U.S. cities to join the 2015 cohort of the Brookings Institute’s Global Cities Initiative (in partnership with JPMorgan Chase), designed to support U.S. metros in developing customized trade and export strategies. Philly joined Baltimore, Seattle, Houston, Kansas City, Fresno, Salt Lake City and St. Louis in a nationwide conversation.
The Economy League attended the Global Cities Initiative’s first national workshop last February, which focused on how to launch a large-scale export study, and a second workshop in July. By that time, the Philly project’s in-depth market assessments were complete. According to Josh Sevin, Economy League managing director of regional engagement, the focus then became, "How do you convert that [research] into a strategy with some momentum?"
Through those assessments, the Economy League got a clearer picture of what it already knew: Philly is often dubbed a post-industrial city, but a highly specialized manufacturing sector remains, with plenty of potential for global growth.
When it comes to exports, we usually imagine freighters packed with stuff, but the definition of an export is broader than that. For example, if a cardiology team from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia travels to set up a new facility in Dubai, that’s a Philly export. Same story if a local architect designs a building overseas.
"When we talk about a good or a service export, think about where the dollars are coming from, not the point of service," says Sevin. That means any time someone from outside the U.S. comes here for school, or for medical care, or utilizes Philly legal or financial services, that’s an export, even if the office, classroom, or hospital room is right in our city.
He hopes the action plan can help spark "a virtuous cycle": the more businesses engage with the global market, the more business owners take note, and say, "Why not me?"
The Economy League is considering another opportunity to join a Global Cities cohort geared specifically to developing a foreign direct investment strategy.
Later, we’ll take a look a more in-depth look at the new metro export plan through the lens of a participating Philly firm.
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Josh Sevin, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia


PCDC celebrates 50 years of giving Chinatown a voice

In the 1960s, the Chinatown community banded together to oppose a planned expansion of Vine Street that threatened to bulldoze the Holy Redeemer church and school at 10th and Wood Streets. That action led to the birth of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC), which has become an essential neighborhood institution. 

Now PCDC is getting ready to celebrate its 50th anniversary: a major milestone for an organization that has supported a city-wide hub of commerce, culture, community and healthcare. (In 2015, Flying Kite’s On the Ground residence at Asian Arts Initiative wasn’t far from PCDC’s current headquarters at 9th and Vine Streets.)

PCDC got its start via a neighborhood town hall headed by Cecilia Moy Yep, George Moy and Anthony Wong, who all remain on the board of directors today. It was founded in 1966 and officially incorporated in 1969. Since then, its advocacy on behalf of local residents and business owners has spanned fair housing provisions for residents of homes razed in the path of the Convention Center expansion; successful opposition to a new sports stadium in the late 1990s; and a voice in other development projects from the Gallery Mall to Independence Mall. Now, the organization is moving forward on its massive Eastern Tower development.

"This was considered a blighted community at the time," explains PCDC's Sarah Yeung of the group's early days. "The city had cited Chinatown as a place for redevelopment. Chinatown was in and of itself a thriving immigrant community. It was full of families and businesses."

"The core mission was to ensure that this community had a voice in its own future," she continues. About 10 years after its founding -- and successfully scaling back the city’s plans for the Vine Street Expressway -- "they turned toward helping Chinatown to plan for its future as a neighborhood." An initial master plan in the 1970s led to a series of affordable housing developments that are important anchors today.

In 2000, John Chin became PCDC’s executive director, growing and diversifying the organization’s offerings, and leading the 2004 Chinatown and Callowhill Neighborhood Plan process.

Over 8000 people live in Chinatown, says Yeung, and PCDC services directly reach over 1000 clients a year, with a staff of just six people.

"Chinatown has become not just a resident-based community, but also a hub for Asian Americans in the region," she adds. "We serve as this home base for a greater population in the Delaware Valley region. We’re the only Chinatown in the state."

PCDC will celebrate its 50th birthday with an anniversary gala at the National Constitution Center (525 Arch Street) on Friday, May 6 at 6 p.m.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Sarah Yeung, Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation

Follow all our work #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).

On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

KIZ tax credits expand east to booming Old City startup scene

Old City just got a major boost with the expansion of the University City Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) across the Schuylkill River and all the way to Front Street -- that means some major new tax credits for the neighborhood’s burgeoning tech sector.

Old City-based Arcweb Technologies hosted the March 23 announcement, with featured remarks from University City Science Center President and CEO Stephen S. Tang, Arcweb CEO Chris Cera, and Mayor Jim Kenney.

If you go into a coffee shop near North 3rd Street in Old City -- or as it’s affectionately known, "N3rd Street" -- and "grab somebody that’s sitting there, most likely they’re a technology worker," said Cera. "I don’t think that’s found anywhere else in Philadelphia."

And he went further than that: "My 10-year outlook…is that this is going to be the tech center of Philadelphia, here in Old City."

Expanding that University City KIZ should contribute to that growth, which Tang called "a pivotal moment in our city’s transformation from a manufacturing economy to an innovation economy."

Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell instituted the KIZ program "to spur entrepreneurial activity," Tang explained. There are 29 KIZs across the state and three within the City of Philadelphia: the large BioLaunch 611+ zone that spreads north of Lancaster and Girard Avenues and I-95; the Navy Yard KIZ, and the newly expanded University City KIZ.

A KIZ is a special district that offers tax incentives to eligible for-profit companies in the life sciences and technology sectors. The program offers a statewide pool of $25 million toward the credits. An approved KIZ company (applications must be submitted by September 15 of each year) can claim a tax credit equal to 50 percent of its increase in gross revenues in the most recent taxable year over the revenue from the preceding year, earned within the KIZ. This tax credit is capped at $100,000, and for companies whose credit exceeds their tax liability, the credit is saleable for up to $0.90 on the dollar.

In the last decade, 48 early-stage tech and life science companies in the University City KIZ have received almost $8 million in tax credits, with 21 companies nabbing close to $2 million just last year. Now this benefit will extend all the way across the heart of Center City and into Old City.

(For a look at one University City company reaping the KIZ benefit, check out our profile of Graphene Frontiers, working towards big changes in medical diagnostics.)

"As a result of these tax credits, startups are retaining jobs, hiring new employees and developing new products," said Tang. "Not only are KIZ tax credits being invested in our local economy, but they’re also strengthening Philadelphia’s innovation ecosystem."

"It’s very exciting to see what’s happening in Old City," added Mayor Kenney. "The expansion of this [KIZ] will help propel that even faster and further than it has in other parts of the city."

Arcweb is just one company standing to benefit from the change.

"I didn’t want to have a tax credit make me move across town, from people and a place that we call home," said Cera. "I’m glad that we chose to stay and invest here."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: University City KIZ expansion launch speakers

Green City Works expands employment opportunities in University City

So how will University City District (UCD) transform $300,000 into sustainable, career-launching jobs in a traditionally tough business? Last week, we spoke with Job Opportunity Investment Network (JOIN) leaders Hoa Pham and Jennie Sparandara about the Win Win Challenge grant UCD received this winter, following a $50,000 planning grant award in 2015.

The grant-winning Green City Works (GCW) program grew out of the organization’s existing West Philadelphia Skills Initiative (WPSI), which has been connecting long-time unemployed West Philadelphians with job opportunities at major local institutional partners for over five years.

"We were looking at partnerships that would allow us to broaden our demographic base," explains Sheila Ireland, vice president of workforce innovations at UCD, noting that WPSI cohorts tend to skew toward African-American women ages 25 to 35, with jobs in healthcare or educational institutions.  

The idea for GCW was born when Valley Crest landscaping approached UCD about recruiting landscaping technicians from the West Philly area. For an organization already managing up to $400,000 of work in green spaces within its district (think The Porch at 30th Street), a jobs program geared toward landscaping seemed like a natural fit, as well as an opportunity to broaden its programs into a male-dominated industry.

When Sparandara approached UCD about applying for the planning grant, "We said, 'Here is the opportunity for us to not just work on greenspace projects…[but] to do a social venture as well," recalls Ireland. The program targets applicants struggling with challenges such as longterm unemployment or re-entry from the criminal justice system, and helps them build transferrable job skills. "We used that Win Win Challenge planning grant period to prove a couple things: Could we build this program? Could we take on fee-for-service contracts? How would we incorporate?”

The experiment was successful, even in an industry as difficult as landscaping. Though wages in the field are slightly higher than standard minimum wage, the hours can go from dawn to dusk six days a week in the growing season, with workers laid off in the winter. In other words, not a ton of stability. And with many companies recruiting workers on H2B visas, local job-seekers often don't look at the industry for entry level positions.

"Can we change the way the industry looks at workers?" asks Ireland. At GCW, that means peer mentoring and support, a livable wage ($13 an hour to start, versus an industry average of $9), work hours from 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and pay regardless of rainy days that delay the work.

That $300,000 in seed money from JOIN has allowed GCW to hire general manager Brian English and bring in its latest cohort: 12 workers who began a 26-week program on March 28. Those who finish the program stand an excellent chance of joining the GCW staff.

Ireland says the program is important because it honors a range of skills -- GCW’s staffers are people who are happy outdoors and who love community beautification.

"When you activate people’s talents, you really speak to what they should be doing in their lives," she enthuses. "And you can change people’s lives by doing that."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Sheila Ireland, University City District 

The Job Opportunity Investment Network (JOIN) has partnered with Flying Kite to explore how good jobs are created and filled in Greater Philadelphia. Stay tuned as we follow the progress of these exciting grants and track the city's continued workforce development challenges.


The Philadelphia Immigrant Innovation Hub launches in Mt. Airy

On February 4, Mayor Jim Kenney joined Mt. Airy USA Executive Director Brad Copeland and others for the official launch of the Philadelphia Immigrant Innovation Hub at 6700 Germantown Avenue.

In his remarks to the diverse crowd of immigrant entrepreneurs, funders and other supporters, Kenney called the room "a beautiful sight."

"This is what Philadelphia looks like," he said. "And this is what the country should look like."

Copeland added that a support and co-working hub for Philly's immigrant entrepreneurs was "very Mt. Airy" -- the neighborhood is already extremely diverse and civically engaged. He praised Hub members’ commitment, drive, energy, vision and "willingness to take risks."

The Hub was made possible by a 2015 Knight Foundation Cities Challenge grant. Speakers credited former Mt. Airy USA leader Anuj Gupta for the inspiration to pursue these dollars for the project. Out of 5,000 applications last year, there were 32 winners -- seven of those from Philadelphia, the most winners from any city in the country.

"[Knight] allows organizations like ours to dream crazy dreams and then challenges us to make them a reality," enthused Copeland.

Sarajane Blair and Jamie Shanker of Mt. Airy USA outlined the new space's offerings, which are made possible with additional financial support and guidance from the nonprofit community lender FINANTA. Services will include "core workshops" (offered through a partnership with the Welcoming Center for New Pennyslvanians), individual business and financial plan development, credit building tools, and community support and engagement helmed by Mt. Airy USA. Hub members will also have access to a co-working space on Germantown Avenue, five financial lending cycles a year, and dedicated networking programs.

"We will do everything we can to help you succeed," said Blair to program participants.

Those eligible for the program must be immigrants to the U.S. who want to be self-employed and have a business idea or plan, but need assistance in starting or growing their business. Applicants can head to piihub.org to get started.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: Philadelphia Immigrant Innovation Hub launch speakers

Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau welcomes new ceo and a major national conference

In January, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) welcomed its new president and CEO Julie Coker Graham with an announcement ceremony featuring Mayor Jim Kenney and leaders of the National Medical Association (NMA). America’s oldest and largest organization representing African American healthcare professionals, NMA will hold its annual conference in Philadelphia in July 2017. (Flying Kite heard from Graham a few weeks ago when she spoke at Philly’s Women at the Wheel forum.)

According to Graham, the conference will bring 3500 attendees to the city, with an estimated $5 million economic impact. And it’s extra special because current NMA national president is Philly’s own Dr. Edith P. Mitchell, a medical oncologist and associate director of Jefferson University Health System’s Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.

Dr. Mitchell is pleased to represent a partnership between Jefferson, the NMA and the City of Philadelphia. When the NMA was formed in 1895, "doctors like me were denied membership in other organizations," she explained at the ceremony. Mitchell appreciates the opportunities at Philly’s many medical and educational institutions and asked, "How we can all work together to fight disparities and head toward healthcare equity for all?"

NMA Executive Director Martin Hamlette introduced Dr. Mitchell with the same themes. He pointed to the NMA's many corporate and political partnerships that tackle the issues both African-American physicians and their patients face, with a special focus on chronic conditions, aging and wellness, and fair access to healthcare.

"We get lobbied by a lot of cities," said Hamlette of deciding to bring the 2017 conference to the Pennsylvania Convention Center. (The last NMA conference held here was in 2003.) Philly was chosen not only because it’s a vibrant, "progressive" city where it’s good to conduct business, but also because it’s "a city that embraces diversity."

"Philadelphia is going to lead toward healthcare equity for all of us," added Dr. Mitchell.

According to PHLCVB, the organization’s convention bookings over the next several years will bring close to two million visitors to the city and generate an estimated $4 billion in regional economic impact.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: PHLCVB and NMA speakers


Saying goodbye (for now) to Callowhill with a look back at neighborhood voices

As Flying Kite transitions from its most recent On the Ground residency at Asian Arts Initiative, it’s worth looking back on neighborhood voices from the past few years. After all, this area just north of Center City has many names and many stories.

Last week, we spoke with Mural Arts freelance project manager Dave Kyu. He's been involved with the Asian Arts Social Practice Lab since 2012. His past projects include "Sign of the Times," which collected thoughts and reflections from the neighborhood and broadcast them on signs mounted on a truck driving around the city, and "Write Sky," which solicited ideas from community members that became messages in the sky with the help of sky-writing pilots.

To launch projects like this -- including his current work on a light and sound installation near the Viaduct -- he needed to get to know the neighborhood. Kyu began with a small survey of about fifteen people, hoping to learn what people’s perceptions of the area were. He recently shared the results with Flying Kite. The themes raised in surveys conducted in late 2012 through early 2013 reflect dramatic neighborhood change.

One question he asked his subjects was a deceptively simple one: What do you call this neighborhood?

To some, it’s Chinatown North, but it’s also Callowhill and "North of Vine." Others call it "the Viaduct area" -- certainly a label that’s gaining traction now -- and others call it "Eraserhood" or the "Loft District."

Kyu says all of these names just represent different factions of people trying to preserve what they see as their piece of the neighborhood as development advances.

Back then, respondents noted that the area was becoming a haven for the "creative class" and other entrepreneurs. The addition of galleries, bars and restaurants -- from artists and collectives at the 319 gallery building to nightlife startups like Brick and Mortar and W/N W/N Coffee Bar, and services like GoBeer -- have borne this out.

Kyu also asked subjects, "What is the best thing that could happen in this neighborhood in the next year?" Answers included a launch to the first stage of the new Viaduct Park (on its way), and "some type of festival that is accessible for all." Last fall’s Pearl Street Passage project offered a taste of this possibility.

The survey also noted that the area was "ripe for development" and changing extremely fast. Projects from the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation’s Eastern Tower to new high-end residential units on Spring Garden, speak to expanding live/work opportunities in the neighborhood.

Keep an eye out for our continued coverage of happenings in Callowhill as it searches for its 21st century identity. And come say hello in Strawberry Mansion, where we will begin our next On the Ground residency soon.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Dave Kyu
, Mural Arts Project and Asian Arts Initiative

Follow all our work #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).

On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

Engaging Philly business owners on the issue of litter

Last week, we took a look at the ways the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation and other members of the new Keep Philadelphia Beautiful (KPB) city-wide anti-litter coalition are tackling illegal dumping in Philly. Another important conversation revolved around encouraging business owners to be more active in combatting litter.

Beth McConnell, policy director of the Philadelphia Association of CDCs, Michelle Kim, a program officer at LISC Philadelphia, Director Alex Balloon of the Taucony CDC, Akeem Dixon of the People's Emergency Center and the Enterprise Center, and Mayor’s Office of Sustainability Deputy Director of Policy Andrew Sharp participated in this discussion.

Participants noted possible best practices as well as existing challenges.

"There’s no cross-city litter program in the city," explained Sharp. "It’s incredibly siloed."

"We should not be afraid to say the City should be paying more money for these things," McConnell suggested.

Another theme was encouraging SEPTA to take a greater role in combatting litter by ensuring properly maintained receptacles at transit stops. Dixon expressed concern about plans for new surface transit shelters that don’t also include a nearby place to put refuse. Trashcans should be better aligned with transit routes, the group agreed.

"It’s not about cleaning. It’s about engagement," Kim said of reaching out to business owners who can help combat problems of trash block by block.

Or as Dixon put it, "The best app in the world is called talking to each other."

Participants pointed to the success of ensuring SWEEPs officers aren’t just enforcers, but a friendly face and resource in the streets.

Suggestions for helping businesses included amnesty from fines for any owner who calls 311 to report excess trash outside their building. Currently, many owners and managers may not make the call for fear they’ll be punished for the mess. Sometimes, participants pointed out, trash outside one business may not have come from that business at all, but been illegally dumped there or blown by the wind.

Attendees also said that Streets Department staffers could come to more neighborhood meetings, and that there could be higher-profile awards or incentives for business owners who consistently maintain a tidy street and sidewalk.

Balloon also pointed to an existing City ordinance that needs better enforcement: Take-out restaurants are required to have an external trashcan onsite, but many don’t follow the rule, resulting in piles of Styrofoam cast-offs nearby.

KPB leader Michelle Feldman, chatting with Flying Kite after the meeting, said January’s gathering drew just as many participants as the initial one in October 2015, though this time -- based on surveys following the previous meeting -- the discussion was more targeted and specific. She hopes a unified city plan will emerge from the coalition; the next litter convening will be held sometime in April.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: Keep Philadelphia Beautiful Litter Convening members 

Your chance to join Philly's biggest anti-littering coalition

Anti-litter efforts are nothing new, but Keep Philadelphia Beautiful (KPB) Executive Director Michelle Feldman is hoping to take them to the next level in 2016 by convening the city’s most comprehensive forum on littering to date.
KPB is involved in the community outreach and educational aspects of neighborhood greening, sustainability and beautification, working with motivated local groups through micro-grants, workshops and classes.
Last October, Feldman helped organize the initial session of a new consortium: KPB is partnering with the Commerce Department, the Streets Department, the Philadelphia Association of CDCs and the Philly chapter of the Local Initiative Support Coalition (LISC). 
"Heads of neighborhood-based organizations have meetings together all the time," explains Feldman, but they’ve never focused specifically on issues of litter. The long-term coalition aims to share resources, challenges and best practices while also looking to the future for a concrete joint project spearheaded by KPB.
"I want to form an advisory committee of folks who are on the ground in different neighborhoods around the city," she says. "I want to hear, what are the challenges in [for example] West Philly versus North Philly…and what are the ways that Keep Philadelphia Beautiful at a city-wide level can help to address those challenges."
The first meetings -- they aren’t branded yet, but Feldman is calling them "litter convenings" -- are already getting a big response. The October session at the Municipal Services Building (MSB) drew about thirty people. An invitation to the next meeting on Wednesday, January 20 (10 a.m. - 12 p.m. in MSB’s 16th floor Innovation Lab) quickly garnered a raft of RSVPs.
The January 20 agenda includes small group work on best practices in youth and business owner engagement, preventing illegal dumping, and examining existing data/metrics on the issue. All attendees will have the chance to see and comment on the top concepts from each breakout group.
"It’s going to dovetail nicely with a new administration and their focus on littering," enthuses Feldman.
Community stakeholders interesting in attending should RSVP to michelle@keepphiladelphiabeautiful.org.
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Michelle Feldman, Keep Philadelphia Beautiful 


Yards, La Colombe and Shake Shack team up for a limited edition Coffee Stout

A new collaboration between Shake Shack, Yards Brewing Company and La Colombe Coffee Roasters is giving Philly a rich and tasty new brew for the cold-weather season, available on draft at select locations while supplies last.
On January 8, Shake Shack Culinary Director Mark Rosati, La Colombe co-founder Todd Carmichael, and Yards founder and brewmaster Tom Kehoe officially launched their limited-edition Coffee Stout at Center City’s Sansom Street Shake Shack location.
Kehoe chatted with Flying Kite while taking full advantage of an impromptu Shake Shack combo -- making a vanilla custard float with his stout. The collaboration has been in the works for about two months. The strong, dark, and smooth ale gets bright notes of lavender, orange and caramel from ethically sourced beans that come to Philly via the Haitian village of Fatima (as part of La Colombe’s three-year investment in the Haiti Coffee Academy). 
The base stout is very similar to Yards' Chocolate Love Stout, brewed with the same chocolate malt. It gets its mellow coffee flavor directly from the beans in a secondary fermenter.

"Coffee really works so well with the beer," said Kehoe. "It’s definitely a beer for winter because of the robustness of it."
Sales will benefit the City of Philadelphia's Mural Arts Program (MAP), Center City Shake Shack’s official charitable partner. $2 from each pint purchased will go to MAP.
So where can you get your hands on some of this buzzy brew? Pints are on sale for $5.75 at Yards’ Northern Liberties tasting room, La Colombe’s Fishtown café (1335 Frankford Avenue) and all three Philadelphia-area Shake Shack locations (Center City, University City, and King of Prussia).
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Tom Kehoe, Yards Brewing Company

Federal dollars from ScaleUp America come to West Philly

In December, the Enterprise Center (TEC) in West Philly announced a special program to augment their 25-year mission: giving local women- and minority-owned businesses the tools they need to grow. TEC is one of only seven organizations nationwide -- and the only one in Philly -- chosen to receive over $1 million in federal funds through the U.S. Small Business Administration's ScaleUp America Initiative.

According to TEC, ScaleUp provides "growth-oriented" small businesses with a targeted twelve-week curriculum and six months of one-on-one mentoring from experts aimed at developing a three-year strategy. TEC narrowed the field of applicants down to 25 businesses featuring minority owners or executive managers.

Iola Harper, TEC's executive vice president of business programs, says that the companies served by TEC and ScaleUp America are often "sandwiched" between early startups "in the idea phase" and large firms that can attract venture capital. To qualify for participation in the ScaleUp program, businesses had to have local impact and have proven themselves in the market via $150,000 to $700,000 in annual revenue.

"We call them scalers," says Harper, and they are often neglected in the venture capital world.

One marker of companies like this is a relative lack of managerial experience, in addition to inadequate access to capital and technical assistance.

"I find that these businesses tend to work in their business and not on their business," explains Harper. "So this program forces the participants to step out of their businesses," encouraging management to look at the big picture: business goals, scalability and understanding the numbers.

The ScaleUp initiative is a mentoring curriculum, but another component of working with TEC is the access to capital. The organization can make in-house loans of up to $200,000 to qualified participants, and if a business’s capital needs exceed that, there are banking partners on hand.

Harper is excited about "the fact that these are all local or minority-owned firms, and they’re typically the pool that has the hardest time accessing these services that we’re offering."

That difficulty is two-fold: Not only does TEC focus on women and minority entrepreneurs who get a smaller percentage of America’s venture capital in general, but it also targets companies outside of the tech and pharmaceutical realms. Current ScaleUp participants include food, manufacturing, personal service and construction businesses.

TEC is focused on ventures that "bring a lot of social capital to our community," enthuses Harper. "They bring a lot of intellectual capital to our community, and most of all they bring jobs to our community."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Iola Harper, The Enterprise Center


New analysis of projected rail line to King of Prussia is big news for the whole region

Imagine shaving over thirty minutes off of the commute between Center City and King of Prussia (KOP), the region’s greatest economic center outside the city limits.

That dream will take a while to become a reality, but a new "Connecting KOP" study released in early December -- through a partnership between the non-profit Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and Econsult Solutions, Inc. -- has some noteworthy numbers. The analysis has been in the works for about a year, with the help of SEPTA and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. 

Economy League Managing Director of Strategy and Operations Nick Frontino calls King of Prussia an "edge city," meaning that people who work or shop there outnumber the people who live there. About 20,000 people call the area home, while about 50,000 work there and 25 million visit the KOP Mall annually. It’s a natural hub of economic activity at the convergence of four major highways: the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the Schuylkill Expressway, Route 202 and Route 422.

"I think you’re beginning to see the evolution of a lot of these types of automobile-centric, very suburban business and commercial centers into more mixed-use, denser, more accessible communities," says Frontino.

SEPTA’s proposed extension of its existing Norristown High Speed Line to KOP is probably at least eight years away due to rigorous federal processes for new transit initiatives, but the fresh analysis nevertheless offers some exciting news for the region.

Simplifying and expediting the commute to KOP from areas like Center City, Upper Darby and Norristown – both in terms of easier transit access and less congested roadways – will have significant outcomes for the whole region. According to the Economy League, direct rail transit could result in 17,000 to 29,0000 new jobs in KOP over the next 20 years, alongside up to eight million square feet of new development. The trip from Upper Darby could be reduced by at least ten minutes, while the commuting distance from Norristown could be cut by over 20 minutes. Add in that extra half hour taken off the commute from Center City, and that could mean up to 2.1 million hours per year saved by local drivers due to the reduced roadway congestion alone.

The study also projects that improved KOP access by rail could generate up to $1.3 billion in economic activity in the greater five-county region of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Ultimately, Frontino hopes this analysis of the project -- which is still in its Draft Environmental Impact Statement phase -- will alter the conversation about transit in the region which often "focuses on the price tag, and not as much on what the associated benefits might be…On a national level, money allocated towards transit is talked about as spending, while money allocated towards highways is talked about as investment."

He wants a new perspective on how improved non-automotive transit can benefit a state and city’s bottom line. And what about the projected effect of the rail line on Norristown just across the river? Stay tuned for a look in our next issue.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Nick Frontino, the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia

Philly tableware mavens Felt + Fat earn fans far and wide

Port Richmond ceramics company Felt + Fat was founded in 2013 by Nate Mell and Wynn Bauer. In May, over 200 Kickstarter donors raised $26,256 for the young Philly business, which provides custom-made tableware to restaurants such as Fork, High Street on Market, South Philly’s Laurel and other fine dining spots in Brooklyn and beyond. They also offer direct sales to individual consumers through their website and wholesale distribution through shops across the country.

According to Mell, Felt + Fat would have continued without the Kickstarter infusion, but it helped them grow much faster than they could have on their own, adding a new kiln to their studio, acquiring other smaller pieces of equipment and bringing on board a paid employee.

"It’s been full-time since day one," says Mell of the hours he and his partner have put into the business; that said, they also worked part-time elsewhere while the company grew. Mell spent about seven years in local restaurants, which helped him connect with chefs who were looking to showcase their locally sourced ingredients on custom Philly-made tableware.

This past summer the founders were able to quit their part-time jobs and focus exclusively on Felt + Fat.

The name is a homage to mid-20th century German sculptor Joseph Beuys -- they liked his artistry and use of materials, most notably soap and animal fat.

"We were just trying to make a name that could exist in a few different realms of craft and art and design," explains Mell.

The founders have perfected a slip casting method for their unique wares, which feature different textures, finishes and colors, including a distinctive swirl. They also make their own porcelain.

"To a degree, it’s kind of like cooking or baking something. It’s a recipe," says Mell of the specially "tweaked" clay and mineral combo they use. Initially, they were mixing the ingredients themselves, but now a distributor does this for them; they then add water and the necessary materials to cast their plates and cups.

In slip casting, the liquid clay -- or "slip" -- is poured into a plaster mold. Wherever the slip meets the moisture-wicking plaster, a hard edge forms. When that layer is thick enough, the excess slip is poured out of the mold. What’s left forms the body of the cup or plate. When dry, it's removed from the mold and fired in the kiln.

All that takes time and space, which Philadelphia has in spades.

"Philadelphia is a particularly good place right now to be an artist and a creative person, because of the rapid growth of the moment," argues Mell. He appreciates the large client base a Philly location offers, without the living and studio costs of New York City.

Next up, the duo are hoping to expand into lighting fixtures and furniture accessories; they eventually aim to open a local showroom for their wares. They’ll certainly have more space to experiment: In January, Felt + Fat (currently at 3237 Amber Street) will expand to a second location in a Kensington studio building at the corner of I and Venango Streets.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Nate Mell, Felt + Fat 

Sixth annual State of University City celebrates 75,000 new jobs

On November 18, University City District (UCD) hosted its sixth annual State of University City event at World Café Live. The headline of the night was the 75,000 jobs created within this 2.4-square-mile neighborhood, home to some of Philly’s premier education, healthcare and science institutions. According to UCD, the area is on track to add an additional 1,000 jobs in 2016.

Craig Carnaroli, executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania and UCD’s board chair, noted that this density of jobs is among the highest of any neighborhood in the country. Speaking at World Café Live, he cited the impact of startup hubs like the Enterprise Center and Drexel’s ic@3401, which now hosts 50 technology entrepreneurs from 30 member companies.

Carnaroli also noted the groundbreaking work of companies like Spark Therapeutics, which will soon seek FDA approval for its gene therapy; studies indicate they can achieve restored vision in people blinded by certain retinal diseases. Another University City breakthrough made national news this year when eight-year-old Zion Harvey received the world’s first pediatric double hand transplant from Penn Medicine.

Carnaroli touted "the power of community and institutions coming together in partnerships to produce results."

UCD Executive Director Matt Bergheiser spoke about why 75,000 jobs is a "magic number" for the area. Businesses and institutions are "feeling the growth of the regional economy" with a substantial spike in well-paid jobs, he insisted. According to UCD, between 2008 and 2013, the neighborhood saw a 79 percent increase in middle to high-wage jobs -- wage growth far above the city’s overall average. It’s exciting news, especially paired with a ten percent jump in University City’s population since 2013 and expansions in the restaurant, hospitality, retail and real estate sectors.

Another way to look at the job density in University City, Bergheiser pointed out, is to count 30,000 jobs per square mile. He also emphasized some essential ingredients in the neighborhood's success: entrepreneurial, civic and "opportunity" infrastructure. 

Because innovation needs places for people to come together, entrepreneurial infrastructure flourishes at cutting-edge hubs like the Science Center and Wexford Science + Technology.

Civic infrastructure -- which Bergheiser called "splendor at the ground level" -- includes elements such as new parklets, the Porch at 30th Street, a revamped Market Street Bridge and the upcoming $2.1 million transformation of the 40th Street SEPTA portal, slated to open in 2017.

"Opportunity infrastructure" is paying attention to an equity of opportunities, or "how we connect the talent in our West Philadelphia neighborhood" to meaningful jobs, he explained.

That led naturally to talk of UCD's West Philadelphia Skills Initiative -- many participants are low-income residents who struggle with longterm unemployment or a criminal record that prevents them from getting a foot in the door with job applications. Bergheiser said that 91 percent of Skills Initiative graduates succeed in landing a job, with an average starting wage of $13.60 per hour.

It all adds up to "a new first and lasting impression" for our metropolis, he concluded.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: University City District

From Startup to High Impact: The latest Exchange PHL Breakfast talks nonprofit innovation

On December 2, wake up with more than just coffee at the latest installment of the Exchange PHL Breakfast Series. At Wednesday's event, regional leaders in innovative social good will tackle "the Path from Startup To High Impact." 

"I think there is something that’s profoundly shifting among nonprofits and their openness to look at these possible changes in how they do business," explains Nadya K. Shmavonian, director of the newly formed Nonprofit Repositioning Fund, who will be speaking at the breakfast.

Hosted by nonprofit-centric co-working space The Exchange, located in Center City’s Friends Center, the event will shift the conversation from entrepreneurship to operations, and discuss how great programs become part of the fabric of the city, touching on sustainable revenue models, evaluation and adaptation.

"We just launched on October 7, so it’s a very new effort," Shmavonian says of the Fund. "We have been pleasantly surprised at how much interest there’s been."

The seven founding members include North Penn Community Health Foundation, Samuel S. Fels Fund, Scattergood Foundation, the Barra Foundation, the Philadelphia Foundation, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, William Penn Foundation and Arizona’s Lodestar Foundation.

The Fund targets nonprofits in transition in the greater Philadelphia area, including Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Philadelphia and Montgomery counties. Hosted and administered by the Philanthropy Network of Greater Philadelphia, seed awards and grants will support nonprofits as they explore and formalize new collaborations, joint ventures and consolidations.

In rare instances, the Fund will also help with dissolution planning for individual organizations outside of a merger or acquisition. That, along with the work of "repositioning" nonprofits, can lead to questions about the Fund’s goals.

"How do foundations work with nonprofits in a way that is not threatening?" asks Shmavonian. "Because obviously there’s a power imbalance there. This isn’t about thinning the herd. It really is about finding ways to allow a nonprofit to…deliver on their mission in a sustainable high-performance way."

That can include tweaks like merging back office realms or making an informal partnership an integral piece of an organizations’ structure, allowing the pooling of resources and best practices.

"There’s a whole array of arrangements that people are looking at that stop far short of a formal merger or acquisition," she adds.

Shmavonian is looking forward to the December 2 conversation, which will also feature Lauren Fine of the Youth Sentencing and Re-entry Project. She thinks the next several years will bring very interesting deals for regional nonprofits, and that the Fund will grow a portfolio of creative models for participating organizations.

"It’s a fast-changing environment out there," she argues. "I’m as much about shifting the culture and dynamics around this as I am the actual individual deals that we’re going to engage in." 

The latest Exchange PHL Breakfast Series is happening Wednesday, December 2 from 8:30 - 10 a.m. at 1501 Cherry Street. Attendance is free; click here to register.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Nadya K. Shmavonian, the Nonprofit Repositioning Fund

Philadelphia is America's first World Heritage City

While the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance was fighting to maintain the city's Cultural Fund budget -- which faced steep cuts for the next fiscal year -- Philly was on track to become the United States’ first World Heritage City. The designation, announced last week after a vote from the World Congress of the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) in Arequipa, Peru, went up like a firework in local news feeds.

Philly is the 267th World Heritage City, having logged one major qualification back in 1979, when Independence Hall became a World Heritage Site.

"Philadelphia is the largest and most complete fulfillment of the kind of model city envisioned by Enlightenment architects," OWHC notes on our city’s new page.

It’s an exciting first for a city already spreading its wings on the national and global stage, hosting Pope Francis in September and the Democratic National Convention in summer 2016.

Cultural Alliance president Maud Lyon is excited about the possibilities of Philly’s new distinction, but notes that our identity as a city with strong ties to the rest of the world is not a new one.

"It’s really important for us to focus on being a global city," she argues. "We have been from the very beginning, and I think it’s important for us to have that perspective. 

"I think culture is always the first ambassador that goes out for a city,” she continues, noting the success of a world tour for the Philadelphia Orchestra in the past year. "Those concert halls were packed everywhere the Orchestra went."

It’s a good time to be getting our world-class cultural offerings out there because according to a Global Philadelphia study cited in the Inquirer, the city could be looking at a significant tourism boost: a one to two percent increase in domestic visitors (generating an economic impact of up to $200 million), and a rise in foreign visitors that could reach 15 percent, or the addition of up to 100,000 tourists annually.

Lyon is excited by the possibilities of more visitors from overseas, particularly a growing population of middle class travelers from throughout Asia, especially China and India.

"I think that we will in the next ten years be seeing more people coming from that part of the world who want to tour Philadelphia, and we absolutely want to be a destination for them," she adds.

The next ten years will be important ones for America, too, as the 250th anniversary of the country's independence approaches.

Culture is "the most approachable and welcoming and inclusive way of being an ambassador [for a] city," says Lyon, and the influx of international visitors -- and hopefully more collaborations between foreign artists and Philly institutions -- will be "the kind of cross-fertilization that you need between cultures.”

From Philly’s history as the United States’ birthplace to our musical tradition to our scientific and educational institutions, our city has plenty to offer. In considering the World Heritage designation, Lyon says we need to take pride not only in the international visitors we attract, but in the longtime diversity of our home. It’s not just about honoring the framers of the Constitution.

"Certainly the diversity of ethnic heritage that’s part of this city and this region is very rich and very important to who we are," she explains. "It’s important for us to remember that and to really own being a global city."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Maud Lyon, the Cultural Alliance of Greater Philadelphia

New manager at Germantown United CDC has all the neighborhood news

Emaleigh Doley, a longtime community activist, has a new hat: she's one of two full-time employees at Germantown United CDC (along with executive director Andy Trackman). Thanks to support from the Philadelphia Department of Commerce, she started in late August as the nonprofit’s corridor manager, and is now nurturing and managing a slew of projects at the upstart community development corporation.

These include the latest round of GUDCD's Fund for Germantown grantees, who receive micro-grants for "community-driven beautification projects" in the neighborhood; those winners were announced October 1. The dollars come via local real estate developers Ken Weinstein and Howard Treatman, and have supported 17 initiatives (with amounts ranging from $100 to $1,000) since the program’s inception.

The latest grantees include photographer Tieshka Smith for her "Peaceful Places" public signage project, Maplewood Mall’s iMPeRFeCT Gallery, which will be installing an interactive sidewalk mural, and Susan Guggenheim’s Freedom Gardens, which connects local gardeners eager to share crops with those looking for homegrown produce. Other grantees include the Germantown elementary school Fitler Academics Plus, the West Central Germantown Neighbors, Men Who Care of Germantown and the East Germantown's Chew-Belfield Neighbors Club.

According to Doley, the Germantown Artists Roundtable, a previous grantee, stands out as a successful example of what the funds can do. The group recently mounted a display of information on current arts and culture events outside the Chelten Avenue train station, and plans to keep it updated as a community resource for happenings around town.

"We’re starting to see how that could be a really attractive feature in other areas of Germantown," she explains. "We’re learning from the project ideas that are coming through, and thinking about how we might like to build initiatives around some of them."

Applications for the next round of Fund for Germantown grants are due December 31, 2015.

Also looming large on GUCDC’s horizon is a new website for the neighborhood featuring a business directory. Doley notes that while Historic Germantown does a good job of providing online information about the area’s historic sites, residents and visitors alike often aren’t aware of other amenities, from parks and public spaces to hardware stores and restaurants. She hopes the new website will remedy that.

GUCDC is working with P’unk Avenue to develop the site. Input is being gathered via interviews and workshops with community leaders, residents and business owners. The site is on track to launch in early 2016.

Other projects for the commercial corridor in Germantown include the installation of new security cameras and a storefront activation initiative in partnership with local artists. Check back with Flying Kite as we keep up with the latest in our former On the Ground home.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Emaleigh Doley, Germantown United Community Development Corporation


On the Ground: One city block yields almost 6,000 pounds of produce

When Flying Kite moved into our new On the Ground digs in Parkside, we didn’t know how close we were to Neighborhood Foods Farm, one of the city’s most productive urban farms.
Operating under the umbrella of Philly’s Urban Tree Connection (UTC) and its Neighborhood Foods program, the site at 53rd and Wyalusing is the size of one city block, or about three-quarters of an acre.
Rachel deVitry, agricultural director at UTC, has overseen the farm since spring 2014, but it got started around 2010, when local block captains approached UTC founder and executive director Skip Wiener about the space.
"It used to be a parking lot with a factory across the street," recalls deVitry. "Ownership of the lot just lapsed and it became a chop shop," and a hub for drugs and prostitution. The block captains invited Wiener to take a look, and plans for the farm got underway, beginning with a major clean-out of the accumulated garbage. Then came the break-up of the cement that covered most of the site, and the application of thick layers of leaf mulch and mushroom soil.
These days, the farm yields rotation crops such as lettuces, arugula, kale, collards and chard, along with radishes, carrots, beets, cucumbers, squash and heirloom tomatoes.

Neighborhood Foods also operates three other urban farms in the neighborhood -- one adjacent to the First African Presbyterian Church at 4159 West Girard, another next to Ward AME Church at 43rd and Aspen, and a new four-acre site on Merion Avenue near Girard.
Though not the largest, the 53rd Street farm is the most productive site -- so far this season they've harvested 5,850 pounds of produce.
Some of that goes to neighbors who volunteer a few hours per week in exchange for fresh vegetables, and some goes to the Saturday Neighborhood Foods Farm farmers' market, which runs on the site from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. May through November. (The market also features produce like fruit and potatoes purchased from other local growers.)
The farm operates with the help of two full-time and two part-time staffers, as well as neighborhood volunteers and young apprentices hired after successful runs in after-school programs.
The farm stays open in the winter months thanks to "high tunnels," unheated structures that keep plants such as cold-friendly kale, collards and lettuce from freezing.

"We did grow through most of the winter last year," says deVitry. "And [we] hope to grow through the whole of the winter this year."
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Rachel DeVitry, Urban Tree Connection 

Follow all our work #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).

On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

Making great food products while combating poverty in southeastern Pennsylvania

Lancaster entrepreneur Charlie Crystle, whose food products are finding an enthusiastic audience in Greater Philadelphia, has a specific philosophy on the trouble with America’s economy.

According to the Lancaster Food Company CEO, what we need is "an effort to make jobs that meet people where they are, rather than where we want them to be." Politicians and civic leaders talk a lot about job training, but especially in a city like Lancaster -- which has a 30 percent poverty rate -- this falls short. Focusing on job training programs rather than immediately accessible jobs "continues to push the responsibility for unemployment onto the unemployed…if we don’t do something to meet them halfway, or all the way, [they] will never have decent employment," he argues.

Hiring people in poverty with a good living wage is a part of his company's mission. Crystle founded the company alongside his childhood friend Craig Lauer, who serves as chief product officer, in 2014. After launching and then exiting two software startups, living coast-to-coast and working in Central America with a program for street kids, Crystle felt a strong desire to create a company at home with a social as well as an economic impact.

Lancaster Food Company specializes in organic and sustainably sourced breads, spreads, salsas and jams, including sandwich rye and cinnamon raisin swirl bread, sunflower seed spreads, and limited-edition small-batch toppings from locally grown ingredients such as golden orange tomato salsa and organic strawberry jam. A Lancaster Heritage Grain bread is also on the way this fall.

While their products are handmade, Crystle insists Lancaster Food Company is already a scalable business -- their target market ranges from Washington, D.C., to the New York metro area, with a large presence in Philly. Currently, you can find their products at Mariposa and Weavers Way food co-ops, Reading Terminal Market, area Shop-Rites and the Lancaster Farm Fresh CSA. They just closed an exciting deal with five Wegman’s stores in Southeastern PA, and have their sights set on Whole Foods; look for their products on the shelves of a location in Wayne soon.

That increased reach means more room to advance the company’s social philosophy: hiring people in poverty struggling to find jobs. The company was launched with "a demand for jobs that require relatively low skills, and could meet people where they are in terms of their education, work history or legal background," explains Crystle, something that was difficult to achieve with his prior work in tech startups. "We’re trying to scale so that we can hire hundreds of people, not dozens."

He’s also adamant about the value of supporting local businesses and enjoys being able to tap into the vibrant agriculture of the Lancaster area.

"Every dollar that we spend locally has…three times the impact on our local economy" as money spent on goods from corporations in faraway states, he explains. That adds up to a business as committed to combating poverty as it is to pleasing customers.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Charlie Crystle, Lancaster Food Company


Community funding propels G-Town Radio from the internet to the airwaves

G-Town Radio station manager Jim Bear says that though it might not yet be visible to the public, big changes are underway for Germantown’s Internet radio station, which at its highest listenership has over 15,000 people tuning in worldwide.

The major news broke in January, when the station got its permit from the FCC to become a Low Power FM radio station -- new federal legislation gave non-commercial neighborhood groups access to low-power airwaves previously denied them in favor of major broadcasting frequencies.

"To serve the community as best we can, being on the radio allows us to do that much better than we can online,” explains Bear who is still "a big believer" in Internet radio. "I love the medium. I love what you can do with it, but at the same time, there are real limitations to who you can expect to reach. I think that would be true anywhere, but I think it’s even more evident in a community like Germantown."

In many neighborhoods, the digital divide is still very real. Unlike Internet access, which can be costly and require certain skills to tune in, radio is still a ubiquitous and easily accessible medium, free for everyone with a car or a radio in the home. (The station will continue to broadcast online as well.)

With an existing studio and programming, G-town Radio (which will share airtime with Germantown United CDC and Germantown Life Enrichment Center) is ahead of some nascent LPFM stations who must build their presence from the ground up.

Right now, Bear is looking into locations and lease agreements with local property owners who might be able to host a radio antenna on the roof. The studio space itself won’t require much additional equipment: the primary expense of shifting to LPFM will be that new transmission equipment, including the gear that beams the audio from the studio to the tower.

To that end, G-Town Radio has launched a "Drive for the Sky" crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo, hoping to raise $5,000 by October 3. That will cover the initial costs of equipment and installation, and possibly the first few months of rent for the antenna location.

"We want to make sure we get to the air… [and] demonstrate our worth, and hopefully when we’re doing that, people will recognize the value of community radio, and give us access to a larger pool of donors and supporters and listeners," enthuses Bear.

He hopes the new G-town Radio signal -- available at 92.9 FM -- will hit the airwaves as soon as possible: They’re on an FCC-administered deadline requiring completion of LPFM construction within 18 months of receiving the permit, which means launching by next summer at the latest. The signal is expected to reach what Bear calls "greater Northwest Philadelphia," including Germantown, East Falls, Nicetown, Mt. Airy and West Oak Lane. (Depending on location and the density of area buildings, LPFM signals typically have a three to five mile radius.)

"A lot of it’s behind the scenes so there’s not much to see," says Bear of the LPFM progress so far, "but we’re actively working on it and we’re still moving forward."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Jim Bear, G-Town Radio

Meet A Poet Art Gallery, On the Ground’s host in Parkside

On August 11, Flying Kite announced the official relaunch of On the Ground, and we’re already enjoying the hospitality of our home for the next three months, Girard Avenue's A Poet Art Gallery.

The gallery, founded in late 2010, was originally located at 4510 Walnut Street before moving to 40th and Girard in Parkside. The three founders, Rachelle Pierre-Louis, Shar Coles and New York-based Tina Albright recently chatted with Flying Kite about their history and mission.

"We just wanted to create a space for artists to basically have a home," explains Pierre-Louis.

Events at the Girard Avenue space include weekly (every Tuesday night) and monthly ("Sounds in the Gallery" every first Saturday) open mic events for poetry and music, plus art exhibitions, African dance classes and, coming soon, painting classes. The gallery is also available to rent for a variety of events, including weddings.

The three women's artistic backgrounds are about as diverse as they come. The Haitian-born Pierre-Louis came to the U.S. when she was 11, first settling with family in Los Angeles for a year, then relocating to Philly where she completed the rest of her education, including a graphic design degree.

"I’ve been drawing since I was six years old," she says; Pierre-Louis now works in acrylics and oils, as well as tattoo art.

Coles, an alum of University City High School, is a Philadelphia native who grew up in South and West Philly. She loves all kinds of art and describes herself as "an inside poet" because she enjoys putting words together, but doesn’t always share them in public.

Albright is an interior designer and art-decal maker, but she also shares carpentry skills with Coles. Her artistic expertise extends into the culinary realm: She creates custom cakes in a variety of shapes including handbags and shoes.

"We pretty much all had a hand in building the gallery," recalls Albright.

The three put even more work into their Girard Avenue space than the Walnut Street one -- they raised the ceiling, laid down new floors, and designed and created the bathrooms. The location even boasts a backyard.

The women admire the better-known gallery corridors of Old City, but saw no reason not to bring the same caliber of art and community-building to West Philly. According to Pierre-Louis, they have a broad client base across the city, but want to connect more closely with their nearest neighbors. When she got wind of On the Ground, it sounded like the perfect "missing piece" of their mission for the gallery.

"We’ve been trying to get in touch and pool a little bit more of the community and we haven’t had that chance," she continues; the Flying Kite connection was the right thing at the right time. "We want people to come out and appreciate art and see something different…and decide to pick up some paint and write some poetry, and we want to inspire people and be in our home base, which is West Philly."

The address is 4032 Girard Avenue, and Flying Kite will be in residence there every Monday and Tuesday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. through October.

"We’re always looking for artists," adds Pierre-Louis. "The door is always open."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: Rachelle Pierre-Louis, Shar Coles, and Tina Albright, APoetArtGallery 


An urban farm sprouts in Chinatown thanks to Grow Where You Live

Meei Ling Ng, a Singapore-born, Philly-based artist, designer and urban farmer, has taken on a multifaceted project in Chinatown North. The initiative features a vertical urban farm, a job-skills program for people in recovery from addiction or homelessness, and a new fount of fresh food for the partnering Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission.

The impetus for Ng's new project grew out of Grow Where You Live, her year-long Social Practice Lab residency at the Asian Arts Initiative. It was supposed to wrap up in June, but the current urban garden project has proven so successful that Ng's Asian Arts residency has been extended at least until the end of this year.

"Ideally I was looking for a vacant lot around the neighborhood," says Ng of a long search for an appropriate urban farm space and partner organization. Such a space -- open to the work of an artist and farmer -- was hard to find, partly because of recent gentrification in the area.

A tour of the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission late last year proved extremely propitious: Ng learned that the organization, which provides a range of vital services to the city’s homeless, was in the process of a parking lot space swap with their neighbors to the west, Roman Catholic High School.

The switch would leave a large space along Sunday Breakfast’s kitchen wall -- about 20 feet wide and 100 feet long -- empty of cars by law.

"This is amazing. This is exactly what we want," Ng recalls thinking on seeing the space; she envisioned a specially designed and built vertical urban farm. "We can use a whole big empty wall with asphalt under…this could be an awesome, awesome project."

The artist spent a month on a meticulous rendering of her idea, then pitched it to Sunday Breakfast. The project became reality through support and donations from Asian Arts, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Philadelphia Orchard Project, City Harvest and South Philly’s Urban Jungle, a landscape design firm.

Since then, the little farm has provided pounds of produce that go directly into meals served at Sunday Breakfast.

The partnership also has a human component: The farm runs with help from workers at Overcomers, an intensive 16-month program for men in recovery from addiction and homelessness. They reap a wealth of skills -- not only the ability to grow their own healthy food in an urban setting, but practical job training in a rapidly growing industry. The formal part of the Overcomers project is finished, but a few participants have stayed on as official apprentices and volunteers.

"This is very exciting that we have a team now to work on the farm," says Ng, adding that she has high hopes the project will continue in future summers.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Meei Ling Ng, Asian Arts Initiative

A major merger supports big plans in Fairmount Park

Big news keeps coming out of Fairmount Park: On April 21, the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the Fairmount Park Historic Preservation Trust, the two nonprofits that support the city's park system, formally announced their merger.

The Conservancy, founded as the Fairmount Park Foundation in 1997, began primarily as a fundraising agent for the park, but in the last few years, the organization has partnered with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to branch into many aspects of planning, project management and outreach. It’s now also helming the recently-announced Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative.

The Trust, a public/private venture launched in 1992, focuses on professional preservation services to nonprofits and City agencies, managing historic buildings, public art and "cultural landscapes."

The new combined organization -- boasting the name Fairmount Park Conservancy -- isn’t shedding any jobs on either side; it will employ a combined staff of 16 and have an annual operating budget of about $2 million. Former Conservancy Executive Director Kathryn Ott Lovell will continue in that role while former Trust Executive Director Lucy Strackhouse has transitioned into the title of senior director of preservation and project management. 

Bringing the two groups together was a long process.

"We started talking about merging in 2007," recalls Strackhouse. A lot of meetings took place, but "then 2008 happened," and city-wide financial pressures caused by the recession led the organizations to table the talks until 2010.

But once the discussion was back on track -- with the help of pro bono legal services from Pepper Hamilton -- the boards reached a memorandum of understanding in mid-2014, with official notice of the merger reaching both offices at the end of the year.

While the January merger was no secret, the delay of a formal public announcement until late April had to do with getting the new organization’s branding and website up to speed.

"What we’re really going to be looking at is not just preserving these resources for history’s sake, but really thinking about how the historic properties are activated in new ways," says Lovell. "What you’ll see from our combined entities are some really exciting announcements about historic properties reimagined."

Between PennPraxis' plan The New Fairmount Park, the Civic Commons, and other initiatives, "City government can’t manage on their own," says Lovell of the Conservancy’s increasingly important role in Fairmount Park stewardship.

These plans encompass the natural, historical and cultural assets of the park, she adds, "reinforcing the fact that the merger is a really positive thing for both organizations, but ultimately for the park."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: Kathryn Ott Lovell and Lucy Strackhouse, the Fairmount Park Conservancy

Community College of Philadelphia makes tuition free for eligible students

Earlier this month, Community College of Philadelphia announced its 50th Anniversary Scholarship program -- the school is offering associate's degrees at no cost to eligible Philadelphia high school graduates. And that was only the beginning of the good news.

On April 16, word came down that Philly native and Community College of Philadelphia graduate Deesha Dyer has been named White House Social Secretary. According to a statement from the White House, before starting as an intern in 2009, Dyer worked for the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust for nine years; she also worked as a freelance journalist from 2003 through 2010. Dyer returned to college at age 29 to get an associate’s degree in Women’s Studies.

"It really is great news," says Greg Murphy, vice president for institutional advancement and executive director of the Community College of Philadelphia Foundation. The national limelight seems perfectly timed to shine a light on the school's new program, which jump-starts a college education for motivated local students who might not otherwise be able to afford it.

"Basically, it’s meant to eliminate barriers," he explains, adding that these are "last dollar scholarships." That means eligible students file a FAFSA and those dollars get added to any state help available (including Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance) and funds from applicable grant programs. But if there’s still a gap in the tuition owed, Community College of Philadelphia can now step in with a scholarship to cover those costs, putting an associate’s degree within reach for the cost of the textbooks.

The program covers any Pell-eligible 2015 graduate of a Philadelphia high school who wants to enroll this fall. They must satisfy the college-level academic placement requirement and be enrolled full-time (at least 12 credits per semester) in a degree program of study.

The scholarship, which the students will apply for annually along with their FAFSA, is good for up to three years or through the completion of an associate’s degree, whichever comes first. To remain eligible for the dollars, students will need to maintain a 2.5 cumulative GPA at the end of each year and meet a few other requirements, including at least one campus or community-based extra-curricular activity.

"The idea is you really want to fund students who are making progress," insists Murphy. "All of that contributes to a student who is eager and ready to enter the workforce or further their education. It’s truly part of what the city wants. The city is looking at a future where they need many workers with higher-level skills, and so we are trying to match what the city needs in terms of creating skilled workers."

The college's 50th Anniversary Scholarship dollars are philanthropic not public. According to a statement, the program is projected to cost $200,000 in year one, $300,000 the following year and $350,000 in year three.

"I don’t think anything before has excited the Foundation board to raise money as much as this has," adds Murphy. "They’re really inspired by this scholarship and what it can do for the City of Philadelphia."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Greg Murphy, the Community College of Philadelphia


Update: Lancaster Avenue's Neighborhood Time Exchange makes a difference

Winnipeg native and Montreal resident Kandis Friesen loved the two months she spent in Philly this year as part of Lancaster Avenue's Neighborhood Time Exchange (NTE) residency, which offers studio space and a stipend for hours of service the artists contribute to community-based projects.

The intitative, continuing with multiple artist cycles until the fall, is a partnership of the Mural Arts Program, the Ontario-based Broken City Lab and the People's Emergency Center.

An interdisciplinary artist who works with media including sound and video, Friesen, in her mid-30s, has been working as an artist only for the last five years or so.

"Before that, I was doing social justice-based and community-based work," she explains. "I’ve always seen it as part of my life, whether I’m making art or working a different job."

During her NTE stint (which ran from February 1 through April 1), she offered some of those project-manager skills to her peers: negotiating time, projects and space. In a program connecting residency artists to community service requests, that meant "working with really diverse groups of people who might have really different ideas, or similar ideas but…really different personalities," she explains.

Her own contribution to the neighborhood had many facets. She worked with the New Africa Center on a walking tour of Black History in West Philly, focusing on the saga of the self-identified Black Bottom Tribe, a thriving 19th-century African-American community living where University City stands today. The Tribe suffered forcible evictions under city development plans and university expansions in the early 1900s, alongside redlining laws that made it nearly impossible for African Americans to obtain mortgages.

This especially touched on Friesen’s interest in archives and memorials -- and how they’re made and maintained.

She also did a lot of work for the Artistic and Cultural Enrichment (ACE) Program at Martha Washington Elementary School.
ACE instructor Hope McDowell had written a script called More Than Martin, and enlisted Friesen to help her shoot and edit it. In the film, now available online, Martin Luther King, Jr. comes back to say, as Friesen explains, "I’ve been carrying Black History for myself for too long…I would like to introduce you to all these other people in African-American history, and you also might make history."

"It’s a great film, in line with my own practice as well," enthuses the artist. "People being able to tell their own histories."

She also led a variety of arts workshops for Martha Washington students, and collaborated with her fellow NTE artists on other projects, including time with the Earthship Philadelphia project and the New Bethlehem Baptist Church.

"We all helped each other in different ways, and that was also really nice to have a collaborative environment for our community work," she adds. "I think the strength of this residency was that it really was an infrastructure created." The artist residents didn’t operate on any assumptions about what they were bringing to the neighborhood: instead, they listened to hear what needed to be done, to "reinforce or connect what is already happening."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Kandis Friesen, Neighborhood Time Exchange


A North Philly grant leaves no excuse for litter

Earlier this year, Keep Philadelphia Beautiful (KPB) announced a new micro-grant program to help local community organizations boost safety, walkability and commerce through resident-led clean-up programs. The first round of grantees included the North 5th Street Revitalization Project, which received $1000. The dollars are already going a long way on a range of initiatives.

The North 5th Street Revitalization Project has been operating since 2008 with funding from the Commerce Department. While their umbrella organization is the Korean Community Development Services Center, they have their own branding and offices.

The initiative's service area covers about a mile and a half of the Olney neighborhood: It runs from Roosevelt Boulevard to Spencer Street, and then a block on each side of N. 5th Street. The organization runs a sidewalk cleaning program (including two staffers who work five days a week to keep litter off the streets), removes "bandit signs," logs and repairs dozens of 311 issues each month and leads neighborhood cleanups, like April 11's city-wide Philly Spring Cleanup Day, which drew about sixty neighbors to volunteer.

The Project also focuses on public safety, holding twice-yearly meetings with police representatives and local merchants to discuss issues of crime and security, and helping participating businesses install security cameras through a dedicated city program. And it provides a wide range of business assistance, from helping locals get business permits or apply for eligible grant programs, to facilitating a business association and offering financing help.

"We have 340 active businesses on North 5th Street," says Program Director Philip Green. Most of them are small "mom and pop" stores, and many are "immigrant-owned and operated, so it’s really hard for them to obtain traditional bank loans."

Finally, the Project promotes the corridor in general through events such as open mic nights, community clean-ups and seasonal programming.

The KPB dollars funded a fun DIY photo-shoot for Philly Spring Cleanup Day volunteers, which the organization will share throughout the coming year, keeping the spirit of the clean-up alive and reminding people that maintaining the neighborhood is a year-round activity.

Leftover dollars will go to projects such as revamping the Project’s existing brochure on responsible homeownership and neighborhood maintenance, and translating it into multiple languages for Olney’s diverse community. Green also hopes the money will help buy more "Keep 5th Clean" tee-shirts -- like the ones teen clean-up crew captains wore on April 11 -- as well as decals for neighborhood recycling bins.

"Community clean-ups aren’t really about the trash ending up in a trash bag and going away to the dump," explains Green. "It’s really about the message that community residents cleaning up sends to other people."

Teenagers working in festive matching shirts are particularly motivating, he hopes.

"People will see that and realize that they have absolutely no excuse to litter, and no excuse not to take pride in their neighborhood."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Philip Green, North 5th Street Revitalization Project


New GSK dollars at the Food Trust will boost youth health and wellness citywide

A $5 million GSK IMPACT Grant to a Philadelphia collective led by The Food Trust will allow the local food and health access leader to significantly expand its existing HYPE (Healthy You, Positive Energy) program to reach 50,000 kids over the next three years.

The dollars, administered through the Philadelphia Foundation, are going to boost programs at nine partner organizations citywide, with a special focus on North Philadelphia. The new collective’s work will be known as Get HYPE Philly!
HYPE has already been working with local kids in about 100 different schools over the last several years, explains Food Trust executive director Yael Lehmann.

"It’s going to build on this existing program," she says. "And at the same time we’re going to be working with all these other groups," who will also be expanding their own work. 

The Get HYPE collective includes Guild House West’s Greener Partners, East Park Revitalization Alliance’s Common Market, The Village of Arts and Humanities, and the Garden Education Program of Norris Square Neighborhood Project. Also partnering under the Food Trust umbrella are the Free Library’s Culinary Literacy Center (and branch-based teen mentoring program), The Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA, The Philadelphia Youth Network, The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation and Equal Measure, which will help evaluate the Get HYPE programming’s impact throughout the grant’s three-year span.

Some of these organizations will focus on urban farming, nutrition, literacy through food-based activities, and exercise; others will build on different aspects of overall health such as workforce development and entrepreneurship.

"This is really going to strengthen the networking between all of our agencies," insists Lehmann. "It’s going to have this awesome ripple effect throughout the city."

Lehmann is particularly excited about the new youth advisory board the grant will create, which will consist of about fifteen to twenty teens from around the city. They will be able to direct mini-grants of up to $2,000 (or a total of $70,000 per year for the life of the program) to student-led initiatives focused on things such as exercise, urban agriculture and healthy food donations.

"It’s not just window-dressing. They’re going to have some work to do," Lehmann says of the students who will be involved (their selection process is still TBD).

The grant’s allowance for evaluating the programs is also important, she insists, "to be able to tell the story, and look at how this is impacting kids in Philly, and help us adjust as needed."

And she hopes Get HYPE Philly! will continue far beyond the initial three-year roll-out.

“From day one, all the collective partners and the Food Trust will be thinking about how to sustain this beyond the grant," she says. "We see this as a long-term project."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Yael Lehmann, The Food Trust


PlanPhilly finds a new home at WHYY's NewsWorks

Ever since its launch in 2006 as a project of University of Pennsylvania’s PennPraxis design school, PlanPhilly has been in a fortunate yet challenging funding situation. Now, with a new home at WHYY's NewsWorks, the publication is looking at some exciting new horizons.
In itself, PlanPhilly is "not an entity," explains manager Matt Golas, a veteran journalist and former Metro editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The publication features in-depth reporting on the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, zoning code battles, and all aspects of the Philly's built environment, from transportation to historic preservation to casinos and the Delaware Waterfront.
"We're a project of something else that’s a 501 (c) 3, so the idea of bringing money in was unbelievably complex," says Golas. "We were very reliant on foundations."
Though PlanPhilly had the good fortune of funding from the William Penn Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation (which is making the current move possible), and the Knight Foundation, it had long wanted to expand and diversify its financial footing. And with increasing readership -- up to 150,000 pageviews per month -- that shift is warranted.
Their new home will help them achieve this goal. Golas will transition into the new title of project editor at NewsWorks, while maintaining a "non-fiduciary relationship" with Penn -- the university is supportive of the move and will continue to help PlanPhilly get the scoop. (The site's reporters and editors will become independent contractors at WHYY.)
"They’re fundraising experts," says Golas of WHYY. "It has way more potential for us to generate some revenue and work toward being more sustainable."
With longterm financial stability, Golas hopes PlanPhilly will be able to expand their coverage in the Northeast and other outlying areas of the suburbs such as Conshohocken, Cherry Hill and King of Prussia. They want to produce a record of more zoning and development meetings, and also to begin to master the world of podcasts and radio segments.
And the benefits aren’t just for PlanPhilly: WHYY’s NewsWorks, a longtime content partner, will get a boost as well.

"We have some unique areas of coverage and unique people doing it," explains Golas. Examples include their in-depth coverage of zoning issues, their attention to the Land Bank, and stories about transportation geared towards the user experience. Since so many people listen to WHYY in their cars or while riding on SEPTA, it’s a perfect fit.

In the future, the PlanPhilly site may merge with the NewsWorks site, but for now, they're staying put. While PlanPhilly reporters will work out of WHYY headquarters when they’re not out on their beats, "you’re going to able to find PlanPhilly the same way you find it now," insists Golas.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Matt Golas, PlanPhilly

Alaina Mabaso is also a freelance contributor at WHYY’s NewsWorks. 

Rad Dish is Temple's new sustainable student food co-op

Temple University junior Lauren Troop started out as an environmental studies major, but when she became part of a bold new food co-op business plan with her fellow students, she found the perfect convergence of her interests, and switched to studying entrepreneurship.

The concept for Rad Dish, which opened on February 5 in a former Sodexo café space in Ritter Hall, grew out of a student research project completed a few years ago. The idea failed to move forward once the original thinkers graduated.

But then founding Rad Dish co-op members got hold of the idea, and began working in fall 2013 to make the space a reality. The group met under the auspices and mentorship of Temple’s Office of Sustainability, with participation from campus organizations such as Students for Environmental Action, Temple Community Garden and Net Impact, the university’s sustainable business club.

The team started meeting once a week with help from a three-credit independent study course that allowed them to devote the necessary number of hours to getting the co-op café off the ground. Meetings with West Philly’s Mariposa food co-op, as well as other student groups, including one from the University of Maryland, helped them clarify their vision.

"Our mission was really to provide affordable locally and ethically sourced fresh food to our Temple community," explains Troop, a Lancaster native. "We do that by sourcing everything within 150 miles."

Items like tea and coffee and certain spices, which the co-op can’t get locally, are sourced through a major organic and fair-trade supplier. 

Rad Dish opened its doors with the help of one year of free rent from Temple and $30,000 in seed money from the Office of Sustainability to help cover the first round of inventory and salaries for workers.

The space is a café now, but Rad Dish organizers hope to expand into more of a grocery model as they gain experience and more local, seasonal produce becomes available. In the meantime, the space already has its own appealing vibe, with floor-to-ceiling windows and art on the walls.

The community has already started to embrace the idea. Someone donated a bike-powered blender, and then a record-payer.

"People have just started to bring in random stuff that made it a unique space to hang out in," says Troop.

Prospects for the co-op’s future are good, she adds: a large crop of sophomores are just now stepping into leadership roles, replacing graduating founders.

"My favorite part about the project is how we’ve incorporated so many fields of study and so many people with different majors," insists Troops. "There are people from our business school, arts school, communications, engineering, and people who just love food."

Rad Dish is now open from 10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday in Ritter Hall, on the corner of Montgomery Avenue and 13th Street.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source, Lauren Troop, Rad Dish

Microgrants will launch community anti-litter initiatives in 2015

Last week, Keep Philadelphia Beautiful (KPB) released a new RFP for community nonprofits looking to nab seed funds for their anti-litter initiatives.

"You can have all the ideas in the world but not secure the funds to do it," explains Michelle Feldman, the organization's director. "At Keep Philadelphia Beautiful, we're not the only ones with good ideas."

The new program consists of three microgrants: two of $1,000 and one of $500. A former CDC employee herself, Feldman knows how far even a small amount of money can go for a community group trying to get a new idea off the ground.

Keep Philadelphia Beautiful "believes that communities know their challenges and opportunities best," says the RFP of working through grantees on litter abatement. "We want to provide community-based organizations with the resources to help solve neighborhood beautification concerns, and the space to experiment and test new ideas."

Successful applicants will need to demonstrate measurable, collaborative, sustainable and scalable impact, says Feldman (she expects at least ten to 15 applicants for the inaugural round). The organization will consider brand-new proposals or expansions of existing programs that meet the criteria.

Empirical data proves that tackling litter can have a direct impact on factors like the growth of small businesses, property values, crime, and perception of the neighborhood both inside and outside the community. According to Feldman, a good example of community innovation on the issue is the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation's $1-A-Day program -- participating businesses each contribute $365 a year toward daily litter clean-up.

It turned into "a great way to help fund the daily cleaning and involve the community, and give them ownership over the cleaning effort," she explains.

The hope is that this year’s participants will be help model best practices, inspiring and informing other groups in the future.

Proposals are due on March 1; the winners will be selected by March 15. The project cycle will run through December 15, 2015.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Michelle Feldman, Keep Philadelphia Beautiful

EFE Labs boosts local startups through Ben Franklin Technology Partners alliance

For many aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses, finding the money to design and prototype their ideas can be a tremendous challenge.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP) helps bridge that gap through its various programs and grant offerings, and a new alliance with EFE Laboratories will provide young companies with even more of the connections, technical expertise and financial capital they need to bring their products to market.

Led by majority owner and engineer Kip Anthony, EFE is a leading manufacturer of controllers, communication tools, medical devices, and other electrical and mechanical engineering solutions.

With 35 employees and growing, the Horsham-based lab has already helped clients obtain matching Ben Franklin FabNet (BFFN) prototyping grants.

For example, its work with SureShade has allowed founder Dana Russikoff to both expand the company's market reach, and move the design and manufacturing of its retractable boat shades back to the Philadelphia area.

Not content to simply refer clients to the BFFN program, EFE actively reaches out to growing companies facing various developmental challenges and a lack of R&D capital.

"I’m trying to make sure that, through the network and connections I have, clients receive the help they need to move their manufacturing process forward," says Anthony.

An established engineer with an MBA, Anthony understands the vital role manufacturing plays in the economy, and is passionate about sharing EFE's capabilities and experience with the larger entrepreneurial community.

"There are a lot of good people behind this," he insists, discussing how EFE's new alliance might help bring manufacturing jobs back to the region. "[There’s] a lot of shared passion, and a lot of drive and desire to succeed."

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Kip Anthony, EFE Laboratories


Mr. Milkman, an organic dairy delivery service, is now available in Philly

All it took was a single taste of Trickling Springs Creamery's premium ice cream to convince Dan Crump he had to leave his job at FedEx and follow his passion of supporting local farms and healthy organic eating.

Shortly thereafter, he purchased the Lancaster County-based organic dairy delivery service known as Mr. Milkman.

At the time, Mr. Milkman had a limited delivery area and only a few customers -- it was really more of a hobby than a business for its previous owner.

"I knew it would mean a pay cut," recalls Crump. "But I also knew I could use my FedEx [logistics] knowledge to make [the business] work."

Almost immediately after purchasing Mr. Milkman, Crump began to wonder whether or not he should expand services to Philadelphia. Without an advertising budget or established customer base, he figured the costs would be prohibitive. Fortunately, a fruitful visit to Reading Terminal Market convinced Crump to add Philadelphia-area delivery services a few months back.

Now, thanks to the airing of a spotlight piece on Lancaster County’s WGAL last week, Mr. Milkman’s business in Philadelphia has taken off.

Due to the spike in orders, the company has added new Philly-area routes. It delivers each Saturday, and is poised to continue its growth with a hiring push. Crump is also working with a gluten-free bakery and will be offering fruit and veggie boxes this spring.

In addition to Trickling Springs Creamery dairy products, Danda Farms organic meats, artisan cheeses, raw honey and a number of other organic goodies, Mr. Milkman also delivers raw milk from Swiss Villa.

"We’re dedicated to supporting our local organic farmers and their workers," says Crump, "while ensuring that busy moms, families, and other [Philadelphia] residents have access to healthy food."

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Dan Crump, Mr. Milkman


Germantown United CDC hiring its first commercial corridor manager

In a neighborhood as historic as Philadelphia's Germantown, the Germantown United CDC (GUCDC) is an anomaly: The organization isn't yet three years old.
When it formed in late 2011, the community was still reeling from allegations of severe mismanagement on the part of Germantown Settlement, a social services agency. During its formative months, Germantown United's main goal involved becoming known as a trusted and transparent community partner.
To a large degree, that goal has been accomplished. GUCDC regularly hosts well-attended events and forums, and recently undertook a business district tree-planting campaign.
Now, according to Executive Director Andrew Trackman, the organization is hiring its first commercial corridor manager. The position's first-year salary will be covered as part of a reimbursable $75,000 grant from the Commerce Department.
The corridor manager's responsibilities will mainly involve working as a liaison to the business and property owners of the Germantown and Chelten Avenue business districts. They might listen to retailers' complaints, for instance, or help them apply for development grants such as the Commerce Department's Storefront Improvement Program (SIP).    
"We're looking for this corridor manager to be kind of a defacto business association head," explains Trackman. The new employee will also be heavily involved in business corridor cleanup efforts in coordination with the Germantown Special Services District.
"[Local businesses] need help with capacity and technical assistance," he adds. "We're just trying to improve the overall business climate of the district."

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Andrew Trackman, Germantown United CDC

Calling Local Artists: Frankford Avenue First Friday Fracas wants your work

In the riverward districts of Fishtown and Kensington, Frankford Avenue First Friday events have been showcasing the area's increasingly extensive creative output for some years. And it's not just the boulevard's art galleries, but also its cafes, eateries and boutiques.
According to Joanna Winchester of the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC), that creative and economic energy has been steadily inching its way northward along Frankford Avenue over the past few years.

"We've been wanting to put a highlight on some of the newer businesses that are coming in on the northern side of avenue," she says.
At the same time, NKCDC has been keen for local artists to become more involved with the avenue's monthly First Friday events. In an effort to satisfy both those goals, a new-and-improved event was born: the Frankford Avenue First Friday Fracas, which Winchester describes as a fairly typical "art stroll-style event, but with a really energetic twist to it."
On September 5 from 6 to 10 p.m., Frankford Avenue between Susquehanna and Cumberland will be closed to traffic for the street party. "We're hoping to have performers, and food trucks, and artists selling their wares," adds Winchester.
NKCDC is currently soliciting applications from artists who may want to perform or sell their work at the Fracas. And while priority will be given to those from the 19125 and 19134 ZIP codes, anyone is welcome to apply, as long as they meet the August 20 submission deadline.

Applications can be found online at NKCDC.org and FrankfordAveArts.org

Joanna Winchester, NKCDC
Writer: Dan Eldridge

Next City launches a job listings site for the urban affairs crowd

Originally a highly-regarded print magazine for the city planning and urban issues set known as The Next American City, the Philadelphia-based publication Next City has grown its influence substantially since becoming an online-only outlet three years ago.
Today, Next City features daily coverage of international public policy, infrastructure and economic development. It also publishes Forefront, a news and analysis newsletter. And for five years Next City has produced a popular annual conference, Vanguard, which attracts young urban leaders from around the country.
In mid-June, the site’s editorial staff announced its latest project: a national job search engine, Next City Jobs, which lists open positions in the urban development and civic engagement sectors.  
"I think Next City has always informally served as a convener for people in the urban affairs field," says Executive Director and Editor-in-Chief Diana Lind. "We've decided to take on more of a role as a professional development leader within the field, so the jobs page is one step in that direction."
Though it went live just weeks ago, Next City Jobs is already displaying more than 6,600 available positions. And while many of those listings were aggregated from other sites, Lind says her staff is taking steps to increase the percentage of jobs exclusive to Next City’s portal.  
Lind also hopes to increase the diversity of positions offered.

"The idea is to reflect the cross-discipline approach that Next City has in its content," says Lind. "So you'll have everything from a job for a transportation planner to a public policy expert at a for-profit [company]. Our hope is that it'll become a site people will be looking at every single day, or every week, depending on how [seriously] they’re looking for a job."

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Diana Lind, Next City


Nab tickets for the 2014 Filadelfia Latin American Film Festival

Thirteen percent of Philadelphia's population is now of Hispanic or Latino descent -- that's nearly 200,000 people within the city limits alone. The organizers of the third annual Filadelfia Latin American Film Festival (FLAFF) -- the only annual festival of its sort in the Greater Philadelphia area -- have released the scheduled lineup for this three-day event, which runs April 25-27 at The University of the Arts, the Kimmel Center and International House Philadelphia. This year's films represent a diverse range of Latin countries and include full-length features, documentaries, shorts and even a family-friendly animated film from Uruguay.

Standouts include Cesar's Last Fast, a film about a one-man hunger strike held by Cesar Chavez in an effort to shine a light on the negative effects of pesticides, and Yo, Indocumentada, an exploration of the Venezuelan transgender community.    
According to FLAFF co-organizer Beatriz Vieira, "part of what we want to do [with FLAFF] is to make sure the audiences are being built very, very carefully." To that end, a fair amount of community engagement has been baked into the festival, she says, "to make sure [it] has a lot of relevance for the region."
For example, a student member of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians will discuss the struggles of learning to read and write as an adult following the screening of Las Analfabetas, a Chilean film about a middle-aged illiterate woman. FLAFF is also partnering with The Food Trust and Fair Food; representatives from both groups will discuss their work with the audience after the screening of Cesar's Last Fast.   
Click here to view film trailers or purchase tickets.
Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Beatriz Vieira, FLAFF


State of Young Philly 2013 offers new opportunities for young activists

Narcissistic. Apathetic. Cynical. State of Young Philly (SOYP), the annual, week-long activist celebration from Young Involved Philadelphia (YIP), rails against the unfortunate descriptors often associated with generation Y. This year, events run from Friday, October 25 through Saturday, November 2.
"There are a lot of articles out there stereotyping young people as the 'me' generation," says Mike Kaiser, Events Chair for YIP. “When you come out to YIP events, it's a totally different picture. We're trying to challenge that [perception]."
The week focuses on civic skill-building. Highlights include an opening night reception and civic engagement fair featuring Campus Philly, Groundswell, Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, Need in Deed, Impact HUB Philly, the People's Emergency Center, and many others; Navigate Philly, a series of short presentations by local leaders on topics such as politics, media and education; Sustainability Night, an instructional event on recycling, composting and waste disposal; Get a Job, featuring advice from human resource professionals; and a "Welcome to Philly" happy hour featuring a "minimalist" Halloween costume contest.
Then, on November 2, YIP will host their first civic engagement un-conference. Participants will be encouraged to share ideas and best-practices.
"We know there are people out there making progress and positive change in Philly," says Kaiser. "This is a chance to bring everyone together to share that knowledge. We're trying to accelerate ideas and connections."
Last January, YIP's new board launched a quarterly "Learn, Grow, Do" series. It introduces Philly activists to fundamentals such as first-time home buying, networking and park cleaning. SOYP will give existing members the chance to reflect on their progress and engage new potential members.
"It really reaffirms that what we're doing matters," says Kaiser. "For new people it’s, 'Here’s something simple you can do to join this movement.'"
Source: Mike Kaiser, Young Involved Philadelphia
Writer: Dana Henry

New York City entrepreneur brings Local 215 food truck to Philadelphia

One of the advantages of operating a mobile food business is the ability to follow the market -- literally. That wisdom guided Alexander Buckner, founder of the Local 215 food truck and catering service, to Philadelphia.
Local 215 prepares their cuisine at Greensgrow's kitchen space and sources almost exclusively from family farms within 100 miles. The truck debuted last August at the The Food Trust's Night Market in Mt. Airy and re-launched this past spring after a winter hiatus.
Ironically, Local 215 was conceived while Buckner was living in New York City. The culinary entrepreneur had watched the popularity of food trucks spread from Los Angeles up the west coast. By 2011, high-concept street food had made its way east and was gaining traction in New York City -- unfortunately, the city's moratorium on vending licenses made starting a business prohibitively expensive.
Around that time, Buckner visited Philly and was impressed by the low startup costs and high density of young professionals and university students.
"It looked like Philadelphia was going to be next in line," says Buckner. "It has all the ingredients for a good food truck city."
Local 215 focuses on simple, "technique-driven" preparations. The menu features delicacies such as housemade Merguez lamb sausage in duck-fat gravy, braised duck, and fresh corn, slow roasted with shallots and topped with mascarpone cheese. 
"It's a balancing act to run a food truck or catering business that's all local," explains Buckner. "We actually do get almost everything from right here in Philly."
Local 215 truck stops at locations in University City, Callowhill and near the The Mann Center. Find them by checking their Twitter feed.
Source: Alexander Buchner, Local215
Writer: Dana Henry

Discover PHL helps launch PHLMade, a campaign to market locally-made products

Philadelphia might still be "the workshop of the world" -- only instead of manufacturing wool suits and steam engine parts, the city is producing up-cycled handbags, artisanal cheeses and smartphone apps.

PHLMade, an effort spearheaded by Discover PHL, wants to celebrate those products. They are currently offering a newsletter and plan to launch an online magazine and branding campaign around all the stuff made in Philly.
PHLMade has three main goals: To market Philadelphia as a "city of makers"; to appeal to outside and emerging companies who might want to make products here; and to help locavores and tourists buy products that are locally-made. Over the next year, PHLMade will create an original logo for products made in Philly and expects to hold conventions and pop-up shops for local wares.  
“It’s really to connect the marketing piece with the business piece and help to support the products that are coming out of Philadelphia," says Daniel Cohn, Founder of PHLMade and VP of marketing and communications at Discover PHL. “We’re really discovering stories in the city."
The online magazine -- featuring original content in addition to aggregated stories from local media outlets -- will focus exclusively on makers. It’s being developed by Brandon Davis, a native of Olney who publishes the national entrepreneurship magazine American Dreaming.
"Everyone in America is talking about American-made products and the importance of buying local," says Cohn. "PHLMade gives us additional opportunities to showcase Philadelphia as a city of innovation and of people who are still making things after all these years."
PHL-Made is looking to hear from makers, maker-enthusiasts and interested sponsors. They are launching a Kickstarter campaign this month to support the upcoming magazine launch.
Source: Daniel Cohn, Discover PHL
Writer: Dana Henry

Public Workshop completing construction on Philly's first GreenBuild Legacy Project

The Public Workshop is finishing construction on Philly's first GreenBuild Legacy Project. In the coming years, this play structure, located in Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse, is expected to engage hundreds of thousands of local users.

The concept was selected by Delaware Valley Green Building Council. This November, they are hosting the international GreenBuild Expo in partnership with the City of Philadelphia. Previous legacy projects in other cities have largely focused on urban agriculture.

Alex Gilliam, founder of Public Workshop, announced plans for the project back in March. Since then, the organization's "Building Heroes" -- young adult and teenage project leaders -- have created an "adventure playground" using salvaged wood and fallen trees.

"We got excited about the potential of leaving a lasting project at Smith playground, but also engaging youth," says Fern Gookin, director of sustainability at Revolution Recovery and chair of the Legacy Project Committee.

The group's work transforms the natural landscape through designated play areas -- "The Jungle" has bendable beams that can be woven into caves, tunnels and huts; "The Forest" offers reclaimed materials for building temporary structures; and "The Whirlpool" is a shifting deck wrapped around a large tree, begging the user to look up at the canopy.

During the design-build process, the Public Workshop engaged local community groups and citywide organizations, including Urban Blazers and Mural Arts. Final workdays and upcoming Legacy Project events are open to the public.

"During the GreenBuild Expo, the spotlight on a national and international level will be on Philadelphia," says Gookin. "The Legacy Project will live on after the conference packs up and moves away."

Source: Fern Gookin, Legacy Project Comittee; Alex Gilliam, Public Workshop
Writer: Dana Henry

Inventing the Future: Fifth annual RAIN conference fosters entrepreneurship in the region

The fifth annual Regional Affinity Incubation Network (RAIN) Conference, held June 24 at the University City Science Center Quorum, kicked off with a simple request. Wayne Kimmel of SeventySix Capital asked the audience -- which featured entrepreneurs, investors and thinkers from across the region -- to forget about task forces and meetings. Instead, he wanted every attendant to show one local college student a piece of Philly.

"It's about engaging young bright minds," said Kimmel. "That's the amazing opportunity."

RAIN is a network of research parks and business incubators, including the Science Center, Select Greater Philadelphia, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, the Delaware Emerging Technology Center and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. The conference launched in 2009 with the goal of fostering support for entrepreneurship in the tri-state area. It has grown from 40 to 100 attendees, including many local entrepreneurs.

This year's event, dubbed "Supporting Startups: Capital, Community and Collaboration," featured two panel discussions. The first delved into first-round funding and crowdfunding; the second looked more broadly at startup resources such as StartUp PHL and other local support organizations.

"Every startup needs funding, funding and funding," said Jeanne Mell, VP of marketing and communications at the Science Center. "But the options that are available are changing rapidly, especially in light of crowdfunding."

At several points, speakers identified a growing number of coworking spaces, incubators and networking channels that are changing the face of Greater Philadelphia.

"These formal organizations have been joined by coworking spaces and other spaces of cohabitation for startups," explained Thomas Morr, president and CEO of Select Greater Philadelphia. "It's very exciting."

The University City Science Center has partnered with Flying Kite to showcase innovation in Greater Philadelphia through the "Inventing the Future" series.

Source: Wayne Kimmel, SeventySix Capital Jeanne Mell, VP of Marketing and Communications at the Science Center, Thomas Morr, President and CEO of Select Greater Philadelphia
Writer: Dana Henry

Campus Philly's Opportunity Fair plugs students into the regional economy

The Campus Philly Opportunity Fair, taking place June 20 at Penn's Houston Hall, isn't just about jobs. In addition to featuring over 40 of the region's largest and fastest growing companies -- including Bentley Systems, Monetate, Artisan and Urban Engineers -- the event will host local civic organizations and a series of workshops aimed at helping recent grads. The big picture goal: keeping students in Philadelphia.

The fair is free to anyone who graduated from college in the past five years. To develop a diverse roster, Campus Philly partnered with the City of Philadelphia and 29 local universities.

The idea for the fair was first conceived in 2008. At the height of the recession, they wanted to help graduates find local employment. The event has since evolved to meet the demands of a changing job market.

"Students often come to us not knowing where to start," says Ashlie Thornbury, director of career programs for Campus Philly. "They want to know who to talk to and how to get plugged-in."

Organizations like Generocity, Young Involved Philadelphia, the Mayor's Office of Civic Engagement and the Citizen's Planning Institute will encourage new grads to get involved with local issues. Workshops cover topics such as managing social media identity and developing career paths through volunteering. There will also be representatives from local graduate programs.

In the past five years, Philadelphia has experienced a population bump after fifty years of decline. Much of this incoming population has been under 30.  

"The Opportunity Fair a great way to showcase all that our region has to offer a recent graduate," says Thornbury. "Philadelphia has become a destination." 
Source: Ashlie Thornbury, Campus Philly
Writer: Dana Henry

Philly's third Vendy Awards reward mobile culinary innovation

For the culinary entrepreneur, Philly is a great testing ground. In addition to our thriving BYO culture, the city supports a growing army of food trucks. To celebrate, the New York City-based Street Vendor Project will host the third annual Philly Vendy Awards at Penn Treaty Park in Fishtown on Saturday, June 8.   

While metal boxes carting cheesesteaks, fruit salad and breakfast sandwiches are nothing new, the new generation of Philly concessions are creating portable versions of national food trends -- Korean tacos, anyone? The Vendy Award finalists, selected thanks to thousands of public nominations, pay homage to the growing diversity.

"Vendors are giving us more options," says Helena Tubis, event coordinator for the Street Vendor Project. "They're creating a location-based experience. There's a fun factor that's just a little different than your traditional dining experiences."

The event will showcase six sweet trucks (offering frozen yogurt, baked goods and, of course, cupcakes) and 11 savory trucks (including Asian fusion, build-your-own mac and cheese and vegan delicacies). Attendees are given unlimited samples and will vote to decide the People's Choice award, Best Dessert and Messiest Food. There's also a judges' award determined by a panel of experts, including Paul Kimport, cofounder of Johnny Brenda's and Standard Tap, and Emilio Mignucci of DiBruno Bros. Ticket proceeds benefit The Food Trust.

Street Vendor Project has held the Vendy Awards in their home city for nine years. They brought the event to Philly because the local scene was booming: Over 15 trucks serve Love Park daily and The Food Trust has organized several packed Night Markets.

"There's just a huge influx in Philadelphia," says Tubis. "A tremendous amount of new vendors are doing unique offerings."

Source: Helena Tubis, the Street Vendor Project
Writer: Dana Henry

Inventing the Future: Random Hacks of Kindness winner creates afterschool program wiki

As Philadelphia prepares to close dozens of schools, afterschool enrichment -- a lifeline to arts, athletics and academics -- is also in peril. That’s why Chris Alfano, CTO of JarvUs and brigade leader of Code for Philly, and Faye Anderson, founder of Tracking Change, are building a wiki-based platform that identifies available programs. The team's project, What’s Going On?, won Philly’s fifth Random Hacks of Kindness (RHOK) this past weekend at Drexel’s ExCiTe Center.

This year's RHOK joined forces with hackathons around the globe under the umbrella of National Day of Civic Hacking. The event was organized by Technically Philly through partnerships with AzaveaCode for America, Drexel and the City of Philadelphia. There were five final projects and over 20 participants.

When the Alfano and Anderson first investigated the afterschool issue, they noticed that the data is often incomplete or outdated. Some programs, like the Free Library's Literacy Enrichment Afterschool Program, are burried in individual branch sites. For families with limited internet access and know-how, the lack of an accurate, central resource is a major barrier.

"They need to find things in the community and there's no directory," says Alfano. "Someone who's researching is going to have to be making phone calls and checking up on everything they find."

Instead of creating a static app, which relies on a developer for updates, What’s Going On? is a search engine built on public wiki pages. Users and program directors can submit program pages or update existing ones, creating a more comprehensive repository.

The winning app was first conceived during February’s Tech Camp, which addressed challenges in public education. According to Brian Kirk, co-founder of Technically Philly, relationships between hackers and hackathons have become increasingly common in the civic engagement space. For example, Sheltr, the second place finisher at RHOK, was first created during a hackathon several years ago. The team that worked on it during this recent event was a completely new group.

"There's a community that has an understanding of the data ecosystem and what's being built," says Kirk. "Without any big leadership change, we've seen it coalesce and get pushed further down the road."

Source: Faye Anderson, Chris Alfano, What’s Going On?; Brian Kirk, Technically Philly
Writer: Dana Henry 

The University City Science Center has partnered with Flying Kite to showcase innovation in Greater Philadelphia through the "Inventing the Future" series.

Philly hosts second GameLoop, an "unconference" for the gaming industry

For Philly's burgeoning community of indie game makers and enthusiasts, GameLoop is a chance to swap ideas, learn techniques and make new contacts in a growing industry. Philly's second incarnation of this event takes place at University of the Arts' Terra Hall on Saturday, May 18.

Dubbed an "unconference," GameLoop has no set agenda. Participants propose and decide on talks and roundtables at the beginning of the day during an open floor discussion.

"[The local gaming community] has brought together programmers, artists, musicians, designers, modelers -- you name it," says organizer Ray Merkler. "A rapidly growing indie game scene needs events like this to share ideas and create new relationships."

GameLoop originated in Boston in 2008. Merkler brought the concept to Philly in 2011, after meeting founder Scott Macmillan at the PAX East gaming show in Boston. Philly's first GameLoop drew 80 people, including leaders from Boston, New York and Baltimore. Topics covered included 2-D and 3-D design, prototyping, and business models, but Merkler says GameLoop isn't just about development or the industry. For example, someone looking to build a new narrative into a classic game, such as Dungeons and Dragons, is welcome to share.

"You can attract new talent into your city, or you can take the talent you already have and let it interact in new ways," says Merkler. "GameLoop tries to do the latter."

Source: Ray Merkler, GameLoop Philly
Writer: Dana Henry

Inventing the Future: A public call for 'Innovators Walk of Fame' nominees

The University City Science Center is now seeking nominations for their Innovators Walk of Fame. The inaugural members will be revealed during the organization's 50th anniversary celebration in October. In preparation, the Science Center is asking Greater Philadelphia to recommend regional candidates who have made an impact in science, technology, engineering, art or math (STEAM). There is also a category for innovative companies.
"We're not doing this prescriptively," says Stephen Tang, president and CEO of the Science Center. "We want to hear from the community."
Final selections will be made by a committee comprised of Science Center affiliates and members of the regional innovation and entrepreneurial communities. By opening in conjunction with Philly Tech Week and the Science Festival, the call for nominations is expected to draw on the city's growing enthusiasm for discovery and invention.
Not yet officially decided, the location of the walk -- think the musical stars on Avenue of the Arts -- will likely be on the Science Center's campus. The monument aims to draw public attention (particularly from local K-12 students) to these individuals and their accomplishments.

With leaders like Buckminster Fuller, biotech pioneer Hubert Schoemaker and radar technologist Britton Chance, Philadelphia has a powerful history to pull from. Tang is looking forward to nominations that reach beyond traditional science hubs.
"Innovation is kind of an ethereal concept," he says. "I think we will surprise people because they'll recognize that we've had geniuses in our midst for some time." 
Nominations can be submitted here through June 15.

The University City Science Center has partnered with Flying Kite to showcase innovation in Greater Philadelphia through the "Inventing the Future" series.
Source: Stephen Tang, The University City Science Center
Writer: Dana Henry

The GreenLight Fund, a growing network of best-practice nonprofits, launches in Philadelphia

When the GreenLight Fund, a Boston-based nonprofit network for children and families, decided it was time to expand, they searched nationally for the right city. After a year of research and many lengthy visits, they chose Philadelphia.
The fund has launched with $2.3 million dedicated to establishing two nonprofits -- Single Stop USA and Year Up -- in the region.
"A lot of it came down to where there was receptivity, where were folks excited about the model -- Philadelphia rose to the top of that process," says Matt Joyce, executive director of the GreenLight Fund Philadelphia. (Joyce works out of The Exchange, a coworking space for the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors recently profiled in Flying Kite).
To effect change on a local level, GreenLight works with community leadership to identify needs, then searches nationally for best-practice programs they can import. In Philadelphia, they met with members of city government, the Philadelphia Youth Network, the Philadelphia Education Fund, and the Community College of Philadelphia. From these discussions, college persistence and workforce development were identified as central issues for local youth.
The program is partially funded through the Social Innovation Fund, a federal program. Additional funding was provided by the William Penn Foundation, the Barra Foundation and the Bank of America Foundation.
GreenLight has operated in Boston since 2004, where they’ve established seven programs -- all are still operating and some have become independently sustainable.
"We were looking for an appetite for innovation and new ideas," says Joyce. "Among the folks we talked to, there was a lot of interest in trying to get some of the best ideas from around the country launched in Philadelphia."
Source: Matt Joyce, The Green Light Fund
Writer: Dana Henry

Inventing the Future: Philly Tech Breakfast builds bridges in the local tech community

Even when it’s not Philly Tech Week, the region has an ever-growing schedule of hackathons and startup events. Despite the crowded landscape, Philly Tech Breakfast has already racked up over 200 members -- including local notables from Philly Startup Leaders, Technically Philly and Drexel's ExCITe Center -- and they haven't even held their first meetup yet.
The group will meet every third Thursday in Mitchell Auditorium at Drexel’s Bossone Research Enterprise Center. The morning will feature three-to-six presentations from local tech innovators. According to Enterprise Law Associates' Gary Smith, a founding sponsor, Tech Breakfast is "technology agnostic," meaning that folks working on any tech-driven enterprise -- be it a videogame platform or a medical diagnostic device -- are welcome to participate.
"We wanted focus more on the fact that the companies are early-stage and in technology than on the fact that they're in a particular vertical," explains Smith.
By joining the greater Tech Breakfast network -- a listserv boasting thousands of members from Baltimore, Washington D.C., Columbia, Md., and Northern Virginia -- Philly can engage a broader community. A venture capitalist from Northern Virginia, for example, is more likely to build relationships and invest in a Philly software company if they belong to the same community.
"We’ll become part of a larger flow of information," says Smith. "There's a lot of talk about that, but not a lot of practical facilitation of that."
Current sponsors include Namsa, a medical product consultancy, Outlook.com, Technically Philly and Bizelo, an inventory management company for e-commerce. The event was organized by Bizelo founder Ron Schmelzer.
While these breakfasts are free to the general public, they are tailored to tech startup members and supporters. Meetings start April 25 with presentations from AxisPhilly, SnipSnap and Acclaim, among others. 

Source: Gary Smith, Enterprise Law Associates 
Writer: Dana Henry

Philadelphia Science Festival offers over 100 interactive events

Mummies, baseball and hallucinogens -- these are just a few of the marvels explored in the third annual Philadelphia Science Festival, created by the Franklin Institute. Running April 18 through 28, the festival offers over 100 events throughout the city.

Over the past two years, the Festival has engaged over 120,000 people, including 30,000 students. The hallmark of the fest is promoting "citizen scientists" and all events are interactive. Here are a couple of our picks:

For fans of local fare, Yards is offering Beer Chemistry: Perfect Pairings, a chemistry lesson with a brewmaster’s twist -- and carefully selected food and beer pairings. Elsewhere, Chef Max Hansen of Max Hansen Catering will illustrate the science behind farm-to-table with a four-course meal during The Sustainable Table: A Dinner Experience.

Sustainability seekers should also check out Sweet and Savory: Hives and Honey, a bee expo led by local beekeepers; Urban Farming at Bartram’s Garden, an exploration of agricultural science; and Naturepalooza!, an outdoor Earth Day celebration hosted by the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education.

Those still awaiting the zombie uprising can watch local taxidermist extraordinaire Beth Beverly -- her accessories fashioned from road kill earned her a spot on AMC’s Immortalized -- demonstrate how to bring the dead back to life with Skinned, Stuffed and Mounted: Taxidermy Exposed. They can also help solve a mystery pandemic at Murder at the Mütter: Outbreak! and learn how to compile forensic evidence while listening to live music from Cornbread Five during Nerd Night: CSI.

Arts and culture lovers will appreciate a multi-media presentation from the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts [PIFA] on Icarus at the Edge of Time, based on the children's physics book of the same name. Breadboard will also open a Cellular/Molecular Exhibit showcasing local bio- and chem-inspired art. Meanwhile, the Science of Jazz will demonstrate sound waves at work using live scores.

And be sure to save room for the Science Carnival, the Science Festival's signature event featuring live science demos outside on the Ben Franklin Parkway.

For more on the festival -- and to check out a full calendar of events -- visit PhilaScienceFestival.org.

Inventing the Future: PIDC gives $500,000 boost to life science technology

Last Tuesday, local university research in healthcare technology got a big boost. As a third component in the StartUp PHL portfolio, the University City Science Center's QED Proof-of-Concept program -- which invests exclusively in medical research from Greater Philadelphia’s academic sector -- was awarded a $500,000 loan from Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PICD) Penn Venture Fund program.
QED -- the abbreviated Latin phrase Quod Erat Demonstrandum (proven as demonstrated) -- provides grant money and private sector guidance to help promising studies establish early stage proof-of-concept for commercial application, a cumbersome phase of the research-to-product process. Since 2009, the program has awarded $600,000 annually, divided into $200,000 grants for life science projects and $100,000 grants for research in digital healthcare, a growing field where life science meets information technology. 

According to Stephen Tang, President and CEO of the Science Center, university settings are ideal spaces for developing broad-scope medical science, thanks to their insulation from commercial interests. A diagnostic company, for example, might build a device to detect Alzheimer's disease. Meanwhile, a university has the freedom to research the molecular identity of the disease which can inform a range of diagnostics and treatments.
"The theory on innovation is you have to have very divergent thinking before you have convergent thinking," says Tang. "It's that very divergent thinking that [the Science Center] is trying to tap into and help to converge on commercial opportunities."
Past QED participants -- representing 22 regional institutions including Penn, Drexel and the Wistar Institute -- have gone on to launch promising companies. Vascular Magnetics, producers of a drug delivery apparatus created by Dr. Robert Levy, a professor of pediatric cardiology from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and his QED business advisor Richard Woodward, recently raised $7 million in their first round of financing. UE LifeSciences Inc., a medical device company that commercialized research in breast cancer detection by  Dr. Wan Shih of Drexel's School of Biomedical Engineering, eventually received a $878,422 grant from the Pennsylvania Department Of Health's Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) program.
While the "Eds and Meds" capital has long been hailed for life science achievements, Tang sees digital healthcare as the next frontier. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, massive amounts of medical records have to be digitized. Furthermore, the bourgeoning field of Genomics -- the science of transcribing an individual's genome to detect genetic disease -- will require terabyte-sized data transfer and manipulation. 
Accordingly, the 2012 QED program made awards to mobile healthcare apps developed at Rutgers University. The $500,000 PICD loan -- which is repaid via licensing royalties and revenue from successful projects -- will expand QED within city limits, boosting Philly's role in the health IT industry. 
"[Philadelphia] has one of the largest concentrations of healthcare facilities, hospitals and doctors, as well as academic research," says Tang. "We're betting big that that domain will distinguish Philadelphia from other metropolitan areas in the world."

The University City Science Center has partnered with Flying Kite to showcase innovation in Greater Philadelphia through the "Inventing the Future" series.

Source: Stephen Tang, University City Science Center
Writer: Dana Henry

Inventing the Future: Navy Yard welcomes Quorum for energy entrepreneurs

The Navy Yard is fast becoming a national nexus for energy advancements. In addition to the Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EEB) Hub, the formerly derelict warehouse district has gained Viridity Energy, Oxicool, Pace Controls and the Mark Group in recent years.
Now the University City Science Center is bringing Quorum programming (Flying Kite, February 19, 2013) to the Navy Yard from March 14 through January 312014. Per EEB Hub’s request, "Satellite" Quorum will focus on Philly's growing clean energy and energy retrofit sectors.
"Flagship Quorum really is a broad program open to entrepreneurs in any part of tech-based innovation," explains Jeanne Mell, the Science Center's Vice President of Marketing Communications. "We're taking the principals we learned with flagship and applying them to a much more targeted sector."
At Satellite Quorum, "Coffee and Capital," a gateway to the tech investment community, becomes "Coffee and Counsel," in which a selected leader in energy enterprise fields questions from a small audience of entrepreneurs. The Science Center is also developing programming that addresses sector specific issues such as strategies for approaching building managers. Additionally, the series provides ongoing networking, a key component to startup acceleration.
As the first member of  Satellite Quorum's Strategic Partner Alliance,  Clean Tech Open, a national incubator, will help promote programming.  According to Laurie Actman of EEB Hub, the recent passage of Philadelphia's Commercial Energy Benchmarking and Disclosure Act, will give the retrofit sector even more of a boost, increasing the need for industry-specific programming.
The University City Science Center has partnered with Flying Kite to showcase innovation in Greater Philadelphia through the "Inventing the Future" series.

Source: Jeanne Mell, Kristen Fitch, The University City Science Center; Laurie Actman, EEB Hub
Writer: Dana Henry

Innovative private-public partnership earns $1 million in Bloomberg Philanthropies' Mayors Challenge

Last summer, while launching the city's Office of New Urban Mechanics [ONUM], Story Bellows and Jeff Friedman met with Philadelphia’s top social impact organizations. This process led to the idea of private-public collaboration with Good Company Group [GCG], a local incubator for environmental and social entrepreneurship.

The resulting concept, the Philadelphia Social Enterprise Partnership [PSEP], provides opportunities for entrepreneurs who want to tackle traditional public sector problems such as storm water management, gun violence and education. This past Wednesday, the group's proposal was one of five (out of 300) awarded $1 million in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge.
Two-to-three times per year, a PSEP advisory board will help the mayor’s office identify a key issue -- and the associated costs -- and provide a framework for startup proposals. During each session, ten applicants will access incubation services, data and information from related city departments, and coaching from public sector industry experts.  
"It's looking at problems that [city] government has, that drain a lot of resources, and reframing them as market opportunities," says Zoe Selzer, executive director at GCG. "It's not targeting one specific challenge -- it's creating a system that can target a lot of different challenges." 
PSEP partners include GCV, ONUM, the Wharton Social Impact Initiative and the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology. The application to the Mayor's Challenge was overseen by Maari Porter, Chief Grants Officer for Philadelphia. According to Selzer, PSEP’s inclusion of non-government leadership was unique among Bloomberg finalists.
To refine the concept, the partners worked on government procurement strategies and established the need for pilot contracts (in lieu of grants) to support social startups. They encourage applications from Greater Philadelphia and across the country.
"It's a huge validation of the work we’ve been doing," says Selzer. "We really believe this is our opportunity to position Philadelphia as a national hub for social enterprise and as a place where [social] entrepreneurs grow and test their ideas and then spread those ideas around the country and around the world."

Source: Zoe Selzer, Good Company Group; Story Bellows, Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics
Writer: Dana Henry

Ignite Philly 11 provides lively showcase for city's top thinkers

Most know Christine Knapp as a sustainability ambassador via her outreach roles with Penn Future, the Next Great City Intiative, the Passyunk Square Civic Association and, most recently, the Philadelphia Water Department. But during Ignite Philly 11 (held last Thursday at Johnny Brenda's), Knapp gained a new title: karaoke master.

After sharing best practices from her 15 years of experience, Knapp inspired Indy Hall's Alex Hillman and Flying Kite’s Michelle Freeman to join her onstage for a rendition of Journey's "Don’t Stop Believing."
Such is the spirit of Ignite Philly, where local leaders put their titles aside to share their passions. Spoken word artist Erica Hawthorne gave a lively pitch for Small But Mighty Arts Grant, her mission to recover the 72 percent of art in Philly that’s gone "missing" due to lack of funding. Brett Hart of the Wooden Boat Factory explained how wood and the Delaware River are transforming the youth of his native Frankford ("This wood is like my life -- it's hard, but I’m trying to shape it into something," a student once told him). Hive76’s Jordan Miller, a Penn scientist, demonstrated how he generates living vascular structures via 3-D printing -- in sugar.
Ignite 11 also reflected Philly’s burgeoning love for open data. Mark Headd, the city's chief data officer, opened the evening by making a compelling analogy between Athenian Democracy and urban open data usage, warning that many Philadelphians still can't participate due to the digital divide (a problem he’s addressing with GetYourToga.org). Dave Zega and Jake Wells of ElectNext revealed their method for using data to verify the claims of politicians. Ben Garvey showed Ignite how data can be made visual -- and more digestible. And Stephanie Alarcon, Amy Gutherie and Georgia Gutherie of the Hacktory shared "Hacking the Gender Gap," a database that tracks causal experiences leading to the gender disparity in tech.
Other notable speakers included Amanda Feifer-O'Brien, the force behind a local movement to save beneficial micro-organisms via fermentation; Drew Beecher, president of Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and leader of a national tree-planting campaign; and Ashvika Dhir, the Pennsbury High School Senior behind CauseHub.com, a meta-blog for teenage change-makers. 
Ignite 11 was hosted by P'unk Ave's Geoff DiMasi, Indy Hall's Adam Teterus and Breadboard's David Clayton. They also awarded Girl Develop It Philly -- presenters at Ignite 10 -- $1000 to provide tech class scholarships for 50 local women.
Source: Ignite Philly 11
Writer: Dana Henry

Wind power provider Clean Currents opens Philly office, hiring sales reps

When Clean Currents, a wind power company based in Silver Spring, Md., opened a third office at 15th and Walnut Streets, they wanted Philadelphia to know. Last week, they showcased a 20-foot model wind turbine in Rittenhouse Square, Love Park, Manyunk and at the Wachovia Center in South Philly.
The "See The Power" campaign incorporated social media contests to build buzz around the availability of locally sourced wind power. According to Gary Skulnik, the company's president and chairman of the board, selling this energy is only the first step.

The company -- which has a second office in Baltimore -- also publishes a bi-weekly newsletter on environmental issues and policy, holds sustainability webinars, campaigns for energy efficiency legislation, gives presentations on environmental issues at local grade schools and holds "green neighborhood challenges" with prizes such as rain barrels and compost bins.
"We really view ourselves as a front door to sustainability," says Skulnik. "Once people and businesses sign up with us, we like to help them take additional steps. I think they appreciate an approach that pushes the envelope a little."
In two years, Clean Currents has racked up thousands of customers including businesses, schools and embassies. They have over 12,000 e-newsletter subscribers. From 2011 to 2012, their revenues grew 400 percent. They are currently hiring sales reps to round out their five-person Philly office.
According to Skulnik, Clean Currents chose their new locale because of an environmentally conscious consumer-base -- he credits the Sustainable Business Network and the Delaware Valley Green Building Council for helping drive the movement. In an era of mass information, sustainability requires more than individual action.
"The only way we are going to solve [climate change] is by creating a ground swell of support for solutions," he says. "It’s really vital that we create this sense of community."

Source: Gary Skulnik, Clean Currents
Writer: Dana Henry

Nvigor connects local students to the dynamic world of startups

One of the hidden advantages of going to college in Philadelphia is accessibility to the local startup community. Practically every other week there’s a startup weekend, hackathon or Philly Startup Leaders (PSL) event.  
When Dias Gotama, an International Information Systems major at Drexel, started attending these events he was surprised to find there weren’t many other students. 

"An entrepreneurship ecosystem is growing really fast in Philadelphia," says Gotma. "A lot of events that happen aren’t well targeted to students -- they’re either really expensive or organizations don’t know how to reach students on a granular level."

Nvigor -- a student organization he cofounded with fellow Drexel student Abhiroop Das and Pulak Mittal, a Penn student -- hopes to change that.

Students who sign up with Nvigor receive a list of events culled from the PSL listserv and Philly Startup Digest. Nvigor also helps organize student scholarships for pricey events such as Lean Startup Machine and Startup Weekend Health.
The group is working with the City's Office of New Urban Mechanics on a curriculum for students interested in civic-minded startups. In addition, they’re planning a Student Startup Conference for the upcoming Philly Tech Week.
Nvigor recently received sponsorship from Smart IMS -- they will pay for the group's membership at Culture Works, an organization that provides management resources and operational support. Eventually, Nvigor hopes to help students get part-time jobs or apprenticeships at emerging companies. They also plan to expand their services to suburban schools.
"If students come to these events, and they like them, word will spread about Philadelphia’s startup community," says Gotama. 

Source: Dias Gotama, Abhiroop Das and Pulak Mittal, Nvigor
Writer: Dana Henry

Philadelphia Game Lab, an incubator and co-working space for game developers, is set to open

With the recent success of companies like Flyclops, Final Form and Cipher Prime, mobile game-making is carving a niche in the city's creative economy. Now the community needs a home-base -- enter Nathan Solomon, founder of Philadelphia Game Lab, a combination co-working space and incubator.
"Over the past ten years, with alternative distribution channels, the industry as a whole is much more interested in actual creative stuff," says Solomon. "Philadelphia's not in a really great position to pull together teams of over a hundred people, but we are in a really good position to pull together people who have technical expertise and creative drive, and want to make their own games."

The Lab will open its doors at 22nd and Walnut Streets in late March. It will admit small "teams" (usually two to six people) and skilled individuals seeking teams. In addition to benefiting from the networking and support that comes with a game-centric community, teams can better access capital via partnering funders. Opportunities for mentoring and a Quality Assurance (QA) Lab for beta testing are also in the works.
While shrinking startup costs have made the game app industry more accessible, the market is highly competitive. "You don’t need to find that special backer or special publisher anymore," says Solomon. "At the same time, it's really, really hard to make a good game."
The Lab will open with four teams and hopes to serve 12 teams total. Solomon says he’s also planning programs with local universities designed to expose students to game making as a vocation.
Source: Nathan Solmon, Philadelphia Game Lab
Writer: Dana Henry

P'unk Ave launches apprenticeship program for wanna-be developers

Thanks to the limitless growth of open data, online organizing and open source software, civic participation has never been easier. Of course, while many Philadelphians engage with those virtual channels, few know how to build them.
Fortunately, South Philly's P'unk Avenue has launched an apprenticeship program to put purpose-driven urbanites on the fast track to technical competency. The web development shop -- whose recent clients include the Philadelphia School Partnership, PlanPhilly, The Food Trust, the Delaware River Waterfront Plan, the Conservation Center for Arts and Historical Artifacts and the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia -- is offering six months of real-world experience to nascent techies. They are currently considering applicants for May; a stipend is included.
"From the beginning [P'unk Ave] has always had that mindset of this being a place where people learn and grow," says founder Geoff DiMasi, a former multimedia professor at University of the Arts. "We’ve always been good at teaching people -- why not formalize that?"
P'unk Ave's "prototype" apprentice Joel Smith was teaching high school in South Jersey and seeking a career change before joining the company. He considered graduate school but wasn’t convinced it was the most efficient path.
"Literally, from the first day [of apprenticeship] I was building websites with a fair deal of autonomy," says Smith. "I was in an environment with professionals who were invested in my growth, but actually doing meaningful projects."
In addition to sharpening his code-writing skills, Smith has helped P'unk Ave compile a "cannon" of texts related to industry standards. DiMasi says he sees the apprenticeship becoming a signature of P'unk Ave while offering a gateway for passionate Philadelphians -- particularly minorities and women -- to join companies like his.
"You can teach people how to build a website, but you can’t teach them how to care about changing the world," he says.
Source: Geoff DiMasi, Joel Smith, P’unk Ave
Writer: Dana Henry

Philly's first LadyHacks lures women into the hackathon movement

Nationally, computer science programs award more masters degrees to men than bachelors degrees to women.

This statistic helped inspire "Visualizing the Gender Gap," a graphic representation of educational and professional outcomes for men and women. The project was one of several activist platforms created during Philadelphia’s first LadyHacks, a mostly-female hackathon held last weekend at WHYY in Center City.

"A lot of the Hackathons you see are competitive," says Tristin Hightower, co-organizer of LadyHacks. "We wanted to remove that element. We were trying to address stuff that impacts [women] as an under-represented group in tech."

Other projects included Miss Conceptions, a click-through info graph addressing female stereotypes; Power Solvers, a game aimed at increasing tech appeal to 11- to 15-year-old girls; Hacking the Gender Gap, a program that tracks positive and negative tech experiences by gender; STEM everywhere, a regional resource for Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) youth education programs; and SheTechPHL, a comprehensive guide for women looking to engage in the local tech scene.

The event had 64 female and one male participants. Most came from non-technical backgrounds (SheTech, for example, was produced by four English majors) and the teams received mentorship from local female leaders including Yasmine Mustafa of Girl Develop IT Philly, Gloria Bell of Philly Startup Leaders and Tracy Levesque of Yikes. Sponsors included Chariot Solutions, Azavea, Skout MediaMonetate, Yikes and Philly Tech Meetup.

Hightower and fellow Girl Geek Dinner member Sondra Willhite developed the concept as a solution for lackluster female participation in Philly’s hackathons. Eighty percent of attendees admitted that they had never contributed at a tech event before. By the end of the hackathon, most said they planned to participate again in the near future.

Hightower and Willhite will follow up with surveys to see if these newbies do, in fact, continue their pursuit, particularly with regards to the upcoming Philly Tech Week. Additionally, they're re-evaluating the event -- with help of attendee feedback -- in hopes of creating an annual LadyHacks.

"Hackathons have this stereotype that it's all the coders getting together and just coding," says Hightower. "But that's not all they can be. All these other people need to be involved—and can be involved."

Source: Tristin Hightower, Sondra Willhite, Lady Hacks
Writer: Dana Henry

Inventing the Future: Quorum, the 'clubhouse for entrepreneurs,' reaches $1 million milestone

After receiving a final contribution from the University of Pennsylvania, the University City Science Center closed its Open the Doors Campaign. The first fundraiser in the local institution's fifty year history raised over $1 million for Quorum. This "clubhouse for entrepreneurs" has a two-pronged mission: to provide a place where entrepreneurs can meet and present a programming series designed to help those entrepreneurs move forward.
Quorum -- equipped with meeting rooms, a lounge and a small auditorium -- is distinguished from traditional coworking spaces through open accessibility. Local entrepreneurs are encouraged to use the space to host meetings or to just drop by to work among their peers. No membership required.
"We really want to give people the chance to make informal connections," says Jeanne Mell, VP of marketing and  communications for the Science Center.
The roster of investment and advising opportunities includes Coffee and Capital, an educational meeting between an investor and 20 entrepreneurs; Office Hours, where local business experts -- including Jeff Libson from Pepper Hamilton, Jeff Bodle from Morgan Lewis and Allison Deflorio from Exude -- meet individual entrepreneurs to answer pre-submitted questions; Angel Education, which hosts a panel of entrepreneurs to educate angel investors about opportunities in emerging industries;  and How to Talk to Money, a new series by BizClarity's Steve Bowman on approaching investors.  
The concept emerged from recommendations made by Select Greater Philadelphia's CEO Council for Growth. Since opening in 2011, the facility has serviced 12,000 individuals and hosted 250 events. The Science Center has also partnered with the Navy Yard's EEB Hub on Satellite Quorum, to offer programing on energy-related ventures.
Open the Doors received support from 34 private companies and institutions, including Morgan Lewis, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Energy Plus. Moving forward, the Science Center expects to provide opportunities for ongoing sponsorship.
"As the money has rolled in, it's been used to support Quorum's programing," says Mell. "This is really the first step in our fundraising journey."
Source: Jeanne Mell, University City Science Center
Writer: Dana Henry

Our partner for the "Inventing the Future" series is the University City Science Center.

Young Involved Philly expands Board Prep Program to train next-gen leaders

If #WhyILovePhilly taught us anything, it’s that the city's young activists don’t lack enthusiasm. Young Involved Philadelphia (YIP) is aiming to channel that energy by expanding their Board Prep Program, a tool for training and developing the next generation of nonprofit leaders. Applications went live this week.
The program provides six weekly classes on topics including strategic planning, legal and ethical issues, fundraising, and financial management. Thanks to a recent $40,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, YIP added Lea Kleinman, a teacher at Harrity Elementary as director. They also plan to offer a second session of the program each year.

"More and more foundations are looking to fund organizations that are diverse," says Sophie Hwang, Vice-Chair for Outreach at YIP. "Philadelphia is at a point where it's really hungry for younger board members."

YIP acquired the Board Prep Program from Philadelphia's Young Nonprofit Leaders in 2010. The applicant pool has grown steadily since then, and last fall over 100 people applied for 30 spots. Hwang says successful candidates are often nonprofit employees or those with a strong interest in civic leadership.
"We’re framing the program so you can apply it in a board context," says Hwang, "but it definitely can help in your day to day operations."
At the end of the program, YIP holds a matching event where recent grads are paired with interested organizations. According to Hwang, those who complete the program almost always go on to serve on local boards.

Source: Sophie Hwang, Young Involved Philadelphia
Writer: Dana Henry

Inventing the Future: Drexel launches groundbreaking school to educate young entrepreneurs

Drexel University has been making headlines as a leading innovator in higher education. In addition to launching the Center for Visual and Decision Informatics, the school spearheaded the ExCITe Center (featured in the December 4 issue of Flying Kite). Now they’re taking it a step further, announcing the foundation of the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship, slated to open in fall 2013. 

The curriculum has not been officially announced, but founding dean Dr. Donna DeCarolis says Close will put less emphasis on traditional business programing. Instead, the new school will stress actionable skills such as teamwork and inter-disciplinary collaboration. Students will develop expertise in a particular discipline -- whether it's engineering, science or the arts -- while building business know-how.

"It’s important in a very broad way that we teach our students how to be entrepreneurial in their personal and professional lives," says DeCarolis.

The Close School was founded with a $12.5 million endowment from the Charles and Barbara Close Foundation. It is one of the first freestanding schools devoted to entrepreneurship in the country. Close will offer incoming freshman a "living and learning community" where students dorm together and engage in venture-related activities. Sophomores and juniors can opt for an "entrepreneurship co-op," and receive funding and mentorship to work exclusively on their new enterprise.

Entrepreneurship, explains DeCarolis, is not just about starting a business. The ability to develop an idea and follow it through is increasingly valuable. Even within the corporate structure, today’s executives look to their employees for new ideas and a demonstrated ability to innovate.

It's also about flexibility. "Students that graduate today, by the time they're in their forties, will have had ten or so jobs," says DeCarolis. "Many of those jobs will be self-employment."

Source: Donna DeCarolis, Drexel's Close School of Entrepreneurship
Writer: Dana Henry

Inventing the Future: Drexel undergrads snag top prize at Lean Startup Philly 3.0

Most everyday objects, particularly mobile devices, could benefit from an added solar panel. That was the original hypothesis of "Team Spore," winners of this weekend’s Lean Startup Machine Philly 3.0, held at Drexel University's Baiada Institute for Entrepreneurship.

The team of Drexel undergrads -- Mark Brandon, Dylan Kenny and Jason Browne -- walked away with an AWeber account, a month-long membership at Seed Philly and web development through the Venturepact X incubator .

Lean Startup Machine (often incorrectly lumped in with Startup Weekend) focuses on building the concept rather than a working product. Participants spent three days testing their assumptions and interviewing potential customers.
Half of the 55 participants were students. To lure those students, organizer Kert Heinecke moved the event from VentureF0rth to University City. The Baiada Institute, the Corzo Center for the Creative Economy at University of the Arts and AWebber provided several student scholarships. Dan Shipper, a Penn junior who cofounded Airtime for Email and Firefly, was a guest speaker.
Browne -- who met Brandon and Kenny at the event -- admits his concept was simple, but says the team benefited from rigorous testing. "Usually, if I have an idea, I jump right in," he says. "Taking a step back and thinking about [our concept] from a market -- not a marketing -- perspective was helpful."

Session mentors included Chris Cera from Arcweb, Ted Mann from SnipSnap, Brad Denenberg from Seed Philly, Jake Stein from RJ Metrics and Yasmine Mustafa, cofounder of 123Links and Girl Develop IT Philly.
Twelve teams made it to the finals. Second place was awarded to Paper Wool, a home goods design company and graduate of the Corzo Incubator and Good Company Ventures. Washington, D.C. team Busted, which helps customers find shop for bras online, finished third.
Source: Kert Heinecke, Lean Startup Machine Philly; Jason Browne, Team Spore
Writer: Dana Henry

PSL's Philly Community Map and Directory debuts

Philly’s tech community is on the map. Literally. On January 28, Philadelphia Startup Leaders (PSL) and WeWorkInPhilly (WWIP) launched the Philly Community Map and Directory, a GIS-enabled open-source guide to the individuals, companies, coworking spaces, resources, organizations and investors that make up our growing startup economy.  
Based on the WWIP directory created by Linus Graybill and Alex Hillman (cofounder of Indy Hall), the resource is intended to be "used by all, owned by none." Its development brought together a team of disparate techie founders including Hillman, Chris Cera of ArcWeb, Brad Oyler of W3Portals, Mel Baiada of BaseCamp Ventures, Brian Kirk of Technically Philly, Elliot Menschik of Venturef0rth and Bob Moul of appRenaissance.
"A lot of people are interested in finding better ways to interact with the tech community," says Cera. "[The Community Map] is a minimum viable product we did collaboratively to prove that we can all work together even though we have different goals and different stakeholders."
Member listings can include revenue, customers, number of employees and job postings. Cera points out that the project is not solely focused on the commercial aspects of the tech community -- new members can register companies or sign up as people.
Moul, who is president of PSL, expects the map will help entrepreneurs, startups and businesses promote themselves, while also making the local tech economy more attractive to inside and outside investment. The Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, Select Greater Philadelphia, PHL Convention & Visitors Bureau, University City Science Center and Startup PHL plan to host the resource on their websites.
As of January 28th, 852 people and 328 companies have signed up via WeWorkInPhilly. PSL encourages anyone with a stake in the local tech scene to consider joining.
Source: Chris Cera, Bob Moul, Philly Startup Leaders
Writer: Dana Henry

Goldman Sachs gives $10 million boost to Philly small businesses

Philadelphia may be anchored by "eds and meds," but our small businesses -- web design firms, equipment manufacturers, eateries and shops -- help keep us afloat. According to the Sustainable Business Network's Taking Care of Business 2011 report, of the city's 90,000 businesses, 98 percent report less than 50 employees.

Some of those businesses will soon be getting a boost: Philadelphia was recently chosen for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Business Initiative which will provide up to $10 million in small business loans administered through the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC).
PIDC can serve a broader lending market than a traditional bank. According to Anne Nevins, Senior Vice President of Market Development for PIDC, promising businesses are sometimes held back by issues with credit or collateral. They may also be changing direction and appear risky to financial institutions. "We want to serve those businesses that are established and ready for a growth plan but for whatever reason can’t access the capital," says Nevins.
PIDC expects to serve several businesses in the manufacturing and professional service sectors needing $50,000 to $750,000 for new equipment, property, and working capital. They also identify restaurants, retail stores and revenue-earning nonprofits as potential benefactors. Nevins expects many applicants to be referred to PIDC from partner banks.
In total, PIDC expects to underwrite approximately fifty loans averaging $200,000, giving priority to businesses located in low to moderate income neighborhoods or those that employ lower to moderate income residents. Lancaster-based Community First Fund will provide up to $5 million in similar loans to 13 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania. Goldman Sachs is also funding financial and operational education offered by Philadelphia Community College and support services through partner community groups for loan recipients. 
Since launching in Spring 2010, over 1,000 businesses in eleven cities have completed the program. Roughly 70 percent report increased revenues and 50 percent have created new jobs. 

Source: Anne Nevins, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation 
Writer: Dana Henry

Social Studies: Penn's new "lab" fosters social innovation

We've all been there: You pass by a trash-strewn lot or hear an account of school violence and, suddenly, you have an idea. Philadelphians are great at creating opportunity from seemingly hopeless situations. The road to implantation, however, can be littered with naysayers and fundraising bureaucracy. So how do you know your stroke of genius has merit?
The Philadelphia Social Innovations Lab—an outgrowth of the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal (PSIJ)— aims to help instigators test their vision against respective markets before fully committing. This may sound like private sector incubation, and that’s exactly the point. The 15-week program will provide mentorship, strategy development and return on investment modeling—opportunities not generally afforded to nonprofit and government organizations. They launch mid-January and will support up to 40 projects per semester.
With a combined 40 years of experience in social programming, Lab cofounders and PSIJ editors Tine Hansen-Turton and Nick Torres consider public sector innovations critical to a developed society. These services not only build our quality of life, Hansen-Turton explains, they also provide an essential step in workforce development via volunteer positions and help foster a regional culture that’s attractive to outside businesses and talent. "Connecting people and companies to the missions of these organizations makes not only social sense, but can translate into economic outcomes," she says.
Despite the economic setbacks of recent years, social innovations continue to thrive. The Nonprofit Almanac of 2011 acknowledges 1.5 million tax-exempt organizations in the United States—they are responsible for as much as five percent of GDP (source: National Center for Charitable Statistics). The Philadelphia region alone has over 15,000 nonprofit organizations employing 242,000 people and furnishing $11 billion in annual wages (Source: Philadelphia Foundation).
It was passionate PSIJ readers that inspired Hansen-Turton and Torres. In three years of quarterly publication, the pair has taken hundreds of phone calls from social innovation enthusiasts seeking input on their ideas. The pair partnered with Penn’s Fels Institute of Government (where they are adjunct faculty), PennDesign and PennPraxis. The first batch of accepted proposals were largely from Penn students, faculty and staff, and focused on health, education, and arts and culture.
In 2010, 26 percent of Americans over age 16 volunteered for a nonprofit (Source: National Center for Charitable Statistics). Locally, a new generation of visionaries—including Young Involved Philly and Philly Stake—prove our will is stronger than ever. "[Social innovation] is the foundation of America and our future," says Hansen-Turton. "We need to support [their leaders] with the tools and techniques that is afforded the private sector."

Source: Tine Hansen-Turton, Philadelphia Social Innovations Lab
Writer: Dana Henry

Retrofit Reverb: Navy Yard's EEB Hub jumpstarts local energy economy

If you're a commercial or multi-family building owner dreaming of an energy efficiency overhaul, now’s your chance. The Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EEB) Hub is offering $150,000 grants to building owners, facility managers, tenants, service providers and engineering firms for integrated energy retrofits—projects addressing whole energy systems, not just individual parts. The Advanced Energy Retrofit Opportunity (AERO) Fund will finance 20 projects early next year, and has extended the deadline for first-round applications to January 30, 2013.

Laurie Actman, deputy director of EEB Hub, calls Philly a "testing bed" for energy innovation: "We want to take examples from the work done here and promote them nationally," she says.

Retrofitting identifiable candidates—nearly half our building stock—could spur the creation of 23,500 jobs and $618 million in spending for the Philadelphia region, according to the Econsult Corporation. These jobs include service providers, equipment providers, architects, engineers and systems vendors.

"We’re trying to stimulate a lot of activity in the [energy retrofit] market," says Actman. "It’s hard to get [industry professionals] to work together at the same time on a design. We’re trying to create demand for that approach so the industry will take a more integrated approach themselves."

Established by the Department of Energy as the nation's largest research and innovations center for the energy economy (and based in the Navy Yard), the Hub plans to repeat the grant program throughout the next five years, investing tens of millions in our local retrofit economy. They aim for a 20 percent regional reduction in energy use by 2020.

"We see [The AREO Fund] as a permanent part of the city and the region," says Actman.

Source: Laurie Actman, EEB Hub
Writer: Dana Henry

Open for Business: Drexel's ExCITe Center launches in University City

It’s not every day a plainclothes professional opera singer performs to the hum of industrial knitting machines. Nonetheless, it was the perfect display of synergy for the opening ceremony of Drexel’s Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies (ExCITe) Center at the University City Science Center. Held on Wednesday, November 28, the celebration showcased surprising STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) combinations and permutations.

"In academia, it’s hard to collaborate outside your department," says Dr. Youngmoo Kim, director of the ExCITe center and professor of computer engineering at Drexel. "The whole purpose [of ExCITe] is to create multidisciplinary projects at this nexus between technology and the arts. There’s so much synergy there."

The 11,000-square-foot facility features conference rooms, countless desktops, sound equipment and a knit lab, all available to Drexel faculty, staff and students, regional partner institutions and other universities. The space will host hackathons and other tech and arts related events.

Opening demos included an app for understanding live classical music and a digitally-enhanced grand piano. ExCITe also houses and provides seed funds to three startup projects: a Microsoft Kinect therapy game for people with cerebral palsy; a virtual reality opera project made in partnership with the Philadelphia Opera Company; and Sonic City, a Breadboard project incorporating city sounds into musical pieces.

The Shima Seiki Haute Technology Knit Lab houses four top grade fabric machines, a donation from Shima Seiki Manufacturing in Japan worth $1 millon. The facility is unheard of in academia and, according to Kim, rivals Nike’s Design Lab. Each apparatus prints items designed on CAD software; during the grand opening event, the machines produced knit kitchen gloves, custom seamless dresses and three-ply blankets.  

A knit-bot machine prints three-dimensional fabrics complete with electronic sensors. At the opening, a staff member hooked a spiraled piece of fabric into a control system and rolled it across the table remotely. Observers seemed impressed by the novelty, but Kim says knit-bot technology has implications for the future: One day you might be able to change the color and cut of your shirt with the press of a button, and sensors-enhanced fabrics could help individuals monitor health and weight. In addition, skins from these textiles could make plastic robots more resilient, while external sensors could help disaster-relief androids respond immediately to challenging environments.

Kim runs Drexel's Music Entertainment Technology Labratory, home to robots that dance and play music. He conceived of the center nearly two years ago while holding cross-departmental faculty meetings as a solution to academic silos. It wasn’t long before other key local institutions, including the Science Center, the Philadelphia Opera Company and the Franklin Institute, joined the planning.

"We can do great things here with Drexel folks, but there’s great people with ideas at Penn, UArts, Philadelphia University, Temple and Swarthmore," says  Kim. “They’re people that we know. A lot of people throughout the region, not just in academia, helped shape this."

Source: Youngmoo Kim, Drexel ExCITe
Writer: Dana Henry

Founder Factory: It's a great time to start a business in Philadelphia

Now is a great time to start a business in Philly: Philadelphia Startup Leaders has steadily grown to 1,800 members and launched PSL University, The City gained its first seed fund and an Office of New Urban Mechanics, and First Round Capital is taking lead in bringing more VC’s back inside our urban boundaries. The upcoming PSL Founder Factory—at World Café Live on Thursday, Nov. 15—will prime entrepreneurs with true-to-life lessons from exemplary risk takers.

“There are similar challenges that companies at any stage face,” Gloria Bell, event organizer for PSL and founder of Red Stapler Consulting, says. “Each year we have focused on a different aspect of building and running a startup using the collective wisdom of local entrepreneurs.”

Previous Founders Factories helped hopefuls polish their pitches and investor sweet talk.  This year, in response to member surveys and talk-list discussions, PSL broadens the programing, hosting talks from a diverse range of experienced local entrepreneurs—Leadnomics, PTM Solutions and Chariot Solutions, are represented—followed by workshops and small group discussions. Topics cover the essentials including customer development, internal metrics, and company culture.  Josh Kopelman of First Round and Michael Golden, co-founder of GSI Commerce and president and founder of ShopRunner, are the keynote speakers and will share the changing realities of entrepreneurship.  Hint: Kopelman, an accomplished Wharton grad and founder of successful tech ventures including Half.com, recently moved First Round near two of Philly’s thriving universities. It’s a sign of things to come.

 “There has been such tremendous growth in the startup community,” Bell says. “The recognition of business and city government of the contribution of the startup community to the overall economic health of the region has been a strong motivator. The area's entrepreneurs are well-equipped to build strong, sustainable, profitable companies."

Source: Gloria Bell, Philly Starup Leaders
Writer: Dana Henry

Temple-hosted 'incubator' aims to solve Philadelphia region's STEM gap

On Tuesday, Oct. 23, local businesses, community colleges, education professionals and tech advisors met at Temple University for the first Delaware Valley STEM Workforce Development Conference. The ongoing incubator, which addresses issues related to the gap in STEM education and the growing number of tech-sector jobs, launched an “enabling committee” to foster partnerships between businesses and schools in Greater Philadelphia. 

According to Ed Zenzola, conference speaker and principal of Zenzola Group, our education system increasingly requires the expertise and advice of small to large business owners to stay relevant in the digital economy. Nationally, over three million STEM-related jobs are unfilled because employers can’t find qualified workers.

“You could hire an engineer, but you still have to train them,” Zenzola says. “There’s not enough happening in K-12 to build the imagination for students to want to go into STEM fields. Even when we do have students going through STEM curriculum, the curriculum isn’t designed to produce the work ready skills that the employers need.”

The conference, sponsored by Temple’s College of Engineering and the Global Program Partners, included presentations by Tracy Welson-Rossman, Founder of TechGirlz; Craig White,President & CEO of Philadelphia Gas Works, and Albert Frattarola, Director Global Technology, Southco. Many noted the STEM gap is not simply a higher ed issue.
“[STEM qualifications] are particularly critical at the technician level,” Zenzola says. “We just don’t have enough people coming out of high school, community colleges and vocational schools with work ready ]technical skills. People might think [Philadelphia] has a lot of welders—we don’t. Welding is becoming increasingly specialized.”

Zenzola, like many presenters, advocates project-based STEM learning for K12 and looks to the business community for leadership. Dr. Jamie Bracey, an educational psychology professor at Temple and director of Philadelphia's Math Engineering Science Achievement Initiative, has seen the dramatic effect of workshop learning on students and says guidance from the private sector also helps teachers do a better job.
“Educators need direction as to what business project they’re going to need in five years and 10 years so we can align the programs," Bracey says.“I love seeing the corporations that are the end users inside education and the people who are starting businesses having a much stronger voice in the classroom.” 

Source: Ed Zenzola, Jamie Bracey, Delaware Valley STEM Workforce Development Conference
Writer: Dana Henry

Lots to celebrate, including three winning projects, from State Of Young Philly 2012

By all accounts, the fully revamped State of Young Philly 2012 was a breakout success. From the 12 events that sold out at more than 75 attendees apiece, to the closeout dance party where local leaders and dedicated volunteers partook in the Electric Slide, Young Involved Philadelphia (YIP) proved it could pull off a civic-advocacy conference that was bigger, livelier and more ambitious than any seen in Philly to date. 

“It’s that whimsical optimism you have when you’re young,” Sophia Hwang, Outreach Coordinator of YIP, says. “But [YIP] is also rooted in doing good work.”

Pennsylvania State Rep. Brian Sims came by Hamilton Hall at University of the Arts for Saturday’s closing ceremony to commend YIP. He encouraged everyone in the audience, which he recognized as Philadelphia’s rising leadership, to run for political office. 

SYOP’s greatest achievement, however, may have been the launch of three projects, winners of the culminating YIP Challenge: It’s My Life in the education track, OKWork!Philly in the economy track and Bike Generator Demonstrator in the sustainability track. All three received $1,000 seed money and YIP will continue to provide them with networking and public relations assistance.

Lawanda Horton Sauter, CEO of Mission Incorporated, will pilot It’s My Life at four area high schools and help students use live theater to safely practice situation related to their sexual health. Sauter was inspired by her young, HIV-positive client and has been researching staggering realities of rising STD rates among youth.

“[The YIP Challenge] really encourages the next generation of social entrepreneurs to do things that impact the community instead of just worrying about the bottom line for their companies,” Sauter says. “[YIP] made this possible by opening it up to so many people regardless of what their ‘connections’ were.”

OKWork!Philly was created by four UPenn recent graduates—David Wengert, Anne Misak, Maurie Smith and Elizabeth Frantz—three of which are currently seeking employment. Their concept harnesses the networking power of LinkedIn to create a more effective web platform for local hiring.

“It benefits Philly to have jobs filled faster,” Misak says. “We want one central place where you can see a job posting, apply directly through the website and then see who in your network is connected to the employer and ask them to write a personalized recommendation. [OKWork!Philly] will save time and money on both the employer side and job seekers side.”

Aaron Roche, a structural engineer who graduated from Drexel, met recent transplant, Becky Schwartz, during SYOP’s Sustainability 101 event. Together they teamed up with Matt Weaver to develop Bike Generator Demonstrator, a design project that powers light bulbs and small electronic appliances using human-power generated from a bicycle.

“One of our goals is to generate interest in energy efficiency,” Roche says. “How can these common appliances be powered in such a simple way?”

According to Hwang, it takes just one voice to start an avalanche of change:  “A single individual came to State of Young Philly last year and said, ‘it was good but not good enough.’ We met with him, had coffee, and this [year’s programming] was what we did. We’re young, we’re nimble, we’re flexible, so if you have an idea, let’s run with it.” Hwang says.

As noted by YIP’s board chair, Claire Robertson-Kraft, Philadelphia now retains twice the local university graduates it did a decade ago and offers an increasing number of “friends of” groups connected to YIP. SYOP 2012 may be a sample of what YIP will show us for years to come.

Source: Sophia Hwang, Rudy Flesher, Claire Robertson-Kraft, Young Involved Philadelphia
Writer: Dana Henry

A different State of Young Philly aims to create tangible outcomes

Young Involved Philadelphia (YIP) kicked off its third annual State of Young Philly on Thursday with a standing-room only crowd at the Kimmel Center’s Innovation Studio and full-fledged ambition.

“State of Young Philly, for all intents and purposes, is totally redone from the previous two installments,” says Jason Wolfson, YIP's Programing Committee Chair. “The first two have been very positive in terms of getting people excited, getting people to want to do more, getting people more involved in their community. What we really want to do now is make that tangible.”
Drawing support from over 50 participating change-making organizations, this year’s catalogue offers 12 total events from “key issue” areas: Economy, Education and Sustainability.  

Instead of simply listening and networking, participants are guided by action-oriented questions. Sophie Hwang, YIP's Outreach Coordinator, offers an example from the Education Track: “Not everyone has a computer but most everyone has a mobile device. So how can we use mobile technology to better inform parents?”
Last year’s State Of Young Philly gave birth to the educational nonprofit, Philly Core Leaders. This year’s installment encourages similar results, offering $1,000 in seed money to winners of the YIP Challenge.

“People can get inspired by attending the first couple of events, meet new people, build teams and submit a proposal,” Hwang explains.
It’s passion and drive balanced with fun. One night, City Councilman Bill Green’s office hosts a pitch competition for educational entrepreneurs. The next, DIY experts give how-tos on composting, making all natural cosmetics, and altering refrigerator coils to save energy.
“We’re going to have events for everybody, regardless of how knowledgeable you are in a particular field.”  Wolfson maintains.
When else can you visit the home of an internationally-renound orchestra and leave with your very own homemade deodorant?

Source: Jason Wolfson, Sophie Hwang, Young Involved Philadelphia
Writer: Dana Henry

Ben Franklin Technology Partners' mapping initiative gives state energy economy visibility

For years we’ve been hearing of the “new energy economy,” a vision of a diversified and cooperative energy industry amalgamation promising cleaner air, lower energy bills, and more green jobs. The recent release of Energy Economy Map by Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ statewide network is evidence that it's actually happening.

Using open-source, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the map exhibits over 2,000 Pennsylvania energy companies, research programs, and related resources, largely concentrated in Greater Philadelphia.

“The intent of the map is to drive economic development, collaborative opportunities and partnership across the state," says Jim Gambino, Vice President of Technology Commercialization at Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania. “It gives companies and universities an opportunity to present their projects.”

According to Gambino, sustainable building design and materials, clean energy storage, and smart grid technology are areas of continued market growth. Some of the map’s projects have intriguing titles, including Drexel University’s Human-electric Hybrid for Urban Commuting and Temple’s Multiple Stream Waste-Derived Energy Production.

The Energy Economy Map was piloted at the Navy Yard by BFTP-Southeastern Pennsylvania and funded by the state's  Department of Community and Economic Development and tghe Governor’s office.

It’s not the typical stagnant, end-of-the-year-let’s-evaluate-how-we’re-doing report. The map, created in partnership with Philadelphia-based Azavea, evolves as users update entries on their energy work. 

“It’s really up to the registrant to enter the kind of information they see as important,” Gambino says. “We’re really looking for the users to provide the additions to improve the map.”

Eventually, BFTP-SEP expects the dynamic resource will attract more capital to the region.

“Early on we had determined in our analysis that we had significant energy assets here in southeastern Pennsylvania,” Gambino says. “[Outside companies and investors] will get a sense of the relative strength and vibrancy of both traditional and alternative energy communities in Pennsylvania.”

Source: Jim Gambino, David Cohen, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania
Writer: Dana Henry

Philadelphia region ranks first nationally in arts and culture job creation

Arts and culture has a $3.3 billion impact and accounts for 11 jobs per thousand residents in Greater Philadelphia, ranking the region first in job creation among 182 cities across the country, says a new report from the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.
Arts, Culture + Economic Prosperity in Greater Philadelphia, released on Monday, follows up on previous reports issued by the Cultural Alliance that measure the vast impact of the region's arts and culture sector. This report's finding are among the most impressive, with the sector contributing 44,000 jobs and $1 billion in income to the region. That includes $169 million in tax revenues for state and local governments.

The City of Philadelphia ranked behind only Washington, D.C. and San Francisco inper-capita cultural expenditures in a ranking of major cities, ahead of Chicago, Seattle and Atlanta.
Other highlights include:
-- The sector's $3.3 billion economic impact includes $1.4 billion of direct spending by organizations and audiences and $1.9 billion in indirect expenditures.
-- People working in the arts and culture sector and living in the City of Philadelphia earn a combined $500 million.
-- Cultural tourism accounts for $230 million in direct spending, 39 percent of cultural attendees and 44 percent of total audience spending (cultural visitors spend $45 per excursion versus $24 by locals).
-- Cultural audiences spend $237.8 million on meals before and after events and $84.3 million on overnight lodging.
The report was made possible by the William Penn Foundation, Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, Bank of America and the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts. It included data gathered from 345 local arts and cultural organizations through the Pennsylvania Cultural Data Project.

Source: Karim Olaechea, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Coming round the mountain: Philly Startup Weekend 4.0

Here comes the one of the Philly tech community's favorite events: Startup Weekend Philadelphia. Version 4.0 is back at the Univeristy of the Arts, and is being organized by tech twins Melissa Morris-Ivone and Chris Baglieri, who take the reins from Brad Oyler. "UArts has always been incredibly supportive of Startup Weekend," says Baglieri. "The space encourages collaboration, offers teams plenty of space to work, and is in the center of town, with ample nearby parking, so convenient to all."
Morris-Ivone looks forward to standouts from April's event, which hatched Yagglo, Tubelr and SeedInvest. Those companies, among others, are still moving forward. And taking a cue from the concept of leaving a good thing alone to flourish. Morris-Ivone reports there will not be any dramatic changes. "It's a recipe that works," she says.

Adds Baglieri, "Every Startup Weekend is different in terms of the backgrounds it attracts, that's part of what makes every event unique. 4.0 has reached capacity on non-technical tickets. We're strong on the designer front too. While there's a good showing of developers, that's the area that probably needs the greatest promotion. I met Melissa at Startup Weekend 2.0 and that pairing has made a world of difference for me. As a developer, there's nothing quite like finding a partner in crime designer that you can work with. If there was ever a Startup Weekend in this city where a developer can find their designer match, 4.0 seems to be the best so far."
As far as judges, Baglieri and Morris-Ivone say Chris Fralic  of First Round Capital returns. "We set out to further diversify the judges panel a bit this time around, involving individuals outside the investor community." New faces on the panel are largely conversions from previous Startup Weekend coaches and include Bob Moul and Ted Mann, as well as Morris-Ivone's colleague Apu Gupta, CEO/Co-founder of Curalate.
You can register for Startup Weekend through Eventbrite.

Source: Chris Baglieri, Melissa Morris-Ivone, Startup Weekend Philly
Writer: Sue Spolan

Pizza Brain's viral dream opens in glorious reality in East Kensington

Walking into Pizza Brain is like walking into a dream. In 19 months from conception to grand opening, the combination museum and slice shop went from an idea in Brian Dwyer's head to multifaceted reality. "We want people to come in and have an otherworldly experience," says Dwyer, who hopes patrons feel grateful and confused, or perhaps the other way around. "You can't walk in and say these guys just phoned it in."
The public grand opening is tonight (Friday, Sept. 7) and at least a thousand people are expected, but earlier this week, we were treated to an intimate press preview. Located in the East Kensington section of Philadelphia on Frankford Avenue, Dwyer insists he doesn't care about the hype. But the New York Times has already been down three times, and there's a dedicated Wikipedia page. Dwyer's pizza collection is listed in the Guiness Book of World Records. "The second we got attention, we knew we had to deliver," says Dwyer.

Both Dwyer and co-founder Mike Carter say that while the neighborhood has a lot on offer, good pizza has been sorely lacking until now. Joe Hunter and Ryan Anderson are also partners. Pizza Brain's toppings range from standard to unusual, and it is a sweet potato, apple and goat cheese variety that is both one of the most unusual combinations and the tastiest. 
Dwyer, by nature an artist, says his collection of pizza memorabilia includes album covers, cartoons, comics, memorabilia and images. "When you look at the photos on the wall, you see America."

The custom built bar is fabricated from old pianos found on Craigslist. In the courtyard of what Dwyer describes as a weird hippie pizza commune, encompassing the pizza shop, Little Baby's Ice Cream and a number of residences, a large mural by Hawk Krall depicts famous Philadelphians like Ben Franklin and Tina Fey enjoying a slice.
Dwyer is a yarn spinner, a larger than life persona bursting with energy. The son of a schoolbus driver and a foreman at an air conditioning plant, he moved to Philadelphia from Syracuse to attend Temple University's film program. 
"There's tremendous freedom in putting your roots down," says Dwyer, who attributes the rapid success of the business in part to Circle of Hope, a community based non-denominational church. Additionally, people have simply shown up to pitch in, out of the blue, driving from as far away as New Orleans.

"A dream is typically up here and it's safe," says Dwyer, pointing to a head of fiery red hair. This dream has gone viral. And it's coming to a mind near you.

Source: Brian Dwyer, Pizza Brain
Writer: Sue Spolan (with help from David Greenberg)

Philly Geek Awards 2012: Girls, tears and robot-on-robot action

Philadelphia loves its geeky girls, as evidenced by the preponderance of female award winners at the 2012 Philadelphia Geek Awards. Geek of the Year went to Tristin Hightower, cofounder of Girl Geek Dinners, and Event of the Year went to Women in Tech Summit.

"Girls, if you are a little bit tech or geek curious, Philly is a good place to be," remarked Hightower. When CloudMine's Brendan McCorkle posted her quote on twitter, Nick Robalik quipped, "Maybe even binary-curious."
Geekadelphia's Eric Smith, co-organizer of the sold-out, black tie event with Tim Quirino, reports that an overflow audience of 500 attended at the Academy of Natural Sciences. "The museum was sold out last year, and was sold out again this year in record time," says Quirino. "It's incredible to see a packed house dressed to the nines just to support the local Geek community."

A sci-fi inspired, LED-enhanced podium glowed in an ever changing rainbow of color and video. The awards themselves, created by NextFab Studio, also glowed. The podium and visuals were created by Klip Collective. Quirino says of the awards, "NextFab took my robot illustration to a whole new level. Robotic lasers cut the form of the robot out of clear, thick, acrylic and etched the details in.  Imagine that. A robot creating a robot!  Then they built the base out of wood, which housed a simple electronic circuit that contained three LED lights that lit up the acrylic robot making it look like a hologram from afar."

"The passionate speeches by some of the winners were really quite moving. Scientist of the Year, Youngmoo Kim from Drexel University, and Geek of the Year, Tristin Hightower, gave particularly lovely speeches," says Smith. Adds Quirino, "Eric doesn't want to admit that he teared up a little bit. It's ok, Eric. I did too."
Kim says, "I was honored to be nominated alongside my Drexel colleague Andy Hicks, who does amazing things with light and mirrors using mathematics. And Paul Ehrlich is a giant in the field of population biology. Hopefully this award highlights the incredible work being done by scientists and researchers throughout the region.
"I met a bunch of people doing very cool things spanning all kinds of 'geek-doms.' I mentioned this during my acceptance speech, but I absolutely believe that within the auditorium, there's the collective intelligence, passion, and experience, in short the 'geekiness,' to address some really tough problems (education, unemployment, digital literacy) and transform Philadelphia. And I look forward to working together with everyone to make that happen. And whoever put together the podium (very cool trapezoidal obelisk with video projections on the surfaces) should receive a special award. That was awesome!"
Accepting the award for Startup of the Year, Curalate's Apu Gupta said, "We have to thank all the 13-year-old girls out there. Because they use Pinterest. Also, Brendan likes them." 
Other winners included Zoe Strauss, for her Foursquare campaign associated with the citywide photography exhibit earlier this year; BlueCadet Interactive won for Web Development Team of the Year; the Viral Project of the Year went to the Opera Company of Philadelphia's Random Acts of Culture, and Hacker of the Year was Georgia Guthrie. A complete list of winners can be found here, and you can see pics of attendees taken by Photobot 3000 here.

How drunk did Smith get at the afterparty that went for hours at National Mechanics? "No comment. Though if anyone found a size 10 shoe (right) at National Mechanics, please email me at geekadelphia@gmail.com." We heard you had a big shoe, Eric.

Source: Eric Smith, Tim Quirino, Youngmoo Kim, Apu Gupta, Tristin Hightower, Phillly Geek Awards
Writer: Sue Spolan

Azavea and Temple prof team up to pack digital heat against crime

It's a new chapter in intelligence-led policing. Azavea, in partnership with Temple University's Center for Security and Crime Science, has released ACS Alchemist, a free open source software tool that harnesses census data for the purpose of reducing crime. Funded by the National Institute of Justice and helmed by Jerry Ratcliffe and Ralph Taylor, ACS Alchemist will be used by crime fighters and researchers nationally. 
ACS Alchemist has the power to be of immense value to police commanders in precincts and districts, city planners, as well as locally  to Commissioner Ramsey and team, says Ratcliffe. "Crime is not the best predictor of crime. Where crime was last year will not be where crime is this year." Rather, one must look at where crime was last year with the additional information of demographic changes.
"Normally, there's a census every ten years. In the intervening years, we have no idea what changes are taking place in the population," says Ratcliffe, a former East London police officer turned internationally known researcher. New immigrant groups or a surge in a particular age range can play a major role in crime analysis. Ratcliffe says that there are changes at the Census Bureau which will lead to a rolling collection process and yearly updates, which is a huge leap forward in terms of understanding demographic changes, poverty, unemployment and travel patterns. While the evolution of data collection is a great leap forward, tens of thousands of data points are stored online in a confusing and complex manner. Some researchers just give up, says Ratcliffe, who never meant to become an academic, but a mountaineering accident in his 20s retired him from active duty on the force.
"I've been working closely with the Philadelphia Police Department for nearly 10 years," says Ratcliffe, who has some programming background. He became interested in how changing demographics affect the likelihood of crime, but says the project required programming skills beyond his abilities. Enter Robert Cheetham of Azavea, who himself used to work for the Philadelphia Police as a crime analyst. "Azavea makes the indecipherable actually fathomable," says Ratcliffe.
Cheetham, for his part, says he has been working with the police in one capacity or another for a decade, and gives props to the current leadership. "Ramsey is very much interested in data driven policing. It's the center of what he did in DC, and he brought that set of ideas with him."
Previously, Ratcliffe worked with the Philly PD to create The Philadelphia Foot Patrol Experiment, during which violent crime was reduced by 23% by when teams of officers walked the beat past the city's most crime ridden corners. Incidentally, Ratcliffe says the number one reason for crime is not poverty, lack of education, drugs or poor upbringing. Rather, it's opportunity. 

Source: Jerry Ratcliffe, Temple University, Robert Cheetham, Azavea
Writer: Sue Spolan

1K in 1 day, Wordpress for women event, gets local thanks to AWeber

A thousand women around the world will be getting help building their own Wordpress websites as part of the new One K in 1 Day initiative, a completely free event which takes place Sept. 9 and is organized by UK-based Startup Training School. Here in Philadelphia, AWeber will host a local, extended version of the program, with help from website designer Lisa Snyder of Silver Hoop Edge
"Startup Training School is a customer of ours," says Liz Cies, Public Relations Specialist for AWeber and event organizer. "We do email marketing software for small business." In addition to hosting the Philly meetup, AWeber is giving 250 free accounts to the first 500 people who register.
Women interested in participating need to register in up to two places: once for the international live webcast, which happens from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and once for the in-person event, which runs from 10:30 to 2:00 at AWeber's Huntingdon Valley offices.
The point, says Cies, is to assist women in establishing an online presence for business or personal use. "The big focus is to help women learn to market themselves online," says Cies.There will be Wordpress experts on hand, and registrants will receive a checklist of to do items prior to the event, such as purchasing a domain and finding a web host.
Other local One K in 1 Day meetups are scheduled to take place in Eilat, Israel and Austin, Texas. Organizers say building one's own website does not need to take lots of time or money, and women with children can participate completely online, in the comfort of their own homes.
Startup Training School, founded by Lea and Jonathan Woodward, hosts monthly online sessions to teach all facets of web based marketing and content creation. By the way, AWeber promises that there will be confections on hand.

Source: Liz Cies, AWeber
Writer: Sue Spolan

In a better place: Project Liberty's newest participants get to work

Project Liberty has moved into a much better place, both literally and figuratively. The new media incubator announced its next trio of participants this week. Rumble, StartUP Production and Transout are all startups that have a good reason to be smack in the center of operations at Philly.com, helmed by Interstate General Media.

IGM, formerly known as Philadelphia Media Network, has moved from the iconic white tower at 401 North Broad to the old Strawbridge and Clothier building on Market Street between 8th and 9th. Project Liberty is a collaborative effort by Interstate General Media, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which provided $250,000 in overall funding, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Dreamit Ventures (which just announced expansion to Austin) and Drexel University.

Joining Project Liberty is Cory Donovan, who relocated to Philadelphia from Virginia this past winter when his wife moved north. He takes on a newly created 20 hour per week post as Project Manager.

Mark Block, VP of External Relations for IGM, says, "We as a partner and The Knight Foundation agree there was room for improvement." SnipSnap, Cloudmine and ElectNext, which made up the first round of entrepreneurs at the incubator, experienced a number of challenges that have informed changes in the program's location, format and management.

"We addressed issues on a number of fronts," says Block. "The incubator sits in the exact center of the floor, with access to all divisions of the company. It's a fully open space, and an open environment." Block adds that participating Drexel Co-op students are seated between the IT Department and Project Liberty, becoming a liaison. Donovan's day to day presence is in contrast to the initial cycle, where guidance was only intermittently available.

Donovan and Block go way back, having attended Johns Hopkins for business school together a decade ago. "It's important that an institution that includes The Inquirer and philly.com provides resources for up and coming companies," says Donovan. "At the end of the day, our goal is that companies stay here in Philadelphia."

Of Donovan's previous work experience as the Executive Director of the Roanoke - Blacksburg Technology Council, Block says, "Cory's expertise comes into play. He knows the kinds of contacts and resources these companies are going to have to reach out to."

Rumble, whose founder Al Azoulay is from the Middle East, combines social sharing with mobile media.  StartUP Production's Zaahah is a social search engine, developed by James Sisneros, and Transout’s tapCLIQ breaks ground in the fast growing area of mobile advertising.

Source: Mark Block, Cory Donovan, Project Liberty
Writer: Sue Spolan

Free and Open Source Software Convention coming to Philly next month

The creators and supporters of free and open source software have always bucked the current of commercialization. It's events like FOSSCON, the Free and Open Source Software Convention, that allow developers to gather and gain strength in numbers. FOSSCON 2012 takes place Saturday, Aug. 11, at Venturef0rth at 8th and Callowhill. 
Organizers are looking for free software enthusiasts, user group members, coders and users to join them at the grassroots event, aimed at creating a common meeting place for people all over the Northeast US.
"We've been doing FOSSCON for 3 years now," says Jonathan Simpson, event coordinator. "The first year was actually in upstate New York, but we moved to Philly.  I live outside Philly myself so it's personally a lot easier running an event an hour away instead of several." Plus, he adds, Philly is a pretty FOSS-friendly city.
The event features six general-interest talks, and workshops on topics including development, community building, hackerspace activities, and more. Ubuntu PA and Hive76 will be on hand for demonstrations and workshops. 
The community will have a chance to explore topics from 3D printing to privacy. Keynote is Bradley M. Kuhn, Executive Director of the Software Freedom Conservancy.
"There are other FOSS events around the world and in the US," says Simpson, who mentions CPOSC in Harrisburg, and SELF, which serves the Southeasterm US. "This is the only one that goes by the FOSSCON name, but there is a longer term plan to spawn others."
FOSS tends to put control in the hands of users, says Simpson, and that represents a threat to the control of media companies, as well as to most of corporate America. "FOSS, as well as the culture it encourages, endangers that control." Simpson also cites Linode, which has been a conference sponsor for years, as a great example of a successful services based FOSS company.
"The temptation to close the source of software is real, especially in the startup world where competition is really aggressive. FOSS are beneficial in the long run, but those benefits are often ignored to protect short term gains. Reminding computer scientists and entrepreneurs of the benefits of FOSS, and that their latest project is 90% dependent of those FOSS softwares, is important work," says Simpson.
Basic admission to FOSSCON is free, but organizers encourage attendees to level up to paid admission of $25 to help keep the event open to as many people as possible.

Source: Jonathan Simpson, FOSSCON
Writer: Sue Spolan

Secret to Monetate's success? Don't talk about Monetate

Fast growing Monetate's Blair Lyon, VP of Marketing, has been getting an increasing number of inquiries on the company's customer acquisition strategy, which does not rely on traditional methods. There's a secret to Monetate's marketing success, and it's all about content.
Monetate's content marketing platform represents industry best practices, resulting in a dramatic increase in lead conversions. "Since launching the content program a little less than a year ago, there's been a thousand percent higher lead flow than we had previously," reports Lyon. "In terms of the buzz metrics, which includes brand awareness through things like retweeting and sharing, it's well over 600% higher than before we started the program."
Monetate gives away content in exchange for loyalty among B2B customers. "One of the things that drew me to working here was the chance to explore this non-interruptive form of advertising," explains Lyon. "We develop content that answers questions and has a high educational value." Not only does Monetate operate two blogs, but under the Resources tab of its website, it offers video, case studies, white papers and eBooks, all of which fall within the purview of  the marketing team.
When Lyon arrived at Monetate after founding his own interactive ad agency TMX, much of the company's blog content referred directly back to Monetate. But no more. "Eighty plus percent doesn't talk about Monetate at all." The conversation is shifted away from Monetate and toward the customer.
Lyon sees content as a way to enter the customer's circle of trust. If a CMO, CIO or IT Director finds great information on the Monetate blog, the company will be top of mind when it's time to make purchasing decisions. 
"We identify different types of buyers. In our case, there are 8 distinct persona types we want to influence. The next overlay is the sales process," says Lyon, who creates a taxonomy of sales targets. Awareness, research, evaluation and final contracts each have their own sublevels, leading to a total of 8 categories. "We do a lot of A/B testing," says Lyon, whose team will pull articles or change headlines depending on the metrics.
There are a total of 11 full time people on Monetate's marketing team, three of whom are tasked specifically with content marketing. "We have a director of content marketing, a managing editor, and a senior editor." Compared to the cost of running ads in the Wall Street Journal, what amounts to easily several hundred thousand dollars in annual salaries pales by comparison, given the results.
Lyon points to the way information is packaged, and puts a lot of stock in infographics, which are shared and reposted for months after they're released. 
He adds that the various ways to package information work well in combination. "I don't think any single program works in a vacuum." An infographic may go out with a press release, video, webinar, or white paper. "We present a well rounded story with a lot of content elements. We're always thinking about packaging and repurposing as many ways as possible."
The Conshohocken-based firm, which provides cloud-based technology for ecommerce marketers, experienced nearly 300% revenue growth in 2011 and continues to expand rapidly. Monetate CEO and founder, David Brussin, was just named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 for the Greater Philadelphia region.

Source: Blair Lyon, Monetate
Writer: Sue Spolan

Next month's Geek Awards will be ladies night

After the Philadelphia Geek Awards organizers finalized the nominees for next month's big bash at the Academy of Natural Sciences, something else had changed besides the categories for the second installment of what organizers have lovingly described as the Daytime Emmys version of the Webbys.
"It wasn't until after we finished going through nominations that we realized there were more women this year," says Tim Quirino, cofounder of Geekadelphia, the all-things-geeky blog and community that continues to grow. 
Make no mistake, this year's Geek Awards -- already sold out for Aug. 17 (but overflow tickets have just been released) - are indicative of Philadelphia's feminine firepower. No fewer than nine lady nominees dominate the event's 14 categories, which moved away from the "new" theme to include more static categories (like Indie Game Developer of the Year) that will have more staying power. 
Most notably, three women are up for Geek of the Year, including Tristin Hightower (Girl Geek Dinners), Gerri Trooskin (Franklin Institute) and Roz Duffy (TEDxPhilly).
Last year, only five women were represented individually among all the nominees. While the influx of women in the program might not have been entirely deliberate, it is clearly a product of Geekadelphia opening up the nomination process, receiving upward of 100 pages of nominations from across the region.
"Thanks to cool events like the Women in Tech conference and cool organizations like TechGirlz and Girl Develop It, I'm constantly hearing about the interesting things (local women in tech) are up to," says Geekadelphia cofounder Eric Smith. "The increase in nominations reflect them being passionate about making themselves heard."
Says Quirino: "There are more women doing things in the Philadelphia tech scene than before."

And next month, one of them will be called Geek of the Year.

Source: Eric Smith, Tim Quirino, Geekadelphia
Writer: Joe Petrucci

DreamIt's new managing director eyes 'high-impact' expansion

Bringing Karen Griffith Gryga on board as Managing Director at Dreamit Ventures last month has a whole lot of strategic advantage. The co-founder of FashInvest and Executive Director at MidAtlantic Investors Group, Gryga provides the five-year plan for Dreamit's growth. DreamIt has cachet in the startup world.

Continuing to grow an international presence, Gryga joins Managing Partner Kerry Rupp overseeing day to day operations. Rather than see the accelerator as discrete cycles, Gryga's vision extends to overall growth down the line. "Kerry and I are joined at the hip these days," says Gryga, who holds a dual Wharton MBA and  Masters in Computer Science from the University of Pennsylvania.
Gryga is a multitasker. Her background in computer systems dovetails with her interest in fashion and design, and her venture capital chops will facilitate oversight of DreamIt operations in both geographic and fiscal progress. "The idea is an expansion of resources," she says of her dual experience in raising and managing funds. "I started in the industry in the early 90s. The Dreamit model is so compelling. You have very successful entrepreneurs in both the founders and the companies. It's almost harking back to the original days of VC."
Gryga cautions that Dreamit's accelerator model is not infinitely scalable. "The power in the model is the intensive hands on process between mentors and entrepreneurs. The focus is on expanding in a way that's high impact, not that's everywhere." 
Now in its New York/Israel cycle for summer 2012, Gryga is putting her many talents to use as a mentor for Israeli Dreamit startup Bazaart. "They really had a good tech foundation in terms of proprietary technology. It's very early in the development of their product. We put in a lot of brainstorming into focus, direction and approach. Within a matter of weeks to arriving in the US, they met with the CEO of Free People and the Hearst Media CEO. They're having conversations you would never expect anyone in a pre-beta state to have."
Gryga reports that the Dreamit managing team is now sifting through around 400 applications received by the July 6 deadline for Philly's fall 2012 program. Participating companies will be announced in late July or early August and once again will be in residence at the University City Science Center.

Source: Karen Griffith Gryga, DreamIt Ventures
Writer: Sue Spolan

Are Energy Commercialization Institute's investments approaching critical mass?

Sometimes it's the small things that make a big difference in energy efficiency. The Energy Commercialization Institute awards grants to cleantech startups with a proven track record.  Bird droppings on solar panels are a literal barrier to efficiency. Not something you think about, but it makes sense. Shu Yang, PhD., a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania and one of five recent ECI grant recipients, earned  to develop a nonstick coating for photovoltaic cells.

ECI also funded Drexel profs Emin Caglan Kumbur, Ph.D and Yury Gogotsi, Ph.D for energy storage technology; Alexander Fridman, Ph.D, leading a Drexel University/Temple University team to create clean energy from biomass, coal and organic wastes; a new electrospinning/electrospraying process for energy fuel cells from Drexel's Yossef Elabd, Ph.D; and a Drexel/Penn initiative to create thin-film solar cells from Andrew Rappe, PhD. Total for the recent round was $500,000.
The ECI is funded by the State of Pennsylvania and created by a consortium that includes Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Drexel, Penn and Penn State. 
It's a new focus on commercialization, says Tony Green, PhD., Director of the ECI as well as its forbear, the Nanotechnology Institute. "The NTI model led to the ECI model which led to EEB Hub," explains Green. "The difference is that NTI is based on a platform, while the ECI is an application." Rather than focus on nanotech, the ECI mission is not about any specific technology. "The buzz phrase is alternative and clean energy."
For the first time, says Green, the ECI is now getting metrics on commercialization, licenses and jobs created through ECI grants. While the state-funded NTI has a 10-year track record, Green and company are about to release a semiannual report that credits ECI with the creation of over 50 jobs in the last two years.
"We have already accrued almost 150 intellectual property assets, applications and issued patents," says Green. "We've executed 18 licenses and options. With only 700K project funding, we've created three startups in the last year, and that number is going to grow. Universities are doing a lot better at commercializing technology. ECI projects are not technologies that are basic research. The intellectual property already exists."
Green looks to MIT and UCSD as big names in higher ed tech commercialization. "We can do the same thing, but not through a single institution. It's a consortium." The cumulative capabilities are much greater, says Green. The ECI also works with small institutions like Fox Chase Cancer Research Center and Philadelphia University, where there might be one researcher doing groundbreaking work. "We want all boats to rise," adds Green.

Source: Anthony Green, ECI
Writer: Sue Spolan

Social entrepreneurship agency Here's My Chance doubling staff, expanding to Chinatown

How about another new approach to fundraising? One that's exciting and fresh, with cool graphics and appealing content? That's the secret to the success of Here's My Chance, co-founded by David Gloss and Kevin Colahan. It's social entrepreneurship done right, without the guilt.

"Its a strange psychological trick," says Gloss, the CEO. "People pour their hearts and souls into the work they are doing and then feel awkward or unworthy when going out to seek financial support."
With a quickly growing team, now headquartered in Old City and expanding to offices in Chinatown, Here's My Chance removes all the negativity and creates a shining path to doing good. "We design custom campaigns for corporate brands and nonprofits that rally people around their cause." says Gloss, who brings a dual purpose background to the endeavor.
Prior to HMC, Gloss worked in venture capital and received his MBA from Temple University, but was raised by old school social entrepreneurs. Carelift International, the Philadelphia based medical relief charity, was founded by his parents in the 1970s. 
While at a meditation retreat, Gloss says he was struck by the idea that he could do next generation fundraising, rallying massive digital communities using game mechanics, driving people to do good things. That was back in May 2011. Today, HMC has employees in DC, Boston and New York, with the core creative team here in Philly. 
HMC is hiring, expecting to expand staff from 8 to 15 in the next year. "We're going on a hunt for graphic designers, developers, creative directors, and project managers," says Gloss. "We are building an agency with a unique philosophy." 

Source: David Gloss, Here's My Chance
Writer: Sue Spolan

Roots of innovation planted with 15 new Philly Fellows

Literacy, health, poverty, and the greening of the city. It's all in a year's work for the newest recruits to Philly Fellows. Now heading into its seventh session, Philly Fellows was founded by two Haverford College grads with a dual mission: to support recent college graduates as well as urban change.
Philly Fellows just announced its newest class of 15, to begin a one year program of service to the city July 30 in cultural, educational and social-service organizations including Philadelphia Youth Network, Project HOME, Calcutta House, Fleisher Art Memorial, and The Pennsylvania Health Law Project. Co-founder Tim Ifill reports that Philly Fellows received a total of 123 applications for the 2012 class.
Each Fellow receives $12,191 for the year, health insurance,student loan forbearance, a transportation allowance and a $5,350 education award, all through the AmeriCorps*VISTA program. 
They're either graduates of local colleges, primarily Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, Haverford and the University of Pennsylvania, or they grew up in the Delaware Valley and attended schools outside the local area.
It's a real world Real World. A gentle extension of college life, each participant commits to 40 hour work weeks at a non-profit, sharing co-ed quarters with 4 to 6 others in one of three group houses located in West Philadelphia, South Philadelphia, or Northern Liberties.

"About two-thirds of our graduates end up staying in Philly, and a handful are hired by their host agencies," reports Ifill, who counts a total of 102 alums, with 16 more graduating from the 2011 program at the end of this month. Erika Slaymaker, who worked at Project HOME this year, says. "I am staying on next year to continue to implement the projects that I started as a Philly Fellow.  Julia Cooper, who is a part of the incoming group of Philly Fellows, will be joining me to create an Environmental Sustainability Team at Project HOME."
The deadline for applications to next year's class is January 2013, and host agency deadline is November 2012.

Source: Tim Ifill, Erika Slaymaker, Philly Fellows
Writer: Sue Spolan

TechCrunch blows through Philly for one-day stand; Monetate still hiring

TechCrunch held its first Philly Mini-Meetup on June 19 at The Field House, across from Reading Terminal Market. Billed as an "evening of networking, fun, and bacchanalian pleasure," the usual Philly tech folks came out to drink enough beer to live up to the party hearty reputation of the city. 
About a dozen local companies set up tables, including Interact's Anthony Coombs, who was responsible for getting the national tech media blog to the city; Audrea Parrack handed out black Monetate T-shirts. She reports that the Conshohocken company is still hiring at breakneck speed, and is looking to fill 52 more positions by year's end. The company now employs 103.
"We wanted to meet people in Philadelphia under an umbrella of neutrality," explained John Biggs, East Coast Editor of the AOL-owned tech news site that has about 1.6 million RSS subscribers worldwide. Philadelphia, unlike New York and Silicon Valley, does not need a DMZ for tech gatherings, as the community lacks a cutthroat nature, but tourists from TechCrunch can be forgiven.
There was no set program, as Biggs was more interested in gathering local intel. When asked if he had met any standouts, he mentioned a startup that's working on RFID technology for supermarket checkout. "It's like EZ Pass for grocery stores." He could not, however, recall the name of the company. Camera in hand, Biggs can also be forgiven for snapping shots of the most attractive females in the crowd.
The event drew about 350 people, and did not offer much to the local community other than a chance to strut its stuff in front of the highly regarded news site. And some snacks. And one free beer per person. Philadelphia is the third stop in the TechCrunch national tour; New York and Washington DC were stops one and two. The event moves on to more states across the US including Georgia, Missouri and North Carolina.

Source: John Biggs, TechCrunch, Anthony Coombs, Interact, Audrea Parrack, Monetate
Writer: Sue Spolan

Chasing elusive healthcare innovation: IBX Game Changers Challenge applications due soon

The Independence Blue Cross Game Changers Challenge is now accepting applications, and the window to enter closes on July 10. The idea is to link the muscle and financial power of big health care with the energy of startups in an effort to drive change.
"This is a huge opportunity," says Tom Olenzak, who, as a full-time consultant, is helping to run the Game Changers Challenge, which draws on the partnership of IBX, Wharton Entrepreneurial Programs, the Department of Public Health of the City of Philadelphia, Venturef0rth, and ?What If! Innovation Partners. 
Applicants have until July to submit proposals aimed at improving the overall health and wellness of the Greater Philadelphia region. New companies, applications, technology, products, programs, and services that promote health and wellness are all welcome to enter. The prize is $50,000 for up to three winners, who will be notified by the end of July.
"Health care legislation has forced people to think about change," says Olenzak. "We've been stuck in an employer based sales model."

While most individuals consider themselves insured by a particular company, insurers are actually built on a B2B model, selling to employers, not employees. That's why customer service at an insurer can be quite frustrating. It's not a detail most people consider while on hold trying to get information about a claim.
Making change in healthcare is daunting, even to a seasoned professional like Olenzak, who's been in healthcare IT for 20 years, and reports that innovation in healthcare has always been the next big market. 
Olenzak sees the regulatory process as a barrier to innovation. "There's been a ton of innovation on the care side," but not on the business side, adds Olenzak. "The challenge in health care is that open and transparent transactions are almost unheard of."
With an economy that continues to struggle, and cuts in reimbursement, Olenzak says healthcare focused acclerators are on the rise around the country, and points to Blueprint Health in New York, Rock Health in San Francisco, and Chicago Health Tech.
Here in Philadelphia, Venturef0rth hosted the first ever Startup Weekend Health at the beginning of this month, and there are plans in the works for a Philadelphia based health care accelerator, details of which cannot yet be disclosed.
"Once you start pulling on one thread, you find it's attached to 16 more," says Olenzak of the complicated field of health care innovation. "We're at a stage where we need a larger platform like an insurer or a health system to get involved to make a difference."

Source: Tom Olenzak, IBX Game Changers Challenge
Writer: Sue Spolan

Overheard at Venturef0rth: Million/Million for SnipSnap; CloudMine releases version 1.0

It wasn't up there for long, but the upstart startup CloudMine celebrated the release of version 1.0 by attaching one of its massive company logo banners to the water tower atop the large white building at 8th and Callowhill where it calls home at Venturef0rth. Talk about eyeballs. The water tower got the attention of tens of thousands of Friday commuters. 
While none of the CloudMine founders was willing to take credit (or in this case, blame) for the guerilla marketing stunt, CloudMine's presence is hard to miss. With a newly redesigned website, the year old Backend-as-a-Service company has put its beta to bed, according to CEO Brendan McCorkle. But developers were not so fortunate, with Marc Weil reporting that the team worked well into the wee hours to make the launch happen. Developers are now running more than 1,500 apps on the CloudMine platform.
Meanwhile, just yards away at Venturef0rth, Ted Mann of SnipSnap announced that he's raised a million dollars in funding for his coupon snapping app, and a million coupons have been entered into the system. Adding to recent Ben Franklin Technology Partners of SE Pennsylvania funding, Mann says Philly's Mentortech Ventures and Michael Rubin contributed to the round.SnipSnap is hiring two in leadership positions, and according to Mann, is engaged in a national search to hire a VP of Marketing and a VP of business Development and Sales.
Keya Dannenbaum, founder of ElectNext, and late of Project Liberty Digital Incubator stopped by to check out the space, and reports that the candidate choice engine is now closing in on a round of funding. She also mentioned that co-founder Paul Jungwirth has moved on and is no longer with the startup.

Source: Brendan McCorkle, CloudMine, Ted Mann, SnipSnap, Keya Dannenbaum, ElectNext
Writer: Sue Spolan

Creative sector jobs, reputation for art growing in Philadelphia

The whole starving artist cliche doesn't fly in Philadelphia. Two releases, one from the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, and another from The Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Board, point to arts as an area of serious growth, and a powerful financial force in the region.
According to the newly released Creative Sector Jobs Report,  new research shows that 48,900 jobs exist in the creative sector, which represents 6.5% of the jobs in Philadelphia.  Creative sector employment grew 6.3% from 2001 to 2011, yielding $5 billion in direct output and $2.7 billion in direct employee earnings.
The GPTMC just launched its new With Art Philadelphia campaign, as well as its annual report, titled "The Art of Collaboration." GPTMC CEO Meryl Levitz reports that the city welcomed a record 38 million visitors in 2011, and will likely see a dramatic increase with the lure of the Barnes. The GPTMC also unveiled its impressive new With Art site which allows visitors to curate their own Philadelphia experience by shopping through the city's arts and culture offerings to create an individualized tour.
"Culture and the creative sector are a critically important part of our city, and a critical creator of jobs," says Gary Steuer, head of the OACCE. "Creative assets are a core reason people visit Philadelphia."
The GPTMC also announced that it has a 75-page spread in the June 2012 US Airways Magazine, highlighting area museums, historical sites, music and public art. "Philly is a city in the throes of artistic revolution," reads one article.
According to the OACCE's Creative Sector report, In 2010 and 2011, research studies ranked Philadelphia 50-70% above the national standard in “creative vitality” using the Creative Vitality Index, a research tool developed by the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) to measure the creative health of an area.

Source: Gary Steuer, OACCE, Meryl Levitz, GPTMC
Writer: Sue Spolan

Ridaroo partners with PECO/Exelon to offer secure carpooling

Boom: Ridaroo is running with the big boys now. The two-year old company has partnered with PECO/Exelon to launch a secure enterprise-wide ride-sharing program. The bootstrapped startup, which comes out of Drexel's Baiada Institute, has been working on a program to match drivers with riders within a specific organization.
Ridaroo will even tell carpoolers if there are discounts and deals along the route.
Andy Guy and Aksel Gungor, both former Drexel students, built the firewalled program to stand out from traditional ride boards by building in a new level of trust. Each organization has its own online ride board, separate from all the others, so that employees don't have to take a risk in order to go green on the road.
Gungor recalls that as an undergrad at Drexel, there was a bulletin board in the hall where, like at most colleges, people posted notes about rides offered and needed. The Career Services department would manually copy down each post and email it to students.

"I had an internship to which I had to take a bus. I ended up carpooling by default,"says Gungor. "There had to be a better, more efficient way of doing it. Fast forward to Andy and me sitting down and working on it. We set up a private website for different organizations."
The beta version, which was open to all college students in Philadelphia, led to the new corporate version. Integrating social media tools, Ridaroo allows PECO employees to log in and create trips limited to PECO staff. Andy Guy created an automatically generated matching system which screens for preferences like distance, time, number of available seats, pick up location, and even smoking or non-smoking.
Gungor says companies like PECO can offer the Ridaroo service as an employee benefit, and the bill goes to the employer. "It's a pure sustainability play. We calculate all the emissions and the analytics behind that." Not only do employees save hundreds of dollars per year, but companies can earn LEED points via collected Ridaroo data.
Gungor says Ridaroo isn't seeking outside funding at this time; rather, he and Guy are focused on growing with the revenue generated by enterprise solutions. Current partnerships (including another with the law firm Morgan Lewis) will help Ridaroo scale quickly, which will lead to hiring. At that point, the team will look at raising a small round. 
And that whole boom thing? "Andy and I always joke around. When something good happens, we say, 'boom,' that just got done."

Source: Aksel Gungor, Ridaroo
Writer: Sue Spolan

Educational strength in numbers: The School Collective connects teachers with good ideas, hiring

There's a lot of talk about technology and education, but most of the time, the conversation is about individual schools implementing technology. In the case of The School Collective, a social entrepreneurship startup based in Philadelphia, technology becomes a way to link and improve all schools at once.
Sebastian Stoddart, one of the co-founders, says "We originally came up with the idea at Oxford University. Alyson Goodner and I were both studying for our MBA. The education problem is bigger than just one issue. We identified an element of the education world where we can actually make a difference." 
The School Collective joins teachers across schools through a website where educators can share best practices through lesson plans, materials, and instant communication. Currently there are over 1,700 members sharing nearly 21,000 documents and over 36 thousand lesson plans.
Stoddart, who remains in the UK but visits town 3 to 4 times a year, says it was Goodner's enthusiasm and energy that drew him into the project. "She's incredibly passionate. It's her one focus and one mission. From my standpoint, it's a real chance to use innovation to improve education. It's an opportunity to reshape an existing model that isn't working."
Coming from one of the most venerated learning institutions in the world doesn't hurt. "One thing you get from Oxford is a hands on teaching style," says Stoddard. "You work directly with a tutor, and there are 2 to 3 other people in the room. The difference of that model to Philadelphia education is huge. Oxford is an incredible education, and it gives you a massive desire to give that education as well."
Goodner adds, "I am not British. I was born here in Philly, and ended up at Oxford, a place where people gather to talk about global change. Here in Philadelphia we get a fairly bad rap. People say, education reform here in Philly? Good luck with that. But there has been movement. There are amazing people doing reform work in Philly."
The School Collective, says Goodner, gathers revenue via a freemium model. Teachers sign up for free or pay $5 per month to access the full functionality of the site. Organizations can also subscribe to the site using a tiered model.
"The School Collective is built to give benefit to every user on the site," says Stoddard, who compares traditional teaching tools that are brought in by the principal, but offer no benefit to the teacher, "From the beginning we wanted this to be something teachers would want to be on."
An essential key to The School Collective's success is Goodner and Stoddart's professional development package, their hands on approach to teaching teachers. During a 10-hour workshop, The School Collective shows educators take the time to visit schools in person and explain exactly how to use the tools, resulting in a 98% acceptance rate.
With this level of success, expansion is on the agenda, although it would be difficult to replicate an Oxford-educated team. "We are looking to bring on a person full time similar to what I am doing, and a full time developer on Sebastian's side to build a team in Philadelphia," says Goodner, who plans on tapping into former Teach For America participants to find the right fit.
Currently, The School Collective serves a diverse roster of Philadelphia schools, including The William Penn Charter School, Stepping Stones, and The School District of Philadelphia. The plan is to expand to include parents and students, and to extend The School Collective's reach to neighboring states. 

Source: Alyson Goodner, Sebastian Stoddart, The School Collective
Writer: Sue Spolan

Philly as a model for social entrepreneurship examined as part of The New Capitalist Junto

Getting paid for paying it forward is the future of social change. Last Wednesday (June 6), Good Company Ventures hosted The New Capitalist Junto.

In the high-rise offices at 1650 Arch, formerly known as The Green Village, around 220 attendees gathered to consider the task of making Philadelphia a center for new capitalism. Based on the book The New Capitalist Manifesto written by Umair Haque, the business philosophy embraces sustainability, non-violence, equity and improving quality of life.
"Philadelphia has all of the infrastructure, in institutions, talent and beyond, to be a global leader in social entrepreneurship," says Technically Philly's Christopher Wink, one of the night's top rated speakers. "The intractable legacy problems we have in our big, old, industrial city, mean that this is among the most meaningful places in the world to confront the challenges that we need to solve most -- education inequality, crime, violence, drugs, poverty, joblessness and the like."
Joined by Mayor Michael Nutter and 25 local organizations from all corners of business and civic life including Robin Hood Ventures, EEB Hub and NextFab Studio, the goal, says Wink, "is to get a broad coalition and conversation happening around the region being a relevant, sensible and powerful hub for mission-minded ventures."
Good Company's Zoe Seltzer says, "It was a nice mix of engaged, yet wanting more.  Venture types curious about the social stuff and social types wanting us to reach further. As long as we have this diverse group talking, we've made a good start."

The idea of the Junto originated in Philadelphia in 1727, and was defined as a club for mutual improvement. P'unk Avenue, one of the evening's participants, has hosted a monthly junto for about 2 years.

Source: Christopher Wink, Zoe Seltzer, The New Capitalist Junto
Writer: Sue Spolan

'Twive and Receive' fundraiser for TechGirlz on June 14

A one day only fundraiser for TechGirlz will take place June 14. The local nonprofit, dedicated to training middle and high school students for jobs in technology, is Philadelphia's entry in Give Across America through the Twive and Receive campaign. 
Gloria Bell, who chose the organization for the competition, says, "TechGirlz gets all of the money we raise and if they are in the top three fundraising cities, they get an additional amount, $5,000 for third place, $10,000 for second place or $15,000 for first place, on top of what we raise."
Here's the setup: donate $10 and then encourage 10 friends to donate as well through social media. Bell has written suggested tweets, so it's a no-brainer to participate.
TechGirlz, with the mission of empowering girls to be future technology leaders, has a year round calendar, and is running a one week Entrepreneur Summer Camp for middle school girls the week of July 9, where each student has a chance to create a startup in a hackathon setting. The program is in conjunction with DreamIt Ventures and Startup Corps
Tracey Welson-Rossman, a female tech star in her own right, founded TechGirlz, and has since welcomed Kerry Rupp, Yasmine Mustafa, Jane Frankel, Neelan Choski, Anita Garimella Andrews, Christian Kunkel, Karen Stellabotte, Skip Shuda and Joyce Akiko to the leadership team.

"Curiosity and research led me down the path to find where I hypothesize it begins - at high school, specifically 9th grade.  Studies show that girls at that age self-select out of technology learning because they do not understand what a career in tech can be.  They see the stereotypes in the media of nerdy white males who work in cubicles and are not creative or collaborative," says Welson-Rossman. "We know that is not the case.  TechGirlz wants to show the depth and breadth of what technology can offer.  We also want to represent what the folks in tech actually look like - men and women."
TechGirlz hosts regular workshops to teach girls a wide range of skills including programming, web design, podcasting,3D printing and animation. Welson-Rossman also reports that TechGirlz is at a point where it will soon be hiring staff to help the organization grow and to track participants' progress.

Source: Gloria Bell, Tracey Welson-Rossman, TechGirlz
Writer: Sue Spolan

Beer pong your way to an employer's heart at UNCUBED at World Cafe Live on June 21

Looking for work is about to get way cooler, thanks to UNCUBED. "Everyone likes to have a good time, and everyone hates job fairs," says Tarek Pertew, UNCUBED organizer and co-founder of Wakefield, a media company that's producing the event which takes place June 21 from 11 am to 4 pm at World Cafe Live in University City. 
"UNCUBED is something everyone can enjoy, with music and drinks. No one wears suits, and companies are not going to have a barrier to interaction with candidates. It's a different mindset, where people can interact on a more realistic level. It's what startups want. Their approach to culture is significantly different from large companies." 
Targeting the fast growing world of tech entrepreneurs, Philly UNCUBED is an expansion from the first UNCUBED which took place in Manhattan in April 2012 and drew tech luminaries like Tumblr and Spotify, not to mention 1100 attendees vying for jobs at 85 companies.
Here in Philly, AppRenaissance, Zonoff, Monetate, RJ Metrics and Leadnomics will join dozens of companies for music, an open bar, food and games. And of course, to find employees.
UNCUBED is a production of Wakefield, which sends out a daily email on startups: think Daily Candy for business, says Pertew, who comes from a background in fashion retailing. 
Wakefield plans on taking UNCUBED to more cities in the future, but chose the vibrant tech scene in Philadelphia for its initial expansion.

Source: Tarek Pertew, UNCUBED
Writer: Sue Spolan

Largest show in festival history announced for 16th annual Live Arts celebration

With six world premieres and two U.S. premieres set for the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, which announced the lineup for its 16th annual edition on Monday, there will be plenty of cutting-edge dance, theater, music, visual and interdisciplinary works by renowned contemporary artists. It will also feature the largest work in Live Arts Festival history with Sylvain Emard Danse's Le Grand Continental, which will feature 200-plus dancers on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and go down as the largest presentation of its kind in the world.

The Parkway will also host interactive public art from Montreal-based new media artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. Montreal will also be represented by urban circus 7 Fingers. Philadelphia's leading contemporary art-makers are in the mix as well, including Pig Iron Theatre Company, Headlong Dance Theater, Brian Sanders' JUNK and Lucidity Suitacase Intercontinental.

"Our mission to present artistic voices from around the world alongside Philadelphia's best and brightest talent continues with our 2012 programming," says producing director Nick Stuccio in a news release.

Other noteworthy performances include the only American presentation of Australia-based Back to Back Theatre's FOOD COURT, a centerpiece production that confronts bullying and body image, and New York's Elevator Repair Service and Young Jean Lee Theater Company.

The Festival runs Sept. 7-22. Tickets go on sale in mid-June and are priced between $10-$30. Discounts available to those age 25 and under and for Festival Members. A full schedule with Festival events, and performance dates, times and locations will be released shortly. PNC Arts Alive is the presenting sponsor for the 2012 edition.

Source: Carolyn Huckabay, Canary Promotions
Writer: Joe Petrucci

GPIC gets more efficient as EEB Hub, which shifts focus and is hiring up to five

The multi-partner organization GPICHub is now EEB Hub, which stands for Energy Efficient Buildings Hub. Same players, but a redesigned website, logo and tagline to reflect a change of focus. "From early on the name was made to speak to the Department of Energy, and be region focused," says Christine Knapp, Manager of Public and Client Relations for the EEB Hub, who feels that the shorter name says more in fewer words.

EEB Hub is more market focused as well, according to Knapp, with pages that break down content into four sections she calls "point-of-view" pages: Owners/Operators/Occupants, Architects/Engineers/Suppliers, Policy and Finance, and Education and Workforce. An even more granular approach is in the works, says Knapp, with some of the categories broken out further to address specific needs, say, of building owners.

The multi-stakeholder organization, which began life last February with temporary headquarters at the Navy Yard, is now in the process of constructing Building 661, a showplace for green building innovation. In what Knapp terms an entrepreneur's dream come true, even the current headquarters has become a lab.

"The temporary building we are in now is one of the most highly instrumented buildings in the country. It collects 1500 data points every minute," says Knapp, who looks forward to the ability to dashboard all that data, which will include energy, weather and occupancy data, to name just a few.

"ICon, our immersive construction lab, is up and running," reports Knapp. "It's a virtual 3D environment which allows design teams to put schematics into the system, put goggles on and walk around a building together." EEB Hub's Building 661 design team is using the technology now, and EEB Hub will soon make it available to regional architecture and design firms. "They can bring all their architects and engineers into the room together," says Knapp.

EEB Hub is seeking a full time manager for demonstration projects. Currently there are two, but up to five more are in the works, and will soon grow beyond the confines of the Navy Yard and into the larger region. Also available are ten paid summer internship positions for both undergrad and graduate students.

EEB Hub seeks to reduce energy use in the area's commercial building sector by 20 percent by 2020.

Source: Christine Knapp, EEB Hub
Writer: Sue Spolan

Imagine Philly as a startup at CEOs for Cities national meeting May 17-18

In a January opinion piece in TechCrunch, entrepreneur Jon Bischke suggested the most successful urban leaders are those who view cities like startups. CEOs for Cities, a national network of urban leaders dedicated to creating next generation cities, will examine that premise at its 2012 Spring National Meeting: The City As a Startup -- Creating Demand, Attracting Talent, Taking Risks and Going to Scale.
The meeting is set for May 17-18 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati and is made possible with support from The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation. Former AOL Chairman and CEO Steve Case will deliver the morning keynote and also sit on a panel conservation about Startup America. 
CEOs for Cities will also release its latest City Vitals report, a framework for measuring the success of cities. Other panels include considering Songdo, South Korea as the planet's smartest city and using the collective impact approach to catalyze social change. There will also be opportunities to tour Cincinnati attractions and examples of success.
Register here. View a draft agenda here.

Philly Tech Week: A Burning Ring of Entrepreneurial Fire

"We're still getting attendee numbers in, but we'll be around if not above 10k, double last year," reports Christopher Wink, who co-organized Philly Tech Week along with Sean Blanda and Brian James Kirk on behalf of Technically Philly. Culminating with the Signature Event, a chic cocktail party featuring high end demos from The Knight Foundation, Wharton Computing, T-Mobile, NextFab and Hive76, Philly Tech Week was a total success by all measurement. For Wink, one highlight was when "the mayor dropped an open data executive order that we've been pushing on for a year." The impact of Philly Tech Week, says Wink, is real.

"It's like family," said Novotorium's Mike Krupit of the startup community that packed Thursday night's Fourth Annual Entreprenur Expo, held at the Gershman building of the University of the Arts. Presented by Philly Startup Leaders and organized by Gloria Bell, forty entrepreneurs lined up in a ring around the perimeter of the auditorium. Dozens of enthusiastic teams were on hand, some of which are so familiar that they've set up permanent space in this reporter's head, such as Lokalty, CloudMine, AboutOne, Basecamp Business, PalmLing and HeartMe.

Others doing a great job of bringing attention to their product included Patty Tawadros' iWoof'd Up, a pre-launch company offering a behavior modification program to reward family members with points redeemable for wish list items; Artsy Canvas, from the talented Kendall Schoenrock, whose large scale graphic repro company LTL has become the go to business for tech startups (LTL has created sheets of nametags for many Philly Tech Week Events).

ConXt, from Eric Sauers and Eric Greenberg, automatically updates your private address book using social media. Said Sauers, "The part of the expo that really stuck out to me was the great collection of attendees. I've been to other expos and have found the audience really doesn't fit the companies displaying." Indeed, it was not unusual to see participants floating around the room, away from their tables, catching up with their colleagues. In attendance were many familiar faces from the Philly Startup community, including several teams from Startup Weekend, like Zazzberry, Yagglo and Credit Cardio, who were still aglow from the high of building businesses from the ground up in 54 hours.

"The growth of Entrepreneur Expo, from 20 companies and approximately 200 attendees four years ago to 40 companies and over 500 attendees this year, has been a direct reflection of the growth of the tech community as a whole," said organizer Gloria Bell. "It just seemed such a natural fit to schedule the event as part of Philly Tech Week this year. For me, the highlight of Expo is always watching the intense interest on the faces of the attendees and exhibitors as they interact.  Last night was no exception."

Tonight is the Signature Event of Philly Tech Week, to take place at Moore College of Art, and the week wraps up tomorrow with 10 more events.

SnipSnap Clips the Competition at Switch Philly

Like magic. On the same day that Ted Mann's SnipSnap mobile app debuted on the iTunes Store, Switch Philly awarded Mann and team the winning spot in Wednesday night's tech startup competition. Switch, one of the highlights of Philly Tech Week, took place at the University of the Arts.

SnipSnap is on a fast track forward, and it's the second win this week for the coupon scanning team of Mann, Kyle Martin and Kostas Nasis. Earlier in the week, SnipSnap won Mobile Monday Mid-Atlantic.

"I'm the father of two kids and an unsalaried CEO of a startup," says Mann. "We have what we call the bowl of shame in our house. It's filled with coupons."

Elsewhere, the coo-pon versus kew-pon pronunciation debate continues at The Reckoner, whose creator Dan Koch, now on board as a Senior Architect at AppRenaissance, was in attendance on Wednesday.

SnipSnap impressed judges Josh Kopelman of First Round Capital, Mayor Michael Nutter, and Ellen Weber of Robin Hood Ventures, triumphing over worthy contenders PalmLing, Inhabi, Yagglo (which won Philly Startup Weekend), and Airtimem.

Weber, speaking after the event, reports that she is getting an iPad this weekend as a result of her time at Philly Startup Weekend with the Yagglo team, whose designer Shawn Hickman, she says, is one to track.

Source: Mike Krupit, Novotorium; Ted Mann, SnipSnap; Ellen Weber, Robin Hood Ventures
Writer: Sue Spolan

Nearly $3M in Knight Arts Challenge Awards awarded at Philadelphia Museum of Art

"You have to look at his lines," said Janet Echelman of the collection of rare Van Gogh paintings on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the venue for the Knight Arts Challenge Awards ceremony on Monday night. "Look at his drawing skill." Echelman, an internationally known sculptor known for her public art, was on hand to share in the honor of a $400,000 grant to the Center City District to transform the Dilworth Plaza, and be completed in March 2014, according to Paul Levy, who accepted the Knight Award on behalf of the CCD.

Winners and ceremony attendees were treated to a private viewing of the blockbuster exhibit of impressionist paintings, and Lorene Cary, who received a $100,000 award for her Hip H'Opera project, toured the exhibit with Jeri Lynne Johnson, winner of $50,000 for the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra.

The 35 winners, who have known for a month but were sworn to secrecy, uniformly reported great surprise upon receiving the news, hauling in a combined $2.76 million. "They don't just call you. They say, 'We want you to come into the office,'" said Lori Dillard Rech, who accepted $25,000 on behalf of the Center for Emerging Visual Artists' Made in Philly project. "You think you have to defend yourself, not knowing that you've already gotten the award."

Erica Hawthorne, who applied as an individual on behalf of other individuals, could not believe she was granted $60,000 for her Small-but-Mighty Arts Grant, which will award local artists anywhere from $50 to $1,000 each.

Speakers at the event included Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy's Gary Steuer, who said that the Knight Arts Challenge, now in its second of three years, is making its imprimatur on the city. Mayor Nutter remarked upon the larger effect of $9 million in Knight grants, which translates to $18 million, since each grantee must come up with matching funds, touching the lives of all Philadelphians and bringing in tourism dollars.

On a related note, the Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Corporation received $350,000 for Midnight Madness, an effort to engage younger audiences with a series of late night summer happenings to include music, food and rare midnight tours of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Campus Philly, helmed by Deborah Diamond, received $100,000 to offer free or discounted admission to college students visiting the city's cultural venues.

It's not all about Center City. Neighborhoods likw Nicetown-Tioga, West Philadelphia, and East Kensington will also be getting a little Knight magic. You can see the full list of winners below, and a video here.

Performing Arts Will Diversify Old City's First Fridays
Project: Arden Festival Fridays
Recipient: Arden Theatre Company
Award: $50,000
To diversify artistic offerings by presenting multidisciplinary performances alongside gallery events during Old City's monthly First Fridays

"Pop-Up" Performances Bring Latin Jazz to Philly Neighborhoods
Project: AMLA Flash Jazz Mobile
Recipient: Artists and Musicians of Latin America
Award: $35,000
To cultivate new audiences for Latin jazz by presenting "pop-up" performances by local artists using a portable stage

Stories of Urban Youth Come to Life in "Hip H'Opera"
Project: Hip H'Opera
Recipient: Art Sanctuary
Award: $100,000
To celebrate two art forms that use the human voice to tell profound stories by creating a "Hip H'Opera" using the stories of urban life

Communities Experience Art in Unexpected Places
Project: Neighborhood Spotlight Series 
Recipient: Asian Arts Initiative
Award: $45,000
To provide everyday artistic experiences by creating site-specific works for nontraditional places like restaurants, storefronts and public plazas

Late-Night Cabarets Explore Social Issues with Sparkle on the Avenue of the Arts
Project: Bearded Ladies Cabaret Revolution
Recipient: Bearded Ladies Cabaret
Award: $30,000
To attract new audiences to theater – using the medium to explore social issues with sparkle – through a series of original, late-night cabarets

New Form of Symphonic Pops Concert Celebrates World Music
Project: Black Pearl Pops!
Recipient: Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra
Award: $50,000
To showcase diverse cultures by transforming a symphonic "pops" concert into a celebration of world music

College Students Gain New Access to the City's Arts Scene
Project: Campus Philly's Passport to the Arts
Recipient: Campus Philly
Award: $100,000
To foster a lifelong appreciation of the arts by offering free or discounted admission to venues and performances for college students

Workshop Gives Voice to Unheard Stories of the Lao-American Community
Project: Laos in the House: Voices from Four Decades of the Lao Diaspora
Recipient: Catzie Vilayphonh
Award: $25,000
To promote storytelling within the Lao-American community through a writing, performance and filmmaking workshop

Public Art Transforms Dilworth Plaza and Thriving Center City
Project: New Public Art at Dilworth Plaza
Recipient: Center City District
Award: $400,000
To help transform historic Dilworth Plaza by commissioning internationally recognized sculptor Janet Echelman to create an artwork inspired by the site's historic association with water and steam

Art Installation Open to All Inspires Dialogue on Art and Spirituality
Project: In the Light: A Skyspace by James Turrell
Recipient: Chestnut Hill Friends Meetinghouse Project
Award: $80,000
To offer visitors a contemplative art space by incorporating the work of internationally acclaimed light artist James Turrell into a new facility

Residents Transform Vacant Lots Into Visual and Sound Gardens
Project: Site and Sound Gardens
Recipient: COSACOSA art at large
Award: $75,000
To transform abandoned spaces into "sacred" art parks for the community by engaging residents to create visual and sound gardens in the Nicetown-Tioga neighborhood

Local Artists Get Support From Mini Grant Program
Project: Small-But-Mighty Arts Grant
Recipient: Erica Hawthorne
Award: $60,000
To give a boost to local artists by creating a mini grant program to help finance their art making with awards ranging from $50 to $1,000

Mobile Studio Brings Community Art to New Neighborhoods
Project: ColorWheels: Delivering Creativity to Your Community
Recipient: Fleisher Art Memorial
Award: $50,000
To engage the community in hands-on art making by expanding the reach of a mobile studio where participants create projects inspired by their neighborhoods

West Philadelphia Lots Become Artistic Skate Parks
Project: Skateable City
Recipient: Franklin's Paine Skatepark Fund
Award: $100,000
To help transform West Philadelphia neighborhoods by turning blacktop lots into art-laden skate parks

Free Theater Festival Showcases Diversity On Stage
Project: Philly Urban Theatre Festival
Recipient: GoKash Productions
Award: $20,000
To promote original plays through a free theater festival dedicated to multicultural themes 

Late-Night Museum Happenings Encourage New Audiences
Project: Midnight Madness 
Recipient: Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation
Award: $350,000
To engage younger audiences in the visual arts through a series of simultaneous late-night happenings at three of Philadelphia's premier  art museums

Cutting-Edge Performing Arts Gain New Visibility Through Residency Program
Project: Underground Residencies at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
Recipient: Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
Award: $150,000
To engage new audiences in the performing arts by creating a residency program in the Kimmel Center's black-box theater for innovative and emerging art groups

Visual and Performing Arts Fill an East Kensington Lot
Project: Little Berlin Fairgrounds
Recipient: Little Berlin
Award: $10,000
To help transform the East Kensington neighborhood by turning an empty lot into an event space for musicians, art fairs and children's workshops

Outdoor Summer Film Series Showcases Local Artists and Filmmakers
Project: Urban Drive-In with DIY Food Culture
Recipient: The Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design
Award: $20,000
To introduce the work of local visual artists and filmmakers to a wider audience by establishing an outdoor independent film series on the Parkway

Weekly Drumming Lessons Inspire Local Youth
Project: Drum Line 
Recipient: Musicopia
Award: $90,000
To empower and inspire Philadelphia's youth through their participation in an indoor percussion ensemble by providing weekly drumming lessons and performing opportunities

Gospel Choirs, Composers and Jazz Ensembles Celebrate Dr. King
Project: New Music Celebrations of the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 
Recipient: Orchestra 2001
Award: $40,000
To celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Orchestra 2001 will present a concert featuring a new concerto based on the civil rights leader's life

Design Center Provides New Resources to Theater and Visual Artists
Project: Philadelphia Theatrical Design Center
Recipient: Partners for Sacred Places
Award: $180,000
To expand the capacity of the city's theater community by providing a new space for theater designers and visual artists at a repurposed local church

Free Digital Cameras Give Access to Communities for Photography Exhibition
Project: Bring to Light: Philadelphia
Recipient: Philadelphia Photo Arts Center
Award: $35,000
To encourage broader audience participation in the city's visual arts by expanding Philly Photo Day, where everyone is invited to take a picture on the same day for an exhibition

Architecture Seen in a New Light with 3D Video Art Events
Project: Animated Architecture: 3D Video Mapping Projections on Historic Sites
Recipient: Sean Stoops
Award: $20,000
To support an innovative form of 3D digital animation by creating site-specific video art events screened on local buildings

Plays in Nontraditional Spaces Bring Adventure to Audiences
Project: Outside The (Black) Box
Recipient: Swim Pony Performing Arts
Award: $50,000
To weave the arts into the community by presenting original, contemporary plays in nontraditional spaces, including Eastern State Penitentiary and the Academy of Natural Sciences

Multidisciplinary Festival Features Black Male Artists
Project: Henry "Box" Brown - The Escape Artist 
Recipient: The Brothers Network
Award: $25,000
To introduce diverse audiences to the performing arts by creating a multidisciplinary festival that features black men as thinkers, artists, choreographers, dancers, composers and more

Locally Produced Art Populates Neighborhood Public Spaces
Project: Made in Philly
Recipient: The Center for Emerging Visual Artists
Award: $25,000
To bring visual art to a wider audience by placing locally produced art in public advertising spaces in the same neighborhood where the piece was produced

Ceramic Mug "Assault" Explores Relevance of Handmade Things
Project: Guerilla Mug Assault
Recipient: The Clay Studio
Award: $15,000
To explore the relevance of handmade ceramic objects in the 21st century by providing a handmade mug to people leaving coffee shops and encouraging them to post about their experiences on the Web

Choral Works for Nontraditional Spaces to Be Commissioned
Project: Performances at the Icebox
Recipient: The Crossing
Award: $50,000
To introduce a wider audience to contemporary choral music by establishing a series of new works designed specifically for a nontraditional venue – the recently restored Crane Arts' Icebox

Sculptural Installation Explores Visual Art and Theater
Project: Daniel Arsham: Performative Architecture
Recipient: The Fabric Workshop and Museum
Award: $80,000
To create a sculptural intervention by artist Daniel Arsham within The Fabric Workshop and Museum that will include a live performance to explore the boundaries between museum and theatrical spaces

Teaching Program Fosters New Knowledge for Use of Technology in the Arts
Project: Corps of Interactive Artist Teachers
Recipient: The Hacktory
Award: $40,000
To promote the use of technology in the arts by developing an intensive tech/art curriculum for local artists who will share their knowledge with Philadelphia students

Creative Incubator Supports Emerging Creative Businesses
Project: Creative Incubator
Recipient: The University of the Arts
Award: $120,000
To promote economic stability for the city's cultural community by offering support to emerging creative businesses with pre-seed funding, mentorship programs and workshops

Citywide Scavenger Hunts Introduce Teens to Art and Adventure
Project: ARTward Bound: a creative orienteering adventure
Recipient: The Village of Arts and Humanities
Award: $60,000
To develop young people's awareness of the city's vibrant cultural scene through interactive scavenger hunts led by local artists

Master Class Series Provides Advanced Training for Local Actors
Project: Creating a Common Artistic Voice
Recipient: The Wilma Theater
Award: $60,000
To enhance training for local actors by creating a series of master classes

Public Art Enlivens The Porch at 30th Street Station
Project: A Permanent Place for Temporary Art in University City
Recipient: University City District
Award: $120,000
To establish a new outlet for public art that showcases temporary installations at The Porch at 30th Street Station

Source: Mayor Michael Nutter, Gary Steuer, Lori Dillard Rech, Erica Hawthorne, Lorene Cary, Janet Echelman, Paul Levy
Writer: Sue Spolan

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

The Weekend Treasure: like Groupon with a running start

Coming soon: a mad dash. The Weekend Treasure does discounters like Groupon and Amazon Local one better. Each week, subscribers will receive an email with two clues as to where a giveaway will take place over the weekend.

"The email features a local product from a local merchant that's 100 dollars or less in value," says founder Dave Clarke, who has his sights set on the demographic of 22 to 40 year old urban professionals. "The idea is if you want it and love it, and you can figure out the clues and find it, it's yours." It will be Clarke himself standing at the destination with product in hand.

Riffing off the very popular phenomenon of City Chase and other urban scavenger hunts, Clarke says The Weekend Treasure was one of those two in the morning jump out of bed ideas (and seriously, has nothing to do with the fact that Clarke in getting married in a month). "No one is doing this type of thing. By no means do I think I am going to conquer Groupon or Living Social. I am interested in the idea of creating instant delight," says Clarke, who cites recent work with a behavioral psychologist as inspiration for The Weekend Treasure.

Now in pre-launch, with a goal to roll out this spring, The Weekend Treasure will also reward runners up with a discount at the featured merchant. "We'd like to prove it will actually drive traffic," says Clarke. "If a merchant is giving away a hundred dollar product and we drive 2 customers, that's a win. A small win, but better than ecommerce." There is an exhaustion in the marketplace due to the proliferation of email coupon businesses that have jumped on the Groupon train.

Clarke also runs AuthenticMatters, a digital communications consultancy, but says The Weekend Treasure has been gaining mindshare over the past three or four months. Urban adventurers can sign up via The Weekend Treasure's Launchrock powered home page. And Clarke promises he will keep the contest clean. "It's not going to be weird where you have to crawl in a sewer."

Source: Dave Clarke, The Weekend Treasure
Writer: Sue Spolan

SOCIAL INNOVATIONS JOURNAL: It might take a village to reform DHS, help community support itself

Editor's note: This is presented as part of a content partnership with the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal.

The old African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” is one that the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS) is coming to embrace. The latest in a series of reforms at the agency is a new initiative called Improving Outcomes for Children (IOC), which aims to improve service delivery and outcomes for children in care by engaging community partners, streamlining case management, and vigilantly tracking outcomes indicators to measure the initiative’s success.

In doing so, Philadelphia DHS is embracing a new model of child welfare that acknowledges that public agencies cannot singlehandedly combat child abuse and neglect, but rather that communities are in the best position to help protect children and support families during times of need. By engaging these communities more effectively and recognizing their essential, if informal, role in service delivery, and by using data to measure success, DHS believes it can improve the safety, permanency and well-being of the children in its care.

Philadelphia DHS is not the first agency to experiment with this hypothesis of change, but given the particular challenges they face, if they are successful, there is enormous potential to influence child welfare agencies nationwide by changing practice and the mindset of child welfare service delivery.
The innovation in the IOC initiative is two-fold. First, the data tracking component of IOC represents the latest, and boldest, step towards real and meaningful accountability within DHS ever. The initiative is results-oriented, making everyone single-mindedly focused on quality service delivery and improving clients’ outcomes. Accountability done well -- using outcomes to assess the impact of programs and policies -- leads to improved client outcomes. Although accountability is not a new concept in child welfare, and some agencies nationally have embraced it, most still have not. If Philadelphia can make its system more transparent and accountable, it could serve as an important model for similar jurisdictions around the country. 

The second true innovation in IOC is the community partnership component. The premise is fairly intuitive: Children belong in families, families operate in a sphere of communities, and most often the reason that families enter the child welfare system is that they are isolated from these communities and have nowhere to turn during times of need. If families are well-supported and have access to the resources they need during times of crisis, then children will do better too.
In some ways, enhancing community partnership can be best described as building a continuum of care for at-risk children and families. The model acknowledges that many of the children who touch the child welfare system come from broken communities, and are children of yesterday’s at-risk children from similarly broken communities, or even the child welfare system themselves. By working to establish a continuum of care that can catch families when they need support, and acknowledging that DHS cannot perform this task alone, DHS may be able to significantly reduce caseloads and improve outcomes for all children at risk of entering the child welfare system in Philadelphia.

Read the full article here.

PHILADELPHIA SOCIAL INNOVATIONS JOURNAL is the first online publication to bring a public focus to social innovators and their nonprofit organizations, foundations and social sector businesses in Greater Philadelphia Area, to recognize success and encourage others around the country to strive for similar results.

Citizen Effect launches Philly4Philly to raise $250k through 150 citizen philanthropists

The local nonprofit community continues to see new attempts to jumpstart local funding streams.
A week after FundingWorks launched its local crowdfunding platform, the latest tool comes in the form of Philly4Philly, a philanthropist mobilization project that aims to engage 150 Philadelphians in philanthropy for a selection of nonprofits. 
It is part of Citizen Effect, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that aims to provide "everyday citizens the tools and networks they need to work directly with communities in need."
"We think anyone can be a philanthropist," says Fiona Roach Canning, COO & Partner Director for Citizen Effect.
Philly4Philly will curate 150 nonprofit community projects in Greater Philadelphia in need of up to $10,000 in funding to become a reality, matching them with 150 citizen philanthropists who will be trained in fundraising through list-building, messaging, social media and offline events. 
"We see ourselves as marketing machines for nonprofits," says Nicole Schneidman, Citizen Effect's Strategic Initiatives Manager, who has started engagement with local nonprofits and potential citizen philanthropists and is putting together a team of local interns to work on the project. Citizen Effect launched Detroit4Detroit earlier this year, and to date has 75 citizens committed to raising $140,000 for projects ranging from education to housing and shelter.
The organization will formally launch with an event later this month. Nominate a nonprofit here.

Source: Fiona Roach Canning, Citizen Effect
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Arts Alive: PNC Foundation Grants 25 Groups a Combined $1M

Five recipients representing diverse programming were among the new grantees in the latest round of funding from the PNC Foundation through PNC Arts Alive, which announced 25 grants totaling $1 million last week.

Asian Arts Initiative, First Person Arts, Mendelssohn Club, Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre and Theatre Horizon were the new grantees. Grant size for all recipients ranged between $25,000 and $80,000. The Philadelphia Orchestra earned the largest grant to support eZseatU and Sound All Around, programs that engage young and diverse audiences.

Through four years of PNC Arts Alive, more than 100 organizations have received a combined $4 million to support innovative ways to engage audiences through the visual and performing arts.

PNC Arts Alive 2012 Funding
(new grantees)
PNC Arts Alive presents Neighborhood Spotlight: a series of public art workshops and visual art presentations by resident artists, engaging two vibrant multi-cultural neighborhoods: Chinatown and South Philadelphia. The series will begin with a cross-cultural exploration of Latino and Asian communities culminating with an exhibition of handmade lanterns and an oral history soundscape. $40,000
The PNC Arts Alive Philadelphia Story Project uses personal stories from three immigrant communities for a public storytelling celebration. Participants mentored by a professional storyteller will present their tales of coming to Philadelphia at a free, family-friendly Story Day celebration which includes other elements reflecting their ethnic origins, such as food and live music.  $30,000
The PNC Arts Alive grant supports the Mendelssohn Club’s Big Sing Community Series.  Here, the chorus and the audience sit together while the chorus performs.  Ethnically-diverse guest choruses will teach the Mendelssohn chorus and their audiences some of their repertoire during these performances. $25,000
The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre will offer free admission and transportation during PNC Arts Alive Free Will Wednesdays to Othello featuring Tony Award-nominated African American actor Forrest McClendon. They will also host pop up theater performances, share flip-camera audience reviews on their Website and host backstage tours and artist receptions. $35,000
PNC Arts Alive presents Theatre Horizon’s Grand Opening Season, offering the city’s residents, many of whom are low-income and underserved, free tickets to attend critically-acclaimed live theater in their own neighborhood. $25,000

(returning grantees)
Presented by PNC Arts Alive, Come See About Me celebrates the Supremes’ imprint on fashion, music, civil rights and female empowerment. A dazzling exhibition with over 70 gowns, album covers, photographs, video footage, and extensive programming will dramatize how the Supremes broke racial and gender barriers.  $75,000
The PNC Arts Alive grant supports ticket subsidies for three programs:  the Borgata Pops concert of country western, pop and classical music and featuring “America’s Got Talent” stars; a classical series featuring “Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony” with area choral groups; and the second annual Atlantic City Music Festival.  $45,000
PNC’s Open Rehearsal Series will once again open the doors of Black Pearl’s rehearsals to African-and Latin-American high schoolers from underserved Philadelphia neighborhoods.  Students will be invited on stage for a "mini-lesson" in conducting live musicians.$30,000
Meet Your Seat will introduce individuals and families from diverse backgrounds to the magical world of live theatre through cultural performances, house/theatre tours and hands-on activities.  $30,000
ColorWheels is a professionally-staffed mobile arts studio that will bring art-making to low-income and immigrant communities in South Philadelphia.  The curriculum includes on-the-spot art-making and a year-long project where participants contribute to a collaborative piece.   $35,000
Marrying artistic presentations to mobile technology, Check In to the Arts presented by PNC Arts Alive will increase access to the arts for young, diverse audiences.  By simply “checking in” using a smart phone, audiences will be able to receive any number of ticketed events for a free or subsidized rate.  $50,000
A five-day summer dance festival will feature the work of diverse choreographers from the Philadelphia area. Artistic director Roni Koresh will select 15 local, independent dancers to perform his new work and each show will include a performance by Koresh. $35,000
The Opera will expand PNC Arts Alive Family Days with opera-themed activities on three Saturdays at the Academy of Music. Families will be invited for workshops in group singing, conducting and stage combat plus tours of the sets, orchestra pit, dressing rooms and wardrobe areas. $40,000
The PNC Arts Alive Discovery Series includes half-price ticketing nights, free dress rehearsals and student rush prices for works that will add to the cannon of family productions. $40,000
In its second year, Social Artworking will deepen audience relationships and expand its reach with “pop up” public performances at community festivals and public gatherings to announce upcoming free exhibitions and arts activities.  $40,000
PNC Arts Alive will again be presenting sponsor of the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe.  It will also sponsor Le Grand Continental, a dance event from Montreal making its American debut and featuring more than 200 Philadelphians of all ages, dance abilities, and backgrounds on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. $50,000
Mural Arts will stage The Meal, a series of visual and performance art pieces that gather people around a communal table to engage in dialogue about a chosen theme. Two French artists will lead community workshops to develop a theme for the design of ceramic plates and a table runner for a meal of 1,600 Philadelphians in a public space.  $40,000
Through PNC Arts Alive support, the museum ‘s Family Access to the Arts initiative will continue the Every Family Party, a vibrant family festival, and Pay-What-You-Wish first Sundays. $55,000
PNC Arts Alive will once again support eZseatU and Sound All Around – education programs for young, diverse audiences. Sound All Around will expand its concerts into underserved neighborhoods to introduce preschoolers to classical music.  eZseatU offers college students a $25 season membership to attend any number of subscription concerts for $1 each. $80,000
Street Movies! presented by PNC Arts Alive is a series of free outdoor films and discussions in 14 different locations throughout Philadelphia.  In 2012 and 2013, Scribe will take a mobile digital media studio into neighborhoods so community residents can create short ‘digital postcards’ that will be screened along with the films.  $35,000
PNC Arts Alive! Family Fun Days continue with interactive, family-oriented activities on Sundays from June to December.  Live artist demonstrations and multi-cultural workshops and performances educate and engage children, many from low to moderate-income households.  Admission will be free for children 17 and under.  $35,000

Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia:  PNC Arts Alive Award for Innovation $40,000
ArtReach:  Independence Starts Here $15,000
Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance:  PhillyFunGuide -- “Free” Campaign $50,000
Open Minds:  Program Evaluation $20,000

Philly SEED finalists for education entrepreneurship grants announced

Forty-one applications have been whittled down to 12 finalists for the inaugural round of funding for Philly SEED, which aims to promote education entrepreneurs in the region.
Spearheaded by PhillyCORE Leaders, Councilman Bill Green and The Spruce Foundation, Philly SEED chose finalists in two categories -- expanding/established entrepreneurs and emerging entrepreneurs.
Finalists will present their ideas on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the WHYY building (150 N. 6th St., Philadelphia). You can support the program by coming out -- $40 will get you food, drinks and inspiration. For $70, you'll also be able to sponsor a principal, teacher or parent to attend for free. Proceeds and donations go to the winner of the emerging entrepreneurs group.

Emerging Entrepreneurs
ApprenNet’s K12Meets is a scalable, low cost teaching training tool that leverages technology for countless teachers to practice skills, collaborate with each other, and receive meaningful expert feedback.    
I.O. promotes health, literacy, financial literacy, and community by offering access to nutrition and fitness; providing financial tools for growth and security; improving education and employment; and by developing leaders.
Lessonsmith is an online platform that helps teachers share and collaborate on resources to make their lessons more engaging and more effective.  
Philasoup is a monthly microgrant dinner that brings innovative and dynamic Philadelphia-area educators together, funds selected education-based projects, and highlights the great work educators are doing around the city.
Teacher Action Group incubates and facilitates Educator-led School Transformation by providing city-wide peer professional development programs that leverage social capital of schools and communities.
YES! for Schools provides at-risk students with practical tools to manage stress, resulting in increased academic performance, improved student behavior and healthier school communities.
Expanding/Established Entrepreneurs
Education-Plus Inc. is building high school-college partnerships that target low income students in which a high school student obtains his/her degree during the evening hours at his/her high school.  This model ensures access, affordability, and college accountability. 
Springboard Collaborative combines targeted student instruction with parent training in an incentivized system that closes the literacy gap.
Startup Corps empowers high school students to be active, engaged participants in their education by leveraging their passions and teaching them the skills necessary to start something real.
the school collective is an online professional development network, accessible by independent teachers, schools and organizations, that enhances school and teacher quality through the streamlining of planning procedures and sharing of best practices.
The Student Leadership Project develops a corps of influential students who are the primary builders of school culture. With students taking ownership of culture, teachers can focus on instruction.
Urban Blazers is a non-profit organization that provides young people from under-resourced Philadelphia communities with  regular leadership programs that are highlighted by outings which include hiking, rock climbing and more. 

Source: Rachel Meadows, City Councilman Bill Green's office
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Baiada Center expands to Baiada Institute, offers family wisdom at recent summit

The Laurence A. Baiada Center for Entrepreneurship announced today that it is expanding to become the Baiada Institute, a University-level institute within Drexel University. The Baiada Institute will pursue more seed capital, micro-grants, and Small Business Innovation Research grants. 

Previously, Baiada functioned within the LeBow College of Business. 

The parents of Mel, Mark, Mike and Matt Baiada must have been some kind of magic. The four siblings have found business success in very different fields. On March 8, the Baiada Center, named after the family patriarch, hosted The Brothers Baiada: 4 Faces of Entrepreneurship.
Mark Baiada founded Bayada Nurses, and has grown a home health care operation to more than 200 offices in 20 states. He was awarded Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year, which commended his tenet to think big, work hard, and show love.
Mike Baiada was one of Drexel's earliest students to receive dual business and engineering degrees. Mike's ATH Group fundamentally alters the air traffic control process, aiming to greatly increase timeliness and profitability. Mike, also a commercial airline pilot for United, says the secret to success is to determine process first, and then create minimal technology to make ideas a reality.
SolidSurface Designs is Matt Baiada's business. "When I was in grammar school, we had to walk two miles to get home. We would pass a lumber yard every day," recalls Matt. "There was a contractor there who had a whole lot of cash and was always peeling off bills. That was pretty impressive." Matt began by fixing up the Baiada family home, then founded a carpentry and cabinetmaking business that became SolidSurface, a 20,000 square foot manufacturing facility with 25 employees.
Mel, the youngest of the brothers, went into information technology. He sold his company Bluestone to Hewlett Packard in 2001 for over $350 million. His advice: passion is useless if there is no need for your product or service in the marketplace -- save your passion for long term sustainability. Mel is now managing partner at BaseCamp Ventures and President of Basecamp Business
The early morning event, part of the Eye of the Entrepreneur series, drew a crowd of about 150.

Today's announcement was made possible by a $500,000 donation from the Barbara and Charles Close Foundation, $250,00 from Mel and Mark Baiada and $200,00 from Dick Hayne of Urban Outfitters, also a Drexel trustee. A behavioral laboratory planned for the new 12-story LeBow College of Business facility will foster experiential learning in sales and negotiations.

Source: Matt Baiada, Mark Baiada, Mel Baiada, Mike Baiada, Baiada Center for Entrepreneurship
Writer: Sue Spolan

SOCIAL INNOVATIONS: PolicyMap makes good data to help make good decisions

Editor's note: This is presented as part of a partnership with the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal.

PolicyMap. Good Data. Good Decisions." That tagline captures both the purpose of PolicyMap and what drives the team behind this innovative new tool. Everyone -- from funders to the general public -- is placing increasing pressure on public and nonprofit sector programs to make data-driven decisions. Good data, however, can be costly and time-consuming to gather, not to mention difficult to analyze and interpret.

Data-mapping software has emerged as a critical tool for helping everyone from large government agencies to small nonprofits analyze and present place-based data more effectively. Until recently, however, mapping data required significant expertise and software investment.

Enter PolicyMap. Launched in 2007 with seed funding from The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), a Philadelphia-based organization committed to community investment, PolicyMap offers datasets combined with powerful mapping technology, without expensive software or training. Through PolicyMap, users have access to customizable data and tools that can help them map their own data. PolicyMap aims to provide and present information in ways that help users make better and timelier decisions.

PolicyMap is a revolutionary tool, making mapped data and mapping functions available via the web to a variety of public policy and program stakeholders, from large government agencies to small grassroots organizations that would not otherwise have access to such usable data. PolicyMap makes information accessible and easy to understand, offers a one-stop shop for multiple sources of data, and allows users to generate and customize data maps.

As a result, people and organizations are equipped to make better-informed decisions about investments and programming, and improve tracking and communication about impact. Examples include:

- Wachovia Regional Foundation used PolicyMap to coordinate with other public, private and nonprofit investors by identifying underinvested areas.

- Neighborworks has combined its own neighborhood, block-by-block survey results with PolicyMap’s market data in order to examine patterns and identify particularly successful or blighted blocks.

- The Brookings Institution has used PolicyMap to develop a widget that allows users to view the locations of, and generate reports about, communities in 10 different metropolitan areas with limited access to supermarkets.

In addition to the innovative nature of PolicyMap from a product perspective, PolicyMap also serves as an example of innovation at the organizational level through its internal culture. The team makes the exploration of new applications, features, data sources and partners a priority. The team is lean, and, as a result, agile. Every staff member is critical to the organization and empowered to take ownership for the areas for which s/he is responsible.

Read the full article here.

PHILADELPHIA SOCIAL INNOVATIONS JOURNAL is the first online publication to bring a public focus to social innovators and their nonprofit organizations, foundations and social sector businesses in Greater Philadelphia Area, to recognize success and encourage others around the country to strive for similar results.

Conshohocken's OpenDesks reaches 1,000 worldwide workspaces as it chases investment

Need a hangout in Honolulu? A desk in Des Moines? Conshohocken-based OpenDesks can get it for you. The startup just announced that it offers 1,000 temporary work spaces worldwide. Options for rentals range from a desk in a coworking space, to a private office, to meeting rooms. Chris DiFonzo, co-founder and CEO of OpenDesks, cites a recent statistic that coworking is up 88% and now accounts for over 1,300 spaces internationally, according to Deskmag.
DiFonzo, who originally created the OpenDesks concept after leaving his previous job in 2010, relaunched in June 2011 with partner Keith Dallara. "It's been a direct uphill climb," says DiFonzo. "We went from less than 100 spaces to over a thousand." 
To appeal to investors, OpenDesks recently registered as a C corporation. Revenue, says DiFonzo, comes from making a margin on the space. OpenDesks has access to offerings from international space providers Regus and Alliance Business Center Network, as well as regional provider American Executive Centers. "What we are working toward is delivering OpenDesks as Software as a Service," says DiFonzo. "A company would pay a fee, and the entire team would have easy access to flexible workspace anywhere in the world."
DiFonzo cites the example of client Readyforce, a California-based startup in First Round Capital's portfolio. The company needs offices all over the country for a month at a time to conduct remote interviews. "We've been able not only to get them locations that offer great service and are owner operated, but we've saved them 20 to 30% off list prices."

DiFonzo says it would be a lot of work for them to line up offices themselves. In contrast, space seekers on OpenDesks get real time confirmation with a well designed, easy to use interface.
The company's main competitors are LiquidSpace and LooseCubes, but DiFonzo says both of those companies' offerings are concentrated around headquarters on the west coast and New York City, respectively.
The OpenDesks website averages 300 to 500 searches a day, according to DiFonzo, and since June, has made close to 400 reservations worldwide. The app is also available as on both iPhone and Android platforms.

Source: Chris DiFonzo, OpenDesks
Writer: Sue Spolan

Wilco, Temple partner to bridge North Philly's digital divide

North Philadelphia is getting a digital makeover, thanks to a new initiative between Wilco Electronic Systems, Inc. and Temple University. "What we're trying to do is create a new urban ecosystem for digital entrepreneurship in North Philadelphia," says Brigitte Daniel, Executive VP of Wilco. 
Daniel, who just returned from an Eisenhower Fellowship-funded tour of some very impoverished areas of the world, sees mobile apps as the most effective way to bridge the digital divide.

"In Southeast Asia, people went right from landline phones to mobile phones, leapfrogging over fiber optics and wired technology and going right to wireless networks," she explains. "In the US, the majority of our apps are for gaming and entertainment. In the last two years, we've developed more social service and government apps. Very shortly, we're going to see in low income populations that the mobile phone and tablet will be the pre-eminent way for everyone to access broadband information and content."
Daniel says the new partnership with Temple, launched in the beginning of 2012 with the Urban Apps & Maps Studio and funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration, will target Philadelphia Housing Authority residents.

"We are calling this a public-private-people partnership because it is a collaborative effort between an educational institution and a private company that puts North Philadelphia communities, including residents, right at the center of the development process," says Daniel. "This is an area that has not experienced the same renaissance as West Philadelphia. It's an interesting opportunity to have more impact on the surrounding community than any other school in Philadelphia."
Daniel cites not only the digital divide, but the cultural divide between Temple students and low income residents, who live side by side. "There's been some tension between the community and the school." The initiative both encourages students to solve nearby urban problems and offers training to PHA residents. The project could have implications on a national scale.
Daniel credits Temple Vice Provost for Research and Business Development Tony Lowman with helping to get the new initiative off the ground, and offering an opportunity not only to develop apps for PHA residents, but with their help as well. Lowman, previously at Drexel, was the leading academic partner in the Freedom Rings Sustainable Broadband Adoption Partnership. Drexel provided 5,000 laptops to PHA residents as part of the Freedom Rings Partnership.
Daniel says, "If we implement this well and get the community engaged, it will be inviting, not intimidating." Some of the ideas for apps to build include streamlining the way PHA residents can find social services, and get easier access to health care and educational materials. Daniel expects measurable results in two to three years.

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

Drexel engineers music, 3D technology innovations with separate Philly institutions

Drexel University looks at the entire region as an extension of its campus. Ideas flow like steam beneath Philadelphia's streets. Two professors in different departments are heading multidisciplinary teams that merge new technology with Philadelphia traditions. 
In collaboration with the Academy of Natural Sciences, the plan to print 3D dinosaurs has already gained national attention. In the area of music technology, Professor Youngmoo Kim is developing the first app to do real time annotation of Philadelphia Orchestra performances. The Drexel-generated iOS orchestra app will be the first of its kind in the world.
Paleontologist Ken Lacovara is in the process of reanimating dinosaurs. Before you jump to the obvious Jurassic Park conclusion, there are a lot of steps in between. Lacovara, a paleontologist, has teamed up with Dr. James Tangorra in Drexel's College of Engineering to scan and print out 3D dinosaur bones. 
Also on board is Drexel Mechanical Engineering prof Sorin Siegler, whose focus is biomechanics. "We don’t really know exactly how dinosaurs moved," says Lacovara, who wonders how a creature weighing 60 to 80 tons could move and trot. Not to mention lay an egg. 
With a birth canal opening at two and a half stories in the air, and an egg the size of a volleyball, Lacovara wonders how the massive dino would withstand the stress of squatting and getting up. With the help of his colleagues, creating 3D models and working out the biomechanics will answer literally tons of questions.
Over in Drexel's METLab, whch stands for Music, Entertainment and Technology, Youngmoo Kim takes a break from a robotics demonstration to talk about his collaboration with The Philadelphia Orchestra. It started a few years ago, when Kim made his students sit through a classical concert. "Those without classical training said, yeah, that was nice, but I didn't get it," recalls Kim. It was around the same time the iPhone came out, so he and students undertook a project to create an app that would tell listeners about the performance in real time. 
It was such a hit that Kim and students applied for and won the Knight Arts Challenge. While Kim cannot be specific about the date of the public rollout, he says it will be within the year. Perhaps the launch will coincide with the orchestra's 2012-2013 season opener this fall, but Kim remains mum.
Kim also says that not every concert will have an accompanying app, so concertgoers who find smartphone use distasteful can choose performances without the tech overlay.
"There used to be a brouhaha over supertitles at the opera," says Kim, who has dual training in music and engineering. "Ten to twenty years later no one cares. If you go to an opera now and there are no subtitles, something seems wrong. Likewise, 10 to 20 years from now, no one will care if someone uses a phone at the symphony."

Source: Ken Lacovara, Youngmoo Kim, Drexel University
Writer: Sue Spolan

Vascular Magnetics' $7M Series A round shows impact of Science Center's QED program, company's team

Fresh off a $7 million round of Series A financing, Richard Woodward says without hesitation that the company he co-founded, Vascular Magnetics, would not exist without the first-of-its-kind QED Proof of Concept Funding Program at the University City Science Center.

A veteran executive from the biotech sector with extensive startup and early stage experience, Woodward was semi-retired and consulting in 2009 when he learned about the QED program, which assesses white papers on promising technologies and links the best with a business advisor and the possibility of funding. In the case of Vascular Magnetics, Woodward was paired with Dr. Robert J. Levy of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and they were awarded $200,000 by the QED program in 2010.  The result was CHOP’s first spin-out company, focused on developing its proprietary, magnetically targeted drug delivery system for the treatment of peripheral artery disease (PAD).

“I was joking with my wife that this would have been a whole lot easier when I was 40,” Woodward says. “She said that when I was 40, I wouldn’t have had any idea what to do.”

In one respect, Woodward has come full circle with CHOP. His daughter had a medical condition that incapacitated her for her a couple years and a physician from CHOP helped contain the ailment, allowing Woodward’s daughter to pursue a career working for another children’s hospital.

“Dr. Levy, I have so much respect for that man,” says Woodward, the COO, of the company’s founding scientist. “He’s brilliant and a very prolific inventor, with something on the order of 31 issued patents. He probably has another 30 in various stages of the application process.

“It’s fairly rare to find an academic like that.”

The entire Series A round was funded by Wayne-based Devon Park Bioventures, whose general partners Christopher Moller and Marc Ostro will join the Vascular Magnetics board and rounds out a compelling case study of the potential of Greater Philadelphia's entrepreneurial ecosystem. Funds will allow the company to complete clinical trials, which are expected to begin in 2014. While the company will stay “aggressively virtual,” according to Woodward, there’s a good chance it will hire up to two more individuals. Also, the company is planning on maintaining workspace in the Science Center’s Port Business Incubator.

PAD effects about 30 million in Europe and North America, including 10 million in the U.S. Vascular Magnetics’ system aims to provide a more durable and effective treatment than angioplasty, grafts and drug eluting stents. It does this by combining biodegradeable, magnetic drug-loaded particles, a magnetic targeting catheter and an external device for creating a uniform magnetic field.

Woodward says some of Levy’s team at CHOP will be involved as consultants.

“These are some of the people that have developed the whole system. It’s important to have them around.”

Writer: Joe Petrucci
Source: Richard Woodward, Vascular Magnetics

Photos courtesy of Vascular Magnetics
Richard Woodward
Dr. Robert Levy

Women own IgnitePhilly9, Philadelphia Orchard Project wins $1,000

Like some kind of sustainable Vaudeville act, a giant check made out to The Philadelphia Orchard Project danced past Paul Kimport, co-owner of Johnny Brenda's, where Ignite Philly 9 was underway last Thursday. The Ignite 6 winner received $1,000 for its urban fruit tree initiative.
There are a few truly key vantage points with good sight lines to the stage at JB's, and Kimport stood at one of the best, with a view of the entire area. To the right, bathed in the blue light of a photo booth, speaker Yasmine Mustafa practiced her talk about bringing GirlDevelopIt to Philadelphia. Straight ahead, past the attentive bartenders, Jessica Moore was onstage talking about her startup, Philadelphia Cow Share.
This was one of the best Ignite Phillys we've done," says co-organizer Dana Vachon. "The speakers were diverse. The crowd was diverse. It was awesome! It's always exciting to see a couple hundred people get so excited about the good things in our city."

Co-organizer Geoff DiMasi adds, "I am really proud of the diversity of speakers. Some cities make Ignite into a tech and start-up event while ours is a celebration of the city."
Perhaps the most mind blowing moment came at the top of the program. Keya Dannenbaum, founder of ElectNext, opened IgnitePhilly not with a talk about politics or civics, as expected. In five minutes, with very simply illustrated slides, Dannenbaum brought the house to tears with a story about a bridge, a note, and a great love.
"I was pretty nervous since it was so personal, and I knew the expectation would be something different because, one, I'm always talking about ElectNext and two, because I felt that it would be more typical of an Ignite event to speak to a specific accomplishment directly relatable to Philadelphia," says Dannenbaum, who had absolutely no idea what the response would be. She'd only ever told the story once before, at her wedding. "I ultimately decided to tell it because I just really, really love that story." She intentionally left out all mention of ElectNext, which continues to grow from its headquarters at PMN's Project Liberty.
It was a night that went to the women. Pam Selle's speech, entitled Go the Fuck Home, was about finding a balance between work and life, and received dozens of twitter and real life accolades. Mustafa, who turns 30 this week, won for Best Overall presentation. Sisters Emaleigh and Aine Doley talked about their grassroots neighborhood renewal work in Germantown. Diana Lind of The Next American City asked us to consider blowing up Interstate 95, for real. 
Some pretty sharp guys also took the stage, like the Bicycle Coalition's Alex Doty, up and coming stand up comic Doogie Horner, the brilliant Dave Martorana, Tim Bennett of Bennett Compost, as well as Jeff Friedman and the Code for America fellows, who are in residence here this month. 
While  DiMasi could not get over the fact that he's already organized nine Ignites (when he can still recall creating the first) the packed room begged for Ignite 10. Says Vachon, "So far, we do not have a date for Ignite 10, probably sometime in the late spring."

As far as rumors of moving to a larger venue? Not true. "We love the venue and while we would love to accommodate more people, we think the impact of an intimate sold out event is perfect for now," replies DiMasi.

Source: Keya Dannenbaum, ElectNext, Dana Vachon, Ignite Philly
Writer: Sue Spolan

SOCIAL INNOVATIONS JOURNAL: Lee Nunery, Seth Williams among those focused on community impact

Editor's note: This is presented as part of a partnership with the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal.

Next week, the Winter 2012 edition of the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal (PSIJ), titled "Innovations in Community Impact," will launch on Wednesday, Feb. 29 at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, second floor (19 S. 22nd St., Philadelphia).  You can read the Winter edition then by going to the PSIJ websiteThe event is open to the public, but requires an RSVP by emailing here.  The forum runs from 8:30 a.m.-12 noon, and will showcase two panels discussing health, education, criminal justice, child welfare innovative solutions to impact Philadelphia communities.  Some of the voices you will hear or read include:
  • Dan Hilferty and Independence Blue Cross’s newly created Social Impact Foundation that serves as a model for Corporate Social Responsibility and Responsible social investing;
  • Kenny Gamble and Adur Rahim Islam, a successful real estate developer in South Philadelphia who took the unusual step of getting into the business of education, seeking to address at a holistic level the social ills that plagued local neighborhoods by focusing on schools as a way to redevelop a sense of pride and ownership within communities;
  • Anne Marie Ambrose and the Department of Human Services’ program, Improving Outcomes for Children, which aims to improve service delivery and outcomes for children in care by engaging community partners, streamlining case management and vigilantly tracking outcomes indicators to measure the initiative’s success;
  • District Attorney Seth Williams’ commitment to The Choice is Yours (TCY), an alternative-to-incarceration program to increase public safety and reduce recidivism rates by diverting first-time, non-violent felony drug offenders away from prison and into the labor market through positive job training and support;
  • Ann Karlen and Fair Food’s strategy to strengthen the Philadelphia regional food system by increasing the demand for a humane, sustainable, local agriculture system; and
  • Dr. Lee Nunery and the School District’s efforts to create alternative education settings that ensure all students can succeed in schools and their partnership with colleges to create direct college access and completion pipelines.
Philadelphia Social Innovation Journal publishes "Nominate an Innovator" articles which are public nominations of social innovations.  The Winter issue will highlight PolicyMap, demonstrating how programs can make "data-driven" decisions using a dynamic web-based tool, Naveguemos con Salud, a program providing breast health education and treatment assistance for Latinas, and Sunday Suppers, a novel intervention focused on educating low-income residents of the Norris Square neighborhood about the importance of taking time for nutritious family meals.

The Winter edition will highlight one of PSIJ columnists who explores the notion that problem-solving requires a different level of thought than our current thinking, which actually creates programs; the growing relevance of nonprofit collaboration; and the need for nonprofits to think strategically about partnerships as a way to grow revenue.

PSIJ 2012 Editions: In the Spring you will read about innovations in Arts and Culture, followed by innovations in Philanthropy and Responsible Investing in late Summer/early Fall.  Late Fall you will read about innovations in Collaborations, Affiliations, Partnerships and Mergers.

Increased partnership with foundations and universities: We welcome Independence Blue Cross Foundation and the Patricia Kind Foundation to our advisory board, which is composed of Independence Foundation, The Philadelphia Foundation, United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Scattergood Foundation, St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children, Green Tree Community Health Foundation, William Penn Foundation, Wells Fargo, Inglis Foundation, Barra Foundation, and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as well as the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice, the Wharton School, and Sage Communications.

PSIJ is guided by an advisory board of regional foundations, the University of Pennsylvania, and thought leaders that include: Independence Blue Cross Foundation, Patricia Kind Foundation, Independence Foundation, The Philadelphia Foundation, United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Scattergood Foundation, St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children, Green Tree Community Health Foundation, Wells Fargo, Inglis Foundation, Barra Foundation, and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government, School of Social Policy and Practice,  and the Wharton School; and Sage Communications.

NICHOLAS TORRES and TINE HANSEN-TURTON are co-founders of Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal. Send feedback here.

Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal is the first online publication to bring a public focus to social innovators and their nonprofit organizations, foundations and social sector businesses in Greater Philadelphia Area, to recognize success and encourage others around the country to strive for similar results.

TEDxPHILLY CATCH-UP: Jen Pahlka and the Code for America crew see great things for tech in city

This is the first installment of an ongoing series that catches up with last November’s TEDxPhilly speakers.

For more videos of last year's TEDxPhilly talks, visit the event's YouTube channel.


Jennifer Pahlka has made cities her life work. She considers herself a product of American cities, from New York, where she grew up, to Oakland and San Francisco more recently, and now Philadelphia, where she’s visited close to a dozen times in the last year or so. She refered to Philly as a “city of love” in her TEDxPhilly talk last November at Temple University.

As founder and executive director of Code for America, she helps match web professionals with cities to create efficiency and promote accessibility among municipal offices by sorting databases, building apps, and freeing up data. Philadelphia is one of only two programs to be a part of CfA for two consecutive years, and this year’s edition recently welcomed CfA fellows Alex Yule, Elizabeth Hunt, and Michelle Lee.

Flying Kite talked to Pahlka and the three new fellows to catch up on their work in Philly and how CfA has grown into a game-changing experience for cities across the country.

Flying Kite (FK): How has your project in Philadelphia advanced since TEDxPhilly?
Jennifer Pahlka (JP): The big news is that our 2012 fellows just started their work in Philadelphia on Monday (Jan. 30). Michelle Lee, Alex Yule, and Liz Hunt are the new team, and they are accomplished, talented, and passionate about making the City of Philadelphia work better for all its residents. They're starting five weeks of meeting with everyone they can and figuring out how they can make a bit impact there this year.

Part of their work will be carrying on Change by Us in Philly, which currently hosts 418 ideas and 50 active projects, in which citizens are helping to make their neighborhoods better.

FK: Any changes to report? New partners, funding, accolades or other growth?
JP: At the end of last year, Code for America received a $1.5M grant from Google to start two new programs, including what we call the CfA Brigade, which will help civic developers and others anywhere in the country to stand up civic apps for their communities, and a start up accelerator for civic businesses.  We're hoping to have a big Philly presence when we get it up and running.

FK: What is one thing you've learned since TEDxPhilly about cities or Philadelphia?
JP: Sixty percent of the world will be living in cities by 2020!

FK: What's the next milestone for your work and why is it important?
JP: Our call for applications for our 2013 cities program closes on April 1. We hope that more and more cities around the country want to be a part of this movement, so that more cities can work openly, efficiently, and be deeply engaged with their citizens.

FK: What are your specific tasks while in Philadelphia?
Elizabeth Hunt (EH): As part of our year-long fellowship with Code for America, we’re spending 5 weeks in discovery mode in Philadelphia: understanding how the city serves its citizens, what Philadelphians want and need from their city, and how technology might help make local government more open, efficient, and engaging.

Alex Yule (AY): To that end, we’re meeting with citizens, officials across city government, as well as members of the tech and civic communities. We are also searching for champions – strong local partners who can help us build solutions, and maintain them once we’re gone. We want the tools and solutions we build to live on!

FK: What do you think of Philly's potential as a tech hub/leader?
Michelle Lee (ML): At Code for America, our past successes can be attributed to great partners at every level of city government and community. They help us make sure any technology we build is relevant to the real, existing, and complex urban challenges that cities face today.

Similarly, Drexel University’s ExCITE (Expressive and Creative Interactive Technologies) program is bridging technology with the arts. Philadelphia is an established national leader in healthcare and education, and has recently won major awards for sustainability and the arts. There’s a tremendous opportunity to take advantage of our sustainability, education, and especially our healthcare strengths in the same way.

FK: What are Philly's most pressing tech challenges?
AY: It seems to me that Philadelphia’s most pressing challenge is that people outside Philadelphia don’t seem to know there’s a vibrant tech scene here. So it may be difficult for companies here to attract more tech talent.

FK: What has impressed you about technology in Philadelphia?
ML: You could argue that the relative scarcity of technology investment capital here so far has actually had a silver lining. Philadelphia’s tech community has created sustainable businesses, very much in touch with their users and customers. I don’t believe you’d see a dot-com bust here.

AY: Philly has a strong core of companies who live in Philly because they truly love and believe in their city. Some other cities are full of companies who are there because “they’re supposed to be.” You get a very clear sense of that traveling around the city and chatting with people -- there are no opportunists or fair-weather friends here. People are in it for the long haul, they’re dedicated to building this city up as an even greater place to live and work.

Is there a difference between your initial perception of the city and the way you feel after being here for a bit?
AY: I’d heard about Azavea’s great mapping work while I was still back in school -- but I had no idea the scene was so vibrant! The city really is a bit of a hidden gem.

EH: I’m from San Francisco. I’d never really thought about it as a place with a tech scene. Since I’ve been here, I’ve learned there are thriving tech, civic, and arts communities. Some of the initiatives we’ve learned about -- the Urban Apps and Maps program at Temple and the new ExCITE program at Drexel for example -- are strong indicators that Philadelphia is a city on the verge of becoming an exciting hub of opportunity, whether you’re a tech person, an artist, or civic leader. Now is the time to move to Philly!

SUE SPOLAN is Innovation & Jobs News editor for Flying Kite. Send feedback here.

JOE PETRUCCI is managing editor for Flying Kite. Send feedback here.

From left, Liz Hunt, Alex Yule, Michelle Lee, Mayor Michael Nutter, Manager of Civic Innovation and Participation Jeff Friedman, and Director Of Communications And Strategic Partnerships Desiree Peterkin Bell,

Nutter to Philly Startup Leaders: Entrepreneurs want to come to this city, we need to make it easier

Below is text of a letter sent last week from Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to Philly Startup Leaders regarding his address to the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and his commitment to making the city more attractive for entrepreneurs (published with permission from Philly Startup Leaders)

Philly Startup Leaders community:
During my address to the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce this week, I emphasized that one of the best things to happen in Philly over the last decade has been the growth of organizations that bring big thinkers together like Philly Startup Leaders. This active, entrepreneurial community inspires creativity, new ideas and new thinking in Philadelphia. Our city’s future success is dependent on the strategic use of our talent, and it is the companies like yours in the innovation sector that will create jobs for Philadelphians in the decades to come.

We have a whole community of organizations that are creating a network of entrepreneurs who are based in Philadelphia and have connections around the world. If we are to become Philadelphia, an international city, we will need to rely on companies big and small, new and established to help spread the Philadelphia story around the world. I know that entrepreneurs want to come to this city and we need to make it easier to start their businesses right here.

Through my second term, my Commerce Department and I will stress the importance of making Philadelphia a more dynamic city for startups. I recognize the value fo these companies – and of organizations like Philly Startup Leaders, which brings these entrepreneurs together – to Philadelphia’s success in the new economy. The City is here to help.

Thank you for choosing Philadelphia for your home and business. I know we can do big things, and it is through imagination, ambition and resilience that together, we will lead Philadelphia to success in the new economy.

Michael A. Nutter

For Philly Startup Leaders' response, go here.
For more on starting a business in Philadelphia, go here.

Live in 3, 2, 1: Countdown to PhillyCAM grand opening tomorrow

"There's nothing like going live," says Deborah Rudman, Programming Director for Philadelphia Community Access Media (PhillyCAM), which celebrates the grand opening of official headquarters this Wednesday.
Mayor Michael Nutter will be in attendance for the big reveal at 699 Ranstead Street in downtown Philadelphia. The fight for public access began 27 years ago, and the formal creation of PhillyCAM finally happened in 2009. The mayor will provide the countdown to live programming, a first for the public access channel. Gretjen Clausing, Executive Director, says "It is a moment that I have pictured since 1997 when I started working on the fight to get public access.  Just thinking of the countdown before we start sending out a live signal just gives me goosebumps."
Of the brightly colored HQ, Clausing says, " It's fantastic. Flexible. Welcoming. And it still has that new car smell. We  are only just beginning to understand the possibilities of the space and all the equipment that we have installed." 
The organization began life in temporary quarters at the Painted Bride Art Center, and while concurrently building membership and programming, PhillyCAM found a permanent home. With the assistance of Metcalfe Architecture and Design, a former photographer's studio has been transformed into a multilevel suite of studios, a media lab, community space, classrooms and offices. An Express Studio faces directly onto 7th street.
Rudman describes the new space simply as "fabulous, even better real than imagined," with people stopping by on lunch break to use the commons, or dropping in to use the media lab before going to see a movie at the nearby Ritz Theater.
Rudman looks forward to new studio production classes, more programs produced by PhillyCAM members, regular live shows,and connections between people who might not have met otherwise.
The grand opening takes place at 2 pm tomorrow, followed in the evening by a reception at 6 that will lead up to a live show, produced right in the midst of the party, at 7, featuring interviews with staff, some pre-produced drop-ins and perhaps a few unexpected moments. The public is welcome to both the 2 pm and 6 pm events..

Source: Gretjen Clausing, Deborah Rudman, PhillyCAM
Writer: Sue Spolan

SeedPhilly aims to connect startups with investors: "Don't find us, we'll find you"

Brad Denenberg knows how to generate buzz, and the local entrepreneur has been cultivating a high level of interest for months before SeedPhilly officially opens at 1650 Arch St. in Center City.

Part tech incubator, part shared workspace, and part online resource, Denenberg sees SeedPhilly at its most basic level as a place for entrepreneurs to connect with investors. 
Back in August of 2011, Denenberg met with me at the newly opened Milkboy Philly to talk about SeedPhilly, but more important, to talk about how I was not allowed to write about it yet. In the middle of our conversation, the entire place started to rumble, and then slowly undulate. Some kind of mover and shaker. Philadelphia's great earthquake of 2011 rolled straight through that first meeting.
Now, finally, the story can be told. In the process of meeting dozens of area entrepreneurs, investors and members of the press, Denenberg managed to make an indelible impression and create a hunger for the moment when the story was allowed to go public.
Denenberg, working with Yuriy Porytko, who is doing community outreach, has taken over space vacated by the defunct law firm Wolf Block, and is now in the process of outfitting the expanse with room for up to 50 people, half in an open area, and half in window offices flanking the bullpen.
SeedPhilly, which has applied for non-profit status, differentiates itself from other incubators and co-working spaces because, says Denenberg, the companies will be curated. "I co-founded Philly Startup Leaders," says Denenberg of the local group that runs a very popular listserv. "The same questions were being asked over and over."

It was the need for a central database of local information that planted the seed for the SeedPhilly database, which is one of the three components of Denenberg's plan, along with the coworking space and a plan to bring investors and entrepreneurs together. 
"Entrepreneurs were saying, find them an investor, and investors were saying, find them an entrepreneur," recalls Denenberg, who feels that while there is no shortage of either startups or seed money in the Delaware Valley, until now, there's been no centralized spot for meeting up.
Denenberg, using personal funds to outfit and run the SeedPhilly office, will soon be bringing on participants, who will be expected to remain for no more than 18 months. SeedPhilly will not take an equity share; rather, it will generate revenue by charging a monthly fee of $325 per desk and $700-1,200 per office, which can fit up to four people.
SeedPhilly plans to hold regular classes, the first of which is a four week Microsoft Windows Phone development course. And he plans to schedule a steady stream of investors who will give talks, take meetings, or just drop in for a casual cup of coffee and a chat.
As far as the application process? Denenberg replies, "Don't find us. We'll find you."

Source: Brad Denenberg, SeedPhilly
Writer: Sue Spolan

Leadership Philadelphia's drive to stay current starts with connections

How does a 50 plus year old organization stay current with the latest trends? That's the challenge for Leadership Philadelphia, which has been around since the late 1950s.

Liz Dow, President and CEO, says the key is connecting the old guard with up and coming business leaders in Philadelphia. In 2012, Dow is bringing people like Geoff DiMasi of Indy Hall and P'unk Avenue and Michelle Freeman of YIP (and Flying Kite) into the fold, with plans for both to come speak at Leadership Philadelphia's Sunday Breakfast Club.
"It's our mission to mobilize and connect professionals," says Dow, with offerings like the Core Program and the Executive Program, which aim to train and provide networking for Philly's business community. To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Leadership Philadelphia launched the Connector Project, with the stated mission to  identify under-the-radar leaders, study them in order to teach others to connect, and celebrate their success.

At the end of 2011, Leadership Philadelphia announced the nomination of 76 creative connectors, which Dow terms "a funky wonderful group of entrepreneurial arts people who are trusted members of the community." 
There's also the Pay It Forward program, in which participants are given money to hand to someone else and then report back. The stories are now pouring in.

Fairmount Park Art Association's Executive Director Penny Balkin Bach writes that she "matched the $50 and sent it to Creative Connector Stanford Thompson at Play On, Philly to buy 100 reeds for the kids playing wind instruments." Irene Hannan, a Senior Vice President at Citizens Bank, donated the money to a single mom she found through Project HOME to use for her children’s Christmas gifts.

Leadership Philadelphia also launched This I Believe, which formed the basis for a national radio series produced out of WHYY and airing on NPR's All Things Considered and Weekend Edition Sunday.
Recruiting for Leadership Philadelphia's Core Program begins in March 2012, The Executive Program, now underway, concludes in June.

Source: Liz Dow, Leadership Philadelphia
Writer: Sue Spolan

Disaster plan: Philly startup Near-Miss Management is a guaranteed hit

It would be incredibly useful to predict disasters before they happen. That's the goal of Near-Miss Management, a new company co-founded by Ulku Oktem and Ankur Pariyani, who met at the University of Pennsylvania, where Oktem taught and Pariyani received his PhD. 
Suppose the BP Gulf oil spill could have been prevented. Or the disaster in Bhopal. Oktem and Pariyani have created the remarkable, patent pending, Dynamic Risk Predictor Suite, comprised of three software programs and four add-ons that are able to predict major problems before they happen, saving billions of dollars annually.
"It's an area I started to work on more than 10 years ago," recalls Oktem, who is a senior research fellow at the Wharton School in the Risk Management and Decision Processes Center. "We started out focusing on personal near misses." For example, if a worker slips, but doesn't fall down, that's considered a near miss and an indicator of future problems. 
Oktem says the science of close calls has been gaining momentum. It was her work with the chemical industry that sparked an interest in practical applications of a problem that was previously in the realm of academic theory. "Near misses are a leading indicator of accidents," says Oktem. If you look back at unfolding events in the aftermath, adds Pariyani, there will always be several near misses leading up to any major accident.
The software suite Near-Miss Management has developed is designed initially to address issues in the chemical industry, and will easily apply to a wide range of businesses, including airlines, pharmaceuticals, energy, defense, finance and insurance.
"We expect that once our software is running in a few plants, it will catch on very fast," says Oktem, who cites an annual loss of about $10 billion in the chemical industry due to accidents and unexpected shutdowns. "People who are responsible for risk management of chemical plants are a close knit group. The key is getting the first few companies, and we expect to do that this year."
The bootstrapped Near-Miss Management, based in Center City, includes three on the management team and five programmers. Near-Miss Management will demonstrate its software tomorrow at the upcoming Philly Tech Meetup at the Quorum of the University City Science Center.

Source: Ulku Oktem, Ankur Pariyani, Near-Miss Management
Writer: Sue Spolan

Science Center opens Bullpen coworking space, funds three QED projects

The University City Science Center does not slow down for the holidays. In the last week, it has announced a a new coworking space for emerging startup companies and a new round of funding for its QED Proof of Concept program.

The new coworking space, dubbed the Bullpen, is located inside the Science Center's Port Business Incubator (3711 Market St.)  and already has its first "pitcher" in Belgium-based Biologistics Consulting. The Bullpen offers relief from expensive office space in the form of desks, phone, and high-speed Wi-Fi, plus a convenient location in the heart of University City.

In addition, says Science Center President and CEO Stephen Tang, "Bullpen residents have access to the same services and programs offered to all the residents of our Port Business Incubator."

Biologistics Consulting, which is a participant in the Science Center's Global Soft Landing Program, isn't the only Belgian company at the Port Business Incubator. Arlenda Inc., which facilitates risk-based decision making for pharmaceutical- and  vaccine-makers, has moved into office space at the incubator, working closely with local universities, CHOP and Merck, to name a few.

On Monday, three first-time recipients of $200,000 each were announced for the Science Center's QED program, which aims to facilitate commercial investment in early stage and high-potential life science technologies.

Funding went to Philadelphia University for a new biocidal textile technology to address the high-incidence of hospital acquired infections.

Thomas Jefferson University won funding for the first clinically reliable test for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, the primary form of pancreatic cancer.

Also, Lehigh University in Bethlehem received funding for a portable medical oxygen concentrator for patients with lung disease.

Source: Jeanne Mell, University City Science Center
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Social innovation the focus of separate competitions for women, Jewish entrepreneurs

A 2010 Edelman goodpurpose study found that 86 percent of global consumers believe that business needs to place at least equal weight on society's interests as on business interests. This thinking is at the root of social entrepreneurship, an increasingly used model employed by both non- and for-profit entrepreneurs to build successful and sustainable businesses.

Two local groups are looking to nurture those ideas through separate programs.

The Women for Social Innovation, a giving circle of Women's Way, is taking applications for its Turning Point Prize, a $15,000 annual award given the last three years to an emerging female social entrepreneur living or studying in Greater Philadelphia and who is developing a non-profit venture. Last year's winner, Tracie Gilbert, developed a 10-month community education initiative to help women gain tools necessary to help their pre-teen and teen daughters make healthy and empowered decisions about sexual health.

"The prize winner gains important help in navigating the challenges of establishing a new venture," says Nancy Moses, WSI founder. "It's a win-win, since our members are also enriched by the experience of helping an emerging social entrepreneur."

The application deadline for this year's competition is 5 p.m. on Dec. 28. Information on eligibility, selection criteria and application guidelines available here.

Applications have already closed for another program, the Tribe 12 Social Entrepreneur Fellowship – a group of 22-40 year-old Jewish difference-makers looking to plant the seeds of innovation in Philadelphia. However, the group is always looking to engage potential fellows.

Last year's fellows include Todd Baylson, the manager of planning and policy at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, who aimed to green the land occupied by Jewish religious institutions, and School District of Philadelphia special education teacher Sara Landman, who worked to utilize retired Jewish educators to increase the literacy skills of urban students and their parents. The next group of fellows take over in January.

"The Tribe 12 Social Entrepreneur Fellowship enables innovators on the cutting edge of creativity to work together to launch socially-minded ventures that change the world," Ben Wachstein, Project Director of Tribe 12. "Our Fellows are informal educators and community organizers, nonprofit managers and environmental activists, programmers and artists, biotech visionaries and Israel advocates."

Source: Rachel Dukeman
Writer: Joe Petrucci

PCS Technologies moves fashion forward, literally; hiring writers, programmers

PCS Technologies, located in the Hunting Park section of Philadelphia, has been around for 20 years, but the past two years have seen rapid growth under the leadership of Chandra Allred.

"We just hired two people, and we are looking for more," says Allred, chief operating officer of PCS, who is still in search of a technical/creative writer, as well as programmers.

With clients that include Urban Outfitters/Anthropologie, The Gap (which also owns five brands, including Banana Republic and Old Navy), and Bed Bath and Beyond, PCS is a supply chain software firm. Their product, PCSTrac, helps companies keep tabs on millions of pieces of inventory.

"The Gap has 3,500 stores," explains Allred of just one of PCS Technologies' clients. "They use our scanning software to populate the enterprise wide system. Store associates don't scan at all. It's a huge labor savings." And a huge responsibility. "If there is an issue with our application, it's not just affecting the logistics and supply chain, but it's also affecting national and international inventory."

With under 25 employees, PCS software makes sure a million cartons a week get from the manufacturer to the store. Allred left her consulting business to join PCS in 2009. She was hired to retool the company's strategy.

"They were at a pivotal point in terms of growth. One of the co-owners of the firm approached me about running the company," Allred explains. "Since then there has been tremendous growth. In two years, our client base has more than doubled, and our installations have tripled."

PCS, says Allred, makes its money through recurring revenue. While there are initial licensing fees for its software, the company's main revenue stream comes from monthly product support fees.

"It's the reverse of a lot of software applications," says Allred. "In this industry, normal maintenance costs are 18 percent of licensing costs. Ours is completely flipped. Our software is very high maintenance. If data isn't showing up, you're stuck. It's a production environment."

Next time you're trying on a fuzzy cardigan at Urban Outfitters, it's PCS that gets it there.

Source: Chandra Allred, PCS Technologies
Writer: Sue Spolan

Change By Us launches as virtual, social Post It note for community innovation

It would be great to stick a Post It note on the front door of City Hall. Philadelphia's new Change By Us initiative, officially launched last week, offers citizens the virtual and social networked version of the Post It experience. The Knight Foundation, one of the project's funders along with The Rockefeller Foundation, also announced that it has thrown $25,000 into the mix, divided in a way to be determined, with the understanding that the funds will help facilitate community generated change in Philadelphia, according to Knight's Donna Frisby-Greenwood.

So far, says Jeff Friedman, Manager of Civic Innovation and Participation in the Mayor's Office, the Change By Us website has attracted 229 users who have generated 234 ideas, from poetic to prosaic. For example: "We've started our own grassroots campaign in Old City named Scoop the Poop Campaign. Our slogan is "No Pile Left Behind," reads one note. While there are many similar ideas having to do with pets and regulation of their behavior, there is also a groundswell of support for better use of community centers and public facilities. "The way the world communicates is changing," remarked Mayor Michael Nutter during the Change By Us press conference. "As social media evolves, the City of Philadelphia is at the forefront." Of the 234 ideas, 32 projects have so far been created on the site.

An important aspect of Change By Us is connecting citizens with resources, and a section of the site, which was developed with the help of the Philadelphia's Code for America fellows, offers one click connections to the East Park Revitalization Alliance, Congreso, and The Center City District, among dozens of others.

The second city in America to adopt Change By Us, Philadelphia is following the blueprint of the recently launched New York City Change By Us program, developed through a $100,000 initial grant, according to Jake Barton, whose group Local Projects created the New York version and acted as consultant for the local initiative. Going forward, Barton announced that the Change By Us platform is open source, freely available to every village, town, city or megalopolis.

The Philadelphia initiative has its own public service announcement, created by PhillyCAM, featuring local leaders like Young Involved Philly's Claire Robertson-Kraft and Department of Parks and Recreation's Mike Deberardinis telling viewers they are listening. Kraft says, "Jeff and I were talking about the priorities of the Change By Us program, and our three choices were smarter, safer and greener." Rather than attempt to choose one of the three, says Robertson, the Change By Us tagline includes all three goals. "There are projects on Change By Us that are similar to ideas generated at State of Young Philly."

Friedman adds that Change By Us can eliminate duplicate efforts. If a community group has improved a park in Northeast Philly, people in South Philly can find out about it, reducing time and sharing resources, he explains. Response leaders, says Friedman, will monitor projects coming in to steer them to the right departments and organizations.

Source: Jeff Friedman, Michael Nutter, City of Philadelphia, Claire Robertson-Kraft, Young Involved Philly
Writer: Sue Spolan

Inhabi adds dynamic control to more easily match renters with landlords

It's one thing to use Craigslist to hook up or buy some furniture. It's quite another challenge to find an apartment that way. A new startup called Inhabi adds new dimensions and quality control to the process of matching renters with landlords.

Jameel Farruk, who founded Inhabi with partner David Friedman, has a pretty sweet apartment. While it's quite small (around 300 square feet), the location is killer: right in Center City, just steps away from a dozen popular bars and restaurants, and perfect for the single entrepreneur.

"Technology should make it an easier experience for the renter," says Farruk, who likens current online offerings to a digitized version of newspaper ads. With Inhabi, by contrast, renters don't bear the full burden of finding the right place to live. Inhabi plugs properties into a database so that renters can search for things like hardwood floors, whether the owner allows pets, and if parking is part of the package.

After filling out an online form which collects details about the renter's self reported income, credit score and desired neighborhood, Inhabi offers a list of available units sortable by price, location and size. If a desirable apartment pops up, the renter can submit a request to the landlord with one click.

Farruk and Friedman met while at Venmo,  the mobile payments startup that moved from Philly to NYC earlier this year. Friedman's background is in real estate, having spent the previous decade as an agent and Vice President of Operations at the Philadelphia division of Coldwell Banker. Originally, their idea was more of a scheduling tool for showing apartments, and the pair was accepted to Betaspring, an entrepreneurial incubator in Rhode Island in the summer of 2011.

"We launched the product halfway through the program, took it to market, and decided to scrap it," recalls Farruk. While the original idea was well liked by landlords and renters, it did not help property owners screen potential lessees. "They didn't want to commit without knowing who was showing up," he says. The evolved offering benefits both parties.

Farruk is a transplant to Philadelphia, having grown up in the Washington, DC area. Philly's central location and affordable housing stock figured into the decision to launch Inhabi here. "The city's biggest strength is all the educational institutions that supply people to pick the product apart. They have no fear in telling you how much you suck," says Farruk, adding that Philadelphia is great for local talent. including designers, programmers, and people to help with marketing.

Farruk says that Inhabi is now bootstrapped, and the revenue will come in part from lead generation and in part, he hopes, from one of the many real estate investment firms headquartered here. The service is free of charge to renters, and owner and renter remain anonymous until both agree to share information.

Source: Jameel Farruk, inhabi
Writer: Sue Spolan

No NBA, no problem: These Philly6ers help you find beer

Then twenty-somethings Matt Joyce and Tim Ifill were having the same kind of friendly planning conversation a few years ago that many people have across the city every night. The friends, who in 2004 founded Philly Fellows, the organization that works to create a pipeline of talent for city nonprofits, were pondering where they could stop off and get a six-pack of beer to bring to a social gathering.

In some states, it's a non-issue. You can't walk 50 feet without running into a convenient takeout spot. In Pennsylvania, however, it's a little different, what with its complicated and antiquated liquor laws. Different levels of costly licenses, and the seemingly random stipulations that come attached to them, create a maze of sorts for six-pack hunters.

That led Joyce, 30, over the last few months to create Philly6ers, an online resource for easily locating and rating nearby pizza shops and delis that sell takeout beer. The site has approached 1,500 visitors in the last week, according to Joyce, and he is already planning a mobile app and statewide expansion (PA6ers).

"It seems to address a pretty commonly held frustration in Philly, so the general feedback has been positive," Joyce says. He is still weighing an official launch event and whether he'll try to make the site profitable. Having worked his entire career in the nonprofit sector -- most recently for the William Penn Foundation – the Philadelphia resident is mostly focused on making the site a strong resource rather than a business.

Joyce pulled data from licensing information from the PA Liquor Control Board for all "E" licensed retailers in the city. That license is typically issued to eateries to sell takeout beer. Not a complete stranger to building websites – he and Ifil built the Philly Fellows site – Joyce leaned on Google to make the data presentable and functional.

"It ties in so nicely to Google spreadsheets and forms and now something called Fusion Tables, that if you know a little bit of Excel and can make data tables relate to each other, Google makes it easy to present this data online," Joyce says. "It's fun."

Philly6ers has already taught Joyce a thing or two. For one, some areas of Philly are relative beer deserts, like Fishtown and Port Richmond, which, according to the site, are practically devoid of licensed takeout spots. Joyce wonders why some areas are like that, while most of West Philly is covered with licensed establishments. Also, Joyce has discovered that the seemingly random and usually empty seating areas at small delis are mandated by law. Topics like these are covered on the Philly6ers blog.

One thing Joyce says he'll have to negotiate is how to handle bars that are licensed to sell six-packs. While many of us have asked nicely and overpaid for a brown paper bag full of loose cans or bottles of beer in an establishment that might technically allowed to sell takeout, Joyce does not want to dilute the Philly6ers database with those bars. Rather, he wants to include only those state-appointed "R" retailers with real capacity to do so. Since that data is not easily attainable, user feedback will be key.

Joyce is thrilled that he is already hearing feedback from those who have successfully used the resource. He jokes that the 76ers might send him a cease and desist order.

"But I have to imagine the Sixers organization is just as interested in knowing which delis sell beer as the rest of us," he says.

Source: Matt Joyce, Philly6ers
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Copyright, innovation and whack-a-mole: Protecting technological innovation in the 21st century

"I've been thinking a lot about Napster," says Rutgers-Camden law professor Michael Carrier. "Google just gave me a research award to examine the effects of Napster on digital innovation." Nice gig if you can get it, and Carrier gets it.

The author of Innovation for the 21st Century: Harnessing the Power of Intellectual Property and Antitrust Law, which came out in paperback earlier this year, Carrier promotes a new way to look at copyright, anti-trust and patent law as technology rapidly and dramatically changes commerce in several areas, including media, pharmaceuticals and innovation.

Ever since the advent of the VCR, issues of copying and sharing have kept courts busy. "Peer to peer offers real benefits to consumers," says Carrier, who points to the concept of dual purpose use, where a technology can be used for both infringement and non-infringement. As long as there is a single substantial non-infringing use, the technology should be upheld, he explains.

Carrier's work also extends to brand name and generic pharmaceutical products, a topic close to home, with the world's largest drug manufacturers within a 100 mile radius of Philadelphia. The big brands, says Carrier, pay generic makers out of court settlements to keep them off the pharmacy shelves. "The brand company is able to pay $100 million, which is a drop in the bucket for the billion it will make. The problem is that consumers don't have access to generic drugs," says Carrier.

On a grander scale, when asked if Carrier's bent is pro-consumer, he responds, "That's such a loaded term. Pro-consumer is consistent with what I am doing, but I would characterize it as pro-innovation." says the Rutgers-Camden prof, who also mentions threats to locally based media giant Comcast.

Two controversial bills were recently introduced into the U.S. Congress. The Protect IP Act, now known as the E-PARASITE Act (S. 968), goes after piracy and rogue sites all around the world. While E-PARASITE may be too controversial to move through congress, yet another bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act, was just introduced into the House on Oct. 26.

"It's a whack-a-mole game, designed to allow the government, and even private parties to shut down websites. The proposed laws are not as nuanced as those we have now," explains Carrier. "Internet service providers like Comcast would have to take measures to make sure these sites would not be able to be accessed."

While Carrier says anti-corporate sentiment is fashionable these days, he adds, "I don't know if I need to go that far. I believe in patents. Patents are needed for innovation, and for companies to able to make money." Rather, Carrier stands against the overly aggressive use of laws that limit innovation across a wide range of business practices.

Source: Michael Carrier, Rutgers-Camden Law
Writer: Sue Spolan

GPIC report: Energy efficiency work could mean $618M in local spending, 23,500 jobs

Energy efficiency retrofits at nearly half of our region's commercial buildings could mean $618 million in local spending and support 23,500 jobs, according to a report issued on Monday by the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster.

The Philadelphia Navy Yard-based GPIC, a 24-institution, $129 million consortium funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and other federal agencies, also issued a report detailing programs and policies already encouraging retrofits and further steps the region can take. Both reports can be found here.

The University of Pennsylvania's Dr. Mark Alan Hughes, the leader of the Policy, Markets and Behavior task team at GPIC, says in a news release that the reports "provide ample evidence that the Philadelphia region is well-situated to take advantage of the economic opportunities inherent in energy efficiency retrofits."

According to the main report, conducted by Econsult Corporation, 47 percent (or 4,201 buildings) of the region's commercial and flex-industrial space between 20,000-100,000 square feet are potential retrofit candidates.

Cozen O'Connor staff compiled the secondary report, which examines laws, regulations, financial incentives, contracts and public bidding requirements to encourage energy efficiency retrofits.

"Removing barriers and employing new policy tools to spur retrofits will not only save energy, but also grow jobs and stimulate the regional economy," says Hughes.

Source: Christine Knapp, GPIC
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Open Access Philly: Empowering the intersection of data and community

Here comes the promise of Mayor Nutter. In less than two years, Jeff Friedman has revolutionized Philadelphia's role in connecting community engagement and technology. On Oct. 28, Friedman, manager of the Mayor's Office of Civic Innovation & Participation, hosted Crowdsourcing at the Intersection, a free all-day Open Access Philly conference.

Speakers at the Science Center's Quorum included crowd pleasers Robert Cheetham, Alex Hillman, Geoff Dimasi, Desiree Peterkin-Bell and Paul Wright, co-leader of the forum and Comcast's project manager for Local Media Development and the new Project Open Voice initiative.

Mayor Michael Nutter, who offered remarks right at the top of the program, announced that Philadelphia's efforts have won a top-10 place on the Public Technology Institute's list of Citizen Engaged Communities. "We are in the customer service business," says Nutter of the city government's outreach strategy, in which open data and constant communication is crucial. During his speech, Nutter tweeted a photograph of the audience to prove his point.

Friedman stated as his broad goal a movement without strict membership rules convened to articulate a shared vision for open access to data. Cheetham's company Azavea, in partnership with NPowerPA, Technically Philly, and The William Penn Foundation, created the Open Data Race, and Cheetham announced winners at the forum.

Out of dozens of contenders, first place went to Public School Notebook, which wants data on where Philadelphia public school students go after 12th grade; in close second place, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia requested information on bike thefts, and third place went to Conservation Pennsylvania for vacant land data. In addition to information, winners receive cash prizes of up to $2,000.

Source: Jeff Friedman, Mayor Michael Nutter, City of Philadelphia; Robert Cheetham, Azavea
Writer: Sue Spolan

Philly Tech Meetup's rapid growth bodes well for region's brightest startups

In a matter of months, Philly Tech Meetup has grown into a force to be reckoned with. Rohan Mehta, founder and organizer of the monthly event, says he was inspired by New York Tech Meetup, which regularly draws a crowd of a thousand. Judging by the rapid growth of the local Tech Meetup, Philly isn’t too far behind.

According to the PTM website, 233 attended the Oct. 26 evening gathering, held at Quorum inside the University City Science Center. A show of hands indicated that over half were first-timers. PTM already has almost a thousand members in total.

"PTM exists to advance entrepreneurship and innovation in the region," says Mehta. "Our focus is on hosting productive events that engage and inspire. Our goal is to build a sustainable tech ecosystem, and that begins by convening all stakeholders regularly to learn and share."

This month, Lokalty, Spling and Ajungo gave demos in front of a standing room only crowd that was overwhelmingly male, although diverse in age and ethnicity. Of the several hundred in attendance, about a dozen were women.

Lokalty, a cross referenced loyalty program, gave the example of going to a spa, then getting a discount at a nearby coffee shop. While the startup has plenty of competition, it differentiates its offer by allowing users to accumulate universal points. Currently there are seven participating retailers, all in Center City.

Ajungo officially launched at PTM. The initiative mashes up social media with travel; notably, sports fans who follow their teams to away games. Members can connect, post pictures and reviews, and in the future, earn rewards.

DreamIt Ventures company Spling announced it has received a Series A round of funding from a Menlo Park, California VC firm, even though the startup is still in pre-launch. Also social in nature, Spling participants share and discover online media. Founders Billy McFarland and Mac Cordrey say they already have 2,000 users in the closed beta.

Philly Tech Meetup has been the darling of local startups; since February, rapid growth companies including Launchrock, CloudMine, RezScore, Storably, and ElectNext have been among the presenters. There is also a brand new Philly Tech Meetup website.

Mehta also announced the upcoming Tech Arts Beer (TAB) Festival, to take place in Spring 2012, gathering entrepreneurs from all three disciplines. You can sign up for one of the planning committees.

The next Philly Tech Meetup will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 30 at the Quorum. It’s free to attend. Startups that wish to present can apply for a spot on the agenda.

Source: Rohan Mehta, Philly Tech Meetup
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

Philly Stake deadline looms for next round of microgrants

Back in July we reported on the growing micro-funding event series known as Philly Stake.  The series combines fast, no-nonsense funding for great ideas, combined with local food and fun with friends.

The next round of proposals is due by noon on Sunday, Oct. 30. Creatives, artists, organizers and thinkers are asked to submit their best ideas. It's a four-question application, and it could help your project earn fast funds. Ten proposals will be chosen to be voted on at the next Philly Stake event on Nov. 13 at the Ukie Club (847 N. Franklin St., Philadelphia).

Tidal Schuylkill River Tour ($1,000), Fair Grounds ($600) and Sunday Suppers ($500) were winners at the last Philly Stake.

Source: Philly Stake
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Farm to freezer: New CSA aims to provide region with sustainably grown produce in winter

Buying and eating local is easy during the summer months, when produce is literally falling off the back of farm trucks. It's a different story after the ground freezes over, but a new company has launched to address that seasonal shortfall and provide sustainably grown fruit and vegetables -- from farm to freezer.

"It's not easy to eat food grown closer to home year round," says Winter Sun Farms Greater Philadelphia co-founder Sara Gordon. Sure, there are storage crops, like apples, winter squash and root vegetables, "But for things like green beans and corn, unless you are putting them up, those items are coming from California and South America."

Winter Sun  is selling a total of 250 CSA monthly shares that provide a five month regional produce subscription that's available in two sizes, costing $175 and $315. Each share is made up primarily of flash frozen produce with some fresh items in the mix. Husband and wife team Sara and Adam Gordon started the business three months ago.

Originally from Connecticut, Adam Gordon landed a job in the Philadelphia area two years ago and the couple relocated to Bucks County. They immediately got involved in the strong local food movement here, joining a CSA and becoming part of a buying club that's grown into the Doylestown Food Coop.

Adam's job came to an end this year, and the timing was perfect, says Sara, for the launch of a new business. While future plans are to run the entire operation out of the Philadelphia area, this first year Winter Sun is getting everything from its Hudson Valley counterpart, which is already set up with a processing facility with an IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) machine that uses nitrogen to flash freeze individual peas and corn so the home cook can open a bag and use just a portion.

This year, the couple hopes to break even, and is marketing the new service at area farm markets and on social media. Right now, about half of its 250 total shares are spoken for. Interested customers can register online.

Source: Sara Gordon, Winter Sun Farms Greater Philadelphia
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

GPIC awards $1.3M in regional energy efficiency grants to seven research projects

They might not reinvent the light bulb, but with any luck, they’ll cost less to use.

The Opportunity Research Fund of the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster announced $1,327,253 in grants to seven research projects on Monday, all aimed at improving energy efficiency at the Philadelphia Navy Yard-based cluster.

The grants, which ranged between $100,000-$250,000 and were announced in a news release, "support research, development, demonstration and deployment of technologies, policies, business models and training programs that advance GPIC goals." GPIC is one of the nation’s three energy hubs working toward reducing American energy use in buildings by 50 percent and stimulate private investment and job creation in our region and beyond.

"The selected projects reflect the priorities and areas of need for GPIC where additional research will contribute significantly toward meeting GPIC goals and spurring innovation," says Henry Foley, executive director of GPIC and VP for research at Penn State University.

GPIC’s 24 member institutions were eligible to apply, but had to partner with a non-member on their proposals. Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania managed the proposal review process. The funded projects include:

- Integrated Lighting Controls with Hybrid Connectivity for Energy Efficiency and Easy Retrofit, $200,573: Penn State University and Phillips Research North America

- Beta Testing, Validation and Manufacturing of Low Cost Next Generation HVAC Energy Efficiency and Smart Grid Retrofits for Commercial and Residential Applications, $146,692: Penn State University Center for High Performance Buildings and Pace Controls

- Demonstration of Modelica-Based Tool Chain for Rapid Prototyping and Evaluation of Integrated Business Controls, $233,000: Purdue University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

- The Sustainability Workshop, $200,000: Drexel University, Penn State University, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

- Electro Chronic Glazing for Improved Performance of Commercial Buildings,$200,000: Penn State University and Sage Electronics

- Navy Yard Operations Center: An Innovative Energy Management, Workforce Development and Education Opportunity for Greater Philadelphia, $161,487: Drexel University, Penn State University, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, University of Pennsylvania, and Viridity Energy

- Construct Baseline Commercial Building Envelope to Evaluate Energy Retrofit Strategies, $185,501: Bayer MaterialScience and Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Source: Christine Knapp, GPIC
Writer: Joe Petrucci

ElectNext, like eHarmony for voters, part of DreamIt's Comcast minority entrepreneur accelerator

Want to blow your voting mind? Head over to ElectNext, a new website that matches citizens with candidates. "If you change the context from Republican vs. Democrat, it changes the world," says ElectNext Communications Director Dave Speers, who recently joined founders Keya Dannenbaum and Paul Jungwirth to fundamentally change the way you think about your vote.

Speers describes ElectNext as eHarmony for voters. When you sign up, you answer a series of questions about your political philosophy. The results can shake people up. A lifelong democrat may find that her take on the issues most closely aligns with a moderate republican like presidential candidate Jon Huntsman. "I'm a Republican," says Speers. "What could separate you and me is one issue. In reality, we're 99 percent in agreement."

Speers reports that some voters go ballistic upon seeing their results, which may not align with their perception of the candidates or themselves. "When you walk into a voting booth, like millions of people, you see one or two names you recognize. As far as the rest of the candidates, you might skip the vote, or vote dogmatically down party lines, or it could be arbitrary, like picking someone by the ethnicity of their last name."

Dannenbaum met Jungwirth at a Philly Tech Meetup. Jungwirth, who's working on a PhD in Classics from Penn and has a professional background in computer programming, was looking for an opportunity to use both sides of his brain, and Dannenbaum terms the partnership a perfect fit.

The startup is funded by DreamIt Ventures and is part of the Comcast Minority Entrepreneur Accelerator Program (MEAP) within DreamIt. Dannenbaum, who is on leave from MBA studies at The Wharton School, says that getting the $25,000 DreamIt grant was possible after participating in the Good Company incubator program, which provided office space at University of the Arts.

"The training and the curriculum at Good Company is what prepared us to be able to talk to the DreamIt folks at the end of the summer," says Dannenbaum.

DreamIt also receives a 6 percent equity stake in the for-profit company with five employees. Dannenbaum credits the Wharton Venture Initiation Program as well, which offers ElectNext on-campus meeting space and mentors.

Dannenbaum says her leave from Wharton is open ended, and the team hopes to take ElectNext national in time for the 2012 presidential election.

Source: Keya Dannenbaum, Dave Speers, ElectNext
Writer: Sue Spolan

Speak up: TEDxPhilly 2.0, TEDxSJU on the horizon

The Femininjas are coming to TEDxPhilly, along with a whole cast of speakers designed to blow audiences away with their words, ideas and inspiration. The second annual local version of the global TED talks (Technology, Entertainment and Design) will be Tuesday, Nov. 8, all day, starting at 9 a.m. at the Temple Performing Arts Center on North Broad Street.

The major difference with this venue, besides the location, is that we have the room to accommodate twice as many people," says TEDxPhilly organizer Roz Duffy. "We sold out last year (at the Kimmel Center) and had to deny people tickets leading up to the event due to capacity. This year, there should be more than enough seats for anyone who wants to attend."

The theme is The City, and organizers have invited  a compelling group of speakers to define the parameters of the urban landscape. "The City is about all aspects of urban life from people making a difference in Philadelphia and cities across the country to our collective experience of city life from the soundscape of our environment to the way we work, play, eat, live and breathe in the city," says Duffy.

Jennifer Pahlka, Executive Director of Code For America, will tell her tale of a year in city government. Speaker Youngjin Yoo is Director of Temple University's Center for Design+Innovation and Open Access Philly member.

Gregory Corbin, founder of the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement, where the Femininjas were born, will speak about creating an urban youth writing workshop that recently won national honors at Brave New Voices 2011 and a Knight Foundation grant. DJ Rich Medina will speak on spinning around the globe; sculptor Janet Echelman describes her art which combines ancient techniques with cutting edge technology; Chris Bartlett, Executive Director of the William Way Center, hosts the event.

"We will probably get close to 20 speakers this year and I’d guess around 800 attendees, but we have room for over 1,000 attendees, so we hope we can really fill the place with passionate, creative and inspiring individuals," says Duffy, who points to one returning guest she's particularly thrilled about. "Stanford Thompson leads a very intense music education program. Stanford’s students’ performance was so moving last year that there was not a dry eye in the house."

A full list of speakers and a link to purchase tickets can be found on the TEDxPhilly website.

By the way, St. Joe's is getting into the TED act with its inaugural TEDxSJU, which takes place on Oct. 13 from 4-7 p.m. at St. Joe's Campus Commons Building and will feature social entrepreneurs from across the country, including Olivia Bouler, who at age 12 created Save The Gulf, and LynnMcConville, whose Power Up Gambia is bringing solar to the African nation. The event is free and open to the public.

Source: Roz Duffy, TEDxPhilly
Writer: Sue Spolan

GPIC juggling several projects that aim to centralize energy efficiency

There's a major problem with the building industry. With 800,000 construction or architecture and engineering firms in the United States, each with an average of 10 employees, there is no critical mass to forward research and development, according to Christine Knapp of the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster (GPIC).

Knapp sees GPIC, a recipient of $129 million in federal funding to be a hub for energy efficiency, as a way to centralize the scattered practice, and there are a lot of initiatives underway at the multidisciplinary organization based at the Navy Yard, including the construction of a combination demonstration project and headquarters.

"We've selected our architectural design team. Kieran Timberlake is a Philadelphia based firm. It happened to work out that the team that won is local," says Knapp. "We're really trying to change the way buildings are designed. We want to be a case study and show people the hiccups and process. A big part of our work is showing the value of integrative construction, design and retrofit."

GPIC workshops are one way to accomplish increased cooperation and vertical integration, and a bunch are lined up this fall, including one that dovetails with DesignPhiladelphia. In November, a series of innovation seminars will begin.

Another goal is data collection, which is a huge job, and Knapp says GPIC is actively seeking a Building Energy Data Manager. "We met with the EPA and the Department of Energy. We plan to sync up with them, and share what data we are getting access to," says Knapp, in an effort to establish a baseline and cobble together a snapshot of the current state of construction.

GPIC is also home to The Sustainability Workshop, an academy for high school seniors that grew out of the West Philly Hybrid X team, which beat out MIT in a national hybrid car building competition. "If they could accomplish this much with an after school program," says Knapp, "what can they do with a full time school? Instead of automobiles, the focus could be energy efficiency of buildings, and they'd contribute to GPIC," says Knapp, who adds that her organization will be assisting with funding for the first year, and in return, students will be contributing to GPIC's work. Right now the program has 30 high school seniors and two full time educators.

In the near future, look for GPIC announcements about the disbursement of $10 million to up to seven applicants for the Opportunity Research Fund. Also, says Knapp, look for an upcoming announcement from GPIC about the choice of teams to assist with strategic planning as well as marketing and communications.

Source: Christine Knapp, GPIC
Writer: Sue Spolan

Hella Favela: Brazil style set to paint our town

Giant koi swimming up 13th Street? Believe it. The Favela Painters are coming to Philadelphia. In mid-September, Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn, better known as the team Haas&Hahn, arrive here for a major public art project that spans three Philadelphia neighborhoods, trains countless new artists and brings a bit of Brazil to the city.

Favela is the term used for the slums of Rio de Janiero, lawless places ruled by criminal syndicates. Over the past five years, Haas&Hahn have transformed the walls and streets of these mountainside neighborhoods that loom over downtown Rio. Outrageous color and imagery, visible from all parts of the city, have transformed trash strewn chaotic areas into internationally renowned public art galleries.

Now the Favela Painters are set to transform Philadelphia, and the location of their work will be in some pretty high profile places: the 13th Street corridor owned by Goldman Properties in Center City; in North Philadelphia at Lehigh and Germantown Avenues, near The Village of Arts and Humanities (where Haas&Hahn will reside during the project); and in Manayunk, on old industrial buildings facing Interstate 76.

Funding, which is budgeted at just under $500,000 for the three-part project, comes from The Knight Foundation, The U.S. Department of Commerce, Goldman Properties and The Manayunk Development Corporation.

The teams that will work on the project will be trained by the Haas&Hahn guild. "People who don't have a lot of opportunities will be able to work with international artists," says Golden, who describes the artists' philosophy as a model for passing knowledge on. "What's the test of a good project? The shifting perspectives of people who made the art and people who live with it."

This will be the first permanent U.S. project for Haas&Hahn, who also created an installation for Art Basel Miami in 2010. Jane Golden, Executive Director of the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia, met the Favela painters through hip hop art consultant Todd Bressi, who brought Haas&Hahn to Miami. Bressi is a lecturer at The University of Pennsylvania and also worked on the Philadelphia Airport Gateway Project.

Golden says Haas&Hahn are on MAP's dream list of artists. "We're philosophically aligned. They're colorists with a background in architecture," says Golden. Kickoff is September 27 with a welcome reception. The entire project is set to last 18 months, including training and pop-up studios throughout the city. At its conclusion, a major exhibition is planned, which will also span Philadelphia and is slated for late 2013 to early 2014.

Source: Jane Golden, Philadelphia Mural Arts Program
Writer: Sue Spolan

Virtual mural-ity: Breadboard and Mural Arts join for innovative residency, exhibition

The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program is once again reinventing itself, this time through its special muraLAB initiative and with Breadboard, the hybrid program out of the University City Science Center that explores intersections between contemporary art, design, science and technology.

The partnership has formed a joint artist residency and exhibition opportunity that explores the intersection of muralism and technology. Last week the groups announced a request for proposals to established and emerging artists--or interdisciplinary teams of two--with priority given to those having a strong Philadelphia connection. Four selected artists or artist teams will be given access to NextFab Studio's high tech fabrication equipment and staff from November through March, 2012 to produce public art project concepts and models ad prototypes for exhibition in April and May at Breadboard's Esther Klein Gallery. Projects will also be considered for full-scale public art projects produce by Mural Arts in 2013.

Artists and teams will earn a stipend of $2,000 and a $500 credit toward workshop and machine time fees and staff consultations. Deadline for submissions is 4 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 3.

There are two upcoming open houses at NextFab for interested artists--not mandatory but definitely encouraged--on Wednesday, Aug. 31 (5-7:30 p.m.) and Saturday, Sept. 10 (1-3:30 p.m.). RSVP here.

Source: David Clayton, Breadboard
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Startup Therapy: Philly's new get-off-the-couch approach to entrepreneurial networking

There is no shortage of groups and events geared toward Philadelphia's still-fertile startup community. One new group, which is still figuring out how it fits in, is sure of one thing: its members will be active participants.

Startup Therapy, founded by Jeff Deville and supported by a group of six to 10 active participants, has met for lunch on three recent Fridays. Deville is working on a pair of soon-to-launch ventures: WishGenies is a platform that uses social media to deliver gift ideas for your family and friends and MixMeUp is an app that helps you choose an appropriate cocktail. Earlier this month he made his first visit to Independents Hall, the Old City-based co-working space that turns four years old on Thursday and is home to many of the city's most active and influential entrepreneurial types, and his subsequent blog post imploring Philly startups to unite became the initial framework for Startup Therapy.

Through three sessions, the group has worked to develop its tone and structure while aiming to establish an exclusivity not yet present in the local startup community, which appears to be its niche.

"There are a lot of groups in the area that let anyone in who has an interest," says Brian Glick via email. He's an active founding member of the group and president of logistics software startup Aspect 9, which has developed a customizable supply chain platform for businesses of all sizes. "The problem is, having an interest is not the same as doing something about it. The groups become too big to deliver focused value for their members.

"We think that with a smaller group of engaged people who you know and trust, opportunities for sharing and leveraging each other's resources are much more plausible."

Glick added he sees the group as "open source in the real world." Other early discussions centered around the need for higher level, focused learning sessions (something deeper than Marketing 101).

If you want in and are willing to be a fully engaged member, the group meets at Indy Hall (20 N. 3rd St., Suite 201) every Friday just before noon and leaves for its lunch session promptly at the top of the hour.

Source: Brian Glick, Aspect 9
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Growth surge for Philly construction risk management firm working on Panama Canal

Massive construction projects need a specialized kind of management to avoid pitfalls, and that's where Talson Solutions steps in. "For most of our clients, construction is not their business. When we work for a hospital, health care is their business, not building a new hospital." Ditto other massive undertakings like Citizens Bank Park, the Comcast building and the Panama Canal, just a few of Philadelphia based Talson Solutions' clients.

Robert Bright, President of Talson, sees these multimillion dollar efforts as jigsaw puzzles. With nearly 20 years experience in construction litigation and management prior to founding Talson, Bright found an opportunity to build a business overseeing projects at risk. Talson has grown 371 percent in the past five years, according to Bright, and doubled its staff, now employing 12 people at its Old City headquarters.

Leading up to Talson, Bright spent seven years as an expert witness in construction litigation for Price Waterhouse and a dozen years working for Exxon, building large capital projects around the world. "Exxon does it well. They might spend 15 to 20 billion dollars on a capital project. I enjoy that. One might say I have an owner's perspective. It's a different mentality than a contractor. With these types of construction projects, there's a way of doing it right, to identify and anticipate risk." Bright says his strength is letting people know where concerns may lie, whether it is in the design, the quality of materials, or leadership. "We identify the missing pieces, support that effort, and drill down from there."

Talson's largest project right now is auditing the $7 billion expansion of the Panama Canal, but Bright stresses that every project, no matter what the cost, represents risk. Because of Talson's involvement in the Canal project, Bright is likely going to open a satellite office in Panama, and is also considering expansion to New York as well.

Talson just celebrated its 10th anniversary this June. Bright reflects on the past decade, during which his two children, for whom the company is named, grew proud of their father's legacy. Bright's daughter, Taylor, is a rising star in her own right, a promising singer/songwriter who recently toured the US as the star of the musical Annie.

Source: Robert Bright, Talson Solutions
Writer: Sue Spolan

Newest Science Center tenant serves as bridge to U.S. for overseas life science companies

The American business landscape can be daunting to an outsider, but it's all in who you know. The Triana Group's address book is brimming with invaluable connections, easing the path for overseas companies who want to create a US presence.

Based in Paris with offices in New York and San Jose, Triana has just opened an office at The University City Science Center that focuses on life science companies. "They need help identifying a strategy and sources of capital," says Triana Group Co-Director Lorraine Marchand. "We give companies a turnkey solution that includes access to capital and introductions to corporate partners. We make it as easy as possible to set up shop in the US."

Marchand and co-director Pamela Yih, along with the Triana board of directors, offer a vast extended network. Their cumulative employment experience means that they can draw on excellent connections within pharmaceuticals, contract research organizations, venture capital and academia.

Because the company is based in Paris, Triana is a dedicated overseas link that runs in both directions. "Our colleagues in Paris know granting organizations that will help companies' expansion into the new market and enable feasibility. We're a bridge." Triana is currently "in various stages of engagement" with five to seven life science companies. Some are at the feasibility stage, in which Marchand and Yih help to develop a plan, look at the business model and market share, and give the startup a sense of resources and financing needed.

"As part of the feasibility process, we introduce companies to capital sources and granting agencies. We do a road show with corporate or strategic partners and thought leaders. From there, we pull together legal services to help set up a limited liability corporation," says Marchand, who adds that not all companies require top to tail assistance, and for those who just need a hand with one piece of the puzzle, Triana tailors its offerings to organizational need.

Because of its location in the Science Center (which happens to be on the same floor as the newly opened Quorum space), Triana will share existing office space and help place businesses in the complex, which is already tailor made for life science startups. Triana's mission dovetails with the SciCenter's Global Soft Landing Program.

Source: Lorraine Marchand, Triana Group
Writer: Sue Spolan

ReAnimator blazes local coffee roasting trail without the burn

The appreciation of coffee has risen to an art form, following the path of fine wine and craft beer. And while the city is dotted with culinary coffee establishments, most are serving products shipped in from distant locations. A new company, inspired by single origin roasters like Stumptown and CounterCulture, brings craft roasting to Philadelphia. ReAnimator Coffee was founded in April by Drexel University grads Mark Corpus and Mark Capriotti.

Corpus says that while coffee has been his stimulant of choice for years, visits to New York's Cafe Grumpy and 9th Street Espresso changed his opinion about how a cup of joe should taste. "These were coffees that were not only roasted to perfection, but were selected purposefully. At the time, there weren't many places in Philadelphia doing this type of coffee so I began looking into home roasting," says Corpus. "It was an interesting hobby that appealed to my nerdy tendencies and produced super fresh and delicious coffee with relative ease."

It was only through conversations with partner Capriotti that Corpus looked at his hobby with an eye toward a business. Using personal savings, the java-jolted duo took on the purchase of a roaster, which can run upwards of $8,000 for a starter model, and purchased  inventory. Coffee bean prices are now at an all time high, according to Corpus.

Both partners are still working day jobs, but have been pleasantly surprised by growth in sales during a hot summer. It's no surprise to anyone who tastes ReAnimator, which goes down easy, lacking the acidity and charred taste of the big name brands. "When you roast a coffee until it's burnt, all of the oils that hold all of those interesting aromas and flavors are lost. You see them on the outside of a greasy burnt bean where they do not provide any additional flavor to the brew," says Corpus. "When you take the time to figure out what roast level makes the coffee flavor best, you get the full potential of a bean."

ReAnimator has relied almost entirely on social media marketing using Facebook and Twitter, and they can almost always be found on Saturdays at Greensgrow Farmer's Market, just blocks from ReAnimator world headquarters in Fishtown. In addition to online sales, Quince Fine Foods and Green Aisle Grocery both stock the local roast, and Circles restaurant sells it by the cup.

As far as the name? "We wanted something that sounded different, not so burlap baggy wholesome. I had been reading HP Lovecraft's ReAnimator and it struck me as a great, unique term, and in my own experience reanimation and coffee go hand in hand," says Corpus, whose name, fittingly, translates as "body" from Latin.

Source: Mark Corpus, ReAnimator Coffee
Writer: Sue Spolan

NJ farm-to-table distributor Zone 7 doubles sales, hiring

There's a whole lot of hiring going on in Zone 7. Lest you think you've slipped into a science fiction world, Fresh From Zone 7 is the name of a fast growing company that's, well, all about growing. Founded in 2008 by Mikey Azzara, the Cranbury, N.J.-based farm-to-table distributor serving Pennsylvania and New Jersey has doubled in sales every year.

Right now, there are five job openings for energetic people who are committed to providing local food to local eaters: sales, warehouse crew, warehouse crew leader, drivers (multiple) and a sales team intern. While the positions are primarily part time, the right candidate could combine several to create a full time gig. Currently there are 9 people on staff, and the new hires would represent about a fifty percent increase. The company began with just two employees in 2008.

Azzara reports that each week of the 2011 season, Zone 7 has been adding deliveries at an almost explosive rate and at this point is maxed out in terms of staffing.

"On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, all three of our trucks are out," says Azzara of the fleet that picks up from all over New Jersey and Pennsylvania, delivering to over 80 establishments, including The Farm and Fisherman, Southwark, Garces Trading Company, Weaver's Way, Greensgrow and the Fair Food Farmstand in Philadelphia. The New Jersey territory stretches from Atlantic City to West New York, NJ.

The 40 farms that supply Zone 7 include Blooming Glen, Jah's Creation Organic, Griggstown Farm Market, and Branch Creek, where the original seed for Zone 7 was planted.

Azzara had been working for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey for five years when he sat down at the table of Mark and Judy Dornstreich, pioneers of the local food movement and founders of Branch Creek Farm, which has been growing and delivering organic produce to Philadelphia restaurants since the 1970s. "They supplied me with the truck, the name and the idea," says Azzara.

Zone 7, named for the USDA Hardiness Zone in which we live, is a 52-week-a-year operation, says Azzara, and its busiest months, surprisingly, are November and December. "Our time to catch our breath is January, February and March." Starting in April, asparagus and swiss chard are the first crops to harvest.

Source: Mikey Azzara, Zone 7
Writer: Sue Spolan

Drexel's Baiada Center set for expansion, to add lab for entrepreneurial focus groups

The Laurence A. Baiada Center for Entrepreneurship at Drexel University's LeBow College of Business is about to expand, taking up residence in the soon to be constructed LeBow building at 32nd and Market Streets. Currently tucked away in a former industrial space at 32nd and Arch, the Baiada Center has been physically separate from LeBow, but that's all about to change. The business school's former home, the Mathieson Building, is now in the process of being demolished to make way for a 12 story state of the art structure. The new Baiada Center will have a light-flooded open floor plan, and will add a behavioral lab where entrepreneurs can conduct focus group tests.

A division of LeBow, Baiada has long offered full support for entrepreneurs, from office and conference space to mentoring, training and promotion. "A lot of what we do is built around the presumption that most entrepreneurs know their space, and need help building and selling their companies,' says Mark Loschiavo, Executive Director and Senior Executive in Residence. Startups, which range in specialty from transportation to medical devices, also receive a small amount of seed capital.

The current space is currently home to ten companies, notably CityRyde, which just received $345,000 in funding for its bike share technology, as well as current undergrad Bradley Ericson, whose company 3 Second Receipts earned him the title of Entrepreneur magazine's College Entrepreneur of 2009.

Loschiavo says that the vast majority of Baiada's tenants are Drexel alums, and all have had some affiliation with Drexel. The center chooses two to three companies each year, negotiates a competitive one-year lease, and reviews the startup's performance at the end of the initial contract.

While residence is open ended, Loschiavo says companies must show movement in the right direction to remain in the center. One Baiada business, Drexel Drinks, is something of an incubator within an incubator. The on-campus beverage delivery service has become a model for succession, providing turnover and training as students graduate and move on.

Founder and primary funder Mel Baiada is a Drexel alum and serial entrepreneur who credits a successful exit in the software industry. He also founded Basecamp Business, a networking tool for entrepreneurs. "The Baiada Center established a culture of entrepreneurship at Drexel, and helps the university maintain an entrepreneurial focus," he says. Mel's brother, Mark, who founded Bayada Nurses, is also an investor in the incubator, which is named in honor of their father. The new LeBow building should be complete in 18 months.

Source: Mark Loschiavo, Mel Baiada, The Baiada Center
Writer: Sue Spolan

From trading bonds to raising chickens, sustainably of course

Agriculture wasn't in Dean Carlson's original plan. "I was a bond trader working in derivatives," says the owner of Wyebrook Farm, a 355-acre spread in Chester County. Carlson is now offering sustainably raised chicken and eggs, with beef and pork on offer this fall. "We have two full time employees, three summer employees and two chef interns," says Carlson of the Honey Brook operation.

Carlson left Susquehanna International Group in 2009, hoping to take time off in a bear market. "I came across the idea of sustainable agriculture and became captivated by it," says Carlson, who explains that conventional agriculture, with its dependence on cheap oil, cannot last forever. "Five to 10 years years from now, it will be obvious. Food will become higher priced and more scarce. You see it already."

Carlson purchased the foreclosed 200 year-old farm from a bank for $4.25 million, and has invested over $750,000 in improvements, which include solar power and renovations to three existing 18th century stone buildings. "The previous owner was going to develop the land into a 100 house tract," says Carlson.

"I looked at the business of conventional farming and didn't like it," explains Carlson, who refers to standard practices as the definition of a bad business -- capital intensive and fraught with variables. "With sustainable agriculture, you are minimizing your input cost. Instead of machinery and hay in a barn, animals are out in the field, harvesting the grass themselves. Our input costs are sunshine and rain."

Wyebrook Farm's first product, Freedom Rangers Chicken, is now available for $4 a pound direct from the farm. Carlson is transforming the old stone barn into a store where customers will be able to purchase chemical-free grass fed meat and poultry directly. It's just a 45 minute drive from Philadelphia, and not much farther from New York.

Carlson draws inspiration from billionaire financier Jim Rogers, who, when asked by a room full of MBA finance students for advice, replied "Quit school and go work on a farm."

Source: Dean Carlson, Wyebrook Farm
Writer: Sue Spolan

South Philly resident grows composting collection business

Your scraps are Tim Bennett's gold mine. Bennett Compost offers urban dwellers the opportunity to recycle food waste without expensive equipment or outdoor space. Bennett began the business out of a personal need. "At the time, where I was living in South Philly, I wanted to compost, but I had no backyard." After dissatisfaction with home composting systems costing around $300, Bennett created a composting service that would benefit city homes and businesses at a fraction of the cost.

For a $15 monthly fee, residential customers receive a covered bucket, and Bennett's truck swings around once a week to empty and return the container. Commercial customers, including coffee shops, a florist and some restaurants, pay on a sliding scale depending on volume and frequency of pickup, but Bennett adds that the cost offsets commercial trash hauling fees, and in some cases commercial customers are able to save money on refuse.

Used food and some types of paper are sent to a composting facility in Delaware and then picked up for distribution to area community gardens. Customers can opt to receive up to 10 gallons of the finished product free of charge; beyond that, compost is available at a discounted price. You don't have to be a customer to buy compost. Five gallon buckets are available to the general public for $10, and will soon be sold at area retail locations including Essene Market and Green Aisle Grocery.

Current offices are based in South Philly at Bennett's home, with a North Philadelphia warehouse. Bennett was able to quit his day job at Temple University last summer to devote his career full time to compost. "We bootstrapped our way up. Now we are profitable enough that I am able to pay my own salary, and we have three part time employees." The business continues to grow, with 300 residential customers and 20 businesses distributed across the entire city.

Source: Tim Bennett, Bennett Compost
Writer: Sue Spolan

Local bipartisan effort to boost life sciences aims to maintain region's edge

Concerns about money are raising the legislative roof at the federal level. Meanwhile, jobs and innovation are flowing out of the US and into China, India and the EU. The US biopharmaceutical industry is undergoing major changes. Hundreds of small and medium sized firms require intensive capital to conduct research. Major players in the industry, including Sanofi-Aventis,Merck, Pfizer and AstraZeneca, have cut more than 43,000 jobs nationwide as of September 2010. Health care reform adds more uncertainty to the industry at large.

Rather than attempt to allocate nonexistent federal money for life sciences research and development, Representatives Chakah Fattah, Allyson Schwartz, and Pat Meehan, along with Senator Robert Casey Jr., have a plan to provide money on a national level for the life sciences industry though tax incentives. On July 25, the bipartisan group introduced The Life Sciences Jobs and Investment Act of 2011 at the University City Science Center, a locus of life science research.

"This legislation is about inventing the future," says Casey. "In Pennsylvania, we don't wait for events to overtake us."

Southeastern Pennsylvania's political leaders have a vested interest in life sciences, according to Schwartz, who pointed to the concentration of teaching hospitals, medical research and life science entrepreneurs here.

"It's one of the aspects of the American economy where we are still leading, but we won't continue if we can't compete," said Meehan, who stressed that the bipartisan effort will have a much better chance of passing. Schwartz added, "It's not an easy time to get anything done in Washington."

The legislation, introduced on July 25, doubles the credit from 20 to 40 percent for the first $150 million of life sciences research and development. Also, to encourage domestic productivity, companies that bring foreign profits back to the United States will enjoy a reduced tax rate, as long as those funds that are used to hire domestic scientists and researchers and make new investments in American research and development.

Source: Robert Casey Jr., Allyson Schwartz, Pat Meehan, US Congress
Writer: Sue Spolan

Community innovation at Stake with thriving local and organic fundraising dinners

You can have your stake and eat it too at this local micro-funding event. Philly Stake provides fast funding for great ideas, with a heaping helping of local cuisine and good cheer. On July 17, the group set up at Historic Bartram's Garden on the banks of the Schuylkill River in Southwest Philadelphia.

A sliding scale admission fee of up to $20 gave over 250 attendees the opportunity to hear about 10 local startup projects while enjoying a locally sourced organic dinner. It was immediate gratification. At the end of the night, three groups were handed cash to carry out proposals.

Tidal Schuylkill River Tour received $1,000 to collaborate with the Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory in creating a vessel that will go out on a river tour; Fair Grounds won $600 to build a food and sculpture garden in East Kensington; and Sunday Suppers received $500 to encourage family dinners in low income areas of Philadelphia.

Theresa Rose, who by day works for the City of Philadelphia's Office of Arts, Culture and The Creative Economy, is the founder of Philly Stake, which is not connected with her work for the government. "I was excited about the idea of having a platform for people to get together and share ideas," says Rose. "There's so much going on in Philadelphia, but not so many outlets for us to share with each other." The July event was the third in the growing series, which began last September.

A shorts and sundress clad crowd set up blankets on a grassy bank overlooking the 46-acre botanic gardens and enjoyed a summer menu that included veggie and meat tamales, salads, dessert, beer and wine served on vintage plates collected at local thrift stores. Ten fundraising hopefuls, chosen randomly from a pool of 21 applicants, presented projects. Voting ballots were collected and tabulated on the spot to determine the night's winners.

It takes a lot of volunteer effort to orchestrate Philly Stake. There are 18 dedicated core organizers, according to Rose, who donate time and skills, including chefs Eliot Strathman and Eric Blasco. Rose got the idea for the program after attending Feast in Brooklyn and says it fulfills a need for a place to exchange creative ideas and foster connections. The next Stake dinner is planned for this fall in Center City.

Source: Theresa Rose, Philly Stake
Writer: Sue Spolan

Cluster-struck: Assessing the future of industry clusters

As America races to maintain standing in the global economy, industry clusters have been touted as a key strategy for technological innovation. While Silicon Valley and North Carolina's Research Triangle are held as bright spots where higher education meets high tech, few innovation clusters are successful. A recent column in the Washington Post dubbed government funded industry clusters "the modern day snake oil," doomed to fail.

At the third annual Regional Affinity Incubation Network (RAIN) meeting, held last week at the University City Science Center, David Finegold, Dean of Rutgers' School of Management and Labor Relations, responded. "A lot of efforts haven't panned out, but industry clusters are not without hope." He explained that early efforts were "real estate plays." What sets the tri-state region apart is the ability to build from that which is distinctive about this area, said Finegold, rather than starting from scratch and hoping that if it's built, innovation will come.

New Jersey, in particular, has nowhere to go but up, having ranked last in 2010 in U.S. job creation. While traditionally the state was a leader in biopharma and telecommunications, these industries made up a large-firm culture, and it's now time to build diverse networks, according to Finegold.

The University City District in Philadelphia is a 2.5 square mile powerhouse of commercial and institutional vitality, employing 70,000 people, according to UCD president Matthew Bergheiser. Forty percent of NIH funding in Pennsylvania is granted to projects within the boundaries of University City, and the Science Center has long been a fertile startup breeding ground that encourages organic growth, rather than superimposing ideas of innovation on an otherwise bereft area.

In Delaware, by contrast, plans are underway to convert Newark's former Chrysler assembly plant into an 250 acre innovation hub complete with living and working space, with an existing rail station to encourage commuters, and the potential to create collaboration across state lines, according to David Weir, PhD, Director of the Office of the Economic Innovation & Partnerships at the University of Delaware.

With a continued soft real estate market, Finegold offers that the way out of the recession is through leveraging human capabilities and university facilities. "We already have a great talent base here," said Finegold of efforts in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, which he terms one of the most diverse regions on the planet.

RAIN is a regional network of over 40 research parks, incubators and support organizations located in the tri-state area.

Source: David Finegold, Matthew Bergheiser, David Weir, RAIN
Writer: Sue Spolan


Former Chrysler Assembly Plant in Newark DE

PhillyMerge aims to connect geeks and suits to nurture startup community

In the game called World of Startup, the main characters are geeks and suits. PhillyMerge was created to help the two tribes meet on common ground, where developers and entrepreneurs can learn some slick moves from one another. It's a long standing and sometimes contentious relationship characterized by the blog Whartonite Seeks Code Monkey, in which MBAs are called to task for asking developers to work for peanuts.

The one day conference, held July 15, drew about 50 business types and coders to Huntsman Hall at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Organized by Steve Rittler and Adam Tuttle, who met at the Philadelphia Cold Fusion User Group (CFUG), the event offered an even split of speakers. Chris Stanchak from TicketLeap told war stories about founding and growing the online event ticketing company, overcoming hiccups and navigating through three successive builds.

Attorney Frank Taney, who practices at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, addressed legal issues confronting emerging businesses. Jim Caruso of the accounting firm Fesnak and Associates explained financial forecasts and projections, and helped one attendee understand why his spreadsheets were flawed.

Rittler and Tuttle said PhillyMerge ran like clockwork, with a running commentary on twitter and feedback boards. "People are really happy," said Rittler. "They like the flavor. It's different from what you usually see, where there's not a lot of crossover."

Total cost of the conference was estimated at $3000, and because Tuttle works at Wharton Learning Lab, space that would have doubled the cost was donated gratis. Sponsors included Adobe, Chariot Solutions and Duck Duck Go.

While Tuttle and Rittler did not ask this year's attendees if they played for the geek or suit side, they estimate it was about 70/30 in favor of techies. "That's a lesson learned," said Tuttle, who garnered a wealth of wisdom for planning and running next year's conference. Like a tenet heard often in entrepreneurial circles, PhillyMerge isn't built for exit. It's built for lifestyle.

Source: Steve Rittler, Adam Tuttle, PhillyMerge
Writer: Sue Spolan

PECO's load balancing gets tested with heatwave

Heat waves put a serious burden on the electric grid. Day after day of 90 degree heat translate into peak load for PECO as customers crank up the air conditioning. PECO Smart A/C Saver, part of the Smart Ideas program, asks electric users to participate in load reduction, not just by turning up the thermostat by a few degrees, but by allowing PECO to install a switch directly on air conditioner compressors.

As a thank you, residential and commercial customers receive a $30 rebate in June, July, August and September for a total savings of $120, whether or not the Smart A/C Saver kicks in. Last week, amid days of 90 plus degrees, the first ever A/C Saver event occurred, according to Cathy Engel Menendez, manager of communications for PECO. And participants probably didn't even notice.

After agreeing to join the Smart A/C Saver program, PECO sends out a technician to install a small gray box directly on the exterior compressor unit. A Smart A/C Saver event means that the compressor cycle will be slowed down, and the compressor rests up to 15 minutes of every half hour between the hours of noon and eight in the evening.

While the program quietly launched last summer, the big marketing push occurred this past spring, and this summer is the first that the program is in use, with 67,469 residential and commercial customers for a savings of 320 megawatt hours. The Smart A/C program also created 161 new jobs in the Philadelphia area.

Smart A/C Saver is part of a broader initiative. "In Pennsylvania, the Public Utilities Commision challenged all utilities to come up with products and programs to help customers save money and energy," says Menendez, who adds that the timing couldn't have been better with the expiration of rate caps this past January along a with sluggish economy.

Other programs in the Smart Ideas suite include energy efficient appliance rebates, old appliance recycling, and incentives to use better bulbs. Menendez reports that taking the whole suite of programs into account, through May 2011, customers saved more than 546 million kilowatt hours of electricity, and an estimated $131 million.

Source: Cathy Engel Menendez
Writer: Sue Spolan

University City locavores on display for Dining Days

University City's story of urban renewal, job creation and international talent is well-told. In a few short years, the 20 by 16 block, 2.5 square mile neighborhood has blossomed into a hub for culture and technology, with business and creative communities growing in tandem. One benchmark is fast growth in the food world, where five of The Food Trust's 40 area farmer's markets operate. For example, the Clark Park farmer's market has grown 30 percent since 2005 and has expanded from Friday afternoons when it began in 1998 to two days a week and year-round.

Another example can be found right now in University City Dining Days. An expected 26,000 patrons of 29 restaurants will eat the fruit of world class chefs like Garces and Flay for under $30. There's been a 20% increase in full service restaurants in the neighborhood in the past three years.

Philly Homegrown turns a sharp focus on all the awesome food on offer round these parts, and considers University City to be at the top of the locavore list, as the area provides a concentrated look at what can happen when people take farm to table very seriously. "West Philly is particularly rich in chefs and consumers who care about food," says Donna Schorr of the GPTMC.

UC menus tend toward locally grown and sourced items, and chefs may be found perusing the goods at Clark Park, where thousands flock weekly and even includes food trucks Honest Tom's and Guapos Tacos, which was recently renovated and sports bright orange furniture.

"It's a good source of revenue for small to medium family farms," says the Food Trust's Nick Uy, noting his organization charges vendors just $35 per stand.

There's an explosion of activity west of the Schuylkill, according to UC District Communications Manager Mark Christman, with tourism friendly Sustainable Saturdays and Farm to Table Trolley Tours; as well as neighborhood boosters like the Clean & Safe Program which employs 80 people who function as West Philly ambassadors, and the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, now in its second year providing employment for local high school students.

Source: Nicky Uy, Food Trust; Mark Christman, UC District; Donna Schorr, GPTMC/Philly Homegrown
Writer: Sue Spolan

Foobooz serves up job listings for area food industry

You go to Foobooz for the latest inside info on the Philly restaurant scene, and now the foodie website is positioning itself to be the first stop for food industry job seekers. "We really want Foobooz to be the home page for restaurant news," says Art Etchells, founder and primary content provider. "Our audience is not only people who are passionate about going out to eat, but also passionate about creating food. So many people reading the site are already in the hospitality business."

Etchells says the idea for food related job listings came while visiting a bar owner who was shaking his head about the quality of resumes he was receiving via Craigslist. Etchells realized a job section on his site would be one more way to cultivate content. While the competitively priced job listings have been a quiet part of Foobooz for the better part of a year, Etchells is only now starting to promote the section, and there's been a concurrent uptick in submissions from area dining and drinking spots.

Currently, there are opportunities all over the Delaware Valley for line cooks, managers and even a summer camp director in the Poconos. Top kitchens like Zahav and the STARR Restaurant Group are represented. This is just the beginning of what Etchells terms a natural companionship.

Foobooz, which launched five years ago, was purchased by Philadelphia Magazine in December 2010, providing Etchells himself with a new job description. While he used to do most of his blogging from The Beauty Shop Cafe, he's now got a room with a view in the highrise offices of Philly Mag. But he still makes a morning ritual of stopping at his favorite coffee spot, where he gets the latest gossip from neighbors and local chefs.

As Philly's premier eating ear to the ground, Etchells reports that the hot dog is the new hamburger, and he's looking forward to the annual summer influx of local tomatoes and corn on Philadelphia menus.

Source: Arthur Etchells, Foobooz
Writer: Sue Spolan

New Campus Philly program looks to extend the summer job to full-time

A college internship can be the first step to landing a full time job. Tonight, Campus Philly launches My Philly Summer, a new program to convert the city's summer talent into full time employees. The initiative is a kind of career alchemy that mixes equal parts fun and networking in the city's coolest neighborhoods.

Deborah Diamond, President of Campus Philly, says, "It seemed like a lost opportunity to have interns living and working here and no one to show them all the fun." My Philly Summer provides a place to make great contacts and even land a full time job.

My Philly Summer 2011 is a trio of events designed to thrill and captivate the newest members of the city's workforce. WHYY, Deloitte, Independence Blue Cross, TD Bank, the Mayor's Office and NFL Films are supplying a total of 125 interns.

Tonight, June 28, My Philly Summer kicks off at North Bowl Lounge & Lanes on Second Street in Northern Liberties. In attendance will be local luminaries to share their career experiences. The roster includes Tayyib Smith, publisher of two.one.five magazine and founder of ad agency Little Giant Media; Alex Hillman, co-founder of Indy Hall and an accomplished developer behind the blog Dangerously Awesome; and Alan Joinville from the professional network Young Involved Philadelphia.

The event runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and Campus Philly is running a free shuttle starting at 5 from 15th and JFK Boulevard. Guests are required to RSVP. Free food and soft drinks will be on offer.

In July, My Philly Summer goes south to The Navy Yard for a tour and party featuring special guest Mayor Michael Nutter, and in August, party people take over Eastern State Penitentiary for a tour and talk about the city's arts and culture.

The only similar program in the United States is in Memphis, says Diamond, where young professionals are treated to The Summer Experience. Campus Philly was in touch with that program's organizers to shape Philadelphia's series.

Funding for My Philly Summer 2011 comes from Campus Philly's general operating budget, which is supported by its 26 college partners and the City of Philadelphia. The events are completely free for both interns and employers.

Source: Deborah Diamond, My Campus Philly
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

A Place to Call Home: Urban renewal in Mantua through new Mural Arts multimedia project

A new hybrid temporary and permanent public art installation has transformed an entire city block in the Mantua section of Philadelphia. A Place to Call Home, a project of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, is a multimedia presentation that culminates at 3828 Melon Street.
Over 200 people showed up for last week's dedication of A Place to Call Home, which addresses the specific issue of homeless youth.

While there are about a thousand children without a permanent address in the city, Mural Arts Executive Director Jane Golden says, "We don't think about these kids, hiding in plain sight. They experience tremendous problems when they're not able to feel a sense of security."

A Place to Call Home is actually divided into three parts: Pathway to The Art House is a series of small murals, executed by Shira Walinsky, adorning neighborhood walls, pointing to the 3800 block of Melon. That entire block has been transformed through a Community Mural by artists Ernel Martinez, Damon Reaves, and dozens of schoolchildren who painted house facades in a rainbow of colors. Finally, The Art House, located at 3828 Melon, is a site specific installation in which each room of a formerly abandoned house holds a different art work. In the front room, walls, table and chairs are adorned with thousands of words derived from youth stories.

Elisabeth Perez-Luna of WHYY created a sound mural for the house. "It was an eye opener for me," says Perez-Luna, who conducted 20 interviews with kids who live in what she terms a parallel world, invisible to many.

Guests are welcome to wander the premises and gaze upon the overgrown back yard from an open doorway in the kitchen. "I like the concept of each room of a house affecting the whole, each family member affecting the whole, and ultimately the whole house being affected by the outside world," says artist Shira Walinsky.

Free to the public, Art House Tours will be held on the afternoons of Friday June 24 and Saturday June 25. At the end of the exhibit, the Art House will be renovated for residential use.

Source: Jane Golden, Shira Walinsky, Mural Arts Program; Elisabeth Perez-Luna, WHYY
Writer: Sue Spolan

Azavea hiring to keep up with growth, new projects in Philly and Toronto

Robert Cheetham, founder and CEO of Philadelphia-based geospatial analysis firm Azavea, is all about good growth. "We hire conservatively. We're not a venture capital funded company. We grow based on cash flow and the amount of business coming in, so there's not much margin for error."

His company is currently in the process of building staff. Some positions have recently been filled, while others are in the resume review stage, and still other positions are yet to be posted.

Azavea has built a strong reputation for merging geographic data with web and mobile software. Its high profile projects include the recently released PhillyTreeMap, which can easily be adapted to any city in the world and was funded by a research and development grant from the USDA; PhillyStormWater, to assist the Philadelphia Water Department's Green Stormwater Management Initiative, and a yet to be launched open source redistricting tool for implementation anywhere in America.

Azavea has just added several administrative and marketing assistants, a Graphic Information System (GIS) Analyst and a web designer. "We have grown every year we've been around," reflects Cheetham. "The last 2 years were relatively slow. Last year was 6 to 7 percent growth. The year before, nine percent. This year we're on track to grow 20 percent."

The secret of Azavea's growth is a mix of spending on business development and marketing through lean times, along with the lucky decision to hire a dedicated grant proposal writer just as the recession began. "We didn't necessarily anticipate the recession," says Cheetham, expanding Azavea nationally as well as internationally, with a recent job for the City of Toronto. "We get a fair amount of federal R&D work," says Cheetham, and while that's not the most profitable sector of the business, it's good for cash flow and pays for research that lays the groundwork for applications that can be adapted to any city or region in the world.

Azavea is always looking for great software engineers, a job sector that has remained fairly recession proof. In comparison, administrative job listings yield hundreds of resumes, and as a result, Azavea has developed a tool to select applicants. "We have crafted a questionnaire that requires job seekers to go to our website and look at the projects we do," says Cheetham.

Those who make it to the interview round have a much better take on Azavea's work and environment, and are able to explain exactly why Azavea is the right fit. It's almost like a college application, says Cheetham, who adds that he asks would-be employees where they heard about the job opening, allowing Azavea target the most effective places to advertise. Maybe there's a future app: Azavea Management Map?

Source: Robert Cheetham, Azavea
Writer: Sue Spolan

Science Center welcomes five early stage companies in lifesci, investment, and medical devices

Days before longtime tenant BioNanomatrix announced its move to San Diego, the University City Science Center recently welcomed five new companies, and continues to be an incubator for both startups as well as international companies wishing to establish a U.S. base and national companies hoping to move into the Philadelphia market.

The new tenants include life science companies Longevity Biotech, Claremont, and Epitek, Inc.; investment firm Karlin Asset Management; and Parsortix, Inc. a French company that specializes in the transportation and medical equipment sectors.

Scott Shandler is co-founder of Longevity along with Dr. Sam Gellman of the University of Wisconsin. "Longevity develops market leading, novel therapeutics for both rare and widespread diseases," explains Shandler, who has a dual background in finance and biochemistry.

Longevity's primary product is the proprietary Hybridtide platform, developed at Gellman's academic lab in Wisconsin, enables the development of new therapies to treat a range of diseases including primary arterial hypertension, small cell lung cancer, type II diabetes and HIV, according to Shandler. Longevity currently has a contract with Fox Chase Cancer Center. "The exciting science in Dr. Gellman's labs together with the increasing lack of products within the Big Pharma pipelines led me to commercialize this line of work," says Shandler.

Claremont's sole employee is Blandine Chantepie, the U.S. director of sales and business development. Chantepie fell in love with Philadelphia in general and the University City incubator in particular, having already occupied space at SciCenter while working for Claremont parent company Ballina Capital group.

Claremont's two divisions have quite different client bases. Its medical device division manufactures a laser for dental use. "They have been selling around the world, and are strong in Europe and Korea," says Chantepie. Now the company wants to make inroads into the U.S market. Already past the hurdle of FDA approval, it's just a matter of setting up a sales and distribution network, which is already showing early success. Chantepie cites the proximity of Penn Dental School as a selling point for the company's location.

Calremont's train parts division looks to Amtrak and SEPTA for major contracts, and Chantepie says that Philadelphia's central spot along the heavily travelled Northeast Corridor is ideal. Many of Amtrak's corporate offices are right here in Philadelphia in the floors above 30th Street Station. Chantepie anticipates hiring employees within the next six to twelve months.

The remaining three companies moving into the SciCenter are early stage investor Karlin Asset Management, a Los Angeles based firm with $1 billion in equity capital; life sciences firm Epitek develops treatments for radiation exposure and methods of radiation prevention, and Parsortix is a particle separation company founded in 2006 that is developing applications for stem cells, oncology, pre-natal diagnostics and bacteria.

Source: Blandine Chantepie, Claremont; Scott Shandler, Longevity
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

Welcome to Quorum, the Science Center's clubhouse for entrepreneurs

"I was a Science Center squatter," says Han Cao, founder of life sciences startup Bionanomatrix, now valued at $40 million. It's success stories like these that inspired the new Quorum at the University City Science Center. Back when Cao was a struggling scientist, he occupied virtual office space at the SciCenter. But when rent money dried up, Cao camped out anywhere he could, hiding behind a column in the lobby or setting up shop by the coffee machine.

The Quorum is a well-appointed series of rooms that can be opened into one big space or divided into smaller areas. With a sweeping view of the city, SciCenter CEO Stephen Tang calls the space a clubhouse. "We acknowledge the universal need to meet people," says Tang, who feels that face time is an essential part of business success. With so many electronic ways to connect, meeting in person is harder when you don't know where to go.

Philadelphia's business and government leaders were present last Thursday to bless the grand opening of the 4,000 square foot Quorum, including Mayor Michael Nutter, Duane Morris attorney Richard Jaffe, who is the outgoing SciCenter Chairman of The Board, Craig Carnaroli, who replaces Jaffe in that role in addition to his day job as executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania; Mel Baiada, founder of BaseCamp Business, and State Representative Jim Roebuck.

Upcoming events planned for the Quorum are designed to unite area business leaders with entrepreneurs; on June 20, Smart Talk: Adventures in Entrepreneurialism, Deloitte Fast 50 Secrets of Success features CEOs from some of the region's fastest growing companies giving advice to hopefuls who may one day be able to tell their own mutli-million dollar success stories.

Source: Han Cao, Bionanomatrix; Stephen Tang, University City Science Center
Writer: Sue Spolan

Code for America loves Philly, again

Philadelphia has made the cut, and is one of 10 finalists for the 2012 Code for America program. A national initiative that launched last year, Code for America links programmers with city government to create new avenues for civic participation. Philadelphia is a 2011 Code for America city, and Jeff Friedman, Manager of Civic Innovation and Participation for the City of Philadelphia, says Philly is all but assured a back to back nomination for the second year in a row.

Philadelphia's coding project is still in development, and you can get a sneak preview of the tool on June 15 at the Municipal Services Building. Friedman says the fellows began in earnest in January of this year with a month of orientation in San Francisco, returning east to do requirements gathering, meeting close to 200 people, and participating in a hackathon. The program is expected to roll out this fall.

But, you may ask, what does it do? "It helps people get projects done in and outside of government," explains Friedman, who uses as an example his own East Falls neighborhood. "Let's say I want to get a playground for my local park. I start a project with the Code for America tool. Now I am a known quantity and people can join my project. Once I have opened it up to the world, I find that there are actually 37 people who also want to work with me, and I can also locate another 17 people in the city who have been identified as experts in recreational development."

Friedman calls the initiative a revamped version of a public/private partnership that helps compress the life cycle of civic projects. "It's in line with a lot of the work we've been encouraged to do in this administration. We're using a new term, civic fusion, to explain this phase of using Internet tools for localized utility."

Source: Jeff Friedman, City of Philadelphia
Writer: Sue Spolan

Navy Yard's Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster hiring five

One of the goals of the Philadelphia Navy Yard-based Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster (GPIC) is job creation. And they've got your jobs right here. GPIC, a consortium includes Pennsylvania State University, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA (BFTP/SEP), the Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center, and the Wharton Small Business Development Center, has five available positions spread out among these members.

"This is an early wave," says Christine Knapp, Manager of Public and Client Relations at GPIC, her own position falling under the auspices of Penn State. "These are jobs that are really conducting the work of GPIC."

The available positions are a Post-Doctoral Scholar, an Intellectual Property Associate, a Program Director, a Database Analyst, and an Administrative Assistant. Knapp runs down the details. There has not been as much response to the architectural engineering post-doc scholar, as it is a highly specialized position in which the candidate would be assisting in the research and development of building systems.

The Intellectual Property Associate does not need a law degree; rather, says Knapp, the BFTP/SEP based position would take the lead in the commercialization and deployment task area. "One concern is that intellectual property is correctly managed," says Knapp. "Our companies have sensitive proprietary information, and as they are discovering things and getting them to the marketplace, we need to make sure that people get credit."

The Program Director is specifically associated with the Small Business Development Center of The Wharton School at Penn. "Each of the members is required to have a full time GPIC staff member, and this would be their liaison," explains Knapp.

The Database analyst is actually two positions, both at BFTP/SEP. "We are doing a lot of data gathering," says Knapp. "We're researching building energy use, consumption and performance." The analyst would also draw on existing databases, and ultimately the reports would be sent to the Department of Energy. "We want to be sure that the data is getting integrated and all task areas have access," says Knapp.

Finally, the Administrative Assistant will be working closely with Knapp at the Navy Yard, and ideally should be someone who can handle not only clerical tasks but also logistics, planning events and outreach engagement work. "It would be someone who is interested in moving up and taking on more responsibility," says Knapp, who expects hundreds of resumes. The GPIC positions will remain posted until filled, which is expected to happen around mid-July, but each position has its own timeline.

Source: Christine Knapp, GPIC
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

Sweet sound: Pew awards nearly $700K to local music groups

Money makes music sound so much sweeter. The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage has awarded 10 area recipients a total of $664,500 through the 2011 Philadelphia Music Project.

This year, Pew chose a diverse roster of performers with a common theme of creating connections. "You have everything from spirituals, to Irish music, to Indian music, to spectral music, which is one of the more hermetic forms of composition," says Paula Marincola, Executive Director for The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. "These projects will reach so many different kinds of audiences. It is an expression of the strength of the Philadelphia music scene."

The Crossing, a South Philadelphia choir, will use its $70,000 grant to fund The Gulf (between you and me), for which three composers write choral works based on the poetry of French-American writer Pierre Joris, accompanied by ambient sound gathered at the Gulf of Mexico. Astral Artists, a 2009 PMP recipient, got a $70,000 award this time around for Spiritual Voyages, a project that showcases the work of African American composers Alvin Singleton, David Sanford, and Evelyn Curenton. Tracy Segal, Development Director for Astral Artists, says that getting the grant was a rigorous process that began in the fall of last year. "It's a very rewarding grant, and a lot of work to put the proposal together," says Segal, who cites new guidelines rolled out this year.

The Spoken Hand Percussion Orchestra gets a Pew nod for its collaboration with the vocal group Philip Hamilton's Voices at The Painted Bride Art Center. The drum ensemble and chorus will use its $70,000 grant to create four public performances along with a residency at Philadelphia's Creative and Performing Arts High School.

The newly renovated Rodin Museum will host a performance of work from French composers Tristan Murail and Philippe Hurel, who use Rodin's sculptures as inspiration for their spectral music. The actual grantee is The Philadelphia Museum of Art, where audiences will preview the compositions during its weekly Art After 5 series.

Other recipients include Sruti, the India Music and Dance Society, The Philadelphia Ceili Group, which performs traditional Irish music, and Bobby Zankel's 16 member jazz orchestra Warriors of the Wonderful Sound, featuring the work of Muhal Richard Abrams.

Source: Paula Marincola, Pew Center for Arts & Heritage; Tracy Segal, Astral Artists
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

New hive for all things local and literary, Apiary, launches next week

Heard of slow food? In the age of instant communication, there is a slow words movement at hand. The Philadelphia based literary magazine Apiary is set to release its second issue on June 3 with a First Friday launch party at The Painted Bride Art Center, which includes a screening of Apiary's public access show, The Apiary Mixtape.

The 150 plus page illustrated semiannual, brought to life by a $4,000 Kickstarter campaign, has quickly attracted top names in the city's literary community, including Jim Cory, Lamont Steptoe, Nina 'Lyrispect' Ball and Janet Mason, but even more impressive are Apiary's young contributors, who represent the great diversity of culture to be found in Philadelphia.

Lillian Dunn is one of the founders of Apiary and serves on the editorial team, which, she says, reflects the diversity of Apiary's content. "Two of us live in South Philly, one in North Philly, and one in West Philly." Apiary was partially inspired by a multicultural reading series run by co-editor Tamara Oakman.

"We started out of a desire to read something exciting," says recent Swarthmore College graduate Dunn, who considers Apirary a much needed central location for writing not seen elsewhere. "Literature is one way to access other people's reality. It makes your brain light up in a way that statistics don't."

The Apiary website has a comprehensive local literary calendar that will have your head spinning, listing multiple events nearly every day of the month.

Apiary's upcoming launch party at the Painted Bride promises a cross section of Philly literary scenes, a mission the magazine takes to heart, with MC J Mase III, members of the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement, readings from Apiary authors, plus live music from Kuf Knotz and jazz trio Peace Love Power The Unity. Issues of Apiary will be available at the event or at these local outlets: Bindlestiff Books, Penn Book Center, Brickbat Books and Wooden Shoe.

Source: Lillian Dunn, Apiary Magazine
Writer: Sue Spolan

New Philly HQ for medical device firm Echo Therapeutics, hiring 25

Medical device company Echo Therapeutics has set up corporate headquarters in Philadelphia, and plans to hire 25 employees in the next year, according to CEO Patrick Mooney. The company is developing two devices, Prelude and Symphony, which offer a painless alternative to both blood glucose monitoring and drug delivery. The company has just announced the appointment of a CFO, creating a third member of the management team.

Life as a diabetic involves the sight of one's own blood, and a little bit of discomfort every time the needle pierces skin. Now imagine that part of the equation removed, replaced with a needle-free mechanism that can test blood sugar levels transdermally. Echo's Synmphony device gathers information transdermally and transmits it wirelessly.

"The tip looks like a little thimble, and there's a microprocessor inside the device that calculates the level of resistance. The thimble spins, removing dead skin. You don't feel anything, but it stops when it gets to live skin. Now you are literally on top of blood vessels and nerve endings, just microns away from live tissue," explains Mooney, a former surgeon who left medicine to work on Wall Street, and is now marrying his two career paths at the helm of the life sciences startup.

Echo's other device is a transdermal drug delivery system. The Prelude also takes advantage of that exact spot at the juncture of dead and live tissue to get drugs to the body without needles. Right now, the Prelude is being tested with lidocaine, a numbing agent, but the possibilities are vast.

The technology for the Prelude and Symphony was developed at MIT in Massachusetts by Dr. Bob Langer, and the manufacturing side of the business will remain in the Boston area. "I am from Philadelphia originally," says Pat Mooney of the corporate move to this area. "Philadelphia is in a great spot for biotech." Mooney calls the city a sweet spot for his pre-revenue company, citing the proximity of major pharmaceuticals, money managers in New York City, regulators in Washington, DC, and labs in Boston. Echo has just released its first quarter results, showing positive numbers across the board.

Source: Patrick Mooney, MD, Echo Therapeutics
Writer: Sue Spolan

New report details tourism's growing impact on Greater Philadelphia

For every dollar spent on tourism marketing, Philadelphia sees $100 in revenue, according to a new study highlighting the long term success of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism and Marketing Corporation's ad campaigns. The report, released by Longwoods International, provides dramatic evidence that marketing the city's image is serious business.

But wait, there's more ROI: according to the report, for every dollar spent on advertising, visitor spending created $6 in state taxes and $5 in local municipal taxes, a remarkable ratio of 11:1 in government dollars. Leisure hotel room nights have tripled in Center City, and since 1997, the city welcomes an additional 10 million visitors each year. In 2010, 37 million tourists came not only to see the Liberty Bell and the Rocky statue, but also to sample some of the local cuisine and enjoy the region's arts and culture.

The Power of Destination Marketing, written by Longwoods' CEO Bill Siegel, measures the impact of two tourism efforts in the United States: Pure Michigan and With Love, Philadelphia XOXO. Siegel, who has been charting Philadelphia's tourism marketing since 1995, spent a day in town recently to share the results of his study. "In 1994, Pew commissioned a study to find a replacement industry for job loss," says Siegel, who reports that results of the study pointed to a push for hospitality, something of an intangible in a city formerly known for Stetson hats and Botany 500 suits, among many other world famous manufacturers that closed or relocated in the 20th century.

Philadelphia's tourism marketing budget is between $10-12 million annually, the majority generated by a one percent hotel tax, with other sources that include funding from The Delaware River Port Authority, a regional marketing partnership with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and an assortment of grants. In 2010, tourism was responsible for $8.7 billion in visitor spending here. Siegel says of his findings, "It's an increase that runs against the rest of the nation."

Meryl Levitz, President and CEO of GPTMC, added that the city's post 9/11 campaign, Philly's More Fun When You Sleep Over, was the most successful of any tourism effort in the United States. "Philadelphia does better when times aren't as good." Levitz terms Philadelphia a resilient destination, and credits social media. "In travel, word of mouth is the most important determinant for success," says Levitz, who looks forward to a summer of tourism love, with upcoming events that include Philly Beer Week in June and the annual Welcome America celebration in July.

Source: Bill Siegel, Longwoods International; Meryl Levitz, GPTMC
Writer: Sue Spolan

Business leaders name area's top tech companies at PACT Enterprise Awards

It was like swimming in a sea of money. On May 4, The Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies hosted the 18th Annual Enterprise Awards. About a thousand business leaders and executives attended. Beginning with a VIP reception, the kudos flowed as easily as the cocktails, while down the hall a larger food and drink fest filled with tuxedo and evening gown clad representatives from Philadelphia's top law and finance firms, who networked with the area's best and brightest entrepreneurs and incubators.

Out of 27 nominees, these are the results: the Life Sciences Startup Company award went to CareKinesis, Philly's top Technology Startup Company of 2011 is Monetate, an eCommerce leader that runs websites for Urban Outfitters and QVC; the area's Emerging Life Sciences Company was NuPathe, which works on branded therapeutics for diseases of the central nervous system; SevOne was named Emerging Technology Company, following a 2009 PACT award for Tech Startup, and this year's award for a MedTech Pioneering Company was sewn up by medical device provider Teleflex.

The award for MedTech Product Innovation went to Siemens Healthcare. The venerated Morgan Lewis attorney Stephen M. Goodman received the Legend Award for his many years assisting entrepreneurs; the IT Innovator Award of Excellence went to Lockheed Martin, Information Systems & Global Solutions – Defense, based in Maryland but with offices in King of Prussia. The Investment Deal of the Year went to Safeguard Scientifics for the acquisition of Clarient Inc., formerly in Safeguard's portfolio, purchased by GE Healthcare for $144 million. "It was a spectacular dinner," says attorney Michael Heller, one of the evening's presenters and Chair of Business Law at Cozen O'Connor. "It was wonderful to see such a terrific turnout among the venture capital community. The region is more active today than it was a year ago, and there's more excitement in the air regarding the VC community."

PACT judges named James Walker of Octagon Research Solutions Technology CEO of the Year; Life Sciences Company of the Year was Health Advocate, and ICG Commerce beat out HTH Worldwide and Qlik Tech to win Technology Company of the Year.

Prior to the event, three CleanTech Companies to Watch were named: ElectroPetroleum, NovaThermal Energy, and Viridity Energy. Video of the entire event is available here.

Source: Michael Heller, Cozen O'Connor; PACT Enterprise Awards
Writer: Sue Spolan

Photo : Attorney Stephen M. Goodman

Success is the main dish at Philly Side Arts

Some creative types are great with ideas, but not so great with promotion. That's where Philly Side Arts steps in to offer career building marketing and promotional services for individuals and businesses in the world of art. It's run by C. Todd Hestand, who is also a part time instructor at The Corzo Center for the Creative Economy at The University of The Arts.

"About five years ago, a group of friends and I would get together to talk about our artwork. None of us had a website or representation," says Hestand.

Hestand put up the starting capital to build a site in which every artist had his or her own page with images and contact information. "We found opportunities at a better pace as a network than being frustrated individually," reports Hestand, who has just relaunched the Philly Side Arts site with tiered membership levels. Basic membership is still free. For individuals, the initial entry level allows you to upload five images, contribute to the blog, write your own profile and identify yourself as a Philly Side Artist. Businesses, such as galleries and collectives, can post basic information and a logo. A Premium level upgrade, which is just $5 a month for artists and $10 for businesses, greatly increases the amount of information on member pages.

Growth since the tiered launch surprises even Hestand, who reported that during our short interview, two new premium members signed up.

"Membership doubled in April 2011," says Hestand, who counted at the time of the interview 500 artists and 100 businesses on the roster, with about 25 percent at the premium tier. "The point is that the economy is changing. We have to accept what the new economy is going to look like, and where the growth potential really is," says Hestand. "The easiest thing for people to approach as a new source of revenue or employment is to be creative and just make something. It's a huge emerging section of our economy."

Side Arts allows people to spend time creating, not looking for opportunities. As for the name, Hestand drew inspiration from Tony Hawk's skateboarding video game series. One of the skate parks in the game is based on Philadelphia's JFK Park, but for legal reasons, was renamed Phillyside Park. Hestand separated the word because he envisions a future where there will be a multitude of cities in the Side Arts franchise. Watch out, Chicago Side.

Source: C. Todd Hestand, Philly Side Arts
Writer: Sue Spolan

Navy Yard's Mark Group hiring for 70 energy efficiency jobs

The Mark Group, a UK company with recently opened North American headquarters at The Philadelphia Navy Yard, is hiring big time. And training, too. The Mark Group is looking for 60 to 70 new hires who can be trained to go out in the field as energy efficiency experts. The company, which concentrates on the residential market, recommends and completes refitting and repairs to make homes more comfortable and cheaper to run. Chief Operating Officer Dave Hopkins says Mark Group's average fee is $2,500, which will be returned in cost savings in two to three years.

Last week, The Mark Group graduated its first class of students at its North American Energy Efficiency Training Academy. The facility, developed with the support of a $192,000 grant from the Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation, is sending out workers who can enter a home and go places even the homeowner may never have gone, like attics and crawl spaces, to identify and fix problems like leaks and drafts. Hopkins says the company is training and hiring two types of employees: assessors and technicians.

Since The Mark Group's US launch in November 2010, 40 people have been hired, and by year's end, The Mark Group will have over 100 employees out and about in the Delaware Valley, including New Jersey and Delaware. The parent company has a presence in 20 countries worldwide, and chose Philadelphia as its first stop in the US, thanks to assistance at the state level from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, and locally from Select Greater Philadelphia. "We have plans to expand to the Pittsburgh market, Newark, New Jersey and Baltimore," says Hopkins.

So far, The Mark Group has relied on word of mouth referrals and a favorable article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and next month expects to launch a marketing campaign. The company has also signed an exclusive deal with Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors to provide energy efficiency services to the agency's clients.

Source: Dave Hopkins, The Mark Group
Writer: Sue Spolan

Viridity teams with Jefferson on smart grid, big battery

Thomas Jefferson University takes up a pretty big footprint in Center City, with a 13 acre campus just west of Washington Square. This week, Viridity Energy announced that it's partnering with Jefferson to provide an innovative energy storage program to optimize the University power grid.

On the heels of a smart grid project for SEPTA, Conshohocken-based Viridity approached Jefferson to gauge interest in a two-part program aimed at achieving optimal value from the school's wind power purchase. Audrey Zibelman, President and CEO of Viridity, notes that Jefferson is very forward looking in terms of how to manage energy, citing the university's recent acquisition of one-third of the electricity supply from Iberdrola Renewables' 102 megawatt Locust Ridge II wind power project located in Schuylkill County.

"Hospital demand is pretty flat. It doesn't peak. It's round the clock," explains Zibelman. But wind power is intermittent, and tends to be strongest at night. Sometimes the transmission system between the wind farm and the hospital is unavailable due to congestion. The environmentally-friendly solution is a giant battery to be installed on-site, which will store wind power when it's cheapest and most abundant, coupled with Viridity's dynamic load control optimization system. Viridity's proprietary VPower smart grid platform combines software with hardware to balance system loads, so that Jefferson can get the most cost efficient combination of wind power and traditional electric. When there is a surplus, VPower is set up to sell the energy back to the grid for a profit.

Zibelman says right now the project is in the planning stages. The company is in the market for a 1 to 1.5 megawatt battery, ranging in price from $750,000 to $3 million depending on vendor, chemistry, capacity and peripherals.

 "The battery will not always be providing physical reliability," says Zibelman, "but it will always provide economic reliability. It's a revenue source that pays for itself." Jefferson's combination of Viridity's VPower technology coupled with the giant battery will create a micro energy community in the heart of Center City.

Source: Audrey Zibelman, Viridity Energy
Writer: Sue Spolan

G Philly: Region's new LGBT magazine more than just glossy

It's the lush lifestyle magazine you don't have to be gay to love. The premiere glossy issue of G Philly has just hit the streets and it's a beauty. The eye-catching publication in an eight-inch square package and a spinoff of Philadelphia magazine, sharing staff and offices. Natalie Hope McDonald has a brand new job as editor of both the print publication and the online blog that aims to cover everything lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered throughout the Delaware Valley. "Our aim is to showcase the best of gay life -- what's fabulous -- while also having conversations about same-sex marriage, parenting, politics, health and other hot-button issues that really impact lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people we know," says McDonald, a longtime freelance writer and photographer who initially helmed the online component and took over the top post on the print side as well. "The G Philly blog kicked off in October of last year in advance of the launch of the first print issue, says McDonald. "It's where you'll find breaking news and interviews with famous folks, local movers and shakers, events, and issues that matter to LGBT readers."

The resemblance of the magazine to GQ is unmistakable, and McDonald concurs. "Philly deserves a gay magazine that looks as great as GQ but covers exactly what regional readers want to know about." In the past, Philadelphia's LGBT community relied on less aesthetically pleasing publications like the Philadelphia Gay News and Au Courant for its news. "We live in a time when the future of gay rights is unfolding every day," says McDonald. And, she adds, while G Philly is aimed at the LGBT community, you certainly don't have to be gay to pick up an issue. "Who doesn't want to know where to eat the best brunch or belt out your favorite show tunes, like, seven nights a week? Okay, so maybe that is kinda gay."

G Philly's relationship with Phillymag.com allows crossover: readers who come for the LGBT content can also click on the Health blog or the Philly Post of the parent publication. McDonald says that inclusive nature is what makes her job such fun. Look for the print publication at local shops and gay bars, sign up for an issue online, and find G Philly on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.

Source: Natalie Hope McDonald, G Philly
Writer: Sue Spolan

Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts kicks off this week with giant squid

Dan Schimmel's head might be in augmented reality, but the picture is pretty clear to him.

"Right now there's a giant, 100 foot squid hovering over the falls at Boat House Row," says the director of Breadboard, the art and technology program at Science Center that oversees the Esther Klein Gallery. Breadboard is participating in the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) with the free citywide VPAP@PIFA, the Virtual Public Art Project. Granted, explains Schimmel, you need a smartphone or other mobile device to see the Augmented Reality squid. "That's somewhat foreign to people, but this is where society's headed."

PIFA is about to overtake the city like a giant encornet (that's French for squid) with over 135 events, running from April 7 to May 1. If bright lights in the big city get you going, check out the 81 foot Eiffel Tower replica at the Kimmel Center, which serves as festival headquarters, with a light show daily at 7 and 10 p.m. The theme of PIFA is Paris 1911, tying in with the recent French-flavored Philadelphia International Flower Show. All over the city, you can catch performances, lectures, dance parties, installations, readings, a fashion show and eleven French chefs in residence at area restaurants.

The $10 million extravaganza showcases local and international talent. Visit a day-long free Parisian street fair April 30 on Broad Street where you can ride a giant Ferris Wheel and enjoy a multitude of acts including Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. PIFA is also sponsoring daily wine tastings, crepe samples, free concerts, and French lessons.

Philly-Paris Lockdown, on April 17 at 8 PM at the Kimmel, features Philly's own ?uestlove of The Roots along with singer-songwriter Keren Ann, followed by an underground afterparty. Fourth Wall Arts hosts a special Salon on April 23 at the newly opened National Museum of American Jewish History on Independence Mall, featuring Ursula Rucker, Mimi Stillman and muralist David Guinn.

JJ Tiziou's How Philly Moves, which just raised $26,000 in a Kickstarter Campaign, will be projecting massive images of Philadelphia's dancers on the side of the Kimmel throughout the festival. Hope: An Oratorio, is a work PIFA commissioned by composer Jonathan Leshnoff, to be performed April 24, performed by The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, along with four soloists, the Pennsylvania Girlchoir and the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia.

The Painted Bride, The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Slought Foundation, the African-American Museum in Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, WXPN, Philadelphia's Magic Garden, and the Independence Seaport Museum are just a few of the many PIFA sponsors and event hosts. Get detailed program information, tickets, and download a festival brochure at the PIFA website. PIFA, along with the GPTMC, is also offering hotel and ticket packages for the festival.

Source: Dan Schimmel, Breadboard; PIFA; GPTMC
Writer: Sue Spolan

Philly solar conversion company among highlights of Cleantech Investment Forum

Clean technology is a big draw for potential investors. Several hundred people gathered at the Academy of Natural Sciences on March 31 for the 3rd Annual Mid-Atlantic Cleantech Investment Forum. Sponsored by Blank Rome Counselors at Law, the Academy and Cleantech Alliance Mid-Atlantic, investor panels discussing the future of renewable energy, clean water, recycling and waste disposal were followed by presentations from area entrepreneurs.

On hand were members of the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy Efficient Buildings. Williams J. Agate leads the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, developing and managing the Philadelphia Navy Yard, which is now in the process of creating a smart grid energy master plan.

The Fostering Cleantech Investment Panel included Kevin Brophy, of Meidlinger Partners, who talked about the future of clean water investment, and said that while innovation in the field came from the middle cap, the greatest opportunity for future investments is in the huge lower cap market. Also on the panel were Gary Golding, from Edison Ventures, who addressed rapidly improving awareness of water issues, Arun Kapoor of SJF Ventures, who mentioned 100 percent Pennsylvania wind provider Community Energy, and Josh Wolfe, the founding partner of Lux Capital. Wolfe described Lux as an early stage high risk venture fund valued at $100 million, and had a different take on the market than his fellow panelists, explaining that Lux focuses on companies that are long on human ingenuity and short on government rationality. Passing on biofuel, nuclear and natural gas investments, Lux is instead investing in nuclear waste management, calling it the energy industry's biggest unsolved problem.

The only presenting entrepreneur based in the immediate Philadelphia area is solar power conversion company Alencon Systems, Inc. Now in the research and development stage, Alencon addresses the problem of energy efficiency with large scale photovoltaic systems, which are currently created by aggregating multiple small systems. Alencon, which was borne of research at Rowan University, aims to simplify solar and wind power systems from distributed harvesting to centralized conversion. With a prototype already built and tested, Alencon slates projected sales of its streamlined systems at $45 million by 2014.

Source: 3rd Annual Mid-Atlantic Cleantech Investment Forum
Writer: Sue Spolan

FLYING BYTES: Philly Helps Japan, East Fairmoun Park

Flying Bytes is nuggets of innovation from across Greater Philadelphia:


Following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, there's been a swell of support from local companies and groups. Comcast is offering free calls to Japan for Xfinity Voice and Business Class Voice customers. Call Japan now until April 10, 2011 and get an automatic refund on your Comcast bill. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the Red Cross is accepting both online and text message contributions for Japan relief efforts and reports that it has received generous donations from Westchester's QVC and Philadelphia Insurance. The Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia has instituted a Disaster Relief Fund, and is also taking donations at the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival.

Urban Blazers, a Philadelphia program that organizes outdoor activities for under-resourced youth, is co-sponsoring an East Fairmount Park Spring Clean-Up. The event, to be held Saturday, April 2 from 9 to 1, will start at Mander Playground, 33rd and Diamond, for a seasonal overhaul of nearby recreational spots, as well as the Woodford Mansion Orchard. It's part of the citywide Philly Spring Cleanup. Participating civic groups include the East Park Revitalization Alliance, Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education, the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation and the Strawberry Mansion Athletic Association. RSVP on Facebook or email info@urbanblazers.org.


Speaking of blazing, on April 16, grab a flashlight and head over to the eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Washington Square Park for a warm spring evening of fun. Get Out Philly is hosting a game of Flashlight Tag beginning at 8. Put on your post-tax return attitude and casual clothes. Food and drink to follow at a nearby casual spot. Suggested donation is $1. You can RSVP on Facebook.

Source: Comcast, Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia, Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the Red Cross, Urban Blazers, Get Out Philly
Writer: Sue Spolan

Philly Tech Week promises a printer-smashing good time

In the spirit of Philly's other well-known celebrations like Beer Week and Restaurant Week, one of the main goals for Philly Tech Week, happening April 25 to 30 in locations across the city, is to have fun. Organized by Technically Philly, the week is meant to connect the many different segments of the Philly technology community, from hackers to Comcast and everyone in between, according to TP co-founder Chris Wink.

At this point, there are about 35 events on the schedule, with more to come. WHYY will serve as headquarters. Wink says the media outlet will host a daily lunchtime speaker series throughout the week, as well as the final big event Friday night. Tech Week coincides with two other major citywide happenings: The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) and The Philadelphia Science Festival. As a result, says Wink, some gatherings will carry all three labels, such as Augmented Reality Check: Seeing The Future Now, looking at the intersection of art, technology and science, to be held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on April 26.

Another exciting Tech Week gathering is The Future of Music featuring musician and producer RJD2, coordinated by Tayyib Smith, owner of Little Giant Media, which publishes two.one.five magazine. Smith hopes to draw like minded people actively engaged in creating, promoting and distributing music to envision the role technology will play in the future of music. "I am an analog person who is fronting like I am digital," says Smith, who hopes to get as much out of the discussion as any of the other attendees.

Local firm Azavea, which builds geographic analysis software, happens to be rolling out several projects that same week, and plans to show off the brand new goods. "One is Philly Tree Map," says President and CEO Robert Cheetham, whose goal is to create a crowdsourced urban tree inventory. Two other Azavea projects, Open Data Philly and PhillyHistory.org, will be showcased during Tech Week.

For those who have ever fantasized about going ballistic on your devices, be sure to attend the Office Space Printer Smash, co-sponsored by Nonprofit Technology Resources and The Hacktory. As the title indicates, participants will be encouraged to turn unrecyclable printers into a pile of mangled plastic and metal.

Source: Christopher Wink, Technically Philly, Tayyib Smith, Little Giant Media, Robert Cheetham, Azavea
Writer: Sue Spolan

When you're underemployed, turn to The Front Section

What does an urban planner do while looking for a job? If you're Dan Casey, you create a dense daily digest of news with a focus on what people are not reading. The Front Section, says Casey, "is a byproduct of being direly underemployed and spending too much time online. I got tired of reading about America and American debates, and realized that I was following a lot of international news that my friends weren't." The Front Section is a densely packed and far more graphically pleasing alternative to web pages like The Drudge Report. Casey drew his inspiration from "a venerable site called Arts & Letters Daily that has a pleasantly tweedy high-culture tone and is all about Big Serious Ideas. When you load up the page, you start smelling pipe smoke and leather patches grow on your elbows.

"A faint taste of port creeps into your mouth; it's uncanny," says Casey, who felt he could fill a niche for a younger audience that is "decidedly to the left" of the Arts & Letters readership, but is still interested in good writing about the rest of the world. Casey says he took off from the overall A&L concept, but shifted its center of gravity. And added rap videos.

The site, based in Philadelphia and updated daily, attracts about a hundred visitors on an average day, but can draw thousands when it's linked from another site. Casey says the site is hosted by a generous friend, and is more of a community service than a money making proposition. Casey says his state of being underemployed may be about to change: "If I get one of these 'jobs' that I've heard so much about, maybe I'll have the chance to slow down and focus my reading, and rebuild my attention span, so the blog will probably change too. Stay tuned."

Source: Dan Casey, The Front Section
Writer: Sue Spolan

FLYING BYTES: Microsoft in Malvern, Art in the Open and the Canal

Flying Bytes is a roundup of innovation nuggets from across the region:

The second annual Art in The Open exhibit has been announced for June 9-12, 2011. The citywide exhibit features a juried selection of artists who will create site specific work along the Schuylkill Banks, from Bartram's Garden in Southwest Philly, and as far north as the Fairmount Park Waterworks. The result is a giant outdoor studio, with art stations for the public to get into the creative process. AIO co-founder Mary Salvante reports that all 2011 artist applications have been received, and the 40 winners will be announced shortly.

The Manayunk Canal Towpath is about to get an art facelift. The Mural Arts Program, in association with the Manayunk Special Services District (MSSD) and the Manayunk Development Corporation, is calling for proposals to transform the disused canal into a temporary public art location with a focus on sustainability, incorporating water. The canal is the last surviving segment of a waterway that once ran as far as Schuylkill County, bringing coal from the mines into Philadelphia. The installation will coincide with this September's Manayunk Eco-Arts Festival. For more information, send email here.

This week Microsoft opened a new 17,500 square foot Technology Center in Malvern. In attendance at the opening ceremony were Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The Philadelphia area tech center is the tenth in the United States, and joins 21 similar technology centers globally. According to Microsoft, "the center is designed to help companies throughout the mid-Atlantic region improve their use of technology to grow their businesses, add jobs, and strengthen their local communities."

Digital Philadelphia and Code for America reports that our local team of fellows is working hard to get government data to citizens. Jeff Friedman says the Philly CfA team conducted over a hundred interviews in February, polling government and city workers, civic leaders including heads of non-profits, block captains, civic developers, and citizens. CfA Philly also held three Friday "hack" events to encourage local developers to engage with government data, an Open Data Forum with help from Young Involved Philadelphia, Technically Philly, and the City, and an open data camp where developers built out four functional mini-apps based on city data.

Source: Mary Salvante, AIO; Microsoft Technology Center, Jeff Friedman, CfA Philly
Writer: Sue Spolan

PA's power choice: The answer is blowing in the (local) wind, says Radnor's Community Energy

It's 2011. Do you know where your power is? With the expiration of Pennsylvania power rate caps at the start of this year, state utility customers are searching for alternative providers. If you are all about clean renewable energy that's local and sustainable, Community Energy provides 100 percent Pennsylvania generated wind power, and it's expanding to provide solar as well.

The Radnor-based company, founded in 1999, began selling retail wind power to commercial customers ahead of state mandates, enabling Community Energy to build demand for the construction of its own wind projects in Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey. "In 1999, there were a total of 10 megawatts of wind power east of the Mississippi," says Jay Carlis, Vice President of CEI's Retail Division. Texas boasts two of the world's largest wind farms, and California is not far behind. Carlis reports that in the past year, CEI experienced strong growth and has doubled in size, thanks largely to the addition of solar energy to its offerings. After CEI's initial foray serving commercial clients such as Carnegie Mellon University and Giant Market, CEI added residential clients to the roster, and then partnered with utility companies, enabling its reach to include the entire northeastern United States.

While the Pennsylvania PUC has created PA Power Switch, an easy to navigate website that helps customers shop for energy, Carlis says the site leaves out some vital information. "Most people don't understand the complicated aspects of the market. If you want wind power, and it's coming from Texas, the grids don't even connect," says Carlis. Rather, utilities are dealing in tradable Renewable Energy Certificates. For someone living in Pennsylvania, he says, there's a lot of benefit to having wind in the local grid, including a future price edge benefit. "Twenty years from now, if all of Pennsylvania is buying from Texas, Texas will look good, and it won't make a bit of difference for Pennsylvania. It's important that people understand the implications of their choices."

Source: Jay Carlis, Community Energy
Writer: Sue Spolan

Pairing wine and web sets table for Valley Forge-based site's growth

It's happy hour somewhere, and LocalWineEvents.com wants to help you get your prosecco on. The Valley Forge-based service offers free wine event listings in 500 cities around the world, including the greater Philadelphia area. Eric Orange, LocalWineEvents.com CEO, used to sell wine for Paterno Imports. He was living in Denver, Colorado, where he presented the Paterno product line to restaurants, retailers and ski resorts. Setting up tastings and dinners was part of the marketing plan, but getting the word out was the big challenge. After commiserating with fellow wine merchants about a dinner where only six people showed up, Orange realized two things: one, that he was not alone in needing a powerful wine promotional tool, and two, that the world wide web was the perfect way to connect wine enthusiasts with wine sellers.

Today, The Juice, LocalWineEvents.com's twice-a-week newsletter, goes out to 136,000 subscribers worldwide. The service has just launched location-based mobile apps for iPhone and Android, and a mobile friendly site for other smartphone users. LocalWineEvent's Facebook page boasts 30,000 fans.

The LocalWineEvents.com listings provide details on event theme, date, time and location, and include a fairly large radius. For example, Philadelphia oenophiles get event information for New York City and Wilmington in addition to home town happenings.

While listing and searching are free, and the privately held LocalWineEvents.com relies on multiple revenue streams, from fees for featured listings to banner ads. "In my view, I have created the perfect Internet business model," Orange says, citing a cycle of consumer generated input and constant updates generating perpetual return traffic.

Source: Eric Orange, LocalWineEvents.com

Writer: Sue Spolan

Photographer JJ Tiziou explains How Philly Moves

JJ Tiziou wants to share. And he wants you to share too. "You have to give people a voice," says Tiziou, a Philadelphia photographer and all around activist for the arts. "Everyone has a voice, but TV and billboards have such louder voices." Tiziou is the force behind the massive public art project How Philly Moves, the 50,000 square foot Mural Arts Program gateway project for the Philadelphia International Airport, scheduled for completion this June. Philadelphia's dancers are the subject, and everyone gets involved.

Tiziou is all about the crowd. As a community photographer, he's taken tens of thousands of pictures of Philadelphia residents. Some will end up in the airport mural, and some will grace the facade of the Kimmel Center as part of a projection project that will run during the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts.

Tiziou's passion is crowdsourcing: getting lots of citizens to contribute a little bit of time and and a little bit of money. People still want to express themselves as artists, and for that matter, says Tiziou, as investigative journalists, but these days major funding is scarce on all creative fronts. Who will pay for materials, or for the electric bill at the studio? "It used to be that there were gatekeepers," says Tiziou. Magazine editors did the selection, but also paid contributors. With the web, explains Tiziou, there is no formal exchange. A photographer can self-publish thousands of images, and people have come to expect all kinds of content without the price tag. "I want good stuff to be out there," says Tiziou. "That's the challenge. And an audience can be a powerful thing. The crowdsourcing component is key to the new paradigm. People need to be paid for their time in a sustainable way."

Tiziou cites Kickstarter and spot.us, two thriving examples of crowdsourced funding for creative projects. If each person contributes just a few dollars, the collective can provide money for major endeavors in both the arts and journalism. Tiziou also runs community supported house concerts out of his rowhome in University City. He asks the audience to make a donation to support the musicians as well as the venue.

Right now, you can stop by temporary studios set up in empty retail space on the top floor of The Gallery at Market East to see the How Philly Moves project in progress. And you can join the project's final Community Paint Day at The Gallery on Saturday, March 12.

Source: JJ Tiziou
Writer: Sue Spolan
Photo by Danilo Balladares

Found Around Town: Lots to love in Philly for V-Day

Love to love ya, baby, when we're talking about Philadelphia. The official LOVE gift shop is now open seven days a week at the Visitors Center on JFK Boulevard at 16th. On offer are 3 kinds of Valentine's gift baskets, plus miniature replicas of the famous LOVE sculpture, mugs, umbrellas, coasters, T-shirts and more. All items are gift wrapped free. There's also an online gift shop if you want LOVE delivered to your door.

Here's a look at other Valentine's Day finds around town:

Urban Outfitters launches a much anticipated wedding line this Valentine's Day, but what's up with the brand name? BHLDN does not trip easily off the tongue, or the page. Jennifer D'Aponte, BHLDN's marketing manager, explains that it's pronounced 'beholden.' Heirloom quality wedding gowns, bridesmaid ensembles, party dresses, jewelry, headpieces, footwear, and lingerie are curated to reflect the whimsy of Anthropologie with the modern styling of the Urban brand. Pop the question or say yes on Feb. 14, then head over to BHLDN and pick your entire outfit. The brand's first physical store opens in August. No word yet on where.

Rittenhouse Square's Terra Mia bills itself as "the nation's only true organic nail spa," and offers reasonably priced thrills with the Blindfolded Manicure for Two. Or pedicure, or both, if you're nasty. The salon, which was built with recycled and sustainable materials, uses water based polish, so there's no unpleasant odor. Terra Mia is also offering half off taking it all off: from Feb. 11-14, get 50 percent off Brazilian or bikini waxing.

Love the earth and love your lady with organic, sustainably grown blooms. Hana & Posy is Philadelphia's "eco-friendly florist" and won Philadelphia Magazine's Best of Philly 2010. The Old City shop is run by Kayo Higashimura, a former veterinarian who infuses bouquets with the style of her native Japan. Hana & Posy also sells gifts. You can shop for flowers and more online, and be sure to order early for the best selection. For last-minute shopping, call the store to arrange same-day delivery.

Source: LOVE Gift Shop, BHLDN, Terra Mia, Hana & Posy
Writer: Sue Spolan

My baby ate a dingo: Vegan dessert tales from PureSweets

Take a big bite out of that Hippo. Nibble on the Panda, and save some Ladybugs for later. Andrea Kyan has named her PureSweets product line for all the animals she loves. "I turned vegan in 2007. I'd been vegetarian since I was a kid, but a visit to an organic dairy farm opened my eyes. Organic is not necessarily humane." Kyan says she developed PureSweets to satisfy her own sweet tooth.

She found existing vegan treats lacking in depth, with no butter, cream, or eggs to carry flavor. Kyan solved the problem by using nut flours, which provide "protein content, a nutritional boost, and are gluten free." The second main ingredient is coconut butter, and Kyan also relies on coconut oils as well as nut butters made from cashews and almonds. The sweetening comes not from refined cane sugar but from maple syrup, date sugar, palm sugar, and organic brown rice syrup. "Everything else is flavored with dried fruit and nuts, espresso, and organic dark chocolate."

Kyan was on her way to medical school with a goal of practicing preventative medicine, and she was working as a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, studying the way mindfulness meditation affects weight loss, when she decided to go for a career in sustainable baking. Last fall, she got an account with Whole Foods, and they are currently piloting her products at their Center City location. She's in talks with the seven regional stores, and her goal is to place products in all 250 Whole Foods. "The only way this will work is through volume," says Kyan. "Some of the ingredients are so expensive." Items have eco-friendly packaging. PureSweets operates out of an old church in East Falls, and there's no storefront at that location, so Kyan delivers all online orders to Philadelphia area homes and offices for a reasonable fee.

About that Dingo: it's the name of PureSweets' chocolate-dipped almond butter cookie. All PureSweets' products bear animal names, and Kyan donates five percent of sales to animal rescue organizations, including PAWS and the Camden County Animal Shelter.

Source: Andrea Kyan, PureSweets
Writer: Sue Spolan

Double bubble: Philly soapmaker opens second location in NJ

Philadelphia's Duross & Langel turns a bar of soap into a work of art. This week, D&L opens a second location on King's Highway in Haddonfield, N.J. Owner Steve Duross says expansion has always been the plan for the Washington Square West business, but he's been waiting for the right fit. D&L has been approached by malls, but in order to build on the original Midtown Village concept developed on 13th Street, Duross and partner James Langel were on the lookout for a location that offered "all the charm of Everywhere USA, Main Street."

Duross was impressed with Haddonfield's vibrant downtown community, and active neighborhood and business associations. D&L regularly hosts special events for the community, and Duross sees a perfect match with the Haddonfield community, which sponsors events similar to "things we already do in our store, like first Fridays in the summer, and live performances at the local bandstand."

Duross and Langel's product is minimally packaged, letting the ingredients do the talking. "When crafting the soap, I really wanted to take what was on the market and turn it on its head," says Steve Duross, who explains that some of the best french milled soaps are quite alkaline, while his product is a much lower pH, close to the natural acidity of skin. Duross says it's the way customers feel after using his products that brings them back for more.

D&L's colorful and flavorful line of soaps, moisturizers, deodorants and bath add-ins are made with high quality essential oils and include scents that appeal to both men and women, including Moroccan cedar, sandalwood, lavender, black pepper and green tea, along with scent free options.

Duross says continued expansion is in the works, with shops planned for two nearby towns with a thriving main street culture, and the shop's online retail option remains popular with locals and out-of-towners alike.

Source: Steve Duross, Duross & Langel
Writer: Sue Spolan

Flying Bytes: Car Show opens, Beyond Abstract, growth at LLR, pulse of Pulsar

Flying Bytes is innovation nuggets from around Greater Philadelphia:

: there's been a huge increase in eco-friendly automotive offerings, all on display at the 2011 Philadelphia International Auto Show, but Ford goes one better, offering recycled denim seat cloth on some 2012 models, according to Violet Marley, who represents the car maker at the convention, which runs through Feb. 11. Also, this just in from The Automobile Dealers Association of Greater Philadelphia: 2011 show attendance jumped 28.4 percent from last year's opening weekend. That translates to 65,984 attendees in just two days, the third largest tally in the show's history.

DRIVEN TO ABSTRACTION: This is the last week you can catch Beyond Abstraction at the Center For Emerging Visual Artists at 1521 Locust Street, Philadelphia. Curated by Katrin Elia, the group show gathers the work of eight contemporary artists working in a range of media from canvas to video. While most shows begin with a subject in search of an artist, says Elia, Beyond Abstraction gathered artists first and came up with the umbrella concept later.

CAR POOL EQUITY: LLR Partners, a private equity mezzanine finance company, continues to grow, announcing four new hires this week. Jack Slye is the firm's new Vice President; Irene Lisyansky and Brian Berkin are LLR's newest Senior Associates, and Scott Williams takes the lead as Senior Analyst. LLR manages over $1.4 billion, providing interim and secondary financing to middle market companies in the 'financial, health care and business services, information technology, and education." Recently, LLR invested in Avenues: The World School, a private K-12 to open its flagship in Manhattan, with schools planned for major cities around the world.

WAKE UP AND SMELL THE EXPANSION: Pulsar Informatics, a research facility that specializes in the "assessment of cognitive performance and fatigue risk management," has outgrown its original space in the University Science Center Port Business Incubator and is moving to quarters that are triple the size on the Science Center's campus. Pulsar's fatigue assessment tools are now in use by the Department of Defense, The Federal Aviation Administration, and NASA, among others.

Source: Violet Marley, Ford; Katrin Elia, Beyond Abstraction; LLR Partners, Pulsar Informatics
Writer: Sue Spolan

PhillyCAM's plans include state-of-the-art studio near Independence Mall

From bars and tone to brick and mortar in a matter of months, PhillyCAM, the city's new public access television station, is moving to permanent headquarters in a former photography studio in Center City. While PhillyCAM, which is short for Philadelphia Community Access Media, took 27 years of activism to establish, it's about to set down roots at 7th and Ranstead, just a block west of Independence Mall.

Back in the 1980s, when the city's cable providers moved in, franchise agreements called for dedicated public access channels. But it took years of grassroots efforts to make the bandwidth a reality. In October 2009, with Gretjen Clausing taking the lead as Executive Director, PhillyCAM began broadcasting on Comcast and Verizon, and in mid 2010 opened up a temporary facility at The Painted Bride in Old City. With a growing roster of 230 member contributors, Clausing says PhillyCAM's programming schedule now runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Premiering this week are two youth produced programs: Girls Talk TV and the 30 minute drama Double Lives.

Membership, open to all area residents, provides programming privileges. Any member can submit a program, says Antoine Haywood, Membership and Outreach Director. In order to use cameras and editing equipment, members become certified through workshops, or by placing out with a qualifying exam.

PhillyCAM facility will boast an express studio for live shots that's visible from the street, a commons, a media lab, editing suites and a 1,000 square foot sound stage for larger productions. The project, designed by Center City's Metcalfe Architecture, is set to begin within the next few weeks, and scheduled for completion in June.

Source: Gretjen Clausing, Antoine Haywood, PhillyCAM
Writer: Sue Spolan

ServePhiladelphia connects volunteers with opportunities

You've got to serve somebody. That's the message of newly launched ServePhiladelphia. It's an easy to use database that connects free people with places in need. Pick an area of interest from a pull down menu: Community Building, Education, Health, Leadership, Sustainability and more, and choose from dozens of projects that need your help. Selections run the gamut from gardening in the Wissahickon, to food distribution, to helping the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia translate English language guides into Vietnamese.

A city-led initiative, ServePhiladelphia launched this past Saturday, kicking off at the Free Library of Philadelphia with a project to get books to children learning to read. The initiative has a three part mission: to "create or elevate volunteer opportunities that impact educational outcomes and contribute to community vitality, to make it easier for citizens of every age to volunteer, and to support both public and private sector efforts to engage more volunteers in ways that have the greatest impact," according to Mayor Michael Nutter's kickoff message.

Nutter also announced the 2011 Volunteer Impact Challenge, with a three-time-a-year recognition ceremony for participants. Registration for ServePhiladelphia is simple, and allows citizens to bookmark interesting assignments as well as track hours. The initiative also has a Facebook page.

ServePhiladelphia is made possible by a Cities of Service Leadership Grant, allowing the hire of Catie C. Wolfgang, the City's first Chief Service Officer, and the establishment of the Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service. Cities of Service is a bipartisan coalition founded in New York City by 17 mayors working together to increase volunteerism. From its inception in 2009, Cities of Service now counts over 100 mayors in its ranks.

Source: Mayor Michael Nutter, ServePhiladelphia
Writer: Sue Spolan

Fare organic restaurant coming to Fairmount

You've got to give attorney David Orphanides a lot of credit. He's come up with an alternative to "artisanal," one of the more awkward-sounding terms in the English language. Jettisoning the word, but not the concept, Orphanides uses the more classic "crafted" when describing the four tenets that make up the philosophy of Fairmount's soon-to-open Fare restaurant, which also relies on local, organic and sustainable practices.

Orphanides eats organic and shops sustainably at home, so it makes total sense, he says, that Fare mirrors that lifestyle. "It's second nature for us. We couldn't see doing it any other way." Also on board are Savvas Navrosidis, who owns Fairmount Pizza, and attorney Andy Siegel.

Fare, which opens to the public in "early spring," eschews heavy creams and sauces for "food that's still very satisfying and filling." The projected 85-seat bar and restaurant located at 2028 Fairmount Avenue, across from Eastern State Penitentiary, is fit out with completely green, locally sourced furnishings. The black walnut bar comes from Pennsylvania trees. Wine, beer, and liquor served on that lovely expanse of local wood aims to be "biodynamic and organic, from local vineyards and distilleries," according to Orphanides.

Fare's menu evolved from an original concept of smaller snacks to include dishes for all appetites. Small plates and snacks range in price from $2-$8; salads are $6-$9, and main dishes range from $11-$18. Fare "started out more as a place for people to have a drink and socialize, more of a lounge" for Fairmount locals, but when chef Tim Bellew signed on, the menu expanded. Bellew's previous engagements include Fire in Cherry Hill, Black Eyed Susan in Long Beach Island, and MANNA catering in New York.

Source: David Orphanides, Fare Restaurant
Writer: Sue Spolan

Flying Bytes: Penn's power, Basecamp app, and vegan lunch

Flying Bytes is a weekly roundup of innovation news nuggets:

TGIVF: Miss Rachel's Lunch Pantry announces The Downtown Lunch Club, a new uber-healthy weekly lunch delivery service for Center City. Choose from three vegan options, pay just $10 via PayPal, order by Thursday, and get delivery to home or office on Friday. Coming soon: The Navy Yard Lunch Club.

Penn Players: The University of Pennsylvania plays a significant role in the growth of Philadelphia and the region, according to an upcoming report. This week's Penn Current newsletter highlights the statewide economic impact of Penn in 2010, Philadelphia's largest private employer, which "translates into $14.1 billion, and that number reflects a 46.5 percent increase since 2005," when the last report was issued.

Back to Basecamp: Basecamp Business has released the Business Calendar Network app for Android. Joining recent mobile app releases for iPhone and iPad, the Android app allows entrepreneurs to search for upcoming networking events by location and type, and lets users know if they can get their grub on.

Nutter for the Arts: Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has long been a proud supporter of the city's art scene, with strong ties to the Mural Arts Program and Philly's music community. This week Nutter received the 2011 Public Leadership in the Arts Award, hosted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and Americans for the Arts. Mayor James Brainard of Carmel, Indiana and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson also received the award.

Cultural Cash Flow: The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance announced 40 winners of Project Stream seed grants, totaling more than $95,000. Local nonprofit arts groups and performers include Crossroads Music, Delaware County Community College and The Youth Orchestra of Bucks County. Recipients receive up to $3,000 each, and the initiative is funded by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts' (PCA) Partners in the Arts program, with additional support from PECO.

Writer: Sue Spolan

Yoh report: Increase in tech temps, wages good signs for region's job market

Job prospects for Philadelphia's professional temps are on the way up, suggesting that the larger employment market is gaining strength. The Q4 Yoh Index of Technology Wages was just released, and Joel Capperella, Yoh's Vice President of Client Solutions, is optimistic about the future of Delaware Valley wage earners. He reports that the Philadelphia market is on an even more positive upswing compared to the U.S. data; the number of jobs filled "ended up the year at 5 percent higher," and in technical professional wages, the December 2010 wage rate was five percent higher than in December of 2009. Capperella, who writes The Seamless Workforce blog for Yoh, the global Center City-based staffing firm, terms it a record year for temporary placements.

Having a temporary instead of full-time assignment can feel somewhat unstable, although Capperella asserts that the stigma is being lifted as job seekers find that short term assignments allow them to try out a job without the long term commitment.

"If you're a degreed professional, temporary employment gives you the flexibility to test the waters, gain new experience, and develop skills on the side." Yoh provides its temps with benefits and full time employee tax status, rather than the more common 1099 independent contractor status, thereby alleviating some of the stress of short term placement. Says Capperella: "In this region, you have to be the steward of your own opportunity."

The Q4 Yoh Index is a broad, nationwide assessment of employer demand for highly skilled workers. At the end of 2010, figures "turned positive after retreating for all three months in the third quarter, with hourly wages jumping 4.31 percent from November 2010 to December 2010."  Yoh has been tracking the wage movements of professional level temporary employees since 2001. Yoh, which is a Day and Zimmermann Company, places professionals in engineering, life sciences and technology jobs.

Van Aken: Philly's SA VA Fashion "most socially sustainable apparel company" in U.S.

Philadelphia clothing designer Sara Van Aken, president of SVA Holdings Corporation, remains resolute in offering high fashion at a low impact to the environment. In fact, Van Aken says her company is the most socially sustainable apparel company in the United States. The formula is working, as Van Aken hints that SA VA Fashion is poised to go regional in 2011, and she's already offering a selection of ready-to-wear for purchase online. SA VA's flagship retail store is located at 1700 Sansom Street, and every item sold in the store is created in a garment factory directly upstairs from the retail operation.

SVA offers four exclusive clothing lines: SA VA, which is available to the public at the SA VA retail shop, as well as three others: Van Aken Signature, Private Label and Custom Shirts. The Signature line specializes in celebrity chef uniforms, having designed for culinary luminaries such as Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

Van Aken says hers is the only fashion company that's completely vertical. It's all made right on location. "Everything is done internally. We make patterns and manufacture in house, and sell at the same place."

While many other clothing companies outsource to manufacturers outside the US, where labor is cheap, Van Aken remains committed to hiring locally. Her goal is to create 22 jobs over the next three years. Currently there are 15 employees in the SVA garment shop in Center City. In an effort to provide community outreach, SVA runs a semi-annual clothing drive to benefit local groups Career Wardrobe and People's Emergency Center. SA VA's upcoming customer events include the Reflect, Rejuvenate, Reawaken series, featuring programs focused on health and wellness.

Van Aken reports that while she is not able to create the fabric on site, her source materials are always locally made, fair trade, sustainable, made in the U.S., recycled or organic. Van Aken terms her style slow fashion, with an eye to the entire life cycle of a garment, from how it's made, manufactured, shipped and sold, to its destination beyond the closet.

Source: Sara Van Aken, SVA Holdings Corp.
Sue Spolan

Sustainability-minded singles get their own dating site courtesty of Doylestown healthy living pub

When Cindy Gruenwald started Doylestown's Creating Community magazine 17 years ago, the term "going green" hadn't yet  taken over the American lexicon and Al Gore was famous for simply being the Vice President. Creating Community was launched with a very specific community in mind; those interested in healthy living, sustainability and personal fitness. All these years later, the community is stronger than ever, leading Gruenwald to take her green guidance to the next level. Her new dating website, ANaturalAffinity.com, matches singles with similar interests in leading a healthier, more active and more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

"All of my single friends, no matter how crunchy granola they may be, were doing online dating because they found it hard to meet other single people" says Gruenwald. "And then, in doing online dating, they go on Match.com and there aren't enough like-minded people. Or they go on GreenSingles.com but there are not many people in their area. People who are interested in this range of things, it is generally not a casual interest like loving German Shepherds. These are really cornerstones of someone's lifestyle."

For fans of a more active lifestyle, there are groups and events calendars so dates are built right into the social fabric. The site even offers a list of conversational topics and access to message boards so you can chat before you date. Gruenwald announced the site this week with the hopes of going live January 1. In the meantime, Creating Community is looking to hire two staffers to help manage the site going forward, so that all the features work as they should.

"People want to connect with other people in their area," says Gruenwald. "The range of topics is the thing, really, the range of interests we have put together really drives people."

Source: Cindy Gruenwald, ANaturalAffinity.com
Writer: John Steele

Something to Bank On: City Partners Up to Boost Recycling Rewards Program

So by now you're a recycling pro: Your carefully sorted blue bins are first on the curb, and your trash can is light. And it's doubly awesome that you're so passionate about it, but you know, you could be getting something for all this. That's part of the message from RecycleNOW Philadelphia, which announced on Monday a partnership with the City of Philadelphia and RecycleBank to help boost citywide recycling rates. The program is centered around RecycleBank's Philadelphia Recycling Rewards program, which incentivizes recycling by offering points for regular recycling that can be cashed in for discounts or freebies at participating local and national businesses.

More than 100,000 Philadelphia households are already signed up for the rewards program, but the new partnership has RecycleNOW enlisting and training city residents to be neighborhood recycling advocates, who will sign up their freinds, neighbors, family and co-workers to earn their own incentives.

"This partnership will help us reach even more residents and provide them with the motivation to start recycling or recycle even more and get rewarded for it," says Denise Diorio McVeigh, Philadelphia account manager of RecycleBank, in a statement released Monday on America Recycles Day. RecycleBank launched its successful pilot program in Philadelphia in 2005, when it tripled recycling rates in Chestnut Hill and quadrupled them in West Oak Lane.

RecycleNOW's first neighborhood recycling advocate training will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 23 at 6 p.m. at 1500 Walnut Street (Suite 205). For more information, contact Katie Edwards here. The Recycling Alliance of Philadelphia is led by Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture), the Clean Air Council, Clean Water Action and Niche Recycling.

Source: PennFuture
Writer: Joe Petrucci

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

NewsWorks brings an online news magazine to WHYY

Something exciting happened during WHYY's fall pledge drive. And it wasn't a riveting Terry Gross interview. For the third consecutive year, NPR stations saw growth in the 25-to-40 demographic. Welcoming this younger demographic will not be easy for WHYY, Philadelphia's NPR affiliate and home for political discourse and intellectual public programming. So the station created NewsWorks, an online news and commentary site, launching Nov. 15. Enlisting its own journalists and regional content providers, NewsWorks hopes to create a hyperlocal news focus and bring enlightened discussion from the airwaves to the internet.

"The 2008 election was a great thing for NPR stations because a lot of people considered NPR to be the most reliable place to get news on that election so we brought a lot of new people into the tent," says WHYY Director of News and Civic Dialogue Chris Satullo. "Now we are trying to keep them. We are looking for two key demographics we hope will be the early adopters of NewsWorks. One is the younger technologist professional group--the creative class in Philly. And the other is the middle-aged professional who has been an NPR fan for a long time."

One of the goals of NewsWorks is to replicate the open discussion created on air at WHYY and bring it to the internet. Website comment boards are not traditionally known for scintillating conversation so NewsWorks will employ a self-governing rewards system, allowing users to give points to other users for contributing a valuable comment. By changing commenting and by asking the right questions, Satullo believes productive dialogue can occur online.

"We are going to work very hard not to frame things as black and white, left vs. right," says Satullo. "We are trying to get the 360-degree opinions and how people's experiences shape their opinions."

Source: Chris Satullo, WHYY
Writer: John Steele

HireOneCC.com brings Chester County job openings to the people

With unemployment hovering at 9 percent nationally, there have been hundreds of theories posited for how we have created the first "jobless recovery" in our history. Have you ever thought maybe people just aren't good at job hunting? A group of Chester County development professionals have. They launched HireOneCC.com, an online community where employers can pledge to hire at least one local worker in the next year and employers can find the companies who are hiring.

"There are 18,000 people currently unemployed in Chester County and a lot of them have advanced degrees and are really struggling trying to find new jobs," says project director Stan Schuck. "Our hope is that we can put the right resources together to get them the right set of skills or put them in touch with someone who is indeed hiring. I think traditional ways of getting jobs--blindly sending resumes out--just aren't working today."

Hire One was founded as an employment task force last July after Joseph's People president Cheryl Spaulding, who heads the faith-based social organization, contacted local development officials from the Chester County Economic Development Council about getting business involved in hiring. Since launching the site a week ago, eight businesses have already listed multiple available positions and pledged to not only hire one local employee but reduce worker reduction plans by 2.5 percent.

"In order to do this right, we had to be a resource for both job seekers and employers," says Schuck. "There are companies that don't have the financing they need or can't find people with the right skill sets. We want to make sure we link them up with the right resources."

Source: Stan Schuck, HireOne
Writer: John Steele

Penn State helps urban farmers harvest success in University City

From a few tomato plants in a rooftop garden to acre-sized community farms, profitable plants are sprouting up all over Philadelphia. With the end of the harvest season upon us, Penn State University comes to the Enterprise Center in West Philly this week, pulling farmers out of the fields and into the classroom in the name of good agribusiness.

With open-enrollment extension course "Income Opportunities in Agriculture," students will learn successful business practices for urban farmers interested in taking their crops to market. How do you set prices? How do you market yourself? Who can you partner with to become more profitable? Enlisting professors from PSU's College of Agriculture, many with corporate farming backgrounds, this course will make sure you always have a plentiful harvest. 

"The people we are attracting are people following their passions and hopefully building it into something bigger," says Penn State extension director John Byrnes. "Philadelphia has some larger urban ag institutions--Greensgrow and the Weavers Way farm. These are places where people can hold down jobs and make a living. This is giving people the opportunity to learn about business and give them a shot at augmenting their income."

The course is part of a series of Penn State urban agriculture offerings delivered annually around the end of the market season. Penn State's agricultural extension program partners with local learning professionals to bring course offerings to people off campus as well. The College of Agriculture first presented "Exploring Your Small Farm Dream" for beginning farmers looking for an idea. "Income Opportunities in Agriculture" starts Tuesday, Nov. 9 from 6-8 pm at the Enterprise Center. Registration is $20 and can be taken care of here.

Source: John Byrnes, Penn State University
Writer: John Steele

UPenn's MAGPI hosts long-distance learning platforms for First Annual Content Provider Carnival

University of Pennsylvania's educational and research internet 2 network MAGPI wants to take Philly's teachers on a trip around the world. From Mexican dance teams to Canadian biology experts to shark researchers in Florida, its hard to believe all these educational programs will fit under one tent. Luckily for attendees of MAGPI's first Content Provider Carnival on Wednesday, these exhibits are all online, streaming and coming live to teachers, students and researchers looking to bring long-distance learning to Philadelphia's classrooms.

"This carnival comes at a unique junction where school budgets are constrained and a lot of the things that are being cut for students are those extracurricular activities or those field trip opportunities and a virtual field trip is a cost-effective way of providing those experiences to students," says MAGPI Manager of Educational Services Heather Weisse Walsh. "Now I am by no means suggesting that it takes the place of a student actually visiting a museum but if that is not a possibility, especially if you have a rural school district that can't get to a metropolitan area very quickly, it's a wonderful alternative."

By bringing 22 webstreams online at the same time, the Content Provider Carnival allows virtual field trip organizers the chance to present to teachers who may not otherwise have time to seek out these educational portals. Besides showcasing unique experiences like swimming with sharks or working as a lumberjack, students will be able to ask questions to presenters and engage with these experiences in real time, bringing them a worldly perspective to students no matter where they live.

"We are going to actually simulcast not just the field trip but a class engaging with it," says Weisse Walsh. "That is so important because teachers have so many different competing priorities right now that doing something new can be scary. This is a way for them to see it in action."

Source: Heather Weisse Walsh, MAGPI
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

Energy Innovation Hub grows as U.K. firm announces move to Navy Yard

Less than two months since $122 million was announced to create an Energy Innovation Hub at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the project is already taking shape. United Kingdom-based Mark Group, a European home energy efficiency leader, was welcomed on Friday by Gov. Ed Rendell to its new home at the Navy Yard, where it will hire up to 320 workers over the next three years.

Mark Group was founded in 1974 and boasts of improving the energy efficiency of more than 2 million homes, installing more than 6,000 measures every week that help consumers save. The company is in growth mode, having recently established an Australian base of operations.

Led by a Penn State University-headed team, the Clean Energy campus at the Navy Yard is one of three regional clusters nationally that are designed to bring together leading researchers and the private sector to develop energy efficient building designs. Buildings accounty for nearly 40 percent of U.S. energy consumption.

"The creation of alternative energy sources is key to America's economic future," says Mark Group CEO Jeff Bartos. "We are excited to launch our business from Philadelphia and to deliver energy efficiency upgrades to homes throughout the nation."

As part of the move, Mark Group received a $3.28 million financing package from the Governor's Action Team. Bringing the company across the pond was truly a collaborative effort: The state Department of Community and Economic Development's international trade off, the City of Philadelphia, Select Greater Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. and the TeamPA Foundation were all credited.

Source: Jeff Bartos, Mark Group
Writer: Joe Petrucci

Interactive mapping platform launched to connect Philadelphians to their local communities

It's one of life's great mysteries: you can travel to a thousand cities and eat at a hundred fancy restaurants and drink a dozen craft beers at each of the bars along the way. But a meal never tastes as good as one at your favorite neighborhood haunt. And according to Philadelphia's sustainability leaders, this phenomenon is not just good for your appetite, it can be good for your neighborhood and your city as well.

Based on a concept created by the William Penn Foundation, partners from the Sustainable Business Network, Azavea and NPower created Common Space, a new mapping platform that creates a network of neighborhood establishments within a certain walkable, bikeable or busable distance to help residents support local business.

"The really cool thing is, I can map my friend's common space as well as my own," says SBN Executive Director Leanne Krueger-Braneky. "So if I am leaving from my office in Center City and meeting my husband who is coming from our house in West Philadelphia, he could say he is going to bike for 15 minutes and I could say I was going to walk for 20 minutes and Common Space will map the area where we would be able to meet up and map local culture events and businesses in that field."

Partnering with tastemakers like UWISHUNU and Yelp, Common Space shows you the best spots in your transit area, allowing you the most sustainable way possible to hit your next favorite haunt. After their trial run, organizers hope to partner with citywide festivals and cultural events like LiveArts and Philly Beer Week.

"Sustainability was one of the values William Penn outlined, which is why they wanted to partner with us," Krueger-Braneky says. "Because the application does encourage walking, biking, and public transit, it's a way of showing what's going on in the city while encouraging alternative transit."

Source: Leanne Krueger-Braneky, SBN
Writer: John Steele

Center City District releases 'The Holy Grail' of jobs reports

This week, Center City District CEO Paul Levy acquired the Holy Grail of city planning; a detailed set of data collected by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau. The data may not provide eternal life for city developers but it will make life a whole lot sweeter.

After years of educated guessing to determine demographic breakdowns of Philadelphia's downtown, this data set has pinned down where the 267,331 Philly workers (as of 2008) make their living and hang their hats. Previously only having county data to work with, 48 states participated in a federal program to determine demographic data for cities. CCD published Philadelphia's Major Employment Nodes: Where City Residents Work, a 12-page report outlining where we work and where that may soon take us.

"This is the Holy Grail we have been searching for for 20 years because all this time we have been estimating how many people work downtown," says Levy. "A retailer wants to make a decision on where to locate? We know exactly how much money residents earn, how many work here. This is a huge tool for economic development."

One of the key myths busted by this wealth of new information is the idea that suburbanites hold most of the jobs in Center City. In fact,
Philadelphia residents hold 51 percent of Center City's private-sector jobs. And many city-dwellers, the report states, commute to outlying corporate hubs for work, which Levy says may drive transportation policy in the future.

"We know now that 15 percent of the jobs in the King of Prussia area are held by Philadelphia residents," says Levy. "So that starts to have huge implications for transit planning. In this report we can clearly show the importance of the downtown and how many people would benefit from improvements to transit."

Source: Paul Levy, Center City District
Writer: John Steele

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