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Philadelphia Fashion Incubator launches a five-day pop-up shop in Manayunk

The Philadelphia Fashion Incubator at Macy's Center City (PFI), an intensive year-long business boot camp for early-career fashion entrepreneurs, will be launching a pop-up shop in an empty Manayunk storefront from June 25 through 29.
 
Launched in March 2012 as a collaboration between Macy's Center City, the City of Philadelphia and Center City District, PFI is helmed by executive director Elissa Bloom, who previously taught fashion entrepreneurship at both Drexel University and Moore College of Art.
 
Prior to her Philly relocation, Bloom spent roughly eight years living the entrepreneurial lifestyle in New York, launching a successful accessories business.

"I basically created this program out of the needs that I had as an entrepreneur and a designer in the market," says Bloom. "It's kind of like a five-year fast-forward for these designers."  
 
The six entrepreneurs enrolled in this year's residency are offered legal advice from local volunteer lawyers; receive business plan reviews and professional advice from a Wharton research director; are introduced to industry insiders; and meet regularly with mentors.
 
"But in addition to the curriculum, I thought, 'Well, the designers also need opportunities to sell and showcase their collections,'" recalls Bloom. "Hence, the pop-up."
 
Scheduled to run from 11 a.m. on June 25 through 8 p.m. on June 29 at 4347 Main Street in Manayunk, the pop-up shop will kick-off with a party on the evening of the 25th. Roughly a dozen designers will be showcasing and selling their work, including three graduates from the program's first two graduating classes.
 
To learn more about the stainless steel accessories, utility design handbags, women's evening wear and patterned garments that will be on offer at the shop, click here.

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Elissa Bloom, Philadelphia Fashion Incubator
 

Using art to open a dialogue between both sides of the corner store glass

Many low-income Philadelphia neighborhood are spotted with Latin- and Asian-owned corner stores; often, they can feel disconnected from the surrounding community. An upcoming collaboration between the Asian Arts Initiative and Amber Art and Design seeks to address that divide.
 
Titled "Corner Store (Take-Out Stories)," the multi-disciplinary art project takes an up-close-and-personal look at this racially and culturally charged aspect of urban living -- namely, the ubiquitous immigrant-owned corner store and its prevalence in largely black communities.  
 
"We use art to look in a deeper manner at a lot of social issues," says Amber Art's Keir Johnston, who adds that because immigrant-owned corner stores are the reality of commerce in many marginalized communities, there's an extreme social dynamic that takes place within them daily.
 
And yet, as Amber Art's Ernel Martinez explains, due to "an underlying tension that's been building for many decades" between black communities and the immigrants who serve them, the opportunity for social interaction between cultural groups is often an afterthought.      
 
Running June 6 through August 22 at Asian Arts Initiative (1219 Vine Street), "Corner Store" is a multimedia exhibition featuring video interviews with corner-store owners, still photos and mixed-media work. Pop-up performances will take place in mock corner-store structures where handmade currency and merchandise will trade hands. And ultimately, the artists hope, a dialogue will begin to emerge within the city's real-life corner stores.  

"One of the major points of this project is to collect the stories from one community and share them with another," explains Johnston.

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Keir Johnston and Ernel Martinez, Amber Art and Design
  

The Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby turns to Indiegogo to raise funds

It's a perfect example of an organization hampered by its own success: In the early days, the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby -- a beloved annual parade of unusual human-powered floats -- attracted less than 10 teams of sculpture riders and maybe a few hundred spectators. But that was eight years ago. When the annual Derby kicks off this Saturday, May 17, the hosts expect upwards of 10,000 fans.

For the event's organizers at the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC), that means more street barricades, more fences, more portable toilets -- the works. Or, as NKCDC's Joanna Winchester puts it, "as [the event] has gotten bigger, the costs have gotten a lot bigger."    
 
In an effort to tackle those costs while still preserving the Derby's authenticity and local vibe, NKCDC has embraced crowdfunding. On April 22 -- Earth Day -- their Indiegogo campaign went live, with the goal of raising $5,000.
 
Kensington-based Philadelphia Brewing Company, long one of the Derby's most ardent supporters, is matching every dollar donated up to $5,000. And for a $500 Indiegogo donation, PBC is also offering one of the campaign's quirkiest reward perks: an opportunity to work the bottling line at the brewery, and to take home a case of your spoils come shift's end. Other perks include Derby T-shirts and Pizza Brain gift certificates.
 
The campaign ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on Friday, May 16, which means you have just a few more days to kick in. The real perk, of course, will arrive when the Sculpture Derby kicks off on Saturday, and when once again, the entire city has the opportunity to witness the artistic brilliance your largess made possible.

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Joanna Winchester, NKCDC

 

Creative Mornings, a monthly breakfast lecture series, arrives in Philadelphia

Josh Goldblum is founder and creative director of Bluecadet, a respected local design agency. He's also pretty keyed-in to the local creative community.
 
Recently, a couple of Goldblum's friends relocated from New York City to Philadelphia, and asked the same question: "Where's the Creative Mornings chapter here?" They were surprised to find that he didn't have an answer.
 
"In New York, [Creative Mornings] is a huge thing," explains Goldblum. "It's like a part of the local fabric there."
 
Launched in 2008 by designer Tina Roth Eisenberg, Creative Mornings is often referred to as "TED for the rest of us." More simply, it's a breakfast lecture series specifically geared towards the creative community. Each early-morning event features one speaker speaking for roughly an hour on a pre-chosen topic.
 
And while the events now take place monthly in nearly 70 cities worldwide, Philadelphia's chapter is brand new. Goldblum is the city's host -- he applied after fielding those inquiries from his two friends. At 8:30 a.m. on May 16, he'll be hosting Philadelphia's second Creative Mornings speaker at Drexel's URBN Center. Game designer Will Stallwood of the video game studio Cipher Prime will be riffing on the topic of freedom.
 
"I think he's going to be talking about creative freedom," says Goldblum, "because he has complete creative freedom himself."
 
Creative Mornings events are free, and as for the 8:30 a.m. call time? "Basically, the whole idea is that it's always early in the morning, so you can go and get your inspiration, and then get to work on time for your first meeting," explains Goldblum.
 
Sign up here to receive announcements about future events and to reserve tickets. 

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Josh Goldblum, Bluecadet

 

A group of beer-loving mechanical engineers at Bresslergroup automate the home-brewing process

Three craft-beer enthusiasts who work for Bresslergroup, a local product design consultancy, have developed a consumer home-brewing appliance that may one day turn the growing home-brewing industry on its head. The Bresslergroup Brewery, as the team calls its new venture, has created an Arduino-powered automated system that brews computer-assisted beer.

The idea for the appliance was the result of an informal conversation between a small group of employees, all of them home-brewing hobbyists. "One of our partners thought, 'Hey, it'd be pretty cool if we could do this here,'" recalls Todd Sack, a Bresslergroup product design engineer. "Sort of leverage the expertise and talent we have at Bresslergroup to take [home brewing] to the next level.'"
 
And that is exactly what they did.
 
The team's "yearlong quest to innovate … and automate the typical home brew process" -- as it's explained in a company blog post -- has resulted in a setup that still requires a decent level of computer literacy to operate. Should the kit ever make its way to market, however, it would likely include a kettle, a heating element and a thermocouple, as well as an Arduino-operated control box with a user-friendly interface, and an app that could be controlled from a laptop or mobile device. The product would probably come with a retail price-point in the $500 to $600 range. (Similar commercially available units capable of brewing beer are generally priced in the $1,200 to $2,000 range.)
  
As part of this year's upcoming Philly Tech Week, a presentation of the automated system, complete with a beer tasting, will take place at the Bresslergroup offices (6 - 8 p.m. April 9). Reserve your seat here.

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Todd Sack, Bresslergroup



Workshop PHL, a lo-fi maker space, comes to Fishtown

Fishtown will soon be home to a new hands-on arts-and-crafts school known as Workshop PHL.
 
Its founder, Delaware County native Kelly Malone, describes Workshop as a lo-fi, DIY interpretation of a maker facility. It will be a place where affordable classes are treated as laid-back social affairs, and where local creatives will teach everything from simple sewing and cocktail-making to photography and jewelry-making.     
 
According to Malone, the mostly one-night courses offered at Workshop will include "all the popular ones," such as beer brewing and screenprinting. A number of more eclectic offerings are also in the works, including a three-and-a-half-hour "Sewing for Dudes" class and a two-hour course on building tiny glass jar terrariums.
 
The Workshop concept was actually born in Malone's former home of San Francisco, where she opened Workshop SF with fellow maker David Knight in late 2009. Last December, Malone returned to Philly to care for her parents.

"I needed a job and I didn't want to go get a normal one," she says. "So, I decided to open another location here."
 
A decidedly low level of commitment and a co-ed environment are both big parts of the Workshop ethos. According to Malone, throughout her childhood "everybody in my family made stuff, but no one really did it together. The men were in the garage or out in the shed, and the women were in the sewing room."
 
Workshop PHL is currently holding a two-week preview (through March 15) and will open officially on April 1.

"You can just go in and have a good time," explains Malone, "and see if you like it before you really dive in."

Writer: Dan Eldridge
Source: Source: Kelly Malone, Workshop PHL

 

Need to charge your phone? A local company has your back

There are few things worse than watching the battery on your smart phone slowly drain towards zero at the worst possible moment. Fortunately, an innovative local company is hoping to lend a hand.

One of the many vendors debuting products at the recent GreenBuild International Expo was Plymouth Meeting-based CarrierClass Green Infrastructure (CCGI), founded by Jim Innes and Ian Jones in 2008. CCGI designs, sells and installs solar electric, solar thermal and custom off-grid solar power products for commercial and residential customers. 

CCGI's latest solar-powered product addresses a mounting problem for those of us who rely heavily on our mobile devices -- their tedency to lose power at inopportune times. 

Though other public mobile device charging stations are already available, CCGI’s ConnecTable Solar Charging Stations offer the distinct advantage of using green energy to repower devices. In addition to the sustainable advantages offered by their use of solar energy, ConnecTable Solar Charging Stations provide unique security advantages over other charging stations. As a fully off-grid system, ConnecTables continue to provide power during extended electric outages and natural disasters.

ConnecTable Solar Charging Stations are available for commercial and residential use in café, picnic and deck table forms, designed to accommodate a range of table design aesthetics, surface materials and site designs. They are ideal for universities, city parks, outdoor malls, sports complexes, mixed-use developments and theme parks. 

Qualifying organizations may be eligible for low-interest financing of the tables through Pennsylvania's Sustainable Energy Fund, founded during electric deregulation proceedings to promote, research and invest in clean and renewable energy technologies. 

ConnecTables also qualify for the 30 percent federal business energy investment tax credit offered to businesses that install solar; and colleges may use designated green funds to purchase tables.

Writer: Nicole Woods
Source: Paige Wolf, Certified B Corp.

Inventing the Future: Creative Café @ Replica, first-ever print shop/cafe opens in University City

Believe it or not, until December 2, there was no one-stop shop for caffeine and creatives—no Kinko’s/Starbucks joint venture. Keith Leaphart, the CEO who reimagined the graphic design firm Replica Creative at a time when many thought print was a dying business, saw this as an obvious opportunity. 

"I’m proud that Philadelphia is the birthplace of this concept,” says Leaphart. "The Creative Café @ Replica allows us to do what we love to do best, and that is provide great services, while meeting and greeting people. And what better way to do that than over coffee?”

The Creative Café @ Replica prints marketing materials, wedding invitations and custom wall graphics while serving up comfort food from DiBruno Brothers and coffee from Counter Culture. Leaphart hopes that the cafe/lounge/print shop hybrid will be more than the sum of its parts; its location at University City Science Center should be a huge asset.

"So much is happening in University City," he says. "The creative economy is truly thriving; and University City is one of the best places to be, to foster and grow original concepts. When we found this space in the Science Center, it was love at first sight…I was excited at the opportunity to launch the concept in the heart of the innovation zone."

Though two different groups of employees were hired to staff Creative Café (graphic designers and baristas), Leaphart looked for the same basic qualities when hiring

"Across the board, we like intelligent, energetic, creative types who understand that our corporate philosophy is ‘Grow or Go!’" he explains. 

The Creative Cafe @ Replica is located at 3711 Market Street; to learn more, visit replicacreative.com and follow @designprintcafe on Twitter. 

Writer: Nicole Woods
Source: Keith Leaphart, Creative Café @ Replica 

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

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

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: EEB Hub offers guidance in wake of new Energy Benchmarking Law

Imagine knowing how much energy a apartment consumed before you signed the lease. Thanks to the recent enactment of the Building Energy Benchmarking Law -- an energy-use disclosure act -- and the expertise of the Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EEB) Hub, the environmental performance of buildings will soon be public information.

People who own buildings with over 50,000 square feet of space are now required to report property stats, including annual energy and water use, through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's online Portfolio Manager. (The deadline for compliance is October 31, 2013). With help from EEB Hub, those numbers will be analyzed to determine a building's energy efficiency rating. By publishing the results in an open, searchable database, the city hopes to spark a ripple of efficiency improvements.

Energy benchmarking is a new strategy but it's already changing cities across the country. In New York, for example, buildings reduced consumption by 18 to 31 percent after the first year of implementation.

"You can't manage what you don't measure," says Laurie Actman, deputy director of the EEB Hub. "This provides a measurement tool. Hopefully, there will be tenants who seek out more efficient buildings and that will drive more owners to invest in energy efficiency."

Starting August 14, EEB Hub will offer five monthly sessions on the benchmarking process, explaining strategies and resources for increasing building performance. The series compliments a two day "re-tuning" seminar – scheduled for September 23 through a partnership between EEB Hub, Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Philadelphia and the EPA -- that teaches building operators to reduce energy costs through ongoing refinements.

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

Source: Laurie Actman, Energy Efficiency in Buildings Hub
Writer: Dana Henry

South Philly Food Co-op preps for annual garden tour, is hiring

They're popping up all over the neighborhood -- little stickers proclaiming "We Support South Philly Food Co-op." 

The infant co-op is prepping for a big year. After an aggressive membership push earlier this spring, the ever-so-secretive real estate committee is scouting sites (they could tell you, but they'd have to kill you) and the organization continues to raise funds.

Next on the docket is the Third Annual South Philly Garden Tour on September 7 -- a chance to take a peak into the area's hidden backyard oases. As any resident could tell you, this neighborhood is filled with secret spaces, spotted through fences and from adjacent rooftops, decked out by dedicated gardeners and DIY designers.

Due to growing turn-out and participation, this year they're narrowing the geographic area, showcasing home gardens from Washington Avenue to Snyder Avenue, 11th to 17th Street. Consider it an inside look at the South Broad Street corridor. (Click here for details on how to participate.)
 
In another sign of their rapid growth, the Co-op is currently hiring a Capital Campaign Coordinator; it's a part-time contracted position in charge of fostering the organization's $500,000 capital campaign.

Source: Carolyn Huckabay, South Philly Food Co-op
Writer: Lee Stabert

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

Indie game developers Cipher Prime climb into international spotlight, hiring

Like so many accidental entrepreneurs, Will Stallwood launched Cipher Prime -- an independent mobile game development company -- while trying to get a job. Auditorium, the game Stallwood first created with music composer Dain Saint as an example of his capabilities, won him no job, but earned millions of downloads. In 2009, shortly after that unexpected success, Cipher Prime was born.

Now based in Old City, the company has since released four games on seven platforms, earning countless awards from the likes of Google, Apple, the Indie Games Festival and Pocket Gamer.

Splice
, their most recent product, gained international attention after debuting on the iPad as Google's "Feature Launch of the Week." The game was named runner-up for Game of the Year by Apple's App Store -- and it was developed on a $120,000 budget, compared to a $1 million budget for the winner.

The company builds games in the "instructionless play" genre. Players solve abstract layered puzzles with no rules and no text. Cipher Prime incorporates work by local musicians and original art. The format starts simple but has a plethora of variables, making the games hard to master. Stallwood says this formula has helped solidify their international success.

"Basically, you're dragging and dropping these little nodes to try to form and outline," he says of Splice. "By the time you’re done the game, it's like a petri dish. You’re pulling cells around all over the place and they’re multiplying and you’re bending time back and forth. It really gets involved."

The company has raised $71,000 on Kickstarter for their next game, Auditorium II, and is hiring a marketer.

Cipher Prime is dedicated to building a local community of unconventional gamemakers. They host weekly development nights (regularly attended by 20 to 30 gamers), organize game-making challenges, hold public book clubs and host Skype conferences with industry leaders.

"We're really trying our damnedest to make sure there are more game developers here in Philadelphia," says Stallwood. "Everyone here loves what we do, and we want to share with other people."

Source: Will Stallwood, Cipher Prime
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
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