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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

Designer Amy Devan is making fashion waves from Philly

Most fashion designers dream of living and working in New York, London, Paris or Milan, where the big fashion weeks happen. But Amy Devan made a different choice.

The creative director of Naveda, a two-year-old luxury womenswear brand, spent most of her childhood in Philadelphia and earned her MBA at Drexel University. She founded her brand in 2013 while living in New York City. Six months ago, she made the move back to Philadelphia because she recognized it was a great place to be. Now she has a studio near Rittenhouse Square where she meets with clients for custom couture and works on her ready-to-wear line, which is sold online and in boutiques across the country.

"I thought it was really good timing to move to Philadelphia," she explains. "There's so much creativity here. I really wanted to be part of that."

Devan designs for the woman she is and wants to be: a free spirit who loves the best in materials and details. Her brand has two divisions: ready-to-wear and custom couture/bridal. Her customer tends to be a Free People customer, later in her life, and with more money to spend.

"Even though there are two segments, it's the same aesthetic, the same customer," says the designer.

Her clothes look like one-of-a-kind vintage pieces -- flowing silhouettes, beaded accents and intriguing colors. Devan has captured the attention of American and international media, and has shown her collections at New York and London Fashion Weeks in the last two seasons. Her brand is growing and she currently has a team of ten, some of whom work remotely.

Up next for Naveda is launching a ready-made couture collection, and merchandising the Fall 2015/Winter 2016 ready-to-wear collection. 

Writer: Rosella LaFevre
Source: Amy Devan, Naveda

 

Philadelphia's University City Science Center plans to double its campus

As Philadelphia's University City Science Center points out on its website, when it was founded in 1963, "the war on cancer had not been declared, the Apollo astronauts had yet to walk on the moon, and the first commercial microprocessor was eight years away."

Now the renowned urban research park -- already the oldest and largest in the U.S. -- has announced plans to double the size of its campus and accelerate the creation of a globally recognized innovation district for science and technology in West Philadelphia. 

In a joint venture with Wexford Science + Technology, a Baltimore-based biomed realty company, the Center is exploring joint development opportunities for nearly four million square feet of office, laboratory, residential, retail and parking space over the next 10 years. These opportunities include development of the former University City High School site adjacent to the Science Center and the three remaining open parcels on the existing campus: 3400, 3800 and 3850 Market Street.
 
Wexford has a wealth of experience in this area -- they have already developed 4.35 million square feet across 11 knowledge communities built upon a foundation of research, discovery and entrepreneurial activity. Their projects offer the programs, amenities and activities attractive to life science and technology companies and their employees.
 
To date, the Science Center and Wexford have successfully completed three development projects at 3701, 3711 and 3737 Market Street. These projects include multi-story buildings with lab, office and clinical spaces, structured parking and ground-floor retail spaces. 

"Our strong partnership with Wexford enables us to take a proactive and engaged approach to the changing landscape of Philadelphia’s fastest-growing innovation neighborhood," explained Science Center President & CEO Stephen S. Tang in a statement.

"Combining the vision and commercialization success of the Science Center, the development and programming expertise of Wexford and the intellectual capital and research strength of the institutions in University City, such as Drexel, Penn and Children’s Hospital, this partnership is primed to create a new environment of innovation and collaboration that will expand University City’s role as the fastest-growing economic engine and destination for innovation in Philadelphia and the region," added Jim Berens, president of Wexford.

Source: University City Science Center
Writer: Elise Vider
 

Philly-Based ZOOM Interiors walks away from 'Shark Tank' deal

A year ago, Madeline Fraser, Elizabeth Grover and Beatrice Fischel-Bock spent an hour in-studio with five investors on the set of ABC's Shark Tank. The three entrepreneurs were recent college grads who hailed from all over the country but came to Philadelphia to grow their online interior design consultation company, ZOOM Interiors.

They offered up a lively presentation to Barbara Corcoran, Robert Herjavec, Kevin O'Leary, Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner. The trio sought $100,000 for a 20 percent stake in their company. They came out of their pitch with a deal from real estate magnate Corcoran, who offered $100,000 for 33 percent of the business. The episode aired on May 8.

"I never thought they would be so invested in the company," recalls Fraser. "They were very kind and willing to give guidance. It was such a priceless experience to have these five people give their advice."

After five months of due diligence, ZOOM Interiors and Barbara Corcoran parted ways. While Fraser and her business partners sought more of a mentor to guide and shape the business, they felt Corcoran was too busy to give them the personal attention they sought. 

"She's such a busy lady," says Fraser. "I think it was a bit much for her to take on at the time. Her staff is really incredible as well. Through the process of due diligence, you're getting a business analysis from such wise people."

ZOOM Interiors was born while Fraser, Grover and Fischel-Bock were studying abroad in London. Meanwhile, their friends were getting first jobs and moving into grownup apartments -- and emailing to ask for interior design advice. The three design school students were always notably well-dressed and people liked their aesthetic. They answered questions, did some online shopping, and helped those friends transform blank spaces into stylish homes, all through email from thousands of miles away. Turning that process into a company was the next logical step.

Since filming their episode of Shark Tank, Fraser, Grover and Fischel-Bock have made some adjustments to the business model. They still provide a free 15-minute consultation to each person who fills out their survey. After that, customers can purchase a custom concept board (called a ZoomBoard) to start the design process for $199. If customers like what they see, they can take the next step and receive a detailed shopping list. There are other extras and room bundles available for purchase.

The biggest change to the model might be the elimination of commission on the pieces purchased. This cuts out the greatest risk with traditional interior design: that the designer is urging you to buy certain furniture and décor because they're getting a cut. ZOOM's business model has no hidden fees.

The company also sells furniture and décor through the "Shop" section of their website. The are pieces chosen because they fit the founders' high-style, minimal-effort aesthetic.

Fraser has been in Philadelphia for about a year now, and she's in love with her new city. 

"We visited a few times before graduation and fell in love," she enthuses. "This is a really great place for startups."

Writer: Rosella LaFevre
Source: Madeline Fraser, ZOOM Interiors

Calling all Makers: NextFab opens second location in Fishtown

 NextFab, a "gym for innovators" that provides members access to a variety of fabrication tools, celebrated the grand opening of its second location on Friday. The new outpost is on the first floor of Impact Hub Philadelphia, a socially-minded co-working space in Fishtown.

While the pairing of a business space with a workshop may seem odd to some, the match was well-made. The lovingly restored building at N. 4th and Thompson Streets was formerly occupied by 3rd Ward, a Brooklyn-founded (and now defunct) maker space.

"We learned that 3rd Ward had left a fair amount of equipment and some spaces fit out as workshops, and that Impact Hub was pondering what to do with them," explains Evan Malone, president of NextFab. "Our working together seemed to be a logical solution."

In addition to taking over unused space and equipment, Malone is also excited to be close to where people live and work -- there is a large community of artists, designers and tinkerers in the Fishtown, Northern Liberties and Kensington communities.

"It's not as large as our Wash Avenue location, but it provides well-rounded wood and metal shops, and a very quiet and comfortable CAD and electronics lab," enthuses Malone. "We are most excited that North 4th has NextFab's first shop dedicated to jewelry making and we have a professional jewelry designer on staff."
 
Keep an eye on the NextFab website for special offers throughout the month in celebration of the new space and for partnership projects with Impact Hub later this year.

Writer: Hailey Blessing
Source: Evan Malone, NextFab

Drexel and TechGirlz partner to teach game design to young women

Girls just want to have…parity in the tech world.

With the aim of addressing gender inequality in the sector, Drexel University’s Entrepreneurial Game Studio is working with the Philadelphia nonprofit TechGirlz to create a virtual game design class that will be made available, free-of-charge, to schools and students nationwide.

This set of self-contained, online instructional videos and educational materials will guide middle school and high-school-age students – and their teachers – through a basic game design curriculum. 
 
"Our goal is to give young women a little taste of game design," explains Frank Lee, an associate professor in Westphal College of Media Arts & Design and founder of the Entrepreneurial Game Studio. "Many of them are already playing video games, but we’re hoping our workshops will inspire them to ask questions about how they’re made, and think about how they could make them better. We want to make a program that is useful and engaging enough that students will get enough basic coding knowledge to make a simple game."

"Our goal for this program is to make sure girls understand what technology is all about and how they can be part of it," adds Tracey Welson Rossman, founder of TechGirlz. "This particular program is targeted to increase the number of girls who understand how cool creating games can be."

Participants in TechGirlz’ ongoing workshops and summer programs are currently testing the game design curriculum for an anticipated fall launch. According to Welson Rossman, the nonprofit is also planning to expand its workshop offerings nationwide. 

Source: Tracey Welson Rossman, TechGirlz and Drexel University
Writer: Elise Vider

Turning artists and creatives into entrepreneurs at Corzo Open Office Hours

According to Todd Hestand, manager of incubator programs at University of the Arts’ Corzo Center for the Creative Economy, there’s no excuse for creative professionals in Philly not turning their ideas into businesses.

"This is one of those great lies," he explains. "Artists love to say that there’s no resources out there for them, there’s no funding, and that’s all just a big excuse…there are tons of resources out there for artists. You just have to go out and look."

One of those resources is the Corzo Center (which receives funding from PECO, Wells Fargo and the Knight Foundation). It offers a four-pronged program for different levels of engagement, including free lectures and workshops, Corzo’s Open Office Hours program, two-week business Boot Camps, and a Creative Incubator Grant.

The Center defines artists as broadly as possible -- everything from musicians and performers to fine artists, craftspeople and industrial designers. And they can help any artist who wants to start a business, either for- or non-profit, from supporting themselves with their own practice to developing an app.

Hestand, a serial entrepreneur with a long resume as an executive management consultant who is also an artist and musician, first came across Corzo Director Neil Kleinman about five years ago when he joined Philly Startup Leaders.

"He said he was running this thing called the Corzo Center," recalls Hestand. "I said, 'Who’s on your team?' He said, 'Well, just me.' I said, 'Well, not anymore.' That was about it."

Hestand is also the administrative coordinator for the Open Office Hours program, providing unlimited, free, confidential entrepreneurship counseling sessions to the public. This rapidly growing four-year-old initiative offers access to about 25 experts at three different partner locations: UArts, the Curtis Institute and NextFab.

All consultants are well-rounded business strategists, but aspiring entrepreneurs can pick from a long list of specialties including accounting, marketing, PR, taxes, finance, web design and development.

While the Corzo Center isn’t the only place in the city offering counsel to aspiring entrepreneurs, "there really isn’t any other organized, growing operational office hours capacity for artists starting businesses in Philly," argues Hestand.

Recently, a new scheduling platform through the Timely app has dramatically increased program participation: The number of appointments has doubled every month since it launched.

Hestand estimates that 100 people used the old platform last year, but that number could easily jump to three or four hundred in 2015.

"All locations are free and open to the public," he urges. "Sign up for a much help as you need."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Todd Hestand, The Corzo Center for the Creative Economy

 

Art meets science in University City with stunning, shifting "Blueprint" installation

Most art pieces invite the viewer to bring their own perspective, but rarely does the art itself shift before you can look away. With "Blueprint," a new two-piece installation in lobbies at the University City Science Center’s 3737 Market Street, members of London's United Visual Artists (UVA) have taken the laws of science -- in fields like biology, software and genetics -- and married them to the light, color and texture of art.

When Flying Kite caught up with UVA's Nick Found and Ben Kreukniet in early December, it was a busy week for the internationally acclaimed arts group, which works on projects that encompass sculpture, installation, live performance and architecture. UVA recently installed pieces in Seoul, London and Philadelphia -- that's three exhibitions on three continents opening in the same week.

Each rectangular Blueprint piece is eight feet high and four feet wide, and weighs over 286 pounds. They’re a combination of color-shifting LED lights glowing through a translucent acrylic matte broken into 1,536 rectangular cells thanks to an aluminum grid (or aluminium, depending what side of the pond you’re from).

"We’re not very pro using off-the-shelf products," explains Found, referring to the painstaking year-long process of creating the works by hand, not to mention the software that powers Blueprint’s undulating look.

Because if you look at Blueprint for more than a few seconds, you’ll notice that the colors are constantly shifting and shading, fighting each other for chunks of the board, constantly spreading and receding in different ways. Occasionally, the board resolves into one solid shade before the waves of color pulse back to life.

It’s all thanks to an algorithm "inspired by the building blocks of life," explains Kreukniet. "Instead of deciding the composition [of the piece], we’re deciding on a set of rules."

Think the natural laws that govern things such as weather patterns, soil conditions and evolution. The rules are constant, but the practical outcomes -- from drought to monsoons or frogs to giraffes -- are infinitely varied.

Found and Kreukniet have a curious relationship to their Blueprint creations, each of which plays host to two distinct software "organisms." As long as the installation is turned on, the two computer-engineered entities, representing themselves with different colors, wrestle each other for control of the board's grid, within the rules of their co-existence.

Found and Kreukniet are pleased with the location of the pieces -- these permanent installations are free for everyone to view and consider, outside of a rarefied gallery setting.

"Every time you see the piece, it’s doing something different," says Found.

Blueprint is funded by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s Percent for Art program, which teamed with the Science Center and its 3737 Market Street development partner, Wexford Science + Technology.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: Nick Found and Ben Kreukniet, United Visual Artists

 

The Mobile Maker Cart brings the tools to the people

Public Workshop founder and director Alex Gilliam calls the blue Schwinn adult tricycle known as the Mobile Maker Cart a "cabinet of curiosities," but then admits that that’s not quite right.

"Cabinet of possibilities. That’s better," he says of the one-of-a-kind mobile workshop conceived and assembled with the help of $180 and a team of 16-20 year-old Public Workshop members at the University City Science Center’s Department of Making + Doing.

The cart’s young designers fashioned several surprising elements out of wood, including pedals, handlebars, a chain-guard and even a smartphone speaker. The Mobile Maker Cart has tools, storage space, an expandable workbench, a small battery-powered generator and a folding canopy, and it’s open to anyone in the neighborhoods it visits.

So far, these visits have included block parties in Powelton Village and Spruce Hill, and stops are coming up in November at various vacant lots on Lancaster Avenue in West Philadelphia. (Mobile Maker Cart activities are funded by ArtPlace America.)

"Humans are wired to copy one another," says Gilliam of the Public Workshop mission, and why the Cart, offering an opportunity to observe and participate in the creative process in public spaces, is a perfect example of it.

“We originally learn by touching and interacting with the world,” he adds, and we experience a remnant of this every time we absentmindedly put a pen in our mouth while thinking.

Youngsters might drive adults crazy with time-honored toddler activities such as banging pots and pans together, but "that is their way -- and originally your way -- of understanding what a pan is, and what acoustics are," he insists. Once we grow up, not everyone feels like an artist, writer, director, architect or designer. But given the opportunity, "everyone likes to build," and hands-on activities spark "a chemically different process" than sitting in a meeting or completing paperwork.

Whether it’s a shovel, saw or a sledgehammer, the chance to connect with others over a physical task releases endorphins, which foster a sense of teamwork and inclusion, a sharpened memory, and the tenacity needed to get things done, Gilliam continues.

Public space is "the original Internet," he adds, where we connect, learn and collaborate in the way we really evolved to. "People are tired of talking about stuff, they just want to do…We’re pushing all those buttons."

When Mobile Maker Cart visitors are impressed by the gear onboard, and learn that, for example, an item was made by a sixteen-year-old girl, "it changes the conversation very quickly. People think, if a teenager can do it, maybe so can I."

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Alex Gilliam, The Public Workshop

 

No sweat! Philly's Fairwear keeps bike commuters cool and office-appropriate

Riffing off Benjamin Franklin, inventor, founding father, quintessential Philadelphian and all-around cool dude, Fairwear, a Philly startup, promises freedom to pursue an active lifestyle while staying comfortable. 

Founder Louis Pollack says the idea arose from the challenge of staying cool and presentable in everyday clothes while biking around Philadelphia, his adopted city.

Fairwear uses performance-based materials to create garments that are moisture wicking and highly breathable.

"Our apparel doesn't have a glossy lycra-like flair, nor does it have awkwardly placed pockets or technical trim," explains Pollack. "Fairwear is meant for a clean and comfortable transition from bike to boardroom to bar, in no particular order."

Fairwear’s line of men's button-down shirts is priced between $75 and $85. 

The company sources everything domestically from Philadelphia or New York, and manufactures at a factory in Northeast Philadelphia.

"When I started I knew I wanted to source everything locally," recalls Pollack. "My desire to keep production nearby is partially patriotic but also makes sense logistically. Local factories offer a much higher level of craftsmanship because you can maintain close input on the process. Sending your stuff overseas to be made is scary because you instantly lose control and are trusting someone you’ve never met before."

Fairwear is sold at a handful of Philly-area bike shops, craft and high-end flea markets like Philadelphia’s Franklin Flea and Phair, and at trade shows such as the upcoming Philadelphia Bike Expo

Pollack comes from a garment industry background and established the company earlier this year. As the company grows, he hopes to take Fairwear to larger national shows, and eventually open a brick-and-mortar location.

"We are always improving and tweaking details," he insists. "Stuff like material, fit and finish can always be made better. Our immediate reaction has been very positive. We want to continue supporting our early adopters, while sustainably growing Fairwear’s presence."

Source: Louis Pollack, Fairwear
Writer: Elise Vider
 

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


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