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North Philadelphia : In The News

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Drake building recording studio at Strawberry Mansion High

The recording artist (and notable Canadian) Drake has committed to funding the construction of a recording studio at Strawberry Mansion High.

The rapper and singer said that after watching a Diane Sawyer special about the school which ran last May, he wanted to help: "by the end of it I was so heavily affected that at the end I started questioning like major aspects of my life."

Drake surprised students at Strawberry mansion high during a taping of a follow-up to the original ABC special. He told them that "over the next few months," he would build a recording studio there. He said, "This about you. This about your principal. This about your future. I love you. I care about you. I want to see you succeed."

Original source: Curbed Philly
Read the complete story here.



Transit-oriented development Paseo Verde dedicated in North Philly

Paseo Verde, an exciting community-supported project in North Philadelphia, was recently completed. It is hopefully a standard-bearer in transit-oriented development.

Paseo Verde, a super green, mixed-use, mixed income community hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony this morning. The complex is the country's very first Platinum LEED certified Neighborhood Development, a distinction that it earned by creating an eco-friendly, transit focused project with the goal of "providing a healthy living environment for residents through sustainable practices, as well as cost savings through effective reduction in energy use."

Even Paseo Verde's most expensive apartments wouldn't fall into the luxury price range, but it does seem that they'll be offering quite a few luxury amenities: residents will get access to a fitness center, community rooms, a technology center, gardening plots, and green roofs.

Original source: Curbed Philly
Read the complete story here.

Martin Luther King High School emerges from school closings turmoil with success on the gridiron

Earlier this year, The New York Times reported on the absorption of Germantown High School's football team into that of rival Martin Luther King High School. Despite the heartache of the merger, the team had a triumphant season.

Martin Luther King High School had one victory in 2012. And that was by forfeit. This fall, a $304 million budget shortfall in the Philadelphia school district forced a merger with archrival Germantown High. Many doubted the merger would work...

Then something wonderful happened. Defeat became liberating. Desperation forged unity. Coach Edward Dunn, 27, embroidered a team from a ragged collection of players. Each game became a kind of playoff and King went more than two months without losing.

The Cougars won nine straight games and their first Public League championship. Quarterback Joseph Walker was named the league’s most valuable player. Delane Hart became the league’s career leader in receiving yards (1,932) and the first with more than 1,000 yards in a season. He sometimes wore socks with a Superman logo and little red capes that fluttered as he ran pass routes.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

Temple's new president announces ambitious $50 million plan

In his inaugural address, new Temple University president Neil D. Theobald announced an ambitious 5-year plan that should improve the city and ease the debt burden on students.

One proposal calls for Temple to become more involved in helping the city solve its problems, such as the Philadelphia School District's funding crisis. Theobald, a professor, researcher, and expert in education finance, will participate in an afternoon symposium on funding. The $50 million for research, which Theobald touted as the largest-ever investment in the university's academic program, will be used to bring in new faculty to explore problems deemed most pressing in the city and state, he said. The research will be carried out across disciplines, he said.

Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
Read the complete story here.

The Economist praises foot patrols in rough Philadelphia neighborhoods

Foot patrols can be an effective tool in neighborhoods with high crime rates, forcing young officers out of their police cars and into interactions with the community.

Such patrols work best if officers return to the same street several times in each shift, says Jerry Ratcliffe, director of Temple’s Centre for Security and Crime Science. A good officer will soon know everybody on his beat. It is important to "spend time just standing on a street corner, chatting to people, getting a feel for the tempo and rhythm of a place." Foot patrols work best in dense neighbourhoods, says Mr Ratcliffe, where many people cannot afford air conditioning and so socialise on the street. Drunken disagreements beget violence. “Half the people shot in Philadelphia are shot within two blocks of their address,” he says.

Original source: The Economist
Read the complete story here.
 

Green development Folsom Powerhouse comes to Francisville

Postgreen Homes is teaming up with Equinox Management & Construction LLC to build the Folsom Powerhouse, a 31-unit mixed-income green housing project in Francisville.

Postgreen and Equinox are also aided by ISA Architects, who designed the project, and Studio Bryan Hanes, who is responsible for the landscaping. The development will feature energy efficient design, with solar power, green roof technology and advanced storm water management practices. It’s proximity to public transit, nearby shops and the Francisville community center will give residents great access to amenities and necessities.

"Our proposal adapted Folsom’s fabric and the City’s best practices in urban planning," explained Chad Ludeman, President of Postgreen Homes. "The Powerhouse name is indicative of our commitment to extreme energy efficiency, giving residents the power to live with community and environmental consciousness in mind."


Original source: Inhabitat
Read the complete story here.

School closings create strange bedfellows on the gridiron

The closing of Germantown High School sent players to rival Martin Luther King High School. The New York Times took a close look at the blended squad.

What was once unthinkable to many players had become intimate and binding. Most of King’s current roster played last season at archrival Germantown High School in northwest Philadelphia. Few could have imagined the schools merging, the teams playing as one.

When King last defeated Germantown in their annual Thanksgiving Day game, in 2010, the players brawled with fists and helmets. The police intervened.

But austerity has trumped rivalry. Facing a $304 million budget shortfall, the chronically troubled Philadelphia School District closed 23 schools in June. The closings included Germantown, one of the nation’s oldest high schools, which opened in 1914 and closed a year shy of its centennial. Most of its students would now attend King. The two schools were about a mile apart and shared a tense history.


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here.

AP showcases Vetri's 'Eatiquette' school lunch program

Chef Marc Vetri is bringing his 'Eatiquette' school lunch program to the People For People Charter School.

It sounds more like a restaurant order than a school lunch menu: baked ziti with a side of roasted fennel salad and, for dessert, cinnamon apple rice pudding.

But that's one of the meals offered in the cafeteria at People For People Charter School in Philadelphia. And it's served family-style. Students pass serving dishes around circular tables, where they eat off plates, not cafeteria trays, and use silverware instead of plastic utensils.

People For People is one of four schools participating in the "Eatiquette" program, which was designed by local chef Marc Vetri to provide nutritious, low-cost lunches in a setting that reinforces social niceties and communication skills.


Original source: The Associated Press
Read the full story here.

Olney's Bilenky Cycle Works profiled in short film

Bilenky Cycle Works, the legendary Olney custom bike builders headed up by Steve Bilenky (and his beard), is the subject of a wonderful short film by Bicycling magazine, directed by Andrew David Watson.

Long before the resurgence of "handmade everything" Stephen Bilenky started a career as a custom bicycle builder. 30 years later, Stephen is still creating works of art in his gritty north philadelphia workshop.

Original source: Bicycling magazine
Click here to watch the mini-documentary.


The New York Times notes a lack of diversity in school lit

Many young latino readers are noticing a dearth of diverse protagonists in available books. The New York Times visits a Philadelphia-area school to examine this issue.

At Bayard Taylor Elementary in Philadelphia, a school where three-quarters of the students are Latino, Kimberly Blake, a third-grade bilingual teacher, said she struggles to find books about Latino children that are “about normal, everyday people.” The few that are available tend to focus on stereotypes of migrant workers or on special holidays. “Our students look the way they look every single day of the year,” Ms. Blake said, “not just on Cinco de Mayo or Puerto Rican Day.”

Original source: The New York Times
Read the full story here.

Who vandalized the beloved Dox Thrash mural?

An iconic mural of artist Dox Thrash, located in western North Philadelphia, was recently destroyed. The Atlantic Cities investigates.

The Thrash mural, located on the side of an abandoned house at 2442 Cecil B. Moore Avenue, depicted the artist working in his studio in a style mirroring his own beloved carborundum process. Eric Okdeh and Calvin Jones painted it in 2001 to coincide with a Thrash exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Later, it became part of MAP's public tour of 47 murals that “uniquely capture the rich African American experience in Philadelphia,” featuring a podcast narrated by none other than ?uestlove. So why did it mysteriously disappear?

Original Source: The Atlantic Cities
Read the full story here.

Historic jab: Joe Frazier's gym, legacy to be honored in Philly

Late heavyweight great Joe Frazier is getting some posthumous love in his adopted hometown of Philadelphia, reports The New York Times.
 
Mr. Frazier’s relationship with the city was complicated. People flocked to him for autographs, especially in North Philadelphia, a neighborhood of boarded-up row houses, drug markets and littered streets. But even there, he labored in the shadow of his rival Muhammad Ali, who ridiculed him as an “Uncle Tom” and the “Great White Hope.”
 
Original source: The New York Times
Read the full story here.

Behind the B Corp 'badge of honor' with Mugshots, Workplace Dynamics

Mugshots CoffeeHouse & Cafe and Workplace Dynamics in Exton are profiled as proud, eco-conscious members of the B Corp movement, reports Entrepreneur.
 
Mugshots owner Angela Vendetti says just making it through the extensive certification process is something to be proud of as an entrepreneur. "There are all kinds of questions about your waste policy and what you do for the environment," Vendetti says. "They ask about cleaning products and energy, everything from what you offer your employees to how you consider your neighbors in the decisions you make."
 
Original source: Entrepreneur
Read the full story here.
 

Soup's on: PhilaSoup promotes innovative education projects

Philadelphia sisters Claire and Nikka Landau and friend Jason Tucker have established PhilaSoup as a monthly dinner bringing together dynamic educators to fund the most ambitious and innovative projects, reports NPR.

On a recent Sunday night, the trio of friends welcomed about 45 teachers and other members of the local education community to a cozy gathering at the University Barge Club, a 19th-century boathouse on the banks of the Schuylkill River. As folks walked in, they were asked to fill out name tags -- with their names and the names of their favorite children's books.

"Teachers all over Philadelphia are doing terrific projects," Claire said. "It's really exciting to gather and break bread with teachers from across the city doing exciting things."


Original source: NPR
Read the full story here.

It's going down in Yorktown: Neighborhood plan wins national award

A couple months ago we wrote about honoring Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Yorktown, a community on the verge of rebound, and now the American Planning Association has awarded a 2012 National Planning Award for Yorktown's recently completed community-driven master plan Yorktown 2015: A Blueprint for Sustainability and Survival.

"Yorktown 2015 capitalized on the energy and creativity of Yorktown’s residents by engaging them and using their input to create an action plan," said Marie L. York, FAICP, APA Board Director and 2012 Awards Jury Co-Chair. "Despite the small size of the community, participation was overwhelming, with more than 260 Yorktown residents participating in surveys, meetings, and groups to help shape this plan."

In addition to robust traditional community outreach and engagement components, Yorktown 2015 participation was enabled through a more innovative method. Interface Studio, conceptualized, designed, and fabricated a storytelling booth--the Yorktown Chatter Box--that invited community members to step inside and speak into a soup can telephone [actually a functional audio recording device] to tell stories about their memories of Yorktown, share their hopes for the future of the neighborhood, and describe the characteristics of the neighborhood they feel would be most important to preserve.


Original source: American Planning Association, PA-Southeast Blog
Read the full story here.
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