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Temple gifts 'baby boxes' to new moms to promote infant health

In a year-long project, Temple University Hospital will give free "baby boxes" to all moms who deliver there. This simple act could save lives.

It might seem a little strange to put your newborn baby in a cardboard box. But one hospital is teaching moms that it's the safest thing possible for their little bundles of joy...The idea is to decrease the rate of "co-sleeping," the practice of parents sleeping in the same bed as their babies. Done incorrectly, co-sleeping is associated with a higher risk of infant mortality. According to Philly.com, many local parents co-sleep with their kids because it's part of their culture, or their parents co-slept with them. Others do so because they can't afford a crib, or lack the space for one. 

The boxes are functioning bassinets and come with a sheet and a firm mattress, which help keep the baby sleeping on his or her back and away from toys and stuffed animals. They also contain essential items for the baby, like onesies and baby books. The boxes, manufactured by The Baby Box Company, are worth around $80 to $100 each...

Baby boxes are popular elsewhere in the world, and parents in the U.S. are just now taking notice. In Finland, the government gives them out to every new mom, and the practice dramatically dropped the country's infant mortality rates.

Original source: Good Housekeeping
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The New York Times lauds Philly's vegan dining scene

We can even forgive the lazy cheesesteak reference -- and the odd Passyunk fountain mention -- in this great rundown of Philly's vibrant vegan dining landscape.

What do you call a Philly cheese steak with no cheese and no steak?

It sounds like the setup to a punch line. But there’s nothing to laugh at when it comes to eating vegan in Philadelphia, which, in the last few years, has blossomed into a dynamic universe of vegan food, from old-school doughnuts to adventuresome tacos. Veganism is so hot that the city declared last Nov. 1 Philly Vegan Day.

“There’s a new energy here,” said Mike Barone, the owner of Grindcore House, a vegan coffee spot in South Philadelphia, famously an Italian neighborhood that’s undergone a restaurant renaissance near the grand Passyunk fountain. “You can go out to more places that are vegan. A lot of other places are accommodating, and that’s snowballing.”

Philadelphia’s vegan cheerleaders say what’s happening comes from living in a food-curious city where it’s cheap to explore new ground.

Much credit for the city’s vegan boom goes to Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby, a husband and wife team whose “vegetable restaurant” Vedge opened in 2011 in a townhouse near the trendy 13th Street neighborhood. (Horizons, their previous restaurant, helped endear the city to vegan eating.) The menu emphasizes seasonal vegetables and hearty, savory proteins like tofu and seitan (wheat gluten).

“We are cooking good food,” Mr. Landau said. “I don’t think most of our clientele care that it’s vegan.” Last year Philadelphia magazine named Vedge and V Street among the best 50 restaurants in town, calling Vedge “our favorite place to send anyone looking for a true taste of Philly talent.”

Original source: The New York Times
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The Associated Press shines a light on Philly's new attractions in advance of DNC

The AP lists off "New Ways to See Philly From Up High and Down Low," in advance of the Democratic National Convention in July.

With classic rowhouse architecture, brick sidewalks and narrow streets, some charming neighborhoods in Philadelphia can almost make you forget about cheesesteaks, Rocky and that whole American Revolution thing.

It will be hard to escape the Cradle of Liberty references this summer as the city hosts the Democratic National Convention. But Philly has plenty to offer even the most non-political visitor.

Things have been really hoppy, er hoppin', during the warm months thanks to an influx of beer gardens and revamped civic spaces where you can socialize, people-watch and Instagram your heart out.

New vantage points from up high and at the water's edge will give you a whole new way to look at The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.

Original source: Associated Press via The New York Times
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PHA looks beyond housing in Sharswood, incorporating commercial and educational uses

The New York Times takes a look at PHA's grand design for revitalizing the Sharswood neighborhood in North Philadelphia.

Seeking to do more than provide basic homes for its residents, this city’s public housing agency is taking a new approach to neighborhood revitalization. In its latest project, it is adding commercial and educational development to its main role of home building, aiming to address the underlying causes of urban distress.

In the northern part of the city, the Philadelphia Housing Authority is razing part of the Norman Blumberg Apartments in the Sharswood neighborhood, which has had especially high rates of poverty, crime and urban blight. The agency plans to bring in shops, offices and schools, along with housing, in an ambitious program to breathe new life into a struggling community.

The $500 million project, just two and a half miles from downtown Philadelphia, aims to recreate a middle-class community that never recovered after being ravaged by rioting in the 1960s, agency officials say...

Central to the new vision will be the creation of a new commercial corridor along Ridge Avenue, the neighborhood’s main street, which lost businesses as the local economy declined.

In all, the plan projects 400,000 square feet of commercial space. The agency said it was close to making a deal for a drugstore and a supermarket...The housing authority plans to move its headquarters to the street from downtown, bringing around 1,100 employees, who will bolster demand for businesses.

Original source: The New York Times
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Could Philadelphia become a mecca for vertical farming?

This sustainable agriculture model might just bloom in the City of Brotherly Love.

With its muggy summers and freezing winters, Philadelphia isn’t exactly known as an agricultural hotspot. But a resolution passed Thursday by Philadelphia City Council could put the City of Brotherly Love on the map as the next international green hub.

Local lawmakers are aiming to expand vertical and urban farming in the bustling metropolis, Philly.com reported.

“The most noble thing a human being can do is produce food for others,” Councilman Al Taubenberger, who introduced the resolution, said at a news conference held at Metropolis Farms in South Philly. “Vertical farming is something very special indeed, and fits like a glove in Philadelphia.”

As EcoWatch reported, Metropolis Farms is not only the first indoor hydroponic vertical farm in Philadelphia, it’s the first vegan-certified farm in the nation and the only known vertical farm to operate on the second floor of a building. By growing food locally, the farm slashes the distance food needs to travel to get to local kitchens, grocery stores and restaurants.

Original source: Alternet
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Brightening up Boathouse Row for the DNC

All 10,000 bulbs are being replaced for the first time since the site went LED in 2005.

"We have every intention to get it done before the Democratic National Convention," Barry Bessler, chief of staff of the parks and facilities division of the city's Parks and Recreation Department, told the Philadelphia Business Journal.

"That's a tremendous Philadelphia icon, and we want it to look its best with all these people coming to town," Bessler said.
The Fairmount Park Conservancy is supplying the money for the endeavor. Bessler said "it's going to be a significant investment," but he could not confirm the total financial cost. Reliable sources, however, place it at an estimated $500,000...

The intensity of the LED lights will be significantly brighter than it is now, Bessler said, without using more wattage.

"That's a nice feature of the upgrade in technology," he said. "We will get a much brighter appearance without any more electricity."

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Britain's Mirror spends 48 hours in Philadelphia

The British publication sent their travel editor to Philadelphia -- he came back with "eight essential experiences."

If you’ve only got 48 hours in the city with famous links to Monopoly, the first thing you should do is go directly to jail.

Philadelphia was where legend says businessman Charles Darrow dreamed up the iconic board game in 1933 (he didn’t, he patented it – it was invented in 1903 by Elizabeth Magie of Washington DC, but that’s another story).

However, on a short visit to the splendid City of Brotherly Love, I cannot recommend highly enough a trip to the Eastern State Penitentiary. Here are eight unmissable things to see and do on a short break to Philly – much of which is walkable.

Original source: Mirror
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'South Philly, West of Broad' named one of the country's best beer 'hoods

DRAFT Magazine names a segment of Philadelphia one of American's great beer neighborhoods.

This isn’t the name of a ’hood, but more the western quadrant of the city made up of several neighborhoods. They’re culturally diverse, working-class neighborhoods that are experiencing significant gentrification with businesses (and beer) following suit. Overall, there’s not tons of stuff yet, but it’s ready to explode given the recent additions.” –Jared Littman, founder of Philly Tap Finder

The original: South Philadelphia Tap Room has been a beloved mainstay since 2003, featuring 14 taps (including cask and nitro lines) and food until 1 a.m.

The newbie: New arrival Brewery ARS shoots for a spring opening in West Passyunk, brewing American-style saisons (expect dialed-up hops) with a small cafe attached.

Also visit: Taproom on 19th bar, American Sardine BarBrew bottle shop

Original source: DRAFT Magazine
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Philly restaurants invade Washington, D.C.

Watch out Washington, D.C.: Philly restauranteurs are coming to town. The Washington Post looks at this growing trend.

What's next, the Liberty Bell?

Philadelphia may be home to its own excellent food scene, but more and more chefs and restaurateurs from the city are making the 123-mile trek south, bringing both tried-and-true and new concepts to Washington.

There's Pizzeria Vetri, from the acclaimed Vetri Family Italian restaurant group; HipCityVeg, a vegan fast-casual chain; and Honeygrow, a fast-casual stir-fry chain. All three have plans this spring or summer to join a scene that already includes Philadelphia imports such as restaurateur Stephen Starr (Le Diplomate), coffee roaster and cafe La Colombe and chef Jose Garces (Rural Society), whose Village Whiskey bourbon and burger bar is in development here as well. 

"I always felt Washington was a cool market," said Starr, whose runaway success at Le Diplomate, the 14th Street NW brasserie that opened in 2013, sold more than a few Philadelphia chefs on the prospect of opening in the nation's capital. He began scouting the city in the late '90s but only pulled the trigger when he found the perfect location -- an old dry cleaner in a free-standing, one-story building with plenty of sidewalk space. He said he's also "close" to two more deals here.

Original source: The Washington Post
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Donkeys take over Philadelphia in advance of DNC

To get the city into the Democratic (Party) spirit, fiberglass donkeys will be placed around the city in advance of the Democratic National Convention.

Fifty-seven fiberglass donkeys will be displayed at various sites and attractions starting July 1. The symbol of the Democratic Party will represent each U.S. state, each territory, Washington, D.C., and Democrats abroad.

The donkeys will be painted with iconic images from each location, chosen by each state's delegates. The ideas were given to Philadelphia artists to create.

"Donkeys Around Town" is an effort to get residents in the convention spirit and encourage delegates and other visitors to explore the city. It's the brainchild of former Gov. Ed Rendell, who's the host committee chairman.

Rendell said he was inspired by a similar program in Erie a few years back that seemed to get tourists and locals excited to explore the city and the artworks.

"I think it's going to be great for the delegates and great for the residents," Rendell said.

Original source: Associated Press
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Kenney cancels city-funded travel to North Carolina and Mississippi

In response to anti-LGBT laws passed in those southern states, the mayor will halt official visits.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has issued a ban on all publicly funded and non-essential travel for city employees to Mississippi and North Carolina. A spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office confirmed with NBC10 the travel ban is in response to controversial laws from the two states which limit anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people.

The North Carolina law directs transgender people to use public toilets corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate. The law also excludes LGBT people from state anti-discrimination protections, blocks local governments from expanding LGBT protections, and bars all types of workplace discrimination lawsuits from state courts. In Mississippi, legislation taking effect this summer will allow certain workers, including some in private businesses, to cite religious beliefs in denying services to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Original source: Philadelphia Business Journal
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Eastern State Penitentary explores mass incarceration

The historic site is now engaging with the present via a new exhibit, "Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration."

Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary opened in 1829 with the belief that criminals could redeem themselves, and it was cruel to crowd or mistreat them. The only light came from the skylight in the vaulted ceiling, sending the message that only the light of God and hard work could lead to reform.

By the 1930s, space meant to house 300 inmates instead held 2,000. By 1970, the year Eastern State closed, punishment was its primary mission.

Now, in a transformation that began modestly a few years ago, the penitentiary that housed such notorious criminals as gangster Al Capone and bank robber "Slick Willie" Sutton is completing a retooling of its programming to place a major focus on growing questions about the effectiveness of America's prison system.

"Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration," an exhibit opening next month in workshops alongside one of the cellblocks, lets visitors know that the U.S. has the world's highest known percentage of incarcerated citizens. It also highlights large racial disparities in prison populations and the toll mass incarceration has taken on minority communities.

"Five years ago, I would have told you visitors didn't want to hear about this, that it would make them uncomfortable. They'd take this as being political, they'd be offended or they'd think we were trying to drive a political agenda," said Sean Kelley, exhibit curator for the nonprofit that has run the museum since 2001. "At every turn, we've been proven wrong."

Original source: Associated Press
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Philadelphia apologizes to Jackie Robinson

Sixty-nine years later, the City of Brotherly Love issues a mea culpa for its behavior towards the barrier-breaking ballplayer. 

Last summer, the Anderson Monarchs, a Philadelphia baseball team that featured the Little League World Series star Mo’ne Davis, barnstormed through the South. They played baseball, and they also toured sites significant to the civil rights movement as a nod to the team’s heritage — it is named, after all, for the Kansas City Monarchs, the Negro leagues club for which Jackie Robinson once played...

Nearly a year later, the team’s trip has helped inspire an apology being extended by Philadelphia to Robinson, who broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier when he made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers at the start of the 1947 season.

The apology comes as Major League Baseball, on Friday, celebrates the 69th anniversary of Robinson’s first game with the Dodgers with its Jackie Robinson Day, initiated in 2004. Every major league player wears Robinson’s No. 42, an annual sight in baseball. What is different this year is the apology from the City of Philadelphia for the manner in which the Phillies treated Robinson when he began his career.

Original source: The New York Times
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Beer garden confirmed for Reading Viaduct

As we reported in December, a PHS Pop-Up Beer Garden is coming to Callowhill. The plans have now been confirmed.

This summer, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society plans to open two pop-up beer gardens, a return to 15th and South streets plus a new park at the foot of the Philadelphia Rail Park.

Thanks to a $360,000 grant from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Philadelphians will get their first extended interaction with the planned Rail Park. A pop-up garden is set for 10th and Hamilton streets, at the base of the Reading Viaduct. Today, the area is a tangle of crumbling concrete, overgrown lots and decay, but with the help of PHS and noted landscape architect Walter Hood, the project aims to merge the post-industrial structure with urban green space. The pop-up will raise awareness for the creation of the Rail Park as it blends art, history and horticulture. The location is convenient to live music venues Union Transfer and Underground Arts, as well as the Chinatown and Callowhill neighborhoods. Perhaps even more so than the other PHS pop-ups, this location will challenge the way Philadelphians interact with and envision their urban spaces.

Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
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High Times: Governor Wolf signs bill legalizing medical marijuana

Pennsylvania is the 24th state to legalize a comprehensive medical marijuana program.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill into law Sunday afternoon surrounded by a jubilant crowd of supporters at the Capitol building in Harrisburg...

The bill sets standards for tracking plants, certifying physicians and licensing growers, dispensaries and physicians. Patients could take marijuana in pill, oil, vapor, ointment or liquid form, but would not be able to legally obtain marijuana to smoke or grow.

Among those celebrating the victory was parent Dana Ulrich, who has fought for legal access to the drug in the belief that it would help her 8-year-old daughter Lorelei, who has numerous seizures every day.

"I never doubted for one second that this day would come," she told the crowd, thanking patient advocates and caregivers as well as lawmakers and the governor. "When you get a group of truly dedicated people together, that have the same goal and the same mind and the same hearts, you can achieve anything."

Wolf called it "a great, great day for Pennsylvania, but more important, a great day for Pennsylvanians." He said he and lawmakers were responding not to a special interest group or to campaign contributors, but to "a real human need." 

Original source: NBC 10
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