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Penn named one of world's most beautiful college campuses

The West Philly university was included on a Buzzfeed list "25 of the Most Beautiful College Campuses in the World." It came in at No. 13. Check out the whole list here. 

Original source: Buzzfeed

Philadelphia has a new mayor, and some changes to the city charter

Local voters headed to the polls last week, electing a new mayor. And that's not all -- there are also changes on the state supreme court and to the city charter.
 
The banner behind Jim Kenney was decorated with children's green and orange handprints and read, "Welcome, Mayor Kenney!"

A little premature, as Kenney won't become mayor until he is sworn in Jan. 4. But he made clear Wednesday that the planning and transitioning had already begun.

Kenney addressed reporters for the first time as mayor-elect at Jackson School in South Philadelphia, the morning after catapulting past his rivals to a historic victory...

In short remarks and 25 minutes of taking questions, Kenney offered some new specifics of his now-familiar campaign promises, including providing universal, free pre-K to 3- and 4-year-olds, a goal he says will be worked into his first budgeting process next spring and start to unfold next fall.

Original source: Philly.com
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Local hummuseria Dizengoff to open kiosk in NYC's Chelsea Market

This quick-serve concept from chef Michael Solomonov and partner Steve Cook is preparing for world domination, starting with a stall at Manhattan's Chelsea Market.

Chelsea Market is using the former Ruthy’s Bakery space for another collection of kiosks, to open in January. The confirmed tenants are Dizengoff, the Philadelphia-based hummus stand from Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook; Berlin Currywurst from Los Angeles; Davidovich Bakery, a New York artisan bakery; Filaga, for Sicilian pizza cooked on a stone; Seed and Mill, selling halvah and tahini; Cappone’s Salumeria and Sandwiches, relocating from Gansevoort Market; and Li-Lac Chocolates: 75 Ninth Avenue (15th Street).?

Original source: The New York Times
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Philadelphia Media Network lays off 46; Philly.com hit hardest

The company that owns the Daily News and the Philadelphia Inquirer recently laid off more workers, another sign of the tough media market both locally and globally.

More than 40 staffers in newsrooms throughout Philadelphia Media Network have been laid off as the company seeks to consolidate its disparate editorial staffers to forge a single unified newsroom.

Today’s layoffs, which claimed a total of 46 jobs, were scattered throughout the company’s three newsrooms, said Howard Gensler, president of the Local 10 at the Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia. Staffers at Philly.com were hit the hardest, with 17 of about 30 editorial employees losing their jobs. The Philadelphia Daily News also saw severe cuts, with 17 of about 60 editorial employees laid off. The Philadelphia Inquirer lost 12 staffers.


Morale in the company’s newsrooms is extremely low, Gensler said. Nearly everybody knows somebody who’s headed for the exits. Meanwhile, employees who didn’t get laid off are on tenterhooks waiting to see how they will fit in with the restructured newsroom because the cuts don’t take effect until Dec. 4.

Original source: Poynter.org
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Philly's adult literacy program earns praise in Huffington Post

Philadelphia offers first free online interactive adult-education program, brings innovation to this tough problem.

Five years ago, more than half a million adults in Philadelphia lacked basic literacy and work skills, imperiling their ability to land jobs and climb out of poverty, the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board reported. Yet at the same time, hundreds of literacy providers operated scattershot programs all over the city, albeit with few resources, fewer notable metrics and even less oversight...

Today, Philadelphia sponsors what organizers say is the first free online interactive adult-education program in the nation. At 30 literacy organizations and three campuses called myPLACE (Philadelphia Literacy and Adult Career Education), students learn together in groups (or cohorts), attend class in-person and online and work with a learning coach who sends them texts, e-mails, even postcards to keep them engaged and moving forward. The goal is to help them earn a GED, read at a community-college level and ultimately land a job. In just over a year, more than 3,000 adults have either completed basic literacy classes online, earned their GEDs or have been launched on a career path. The U.S. Department of Education's Digital Promise initiative has named myPLACE a model site. The organizers' goal this year: to reach 16,000 adults online, on their phones, in person or at home.


Original source: Huffington Post
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Philly-shot 'Creed' brings Rocky story into the next generation

Michael B. Jordan takes on the role of Apollo Creed's son in an upcoming film, which was shot in Philadelphia.

There came a time not long ago when the actor Michael B. Jordan realized he had to stop dying on screen, because it was killing his mom...

With his latest film, “Creed,” Mr. Jordan not only made good on his vow, but he also helped bring back a franchise. He plays an aspiring fighter named Adonis Johnson, the heretofore unknown son of the boxer Apollo Creed. Adonis journeys to Philadelphia to be trained by Rocky Balboa, played by — who else? — Sylvester Stallone.

The film again paired Mr. Jordan with Ryan Coogler, the director of “Fruitvale Station,” who in turn conceived of “Creed” as a deeply personal homage to his sickly father. Co-starring Tessa Thompson, of “Dear White People” and “Selma,” as Mr. Jordan’s love interest, “Creed” explores a different side of Philadelphia than the Rocky films do. While the story largely centers on the father-and-son-like bond between Adonis and an ailing Rocky, it is told through the eyes of young black millennials, showcasing the city’s hip-hop and dirt bike scenes.



Original source: The New York Times
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Target confirms two smaller, urban-style stores for Center City

Target, the chain juggernaut, will open two smaller urban stores in Center City.

The two stores will be what the company calls a “flexible format Target,” which has a smaller footprint than a typical Target store and looks to fit into the (mostly urban) neighborhoods in which they are located.

Metro Commercial Real Estate Inc. recently brokered the deals for the new Target stores in Center City. Tom Londres and Steve Niggeman, both principals at Metro Commercial, represented Target in the transactions.

While the two locations, one at 1900 Chestnut Street (about 23,000 sq. ft.) and the other at 1112 Chestnut (about 22,000 sq. ft.), represent smaller versions of the traditional Target store format, Target representatives told Metro Commercial that “guests can walk into a Target store of any shape or size and find great merchandise, helpful team members, clean, bright aisles and incredible value.”

Target had initially called these smaller-format stores City Target and Target Express, but now the company plans to simply call them Target and re-brand existing ones.


Original source: Chain Store Age
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Andrew Zimmern visits Philadelphia on 'Bizarre Foods,' hangs with Michael Solomonov

The Travel Channel show Bizarre Foods visited Philadelphia, and host Andrew Zimmern seemed to have a blast munching on duck hearts and fishing for shad.

Check out air times and clips from the episode here. 

Go vote! (And maybe win $10,000)

Philadelphians, head to the polls today! And as if participating in democracy wasn't enough, you could win $10,000.

One lucky Philadelphia resident could win a $10,000 payday just for casting a ballot in the mayor’s race.

Non-profit media organization the Philadelphia Citizen announced Thursday that a random voter will be selected on election day to win $10,000 just for voting. The lottery is sponsored by the Pamela and Ajay Raju Foundation, and is meant to encourage voter turnout in a city that has seen very low voter turnout in the last few years. The Mayoral election in 2007 brought out only 29% of eligible voters, the paper said, and only 27% voted in the primary this year.

Noting that voter turnout rates are down across the country—the 2014 federal election brought out only 36% of registered voters—the Citizen calls out Philadelphia in particular for having low civic participation. “It is especially galling here, where this country started and where every single one of us knows a myriad of problems that need solving,” the paper wrote. “Philadelphia suffers from chronic civic participation malaise. We could, as usual, stand back and wring our hands. Instead, we at The Citizen have decided it’s time for action.” Any voter is eligible to win, regardless of which candidate they select. The Citizen will select a specific polling location and a specific time, and the first voter to exit that station at that time will be the winner.
 
Original source: Time
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Terry Gross, a Philadelphia institution, gets the NYT Mag profile treatment

Terry Gross, the master interviewer, has become a beloved figure, and not just in Philadelphia. Her show, WHYY's Fresh Air, is syndicated nationally.

This fall, Gross marks her 40th anniversary hosting ‘‘Fresh Air.’’ At 64, she is ‘‘the most effective and beautiful interviewer of people on the planet,’’ as Marc Maron said recently, while introducing an episode of his podcast, ‘‘WTF,’’ that featured a conversation with Gross. She’s deft on news and subtle on history, sixth-sensey in probing personal biography and expert at examining the intricacies of artistic process. She is acutely attuned to the twin pulls of disclosure and privacy.

‘‘You started writing memoirs before our culture got as confessional as it’s become, before the word ‘oversharing’ was coined,’’ Gross said to the writer Mary Karr last month. ‘‘So has that affected your standards of what is meant to be written about and what is meant to maintain silence about?’’ (‘‘That’s such a smart question,’’ Karr responded. ‘‘Damn it, now I’m going to have to think.’’) Gross says very little about her own life on the air. ‘‘I try not to make it about me,’’ Gross told me. ‘‘I try to use my experiences to help me understand my guests’ experiences, but not to take anything away from them.’’ Early in her career, she realized that remaining somewhat unknown allows ‘‘radio listeners to do what they like to do, which is to create you.’’ She added, ‘‘Whatever you need me to be, I’ll be that.’’


Original source: New York Times Magazine
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Opera Philadelphia announces innovative new festival

Opera Philadelphia has announced an ambitious new event for 2017.

Over the past few years, Opera Philadelphia has been working on becoming the very model of a modern opera company. It has explored new formats — an opera about Andy Warhol in a warehouse — while continuing its commitment to tradition. It has received grants for innovative outreach projects, such as Hip H’opera in inner-city schools, and a composer-in-residence program. It has been met with critical and public acclaim. And yet, for all of its success, it had a problem — audiences weren’t growing the way that they were supposed to...

Opera Philadelphia announced Tuesday the launch of a new opera festival at the start of its 2017-2018 season. Called O17, the festival will blanket the city with opera — seven events in 12 days, from a traditional opera at the Academy of Music (Barrie Koskie’s production of “The Magic Flute”) to a piece developed by Daniel Bernard Roumain and directed by Bill T. Jones in the Wilma Theater to a double-bill of Monteverdi and a new work by Lembit Beecher, presented in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Selling out? Hardly. Exciting? Yes.


Original source: The Washington Post
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Huge 9th and Washington project moves closer to reality

The Planning Commission has approved rezoning for this potentially transformative development in the heart of the Italian Market. PlanPhilly has the scoop:

The Planning Commission voted on Tuesday to recommend a bill that would allow a 70-unit apartment complex to rise at 9th Street and Washington Avenue in the Italian Market.

The project, a 5-story ditty with 18,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and two levels of underground parking, was presented to Passyunk Square Civic Associationearlier this year. The developers, Midwood Investment & Development, are planning to hold another meeting with the community group before the bill goes to a committee hearing in City Council, probably sometime next month. The project would replace Anastasio’s, a seafood restaurant that Midwood says it will try to bring back as a tenant in the new building, and the largest vacant lot in the Italian Market.

In recommending the bill, which rezones the lot from CMX-2 to CMX-3, the Planning Commission mulled over the following questions.

Does the project reflect the direction that residents and planners think the neighborhood should be headed while respecting the surrounding environment?


Yes, the Commission reasoned. There seems to be general if not universal consensus that Washington Avenue could handle a bit more residential and commercial density, and there’s even greater consensus that the Italian Market could handle a bit more parking capacity, especially if it’s placed below ground. The project is 5 stories at the southeast corner of 9th Street and Washington Avenue, with commercial space along the ground floor of both frontages. It steps down to some lower townhomes along Darien Street, the eastern boundary of the site, to fit in with the existing homes on the other side of that street.

Original source: PlanPhilly
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Marijuana decriminalization, a year in

It's been a year since Philadelphia decriminalized small amounts of marijuana. How's it going? And could further steps towards legality be in the offing under a new mayor?
 
Philly blunt: Possessing a small amount of marijuana or smoking some in public has been decriminalized here for exactly one year today, and the city hasn't gone up in smoke.

In fact, since decriminalization took effect, police have cited 73 percent fewer people than they arrested for possessing weed during the same time period in the year prior to decriminalization.

And if mayoral candidate Jim Kenney has his way, citations for marijuana users may become a thing of the past, too.

"I'm not interested in issuing citations, either. We'll get to that conversation at the appropriate time next year," Kenney told the 
Daily News. "As time goes on, I don't know if there's going to be a need for any kind of punishment."

As a councilman, Kenney championed the decriminalization bill. He said he did so because Philadelphia was the only municipality in the state still physically arresting people for possessing a small amount of weed and the city was arresting black pot smokers at five times the rate of white ones.

"I think it's pretty hypocritical in a state that licenses, sells and taxes alcohol - that actually runs alcohol-dispensing stores - to say that marijuana rises to the level of an opiate," Kenney said. "It's not necessary, productive or good for the community."

Original source: Daily News
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The S.S. United States moves closer to demolition

At one point, the future looked bright for this massive ship -- currently docked in Philadelphia -- but now its supporters are scrambling to save it.

A Titanic-sized supership that once ferried presidents, Hollywood royalty, actual royalty and even the Mona Lisa has a place in the history books as the fastest oceanliner in the world. The owners are now racing to avoid having the ship, the S.S. United States, relegated to the junk heap.

A preservationist group, the S.S. United States Conservancy, saved the vessel from being scrapped a few years ago. Its members are working with a developer to give the mothballed vessel a new life as a stationary waterfront real-estate development in New York City, the ship’s home port in her heyday.

Their big dreams, however, now face a financial crisis: Short of money, the conservancy in recent days formally authorized a ship broker to explore the potential sale to a recycler. In other words, the preservationists might have to scrap their vessel...

The S.S. United States left service in the late 1960s. Today she is docked in Philadelphia, stripped of her interiors and rusting in the Delaware River across the street from an Ikea store...

The conservancy has explored many options for repurposing the ship. It discussed a hotel-and-event-space proposal in Miami, a mixed-use development and museum complex in Philadelphia, and redevelopment plans in Boston, Baltimore and Florida’s Port Canaveral. With a major cruise line, the conservancy explored the prospect of returning the ship to oceangoing service.

The preservationists even weighed the possibility, Ms. Gibbs said, of using the ship as an artificial reef — in other words, sinking it — in tandem with a museum and visitor’s center. But, she said, “I have spent over a decade trying to save the ship, not preside over her demolition.”

In recent days, as the board considered its dwindling finances, Hurricane Joaquin was threatening the East Coast, forcing the conservancy to take precautions to make sure their ship stayed safe. “A hurricane struck me as a perfect metaphor for what we were confronting,” Ms. Gibbs said.


Original source: The New York Times
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Philadelphia leads the way in reduced soda consumption, a huge public health boon

Soda consumption is down nationwide, and Philadelphia is at the forefront of this massive change. The New York Times chronicles "The Decline of 'Big Soda.'"

Five years ago, Mayor Michael A. Nutter proposed a tax on soda in Philadelphia, and the industry rose up to beat it back...
It’s a familiar story. Soda taxes have also flopped in New York State and San Francisco. So far, only superliberal Berkeley, Calif., has succeeded in adopting such a measure over industry objections.

The obvious lesson from Philadelphia is that the soda industry is winning the policy battles over the future of its product. But the bigger picture is that soda companies are losing the war.
Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story here
 
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