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Suburban Chinatowns on the rise, including one in Exton

Chinese immigrants are increasingly gravitating towards suburban communities. This is both a result of urban core gentrification and shifting tastes. In the Philadelphia region, Exton has a booming Chinese population. 
 
Leong says Chinatowns on the East Coast are becoming a lot less Chinese. He and a group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania recently studied the Chinatowns of New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, and found that gentrification and rising housing costs were making it hard for blue-collar immigrants to live there. Their study found that in 1990, Asian residents comprised 45 to 75 percent of the three Chinatown neighborhoods. Twenty years later, they made up 42 to 46 percent. During that time, the white population doubled in Philadelphia and Boston’s Chinatown neighborhoods...

America’s new Chinatowns are basically strip malls in the suburbs, says Leong. The town of  Exton, an affluent suburb of Philadelphia where the average home value is about $340,000, is a good example of one. During a recent visit, I noticed a handful of Chinese restaurants and grocery stores scattered among big-box retailers like Walmart and Toys “R” Us. In 2000, only six percent of Exton’s residents were Asian. Now, about 20 percent are. Many Indian and Chinese immigrants who live there work for big financial and pharmaceutical companies in the area.

Cheryl Wang, a risk analyst for a large U.S. bank, lives in Exton with her husband and their two children. She says about half of her neighbors are Asian and the other half are white. Wang, 42, is representative of many of the new Chinese immigrants: She has two master’s degrees, one in information sciences and the other in business administration, and has spent most of adult life in the Philadelphia suburbs. She avoids Chinatown at all costs. “Our backgrounds are very different—we speak different languages,” says Wang, who speaks Mandarin. “I really dislike [Chinatown]. It's not as clean as the suburbs and there are a lot of crowds.” Wang says she prefers the peacefulness of the suburbs, where, unlike in China, she doesn’t need connections to get her children into good schools.
 
Original source: The Atlantic
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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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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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Solomonov doc gets Philly premiere

A documentary detailing Philly chef Michael Solomonov's journey through Israeli cuisine will make its local premiere next month at the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival. The film will be shown Monday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Gershman Y cultural center. Solomonov will be on hand for a post-film conversation and reception, as well as a book signing for his best-selling Zahav cookbook. From Philly.com:

Directed by Oscar-nominated documentarian Roger Sherman, In Search of Israeli Cuisine follows Solomonov on an adventure through Israel’s vibrant food culture. The result: An intimate, behind-the-scenes look into the culinary heritages that have helped inspire beloved Phildelphia restaurants like Dizengoff, Abe Fisher, and Zahav.

"It’s important for Americans to realize that regardless of what you see on TV, regardless of your political stance, Israeli cuisine reflects humanity at its best," Solomonov said of the doc via a release. "Sometimes the easiest way for people to relate to a country is through its food and culture."


Tickets: $15 film only; $30 film and reception; $60 for film and reception along with a copy of Zahav.

Original source: Philly.com
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Philly is once again a Sanctuary City

New mayor Jim Kenney has reinstated Philly's status as a "sanctuary city."

Mayor Kenney on Monday barred almost all cooperation between city law enforcement and federal immigration agents, reverting to a policy that made Philadelphia one of the nation's "sanctuary cities."

"The only way that people buy into [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] is when they . . . have input into the process," Kenney - who had promised to rescind his predecessor's eleventh-hour order on his first day in office - said at a signing ceremony where immigrant-rights activists cheered.

Kenney said he had spoken with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who is promoting "Priority Enforcement," a replacement for "Secure Communities," an ICE program that has been rejected by immigrant groups and dozens of municipalities, including Philadelphia, as overly aggressive.

Kenney said Johnson will send ICE representatives to Philadelphia to brief immigration stakeholders on the new program and try to explain why it does not have the shortcomings of Secure Communities.

"But until that happens," he said, "we are going back to our old situation," which, between April 2014 and late last month, barred police and prison officials from telling ICE agents about an undocumented prisoner's pending release unless the person was convicted of a violent felony and ICE's request was supported by a warrant.


Original source: Philly.com
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Mummers open up parade to ethnic organizations

The Mummers have long faced criticism for their insularity, but now they're opening up the parade to a more diverse stable of troupes.

The Mummers Parade, a long-running and extravagant Philadelphia New Year's celebration that has faced criticism for its lack of diversity and racial insensitivity, will welcome performances by ethnic groups for the first time this year, organizers said.

The change will help ensure the 115-year-old tradition — often called the city's version of Mardi Gras — continues and thrives, Mummers spokesman George Badey said.

Among the new participants is the San Mateo Carnavalero, a Mexican heritage organization.

"The Mummers aren't being dragged kicking and screaming into this," Badey said Tuesday. "The Mummers are full partners in this quest to make the parade more diverse."


Original source: The Associated Press via The New York Times
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New high school program teaches modern manufacturing skills

A new program at Benjamin Franklin High School looks to prepare students for careers in advanced manufacturing.

Manufacturing isn’t dead. It’s just gone high-tech and a new center opening next month at Ben Franklin High School aims to teach modern manufacturing skills to students.

Workers are finishing construction on the Center for Advanced Manufacturing, on the lower level of Ben Franklin High. Classrooms for four disciplines: computer aided design, welding, precision machining and mechatronics to open this fall. Four more open next year.

David Kipphut, who heads the district’s Office of Career and Technical Education, uses Tastykake as an example of the assembly line technology being taught.

“They only have bakers in their research and quality assurance labs. Everyone working out on the field is not a baker. They’re all technicians.”

400 students will begin this fall. Students in the Ben Franklin catchment get first dibs, the other slots doled out by lottery.



Original source: CBS Philly
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The Inquirer checks in with Oxford Mills, the teacher-targeted development

We told you about Oxford Mills back in 2013. This teacher-centric development in Kensington draws a community of like-minded young people.
 
Oxford Mills is the first development of its kind in the city, billing itself as an "urban oasis for teachers and nonprofits." It features 114 apartments, most of which are rented to teachers at a discount, and just under 40,000 square feet of office space, most of which is leased by education-related companies.

The project originated when Philadelphia developers Greg Hill and Gabe Canuso joined with Baltimore-based Seawall Development, the outfit that in 2009 pioneered teacher housing complexes in that city. Hill and Canuso, who turned their attention from luxury projects to more socially conscious work, loved the idea of a space for educators, they said.

"We've heard so many stories about newer teachers, younger teachers that really struggle," Hill said. "Landing in tough schools without a lot of resources - it's a challenge. But to come home and have colleagues to communicate and share ideas with, they're more energized and supported."

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Philly crosswalks get colorful to celebrate LGBT rights

The Gayborhood's crosswalks were recently repainted in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.

The crosswalks appeared Thursday morning. Backers say they were planned for some time.

Philly Pride Presents senior adviser Chuck Volz says the crosswalks were completed at a cost far less than the initial $26,000 estimate.

Independence Visitor Center employee Albert Lee says the crosswalks show tourists that Philadelphia is a gay-friendly city.

The rainbow crosswalks will be dedicated at the Annual Reminders Block Party on July 5 honoring the 50th anniversary of the first wave of U.S. LGBT rights group demonstrations.


Source: Associated Press via Time
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Philly Little Leaguers head south for a trip through history

The New York Times' Frank Bruni writes about the confluence of baseball and black history through the lens of the Anderson Monarchs and their star Mo'ne Davis. 

Last summer, a 13-year-old named Mo’ne Davis landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated, a national sensation after she pitched a shutout in the Little League World Series, where almost all of the other players are boys. She’s believed to be the only black girl ever to participate in the competition.

This summer, she plans to do something else surprising: Visit the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., where four black girls were killed in a 1963 bombing. Three of them were 14. Mo’ne will turn that age on the day she shows up at the landmark...

But over three weeks in late June and early July, she and 13 other kids on her team here — the rest of them boys, most of them black, all roughly her age — have a schedule of exhibition games across the country that mixes exhilarating notes with somber ones.

They’re not just hitting the road. They’re taking it south, into history: the church in Birmingham, the bridge in Selma. They’ll play ball, then visit Little Rock Central High School, a battleground in the fight to integrate schools. They’ll swing for the fences, then bow their heads at the house in Jackson, Miss., where Medgar Evers lived...

Throughout the year, the team has been meeting weekly to watch movies and discuss reading assignments about the African-American experience and civil rights. In advance of a summer tour in 2012 of cities and stadiums that were important in the Negro Leagues, Bandura required that they study up on the history of baseball and its integration.


Original source: The New York Times
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A 'Cambodia Town' in South Philly?

An influx of Cambodian immigrants changes the face of South Philly -- should the designation become official?

On sunny weekend afternoons, in the shadow of an ornate, golden Buddhist temple, Mifflin Square in South Philadelphia is dotted with charcoal grills, chile-lacquered chicken wings, and thin-sliced fatty beef heavily seasoned with lemongrass sputtering over the coals. Women pound chilies, garlic, and dried shrimp to a paste to season the snappy unripe papaya for the lime-drenched salads they sell to passersby.

This is what some people call Cambodia Town, where these authentic street foods sell for $1, and where there's an effort afoot to make the title official. Though there are other places throughout the city that are rich in Cambodian culture - similar vendors sell snacks in Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, and there's a new temple under construction in Southwest Philadelphia - the area around Mifflin Square is the heart of this community. Business owners, city officials, and Cambodian Americans think it's time to raise the profile of their culture - especially its bold, bright, and balanced cuisine.

Original source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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Philadelphia continues to gain population after decades of decline

The city continues to gain population, a promising reversal after years of decline -- but there are still big concerns. 

Philadelphia's population grew for the eighth year in a row in 2014, and surrounding counties were mostly stable, according to new census data, but the picture was not quite as rosy at it may have seemed in the nation's fifth-largest city...

While Philadelphia's increase was undeniably good news, the uptick was fueled by an increase in births, rather than an influx of residents, which raised demographers' concerns.

More people left Philadelphia for elsewhere in the country than moved in last year. Had it not been for a high number of births, and an influx of immigrants, the city's population would have fallen, the data showed.

And given people's tendency to flee the city once their children reach school age, Thursday's numbers were all the more sobering, especially in light of ongoing turmoil surrounding the chronically underfunded School District.

"We still have more people leaving the city," said Temple University demographer David Elesh. "It suggests that as people have children, they may be likely to consider a suburban home instead of a city home."

The data underscore the need to repair Philadelphia's public schools. Failure to do so could counteract what has become, in recent years, a younger population.


Original source: The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Governor Tom Wolf appoints transgender woman physician general

The state's new governor has already demonstrated a commitment to diversity, appointing a transgender woman as physician general.

Dr. [Rachel] Levine, a resident of Middletown, Pennsylvania, is currently a professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, where she also serves as chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders, a program she created on her own. She has also worked actively with the school’s Office of Diversity, mentoring LGBT students, faculty and staff, and she sits on the board of Equality PA.

...In a press release sent out this weekend, Wolf explains why he chose her for this position:

“Dr. Rachel Levine is well-respected in the fields of pediatrics, psychiatry, and behavioral health, where she has practiced for close to three decades. She has been a leading voice in efforts to treat teens with medical and psychological problems, as well as adults and children with eating disorders. It is important to me that we place equal emphasis on behavioral and physical health issues. Dr. Levine will bring expertise and wide-ranging knowledge to this important role advising the secretary of Health and me on medical and public health matters."


Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
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Philadelphia provides model for LGBT-friendly senior housing

The recently-opened John C. Anderson apartments could provide a national model for housing LGBT seniors.

The project, affectionately called “the gay-dy shady acres” by residents, is being hailed as a model for similar federally backed housing projects in the District and more than a dozen other cities across the country.
 
This initiative is part of a broader campaign by the federal government to address what officials say is growing housing discrimination based on sexual orientation. The trend is due in part to more gay Americans being out of the closet, officially married and more aware of their rights than ever before, said Gustavo Velasquez, assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at Housing and Urban Development...

The Anderson apartments already have a 100-person waiting list. And that number is likely to grow. About 1.5 million Americans who are 65 or older identify as LGBT, with that number expected to double by 2030, according to the Institute for Multi­generational Health...

Every floor is decorated with framed black-and-white photographs of the 1969 Stonewall riots — demonstrations following a police raid on a gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village that helped launch the gay rights movement — and other protests with activists bearing signs that read, “Homosexuality is not a sin” and “Gay Power!”

Susan Silverman said that even though she’s 65 and walks with a cane, she’ll always be the “radical lesbian feminist” who protested against the Miss America pageant and worked alongside Segal with the Gay Liberation Front.
She moved here from a walk-up studio apartment in Brooklyn that she had rented for 40 years, attracted by the lesbian-friendly atmosphere and affordable rent — not to mention the elevators and on-site laundry.


Original source: The Washington Post
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The success of urban baseball teams at the LLWS starts a conversation

Teams from Chicago and Philadelphia have brought exciting energy to this year's Little League World Series.

Along with a team from Philadelphia led by a phenomenal young pitcher, Mo’Ne Davis, Jackie Robinson West became an early World Series story line. A similar sentiment surrounded a team from Harlem in 2002...

Even as baseball preaches diversity, the game continues to spiral economically out of the reach of an increasingly larger pool of potential players after Little League. The cost of participation, especially with travel teams becoming the norm before players reach high school, can reach thousands of dollars a year.

To reverse the decline in black participation, Granderson said, Major League Baseball could copy the Amateur Athletic Union model in basketball, in which major shoe companies provide financial support that allows talented teams to travel to tournaments. Baseball also needs to do a better job of putting black players in front of young people, he said.


Original source: The New York Times
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64 Diversity Articles | Page: | Show All
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