| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter RSS Feed

Innovation + Job News

802 Articles | Page: | Show All

Ben Franklin's pennies meet the 21st century with a TechniCulture residency

When it comes to funding, Christ Church Preservation Trust has a unique problem. According to Executive Director Barbara Hogue, about a million people visit Ben Franklin's grave every year. Somewhere in the early-to-mid 20th century, it became customary to toss a penny onto the Founding Father’s resting place in honor of Franklin' adage, "a penny saved is a penny earned." The custom isn’t limited to Americans -- last year the Trust counted currency from 30 different countries on the grave.

Currently, the coins the Trust collects amount to about $3,500 per year -- not an insignificant source of revenue when preservation and maintenance on the two-acre historic Christ Church Burial Ground (founded in 1723 at Fifth and Arch Streets) costs $50,000 annually. The trouble is that all those donated coins are damaging the limestone of Franklin’s grave, eroding the very landmark visitors are trying to honor.

In June, the Trust received $38,000 in the form of a Keystone Heritage Grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for the conservation of Franklin’s grave. They worked with the firm Materials Conservation to develop the grant. Conservators insisted that the problems went beyond water-induced deterioration of the grave's limestone tablet and marble base.

The Trust hopes to solve the issue without losing its income stream or halting a beloved custom. This summer, Flying Kite took a look at the call for the Cultural Alliance’s inaugural TechniCulture Innovation Residency Award program applications, and this month, three winners were announced, including Christ Church Preservation Trust.

"What we really need to do is get people to stop throwing pennies on his grave, because it’s really hurting the limestone," insists Hogue. That’s where the TechniCulture application came in. "How can we encourage people to give a penny, or encourage the social custom, without damaging the grave?"

Enter Davis Shaver, the digital products and solutions lead for Philadelphia Media Network. For three months starting this October, Shaver will partner with the Trust to develop ideas for capturing this revenue stream for the essential historic site -- also boasting the graves of luminaries like Benjamin Rush, five other Signers besides Franklin, and many Revolutionary War heroes -- without cutting out the fun of honoring Ben Franklin with a small on-site donation.

"Maybe it’s an app, maybe it’s a texting opportunity," she says of the possibilities of the residency. It could be “some really simple way for people to donate small amounts of money" that could develop into a fun campaign to engage graveyard visitors, and keep the grounds safe and accessible to the public.

Early next year, all three winners of the TechniCulture Innovation Residency will present the findings of their residencies, and the Cultural Alliance will further reward one of them with funds toward implementation of the ideas.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Barbara Hogue, Christ Church Preservation Trust


After pop-up success, Philly is finally getting its own Filipino restaurant

Last winter, Philly chef Lou Boquila helped bring the city its first taste of a cuisine that’s hard to find in these parts: Filipino food. With help from partners Neal Santos, Jillian Encarnacion and Resa Mueller, Pelago Pop-Up Kusina temporarily took over Passyunk Square resto Noord. The event (and subsequent pop-ups) sold out, and now Boquila is launching his own restaurant in South Philly.

Perla, currently under construction at 1535 South 11th Street, will be the city's only Filipino restaurant. Boquila, a Philippines native who came to Philly when he was eight, says he’s not a traditional Filipino chef.

"But I know the food," he insists. "I know the flavors, [and] I relate that to a restaurant kitchen."

Balking a bit at overuse of the word "fusion," the fledgling restaurateur nonetheless describes Filipino dishes as a mix of influences. They blend Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian and Spanish flavors, and are served in family-style communal meals that are hard to replicate in a restaurant setting.

Boquila, who’s been cooking for about ten years, got his start in the local food industry as a dishwasher at South Street’s now-defunt Knave of Hearts. He worked his way up, becoming a line cook and then helping run the kitchen, before deciding to attend culinary school. After finishing, he interned at Twenty Manning Grill, where he later became sous chef, and then moved to Rittenhouse Square’s Audrey Claire, where he’s been since 2007.

"Perla will be interpretations of popular Filipino dishes," he explains; he's aiming for "an approachable palate everyone can try."

For example, there's his version of kare-kare, a Filipino stew he makes with oxtail and tripe, along with peanut butter and shrimp paste. He assures diners not to be scared off by the unusual-sounding flavor combo of this "very different, very very funky dish," because it all blends together well with the under-appreciated savory quality of peanuts.

Perla will have a small start for its small space, focusing mainly on a tasting menu that will keep the chef in a hands-on role. But in a nod to traditional Filipino dining, the restaurant will offer special Sunday brunches -- according to Boquila, "breakfast is very big in the Filipino community" -- as well as a Sunday night homage to home-style Filipino dining with kamayan meals, large communal dinners eaten by hand off of a banana leaf.

Boquila hopes to open Perla by March of 2016.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Lou Boquila
, Perla

Breakfast Club at The Exchange: Talking Social Innovation

Last week, over 30 Philadelphians set their alarms and woke early to head to the Friends Center for breakfast. On offer was much more than just bagels and coffee -- organized by The Exchange, a co-working space comprised of nonprofits and philanthropic organizations, the event was an opportunity to discuss social innovation in Philadelphia.

The crowd included local leaders in development, government, nonprofit administration, startups and philanthropy. All are working towards making this city a national leader in uncovering thoughtful solutions to society's problems, whether through policy, programs or entrepreneurial ventures.

One of the key questions that arose from the discussion -- led by Matt Joyce of the GreenLight Fund (who works out of the Exchange) -- was, what are the things that limit great ideas? It's often not just economics, but also politics: being in the right rooms at the right times, and making the right arguments to the right people. That often takes a different type of expertise -- founders may have knowledge and drive, but they also need pitching help and matchmaking with investors and stakeholders. How can the entrepreneurial and nonprofit communities help nurture initiatives and organizations from creative spark to potential investment to surefire success?

Fortunately, the city has more and more avenues to incubate those great ideas, from the Philadelphia Social Innovations Lab to the Commerce Department's StartUpPHL program, to accelerators at established venture funds like DreamIt and Good Company Ventures. And even if every promising startup or pilot program doesn't make it, the founders earn valuable experience and become better bets in the future. 
Luke Butler, Chief of Staff to the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, talked about how when First Round Capital (a Commerce Department partner) is looking to invest in early stage companies, the idea is important, but they invest primarily in the founder and the team. As an example, he mentioned Curalate -- a company that pivoted from trying to build an Airbnb for parking spaces to designing marketing campaigns for social media platforms. The company has become a shining star in the city's ascendent startup landscape.

And it's not only companies that have to be agile. A group of Temple students founded Philly Urban Creators, an urban farm at 11th and Dauphin. Their goals were to grow produce for the neighborhood and engage the local community. Five years in, they weren't making enough money to sustain themselves. How do you get from a nonprofit that's doing good, to a more sustainable revenue model? 

The organization went through the FastFWD program, a public/private partnership between The City of Philadelphia, GoodCompany Group and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, funded in part by a $1,000,000 grant from the Bloomberg Philanthropies. Via that process they came to the conclusion that they needed new revenue streams. The team created a 12-week course targeted at formerly incarcerated youth, covering urban agriculture, carpentry and entrepreneurship. Combatting recidivism was a goal that could dovetail with their original mission, and funding for their first cohort came from the Department of Justice.

Other success stories were bandied about: Coded by Kids, Textizen (which was recently acquired and also went through FastFWD), Springboard Collaborative, an organization that seeks to stop the summer slide for low-income students. Eventually, though the conversation was still humming, folks had to get to work. Fortunately, the bigger picture discussion is just getting started.

Breakfast Club at the Exchange will return November 19. Stay tuned to Flying Kite for more details on the upcoming topic and how you can get in on the coffee talk. You can also join the discussion on twitter using the hashtag #ExchangeBreakfastClub.


Local startup ROAR for Good creates wearable protection for women

If ROAR for Good had its way, there would be no need for its product.
The startup, located at the Innovation Center @ 3401, the University City Science Center and Drexel University’s entrepreneurial incubation space, is the developer of the Athena device, a line of jewelry that triggers an alarm and text messages if its wearer is in danger.
"We’ve architected a sophisticated printed-circuit board (PCB) that can fit within our Athena line of jewelry," explains Charlotte Wells, ROAR’s operations executive. "The PCB contains logic such as a Bluetooth micro-controller and buzzer that enables the jewelry to emit a loud alarm when the button is pressed, as well as communicate with wireless devices to send alert messages to friends and family members. We’re also engineering the ability for the device to call 911 in order to get instant help in an emergency."
The company took a big step last week, launching a $40,000 Indiegogo (IGG) campaign, which according to Wells, "gives us a chance to spread the word about ROAR as a company and Athena as a product, while allowing people to pre-order the device for themselves or loved ones."

ROAR raised 64 percent of its goal in the first day.
With a successful IGG campaign -- plus funds from angel investors -- ROAR expects to begin shipping by next spring even as it continues to innovate.

"The Athena line of jewelry is just our first product," says Wells. "We plan to introduce additional designs and styles to appeal to different lifestyles. Also, as technology evolves, more things can be done in even smaller spaces. For example, embedding the technology directly into clothing, footwear, phone cases and so forth enables even greater flexibility."
As a social-mission certified B-Corp, ROAR also wants to address the root causes of violence against women. The startup has committed to investing a percentage of its proceeds in nonprofits that teach young men and women about empathy, respect and healthy relationships.
"The truth of the matter is that women should not need to alter their lifestyle, modify their behavior or carry self-defense devices to protect themselves," insists Wells. "Our goal is to help create a society where that is a reality. In the meantime, ROAR is committed to helping make a difference."
"We will continue developing solutions to reduce assaults and ideally begin to transform society," she continues. "To borrow from Steve Jobs, we want to make a dent in the universe of women’s safety and nothing would bring us more joy than to obviate the need for devices like Athena."
Source: Charlotte Wells, ROAR for Good
Writer: Elise Vider

WRITER IN RESIDENCE is a partnership between the University City Science Center and Flying Kite Media that embeds a reporter on-site at 3711 Market Street. The resulting coverage will provide an inside look at the most intriguing companies, discoveries and technological innovations coming out of this essential Philadelphia institution.

Startup Central: Five Questions for Noble.MD

Instead of flipping through year-old magazines next time you’re waiting in a doctor’s exam room, imagine using that time (an average of 22 minutes) to enter important medical information on an iPad. Imagine how that could make the average nine-minute doctor/patient encounter more productive for both parties. Real-time information could improve your care, speed your insurance claim and free up your provider to focus more on screening and treatment.
Noble.MD, a healthcare IT startup located at the University City Science Center’s Innovation Center @3401, has developed a technology platform that does all that. Their goal is to improve outcomes for patients and create efficiencies for medical providers.
We asked Meg Steinmetz, chief program officer at Noble, five key questions about this growing company.
What is your big idea?

The average U.S. primary care physician (PCP) has a patient panel of 3,500 patients. With all the requirements and recommendations of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and Medicare, it would take the average PCP 21.7 hours per day to provide all recommended risk screening and care. As a result, 50 percent of health risks are never identified and coded, including chronic conditions. 
Our team designed a product called Theo to gather information from patients about their health risks on an iPad while they're in the doctor’s exam room. Theo then offers useful information about their health in an interactive manner that is simple and easy to understand. Theo turns the exam-room waiting time into fun, productive time for the patient and provides valuable information to the doctor that is otherwise often missed.
What is your origin story?

Our CEO Todd Johnson and his wife Bindi Shah-Johnson -- both trained physicians -- experienced a health crisis with their daughter in the first days of her life. While sitting in an exam room, these two doctors and new parents experienced firsthand how lack of knowledge and communication lead to fear and confusion, which often leads to inaction or poor choices.

Experiencing what average patients go through every day in our incredibly complex health system inspired them to change that for people everywhere.
What is your timeline?

Theo is now three years old and in version 2.0. Theo is being used by over 150 physicians in nine states and has interacted with over 50,000 patients in the past year. We are measuring improvement in patient outcomes as a direct result of using Theo. Our next step? Partnering with a major health plan.
Why does the marketplace need your company?

With healthcare coverage now available to all Americans, healthcare providers and health plans need a faster, more efficient way to identify patient health risks, manage those risks and get patients engaged in their own care. Theo helps our clients to understand the health risks of their patients in real time and manage them immediately. Our clients range from individual clinicians to accountable care organizations, academic hospitals and health systems.
What is your elevator speech?

Doctors and nurses today simply do not have the time to spend with every patient to screen for every health risk, yet under the guidelines of the Affordable Care Act and the Accountable Care Movement, they need to do just that. Theo makes it easy for providers and health plans to learn more about their patients’ health risks and lifestyles, and for patients to learn more about how they can manage their health and better their lives.
Source: Meg Steinmetz, Noble.MD

Writer: Elise Vider

WRITER IN RESIDENCE is a partnership between the University City Science Center and Flying Kite Media that embeds a reporter on-site at 3711 Market Street. The resulting coverage will provide an inside look at the most intriguing companies, discoveries and technological innovations coming out of this essential Philadelphia institution.

On the Ground: One city block yields almost 6,000 pounds of produce

When Flying Kite moved into our new On the Ground digs in Parkside, we didn’t know how close we were to Neighborhood Foods Farm, one of the city’s most productive urban farms.
Operating under the umbrella of Philly’s Urban Tree Connection (UTC) and its Neighborhood Foods program, the site at 53rd and Wyalusing is the size of one city block, or about three-quarters of an acre.
Rachel deVitry, agricultural director at UTC, has overseen the farm since spring 2014, but it got started around 2010, when local block captains approached UTC founder and executive director Skip Wiener about the space.
"It used to be a parking lot with a factory across the street," recalls deVitry. "Ownership of the lot just lapsed and it became a chop shop," and a hub for drugs and prostitution. The block captains invited Wiener to take a look, and plans for the farm got underway, beginning with a major clean-out of the accumulated garbage. Then came the break-up of the cement that covered most of the site, and the application of thick layers of leaf mulch and mushroom soil.
These days, the farm yields rotation crops such as lettuces, arugula, kale, collards and chard, along with radishes, carrots, beets, cucumbers, squash and heirloom tomatoes.

Neighborhood Foods also operates three other urban farms in the neighborhood -- one adjacent to the First African Presbyterian Church at 4159 West Girard, another next to Ward AME Church at 43rd and Aspen, and a new four-acre site on Merion Avenue near Girard.
Though not the largest, the 53rd Street farm is the most productive site -- so far this season they've harvested 5,850 pounds of produce.
Some of that goes to neighbors who volunteer a few hours per week in exchange for fresh vegetables, and some goes to the Saturday Neighborhood Foods Farm farmers' market, which runs on the site from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. May through November. (The market also features produce like fruit and potatoes purchased from other local growers.)
The farm operates with the help of two full-time and two part-time staffers, as well as neighborhood volunteers and young apprentices hired after successful runs in after-school programs.
The farm stays open in the winter months thanks to "high tunnels," unheated structures that keep plants such as cold-friendly kale, collards and lettuce from freezing.

"We did grow through most of the winter last year," says deVitry. "And [we] hope to grow through the whole of the winter this year."
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Rachel DeVitry, Urban Tree Connection 

Follow all our work #OnTheGroundPhilly via twitter (@flyingkitemedia) and Instagram (@flyingkite_ontheground).

On the Ground is made possible by the Knight Foundation, an organization that supports transformational ideas, promotes quality journalism, advances media innovation, engages communities and fosters the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

Mural Arts' Open Source launches an intercultural store and community center in North Philly

Thanks to the Mural Arts Program, one of the biggest arts and culture events this year isn’t happening inside one building, but all around the city, indoors and out, with public installations from artists across the region, country and world.
Open Source features 14 projects that, according to Mural Arts, transform the organization "into an open source platform, allowing artists to create projects that demand public involvement and inspire widespread participation."
One North Philly installation is a kick-off for a longer-term project examining the social and economic ties and tensions in a Philly neighborhood. Last year, with Corner Store (Take-Out Stories), Ernel Martinez and Keir Johnston of AMBER Art & Design examined similar themes to those in their current project, La Frontera. Corner Store spotlighted the primarily Chinese and Korean-owned take-out restaurants and bodegas of Chinatown North, whose customers are primarily black and Latino. The moveable Corner Store installation aimed to be a space to understand different cultural roots and the myriad similarities at heart.
La Frontera examines long-existing connections and tensions between the communities divided by North Philly’s 5th Street corridor: primarily African-American on one side, and immigrants from South and Central America on the other. Located in a 3000-square-foot warehouse at 2200 N. 8th Street, building 3A, that Mural Arts helped the artists to locate and rent, it’s half creatively-funded bodega, half arts/community center.
Martinez, a Belize native who grew up in Los Angeles and Detroit before settling in Philadelphia, calls La Frontera a "bridging of two worlds," featuring site-specific community-created artwork telling neighbors’ stories, as well as a unique "bodega" of goods and services, from homemade soaps and foods to services like hairdressing. Wares will be dispensed free to visitors via small grants from Amber Art & Design to participating providers.
"Philadelphia historically is a city built on immigrants," argues Martinez (who earned his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania before helping to found AMBER Art & Design in 2011), and these bodegas or corner stores are often instrumental to the immigrant families who run them, as well as their customers.
La Frontera is especially a nod to the parallel histories of African Americans (who swept north across the country in the Great Migration) and Latino immigrants.
"Within these American cities, these urban areas, you have people with different cultures, but they really do have a shared history," having left one place for another, he explains. "They’re the ones that are bringing life [and] creativity into these cities. They’re the formation of new communities."
But sharing space with limited resources leads to a lot of conflicts, too, and the artists hope diverse community members will find new understanding at La Frontera.
The project won’t end with Open Source in October. The artists hope to continue it for up to two years; the Open Source installation is "kind of a seed project," explains Martinez, "and we’re going to run with it from there."
In the meantime, locals are invited to a free North Philly Block Party outside the warehouse on October 18 (noon to 4 p.m.) featuring food, music and other entertainment.
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Ernel Martinez, AMBER Art & Design

Give Kids Sight Day lets low-income Philly youngsters see clearly

Every year, kids in the Philadelphia School District get an eyesight screening at school. About 16,000 of them don’t pass the eye exam, says Colleen McCauley, health policy director at Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY).

But the trouble with blurry blackboards doesn’t stop there: About two thirds of those 16,000 kids don’t go on to get the eye care they need, including a full exam from an optician and a pair of glasses. That’s partly because many Philly families still don’t have health insurance or can’t afford the extra expense. Other low-income families may have coverage through Medicaid or CHIP, but aren't aware that these benefits extend to eye care.

These are all reasons PCCY is holding its seventh annual Give Kids Sight Day on October 24, with help from Wills Eye Hospital and the Eagles Youth Partnership (which has operated its Eagles Eye Mobile since 1996).

"Every year, somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of the children who come to Give Kids Sight Day are uninsured," explains McCauley. While the majority of participants may actually have coverage for eye care, no-one is turned away at the event. "One of the main points of this day is to make sure people understand that insurance is available, and public health insurance covers eye care."

Parents who learn this -- and get help registering for and navigating the system -- are then better equipped to deal with their kids’ healthcare needs overall.

Since its inception, Give Kids Sight Day has helped give totally free eye care to about 5,500 youngsters in Eastern Pennsylvania. Over the years, attendance at this busy healthcare event has ranged from 700 to 1400 people. This year, PCCY expects about 1200, so it’s a good idea to arrive early. There will be translators onsite for up to fifteen different languages, making sure services are accessible to all families.

The whole event takes about 450 volunteers, from the clinicians performing the exams to helpers registering families, escorting them and keeping kids entertained.

McCauley notes a small but important victory in kids' healthcare policy that the event helped bring about: Two years ago, PCCY surveyed all participating parents about why they came to the clinic and found that many families arrived not because they couldn’t get a pair of glasses, but because public health insurance programs in Pennsylvania covered only one pair of glasses per child. When those got broken -- common for any active kid -- families couldn’t afford to replace them.

Lobbying from PCCY and partners resulted in a policy shift at CHIP: The program now covers replacement glasses, when needed.

The day’s services, which will include activities and snacks for participating families (who should be prepared to wait a few hours for their kids’ turn), will be held in three different buildings on the Jefferson Medical Campus in Center City. Doors open at 8:30 a.m., and families will be able to register for services until 2 p.m. The free eyeglasses dispensed through the program will arrive at participating kids' schools a few weeks later.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Colleen McCauley, Public Citizens for Children and Youth


The Magic of Olive Oil: Findings from the Monell Chemical Senses Center

Next time you’re cooking with extra virgin olive oil, go ahead and take a little swig. If it burns your throat or makes you cough, you've got some potent EVOO there.
Connoisseurs have long known that the distinctive irritating sting (almost but not everyone experiences it) is the mark of high-quality olive oil. It is also, according to Gary K. Beauchamp of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, indicative of a naturally occurring compound called "oleocanthal." It's unique to EVOO and appears to be an even more potent anti-inflammatory agent than ibuprofen.
Speaking at a recent session of the University City Science Center Quorum "Lunch for Hungry Minds" program, Beauchamp, emeritus director and president at Monell (the world's only independent nonprofit research institute focused on taste and smell), described how research is substantiating the health benefits of EVOO and, by extension, the Mediterranean diet.
Both ibuprofen and olive oil create a similar burning sensation in the back of the throat. Monell set out to determine what accounts for what Beauchamp calls "the throat localized pungency of EVOO" and whether it has the same pharmacological benefits as the pharmaceutical mainstay.
In 2005, Monell (and simultaneously Unilever) identified oleocanthal, the compound that accounts for the throat sting. This natural anti-inflammatory agent inhibits activity of cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes, a pharmacological action shared by Advil, Motrin and other over-the-counter ibuprofen drugs.
The health benefits of the oleocanthal in EVOO for those raised eating traditional Mediterranean cuisines -- and those who adopt the so-called Mediterranean diet -- could be considerable. It is well known that the regimen can protect against heart disease. Monell researchers believe that oleocanthal might also be associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and certain cancers.
Further research is needed to determine the connection between the sensory attributes of EVOO (bitter, pungent, fruity, etc.) and the anti-inflammatory effect, and to determine the safety, stability, efficacy and cost of isolating the molecule for commercialization. Also of interest to Monell is why humans have come to appreciate the sting of the oleocanthal in olive oil. (As Beauchamp notes, we’re also the only species that likes hot peppers, whose capsaicin affords its own health benefits.)
For now, what is known is that oils pressed from young olives from an early harvest have the highest levels of oleocanthal and the biggest burn.
Source: Gary K. Beauchamp, Monell Chemical Senses Center
Writer: Elise Vider 

WRITER IN RESIDENCE is a partnership between the University City Science Center and Flying Kite Media that embeds a reporter on-site at 3711 Market Street. The resulting coverage will provide an inside look at the most intriguing companies, discoveries and technological innovations coming out of this essential Philadelphia institution.

Local 'Shark Tank' alum shares tips for business success at International House

For the second event of its Entrepreneur Works Presents speaker series, Philly nonprofit Entrepreneur Works is bringing Rebecca Rescate to International HouseShark Tank viewers may remember her from memorable turns during seasons two, three and four; on October 19 from 7 to 9 p.m., she will lead a special presentation and Q&A with aspiring entrepreneurs

A Northeastern University graduate who majored in design with a minor in business, Rescate tells Flying Kite that she wanted to be an art teacher growing up before realizing that product design was her true calling. In the last decade, she's shepherded a diverse stable of products onto the market, including the ones she landed deals for on ABC's Shark Tank. Cat owners across the country are toilet-training their felines with the CitiKitty system, while others are staying cozy with HoodiePillow. (For a look at all of Rescate’s brands and products, check out her website.)

A mother of three kids under 10, the Yardley resident is an advocate for tailoring work life to one's personal schedule. She also emphasizes that developing a successful brand or product doesn’t happen overnight.

"There’s a lot to learn and people don’t have the patience to do the learning," she explains, touting the value of the local library and myriad modern resources aspiring entrepreneurs can access without relying on a specialized degree. "I didn’t launch my second brand until six years into owning my first business."

It took her that much time to master the ins and outs of understanding a market, fine-tuning and promoting a product, and building her brand.

According to Rescate, her October 19 speech will tackle "the reality of entrepreneurship, and the really amazing lifestyle that you can build as an entrepreneur," unshackled from the typical nine-to-five, Monday through Friday schedule. It took her awhile to realize this, she admits, but once she began building her work hours around her life instead of the other way around, she realized "you can use it to your advantage to be more effective than you ever imagined."

For her, that means being "on fire" at four or five AM -- she can get more done in the wee hours of the morning than she ever can in the middle of the afternoon -- and designing the cycle of work on her businesses around the kids’ school year.

"A lot of times as an entrepreneur, you can forget to use those things to your advantage," she insists. "Take advantage of when you’re at your best…I have used the best of me to create the best business."

In other words, "Why are you working when everybody else works? It doesn’t have to be like that."

"I always try to empower people to use what they have at their disposal," she adds. "It’s never lack of education, lack of funding, or lack of connections that keeps you from being successful. How successful you are is determined by you."

The event, sponsored by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, is happening in partnership with International House’s Intercultural Leadership Series, which fosters "insight on the competencies, behaviors and specific skills needed to be an effective leader in an intercultural environment." Advance registration ($20; free for International House members and residents) is required.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Rebecca Rescate

The Center for Architecture unveils Kahn Coffee -- designed by you?

This year, the Philadelphia Center for Architecture's DesignPhiladelphia event (October 8 - 16) will feature a small but energizing twist: a contest to create branding for a new coffee blend open to designers of all stripes. The buzzy brew will be available exclusively through the Center and American Institute of Architects (AIA) Philadelphia, courtesy of a new partnership with Philly Fair Trade Roasters.

DesignPhiladelphia attracts over 150 partners each year for public programming on 21st-century design, technology and collaboration in the business world.  

AIA and Center for Architecture Executive Director Rebecca Johnson says the beverage brainstorm came about as the Center worked on some renovations in advance of the AIA Convention in May 2016, which will bring 25,000 architects to our city. The team started thinking of fun ways to improve the space -- a place to grab a local pick-me-up made a lot of sense.

"There’s always meetings here, so we want to have a sense of a hub of activity for the design community," explains Johnson. "Coffee just kept coming up. For the Convention, I thought that would be a really fun thing."

The name Kahn came up due to the Center’s annual Louis Kahn lecture.

"Do people know the significance of Louis Kahn to the entire world?" asks Johnson. "He’s a huge influencer. And he’s a Philadelphia architect."

And then the idea went a step further: Bring the local creative community in on the process. Running during DesignPhiladelphia, the contest is open to everybody: architects, artists, laypeople. The finished branding doesn’t necessarily have to feature Kahn -- if participating designers have another idea of someone to feature, they should go for it.

The deadline for entries is September 30, and the concepts will be on display at the Center during DesignPhiladelphia. The public can vote on their favorite. (For formatting guidelines and other instructions, click here.) Everyone who votes will get a free sample cup of the new coffee.

Beyond simply offering a new amenity for the many people who use the Center, the organizers hope to get the community even more engaged with the interdisciplinary space that also houses the Community Design Collaborative. Johnson hopes Kahn Coffee (or whatever the brand turns out to be) and the contest will be one more way to spark the kind of conversations AIA Philadelphia and the Center for Architecture aim to foster.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Rebecca Johnson, the Center for Architecture and AIA Philadelphia

Dear Startups, the Digital Health Accelerator wants you!

The University City Science Center  is now accepting applications for the sophomore class of its Digital Health Accelerator (DHA), a program that helps launch companies in the digital health or health IT sectors.

Need convincing? Consider UE Lifesciences, one of the startups in the inaugural DHA class that wrapped in July. UELS recently announced that it has raised $3 million in venture capital to commercialize its handheld breast health examination tool.

iBreastExam, a painless and radiation-free device, can be easily operated by nurses and social workers to provide standardized breast exams with instant results at the point of care. The product uses patented ceramic sensors invented at Drexel University to detect subtle variations in the stiffness of breast tissue that can point to tumors.

The implications for women in the developing world are enormous. Survival rates for women in the U.S. diagnosed with breast cancer are 80 to 90 percent compared to less than 50 percent for women in the developing world.

"iBreastExam may provide a fighting chance for them by enabling early detection on a large scale," explains Dr. Ari Brooks, director of the Integrated Breast Center at Pennsylvania Hospital.

According to the Science Center, UELS and the six other companies in the first DHA class went from prototype to commercialization, created 53 new jobs, generated $600,000 in sales and raised almost $4 million in follow-on investment.

For the next class, they're is looking for companies ready to establish operations in Greater Philadelphia with a product or concept ready to be sold -- or that will be ready with DHA support -- on the U.S. healthcare market. The six companies will each receive up to $50,000, office space at the Science Center, professional mentorship, access to investors and introductions to appropriate decision makers in their target markets.

The program will run for one year beginning in February 2016. Applications are due October 26.

Source: University City Science Center and UE Lifesciences
Writer: Elise Vider

WRITER IN RESIDENCE is a partnership between the University City Science Center and Flying Kite Media that embeds a reporter on-site at 3711 Market Street. The resulting coverage will provide an inside look at the most intriguing companies, discoveries and technological innovations coming out of this essential Philadelphia institution.

Choose your favorite Philly innovator at October´┐Żs Philly Stake dinner

Recently, we took a look at Germantown photographer Tieshka Smith’s project Racism is a Sickness, which will be on display at City Hall on November 2. In the meantime, Smith of is one of eight presenters at the fourteenth Philly Stake dinner, which draws creatively and civically minded folks together to enjoy a meal and hear from some of the city’s most ambitious grassroots innovators.

A member of the worldwide Sunday Soup Network (founded in Chicago), Philly Stake has been operating since 2010. Until 2014, the all-volunteer group did three events per year, but it now focuses on just one. Held picnic-style at beautiful Bartram’s Garden, the shindig will return on Sunday, October 4 from 3 - 6 p.m.

Guests (which usually number about 250; get your $20 tickets in advance online here) come for the Philly Stake-provided dinner and dessert, featuring foods from local suppliers, and stay to hear presentations from artists, entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders.

"It’s very simple," says founder Theresa Rose of their guidelines for presenters. "It’s just creative, relevant, community-engaged projects."

After hearing each presentation, diners vote by ballot on which concept they like the best. The first-place winner gets a cash prize of about $1,000 on the spot; the second-place winner nabs around $500 (sometimes when the vote is very close this prize is split between the second and third-place vote-getters).

According to Rose, Philly Stake isn’t a formal nonprofit or an LLC -- it’s a group of volunteers working together to boost Philly's best ideas for community improvement, and all the money gathered from ticket sales goes directly toward the next dinner and the prize money for the presenters.

This year’s dinner has an arts focus, and for the first time Philly Stake has the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance as a promotions partner. (Past Stake winners have run the gamut from urban farming projects to a poetry program for Vietnam veterans to a dance program for Philly seniors. Others victors have included Recycled Artist in Residency, now its own nonprofit, and the West Philly Tool Library.) The other partner is Drexel University’s Center for Hospitality and Sports Management -- it is donating its kitchen for food preparation, and also lending some students to help out at the event. With a core group of just eight volunteers besides Rose (Mira Adornetto, Annemarie Vaeni, Brett Map, Mallary Johnson, Jonathan Wallis, Ruth Scott Blackson, Albert Lee and Emma Jacobs), the events are getting a bit hard to handle without the help of sponsors.

Philly Stake typically narrows its presenters down from a pool of 20 to 30 applicants. Rose calls the event "fuel for the imagination," because in a world full of dire news and fear for the future, Philly Stake reminds its fans that "there’s so many awesome things going on" and also a tangible way to support them.

Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Theresa Rose, The Philly Stake

Mt. Airy's Make Art, Grow Food connects kids and elders thanks to a new grant program

This summer's news about the impending loss of their lease didn’t deter Mt. Airy Art Garage leaders and supporters from celebrating the September 9 dedication of their new Make Art, Grow Food mural and garden. The project has transformed MAAG's backyard from a blank wall and a tangle of weeds to a vibrant art piece and rows of fresh vegetables.
The project was made possible by a grant of about $5,000 from the East Mt. Airy Neighbors Association (EMAN) Community Fund, administered through the Philadelphia Foundation. It’s EMAN’s first year giving these grants, and Executive Director Elayne Bender says Make Art, Grow Food was a natural fit for their mission.
The mural was developed via a months-long collaboration between a specialized class of autistic sixth, seventh and eighth graders at the nearby Henry H. Houston School, the elderly day residents of Homelink, Inc. (an adult center and MAAG neighbor), and MAAG member artists and educators. According to Bender, this inter-generational aspect in particular appealed to EMAN.
Illinois native Daisy Juarez, a painter and MAAG member, spearheaded the mural portion of the project. The participating kids and elders drew their own designs for the wall, and Juarez worked them all into one piece. The design was projected and traced onto primed paper pieces. The students and adults then painted in segments on tables inside MAAG; these paper segments were then mounted and sealed on the wall.
"It’s the first time we did a project here with this many people," explained MAAG co-founder Arleen Olshan at the dedication, which was attended by the kids, the elders, Bender and representatives of other supporting groups such as Valley Green Bank, Primex and Mt. Airy Animal Hospital.
For the garden portion of the project, a local Home Depot donated plants and gear, including tables and hoses. MAAG volunteers are helping to maintain the space.
The proud kids (along with a few parents) and elders got their first look at the finished mural on the wall at the dedication. Wherever MAAG lands, Slodki promises that the mural will follow, with a large photograph of it converted into a giclée print.
Bender says the project was a particularly emotional one for her: She cried upon seeing the finished mural in August. 

"It’s joy on a wall," she enthuses.
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Elayne Bender, East Mt. Airy Neighbors

From Fishtown to Society Hill: Local publisher Head and The Hand's big move

The Head & The Hand Press has been building its brand from its home in Frankford Avenue’s Stationery Engravers building for the last three years, but September brought a big change for the Philly publisher.
"What’s amazing about Fishtown is it doesn’t have a university anchor there," says founder Nic Esposito of how the neighborhood matches the company's "scrappy" ethos. "There’s really no big corporation or business district there; it’s just an avenue of artists and young entrepreneurs and older people from the neighborhood who are pretty forward-thinking...People are just remaking that neighborhood building by building. Having that kind of energy and being a part of that was great…That was really the hardest thing about the move: Not so much leaving our space, but leaving the neighborhood."

But despite that neighborhood connection, the many benefits of the press’s September migration to office and events space at Society Hill’s historic Physick House -- through a partnership with the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks -- were impossible to ignore.
The move to Physick House really got going when the late 18th-century site hosted a July fundraising dinner for the company. It went so well that Physick staffers suggested the house could be Head & The Hand’s headquarters. Timing was perfect since the press had just decided to seek a new home -- they received word on July 1 that their rent was about to go up. The lack of renovations to their space and the uncertain fate of the building led the group to give notice on the lease without knowing where they’d land.
The move is benefiting everyone.

"They know they need to get more people in there, a diverse group of people, not just people who usually go to historic houses, or tourists,” argues Esposito. Head & The Hand events and workshops will bring an influx of young, passionate visitors.
And it will be good for the press to be more centrally located, though Esposito still lives in (and loves) Fishtown.
"Fishtown will always be part of the Head & the Hand,” he insists, but “we really have an opportunity to reach so many more writers in Philadelphia…we are a Philadelphia publishing company. We’re here to serve all Philadelphians."
The company is just beginning their outreach to neighboring organizations and businesses in Society Hill, and hoping that new partnerships and programming will bloom.
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Source: Nic Esposito, The Head & The Hand Press
802 Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts