Archive for the ‘This Philadelphia Culture’ category

For children in LGBTQ families – a safe haven

August 21, 2008

WHYY’s Alexis Landis visited Mountain Meadow Summer Camp, a camp for kids who are from LGBTQ (that’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) families or who are themselves LGBTQ.

You can click on this link to catch the story, which ran this afternoon WHYY.

The story was co-produced by WHYY’s John Sheehan.

They also brought back some photos from their visit and assembled them in a slide show:

Next generation of radio stars!

August 18, 2008

I’m a little late in posting this to The Sixth Square, but on Friday, Alex Schmidt did a quick story about a program headed up by the Asian Arts Initiative:

Chinatown Youth Radio Philadelphia (ChYRP) is an intensive, 3-week summer experience for high school students to create a blog and podcast featuring radio stories of Philadelphia Chinatown. During the course of this summer pilot program, youth learned the skills involved in creating a radio story, engaging community members, and the new media technology involved in radio podcasting.

Her story includes some cuts from the work done by the youth radio stars.  Unfortunately, the listening party to celebrate their work came and went on Friday evening and I can’t seem to find any links to their stories or podcasts.  Hopefully those are available or will be available soon.  If I find them (or if someone can post the links in the comments) I’ll be sure to share them.


August 7, 2008

In this week’s City Paper, Natalie Hope McDonald tells the story of a small but growing cadre of Philadelphia-based photographers who are using the photo-sharing site Flickr for all of its community-building glory.  Many of these folks go by pseudonyms that reflect their attachment to the City of Brotherly Love but they’ve taken to stepping out from behind their on-line personas and gathering in person to talk about their shared hobby and photo subject – Philadelphia.

McDonald writes about Addie Fuller, a 32-year-old Penn employee who also lives in West Philadelphia.  Fuller and her fiance “traipse around the city documenting its often ignored urban landscape, focusing on Philly’s homegrown grit and decay (a common theme among locals).”

“I hope I give the impression that I see beauty in the city around me,” says Fuller, “even when things aren’t necessarily pretty. I think I could spend a lifetime shooting the city and not run out of fodder.”

Many of our Philadelphia readers have probably experienced that feeling when they see something – a new angle on the skyline, a makeshift memorial, an oasis of nature in the middle of an urban wasteland – and wish they had their camera with them.

As part of training for a 60-mile benefit walk, my wife and I have been trekking around town more than ever, starting from our South Philly home and picking a direction at random.  Just last weekend, I went west while she went south.  My walk took me through some of the more distressed, “gritty” (an oft-used adjective for many of Philly’s neighborhoods) parts of Point Breeze and Gray’s Ferry.  Her stroll led down Broad Street past parts which she described as looking like “what she remembers the bad parts of European cities looked like.”  We repeated that five-mile loop last night which also includes a trek around the FDR Park loop.  The park is a study in contrasts between the passive use groves and lakes, the activity of well-kept tennis courts and baseball fields, and the buzz of Interstate 95 and Pattison Avenue.  One is never far enough away to forget that they’re in a city.  If I had my camera, I could have snapped pictures of the algae bloom on the park’s various lakes, the silohuette of the skaters on the half pipe and the two cop cars, lights on, tearing under I-95 in pursuit of who-knows-what.

Until I start remembering to bring my little digital camera along, I’ll have to depend on this intrepid band of Flickr users to provide me with more unique views of this very visually stimulating city.  Check out flickr.coma and just type “Philadelphia” in the search.  You’ll be amazed at what you find.

Looking to DC for a model of bike sharing

August 5, 2008

The Sixth Square is WHYY’s arts and culture blog.  Culture can include a lot of things.

For example, Philadelphia has a thriving “bike culture.”  To some cycling approached a belief system while others pick up a bike every so often for a nice ride or to get some exercise and of course, many people fall somewhere between.

Those who count themselves among this “bike culture” may be getting some new neighbors soon if attempts to start a bike sharing program are successful here in Philadelphia.  Bike sharing, popular for several years in Europe, is coming to America.  WHYY’s Bill Hangley recently did a story about how Philadelphia is looking to Washington DC’s new program to see whether bike sharing can work here.

Bill talked to some advocates of the program who are skeptical that DC’s program can work since it’s on such a small scale.’s blog, The 13th Floor, agrees that DC’s program has some flaws:

But there’s one aspect of the program that just might doom it altogether. From DCist:

It takes at least a couple of weeks to process memberships, so if you sign up today, you can be one of the first people to try out the new program.

“At least a couple of weeks”?? I’m sure people are excited about the notion of being about to grab a bike and go, but won’t a two- or three-week wait be a huge discouraging factor?

For this to work in Philadelphia, it has to be easy to use, convenient, inexpensive and reliable.  The stations need to be everywhere and there has to be bikes available at all of them.  In other words, when it comes to bike sharing, go big or go home.

Encouraging an expansion of Philly’s “bike culture” can only help in the long run.

What do “All in the Family” and “On the Pulse of Morning” have in common?

August 5, 2008

Their creators will both be receiving Philadelphia’s Marian Anderson Award this year.

WHYY’s Alex Schmidt reports that the award, given out once a year to honor artists whose work improves society, will be going to television producer Norman Lear and author Maya Angelou.

Angelou and Lear are both being recognized for their artistic contributions and their work as defenders of civil rights.  According to the Inquirer coverage of the event, Lear and Angelou also share a unique connection:

“I’ll be receiving two awards that night,” Lear said yesterday in a phone interview. “First is the Marian Anderson prize honoring a great American activist. Second is sharing the stage with the wonderful Maya Angelou, godmother of my twin daughters.”

That last fact had come as a surprise to Pamela A. Crawley, chair of the award. “We had no knowledge of that before we made the decision,” Crawley said yesterday.

The award ceremony will be held on November 17, at the Kimmel Center.  Past honorees include Sidney Poitier, Danny Glover, Quincy Jones and Oprah Winfrey.

But who was Marian Anderson?  According to her bio on the award’s website, Anderson was born in Philadelphia in 1897, lived at Fitzwater and Martin Streets (in the neighborhood that now bears her name), and began her singing career as a child at her church.

Marian continued to sing through high school at South Philly High, where “she gained recognition and assistance from prominent audience members.”

After being rejected from music school because of her race, Marian received lessons from a couple private and well known teachers.

Anderson would go on to battle racism in the arts throughout her career before finally being hired by the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York.  She was the first black singer to perform for the Met.

A championship, but does it count?

July 31, 2008

This morning on WHYY 91FM, Elizabeth Fiedler recapped the Philadelphia Soul’s big win in the Arena Bowl with this story:

As the clock ran down during Sunday’s Arena Bowl championship, the people of Philadelphia finally had a chance to celebrate a championship.

“D’orazio runs back, running, throwing…1….0…Take a listen Philadelphia! The Philadelphia Soul are the 2008 World Champions of Arena Football… They do it – they win Arena Bowl 22!”

Thousands of Philadelphia Soul fans cheered on their team, as they clinched the victory in New Orleans. Soul Communications Director Greg Wiley said that 11 percent of Philadelphians who had their televisions on during the Arena Bowl watched the game too.

He said there’s a reason the Soul has so many fans.

“It’s high scoring, fast-paced, edge of your seat action. There’s touchdown after touchdown, a lot of passing. A lot of hitting. It’s football in a contained area,” said Wiley.

“You’re not only worried about getting tackled. You’re worried about getting tackled into the wall. Players fall into the stands all the time. And you can catch footballs. You’re so far away from the action at outdoor football games that’s not going to happen.”

Wiley says maybe one day local sports fans will follow Soul wide receiver Chris Jackson and quarterback Matt d’Orazio with the same intensity they devote to the Eagles.

My question for you, loyal readers/listeners: does it count? Does this championship mean that the “drought” – no major championship since the 1983 Sixers’ victory over the Lakers – is over? Or does it only count if the Phillies, Flyers, Eagles or Sixers get their parade down Broad Street?

Competition for the ever-popular Chinatown bus?

July 7, 2008

My favorite part of Alex’s piece about the Chinatown bus?

Her description of the bus as smelling like stale mushrooms.

Who knew you could get to New York from Philly or 3 bucks?  And all this time I’ve been forking over 50 bucks for gas, 10 for NJ Turnpike tolls and another 6 for the Lincoln Tunnel.  What a sucker.

Anyway, you should give Alex’s feature-length (about 5 minutes) piece a listen.

And get on the bus, gus…