West Chester and Chadds Ford Life Spring/Summer 2017

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Spring/Summer p g 2017

West Chester & Chadds Ford



Inside A thriving home for all the arts Alexander Claffy: Playing music from the soul Complimentary Copy

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Spring/Summer 2017

West Chester & Chadds Ford Life Table of Contents 12

Natural Lands Trust: Standing with Nature


The Darlington Arts Center


Q & A with Carol Metzker

36 46

The Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center




Chester County Historical Society library


Alexander Claffy


Photo essay: The art of Bri Brant


Get in the spotlight

36 Cover design by Tricia Hoadley Cover photograph by Jie Deng


West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

Discovering some of the riches of West Chester and Chadds Ford There are riches throughout West Chester and Chadds Ford, and in this issue, we uncover some people and places you might not know about. At the Chester County Historical Society, visitors can delve into some rare documents and handle objects that lead back in time. The library is proving to be a vital stop for those wanting to delve into any kind of local history, and it’s particularly invaluable for those interested tracing their family roots. Riches of the scenic kind are overseen by the Natural Lands Trust, which we profile in this issue. More than 2.5 million people live within five miles of lands in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey that are protected by Natural Lands Trust. With roots that stretch back to 1953, it is the oldest and largest land conservation organization in the area, protecting the forests, fields, streams, and wetlands that are essential to the sustainability of life in this part of the country. When it comes to the arts, Alexander Claffy is making his mark on the jazz world. Playing electric as well upright bass, he regularly jams with many of the world’s top jazz musicians. He has toured Europe and the United States several times, played gigs in the Middle East, and he’s a fixture in the New York and Philadelphia jazz scenes. He grew up in Pocopson, graduated from Unionville High School, and currently lives in Harlem. In this issue, he talks about his roots and his plans for the future. And speaking of the arts, six years ago, putting a theater in the middle of West Chester seemed like a great idea,

but not really possible. But during a tour of the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center, the results were clear: A pristine main theater space with brand-new seating, lighting and sound system; studio space upstairs and downstairs; two bar/reception areas; two immaculate new dressing rooms; rehearsal spaces … In short, everything a performing arts organization could need. And in this issue, we meet industrial designer Bri Brant, of Arden + James, who has used her intuition and understanding of historic local materials to build functional art – the beautiful, end result of blending industrial and craftbased designs with the finest natural materials. While the majority of her inventory is showcased at worKS in Kennett Square, Arden + James products are available at 17 other retail shops and sites around the globe. We also meet local activist Carol Metzker, who is a peaceable Quaker by faith, but who has devoted herself to battling the horror of human trafficking, both locally and worldwide. We take you to the Darlington Arts Center, which brings together music, dance, visual arts, and drama in one facility with an emphasis on multi-disciplinary programming. And in business, we look at what drew home organizer Mary Williams-Veale and fine art photographer Alessandra Manzotti together to form Spotlight, a local home staging company. It all adds up to another rich slice of what makes this area so special. We always welcome your comments and suggestions for future stories, and we look forward to bringing you the next issue of West Chester and Chadds Ford Life in the fall. Sincerely, Randy Lieberman, Publisher randyl@chestercounty.com, 610-869-5553 Steve Hoffman, Editor editor@chestercounty.com, 610-869-5553, ext. 13

74 Cover design: Tricia Hoadley - Cover photo: Robert R Lott (www.justbobimages.com)

www.chestercounty.com | Spring/Summer 2017 | West Chester & Chadds Ford Life


———————|In the Spotlight|———————

Standing with nature Since the 1950s, nature has had a best friend in Natural Lands Trust. Today, the organization manages 43 nature preserves totaling 22,000 acres, and the effort to protect and preserve our precious natural resources continues...


West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

Photo by Brandon Keen, Multilevel Media

A great view of ChesLen Preserve.

By Steven Hoffman Staff Writer


f you want to understand the importance of Natural Lands Trust, consider this statistic: More than 2.5 million people live within five miles of lands in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey that are protected by Natural Lands Trust. With roots that stretch back to 1953, Natural Lands Trust is the oldest and largest land conservation organization in the area, protecting the forests, fields, streams, and wetlands that are essential to the sustainability of life in this part of the country. It manages 43 nature preserves, totaling more than 22,000 acres, including Stroud Preserve in West Chester, Binky Lee Preserve in Chester Springs, Peacedale Preserve in Landenberg, and ChesLen Preserve in Coatesville. The statistics—43 preserves, 2.5 million people, 22,000 acres—tell a part of the story, sure. But the real work of Natural Lands Trust is providing people—starting with those 2.5 million men and women who live within five miles of the protected lands—the chance to form a personal and emotional connection to the natural world. Natural Lands Trust stands with nature—always. The seeds for Natural Lands Trust were planted in 1953 when a group called the Philadelphia Conservationists, comprised of avid bird watchers, came together to protect the marshes at Tinicum along the Delaware River. The land is now the

Photo by Bill Moses

The Eastern Bluebird is just one of many birds who make the preserves their home.

Continued on Page 14

Photo credit: Simone Collins Landscape Architecture/Geoff Creary

The beauty of Stroud Preserve. www.chestercounty.com | Spring/Summer 2017 | West Chester & Chadds Ford Life


Nature Continued from Page 13

John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. That success started Natural Lands Trust on the path to becoming a leader in the private land conservation movement. The non-profit organization utilizes a comprehensive approach to conservation that includes permanently protecting natural areas, providing leadership to communities in resource management, and creating opportunities for people to connect and to learn from nature. The work can be challenging and slow, but the results are very rewarding. Consider Stroud Preserve off North Creek Road in West Chester, a 571-acre mosaic of grasslands, working farmlands, and woodlands that serves as a unique site not just for recreation, but for education and scientific research. “Stroud is a beautiful property. It’s one of the most popular preserves,” explained Kirsten Werner, the director of communications with Natural Lands Trust. Stroud Preserve is an example of how the Natural Lands Trust can serve as a leader and a facilitator for land conservation—but the work is never done in isolation. Stroud Preserve was established in 1990 when Dr. Morris Stroud

Photo by Anne Bevis

ChesLen Preserve.

bequeathed his 332-acre farm to Natural Lands Trust. The Preserve has grown in size since then through other land donations and purchases of neighboring properties. The 571-acre preserve is both culturally and ecologically significant. Its history reaches back as far as the founding of the colony of Pennsylvania. A stone farmhouse was built by


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Thomas Worth around 1740. The farmhouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Dr. Stroud stipulated that the preserve be available as a long-term study site for the Stroud Water Research Center, which is world renowned for its pioneering research on streams and rivers. Scientists from the research center have set up experiments on the preserve to evaluate how to create riparian forest buffers and how they can filter out sediments, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other harmful chemicals that can be a threat to other waters that are downstream. Stroud Preserve has been part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Monitoring Program, a network of sites established across the U.S. to evaluate how land use and human practices affect water quality. It is the only such site in Pennsylvania. Stroud Preserve’s land is also being used to create meadows, wetlands, and woodlands so that native plants and animals can thrive. Natural Lands Trust staff oversees this work. Today, one-third of the people who work for Natural Lands Trust are involved directly in the care of the lands in the various nature preserves to make sure that they are suitable places for nature to flourish, and that they are safe and enjoyable places for the public to visit. According to Werner, the overarching mission of Natural Lands Trust is always to connect people to the outdoors. The purpose of preserving precious natural resources is to improve the quality of life for people. Eighteen of the preserves managed by Natural Lands Trust are open to the public every day of the year. “They are completely free and they are open dawn to dusk,” Werner explained. While one-third of Natural Lands Trust staff works directly in the care of the lands, another one-third works with municipal leaders to develop good zoning regulations that protect the farmland and open space that remains available. “We always think about those vulnerable properties in the communities before they are being developed,” Werner explained. One of those vulnerable properties was what is today known as ChesLen Preserve near Coatesville. Werner noted that the ChesLen Preserve could have had close to 600 homes built there. But the property’s owners, philanthropists Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest, were willing to donate their land, as was the county, which owned an adjacent 500 acres. Now, the 1,262-acre property spans three different municipalities and is one of the largest private nature preserves in southeastern Pennsylvania. It features more than 13 miles of hiking trails and equestrian trails, too. Continued on Page 16

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Nature Continued from Page 15

Another example of how Natural Lands Trust can work to protect farmland that is threatened by development pressures is the Bryn Coed Farms in northern Chester County. Located primarily in West Vincent Township, with portions in East Pikeland and West Pikeland townships, the Bryn Coed Farms property stretches out over 1,505 acres, making it one of the largest remaining undeveloped, unprotected tracts of land in the greater Philadelphia region. Under current zoning regulations, it could be developed and approximately 700 homes could be built on the land. But Natural Lands Trust announced in the latter part of 2016 that it was close to securing the preservation of the Bryn Coed Farms by reaching an agreement of sale for the property with the owners, the Dietrich family. Three Dietrich brothers, heirs to the Luden’s cough drop company, acquired adjoining farms in the 1970s to assemble the property. The brothers decided in 2003 to sell the property, and various conservation and development options have been explored ever since. Natural Lands Trust has been involved in this effort to conserve the land

for five or six years, and Werner said that they are hoping to close on the property during 2017. If the Bryn Coed Farms property can be preserved, it would be the largest land conservation success in the five-county region surrounding Philadelphia. Preserving a property like Bryn Coed Farms is always complicated. One of the biggest challenges, of course, is lining up the funding that is necessary. “We have to find the money for all these projects,” Werner said, explaining that the organization utilizes private donations; member donations; grants from townships, counties, and the state; and other sources to fund projects. “Land conservation takes place over decades,” Werner said of the process. “Natural Lands Trust is in the perpetuity business.” Each land conservation project is unique in its challenges and opportunities. In the case of the Bryn Coed Farms project, 400 to 500 acres of land will be put in a preserve that will be owned and managed by the Natural Lands Trust. Other sections

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Just try to imagine the incalculable benefits which would be achieved if each township in the United States made good use…of whatever conservation opportunities existed within its borders. ~ Allston Jenkins, founding president of the Natural Lands Trust of the property will be divided into large conservation properties, preserved by conservation easements, and sold to private individuals. The size of the nature preserve they create depends on the amount of funding that can be raised by Natural Lands Trust. A fundraising campaign is underway to secure the $5 million needed to save the entire property. Donations can be made at bryncoedfarms.org/give. Werner commended the Chester County government’s leadership and support for land conservation. “Chester County has been a leader in terms of conservation,” Werner said. “It’s really part of the county’s DNA to protect open space and the rural feel of its communities.” Werner said that it helps when people are

Photo Credit: Nicholas Rohr

Stroud Preserve is a beautiful property of more than 500 acres.

Continued on Page 18

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Nature Continued from Page 17

more aware of the open space around them, and tuned in to the importance of having that open space protected. Which is why the organization opens so much of its land to the public, so that people can reconnect with nature and appreciate the value of open space. Werner extended an invitation to anyone who wants to get out in nature and enjoy what the preserves have to offer. Details about the preserves can be found at www. natlands.org/preserves. For people who wants to hike at the preserves, there is a “Find Yourself Outside Challenge where people can earn a free fleece vest by visiting all 18 publicly accessible preserves. More details can be found at www.natlands. org/findyourselfoutside. Special events are planned at various locations throughout the spring and summer, including several live music events. Field Jam will take place at the Gwynned Wildlife Preserve in Ambler, Pa. on Saturday, June 24 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Enjoy a Friday Night Lights program at the ChesLen Preserve on Friday, July 14 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Beats and Brews will take place on Saturday,


Photo credit: Jarrod Shull

A double rainbow at Stroud Preserve.

Sept. 9 from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Binky Lee Preserve in Chester Springs. Natural Lands Trust also has a Roots & Bluestems event planned for the Stroud Preserve on Sept. 16 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event will include roots music, food trucks, and craft beers. More details about all the events are available on the Natural Lands Trust website. To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email editor@ chestercounty.com.

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——|West Chester & Chadds Ford Arts|——

Education, exploration and inspiration At the Darlington Arts Center, children or adults can enjoy music, dance, art, and drama lessons and programs

All photos courtesy

Above: Students at work in the Visual Arts Club. Left: Students can enjoy a wide variety of classes and activities at the Darlington Arts Center.


West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

By Steven Hoffman Staff Writer


he Darlington Arts Center was established nearly four decades ago based on a unique vision of including four arts disciplines—music, dance, visual arts, and drama—in one facility with an emphasis on multi-disciplinary programming. Darlington was the first community arts center in Pennsylvania to offer the four arts under one roof, fulfilling the vision of founder Diana Sophocles Hemmenway, and becoming a place where education, exploration, and inspiration converge. Young people can step on the stage for the first time or explore a new kind of art, while adults can pick up a new hobby or pursue a long-held ambition. “We offer so many different programs,” said Rosa Doherty, who previously served as the manager of marketing for the Darlington Arts Center. “We have classes for children as young as two, and we have a 95-year-old who is in a senior fitness class.”

Right: Youngsters can experience the thrill of performing on stage. Below: Performances, events, and exhibits featuring the creative skills of Darlington Arts Center students drew 4,246 attendees in one year.

Continued on Page 22

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Darlington Arts Center Continued from Page 21

Today, there are more than 5,000 individuals who are served through the music, dance, art, and drama programs at the non-profit community arts center. Music is the most popular choice for students, followed by dance. Darlington also hosts monthly art exhibitions, recitals, and master classes, as well as professional gallery exhibitions and a variety of outreach programs. In one year alone, 895 students took 1,756 classes, lessons, or workshops on-site, and another 4,246 people attended performances, events, and exhibits. Families come primarily from the Garnet Valley, Glen Mills, Chadds Ford, and West Chester communities to participate in the Darlington Arts Center’s offerings, but the organization’s reputation has grown during its four decades, and people also come from Delaware and other neighboring communities. Darlington is very inclusive in its offerings, and strives to serve the cultural needs of a diverse community. There are school and outreach programs that help people of all ages build their appreciation and understanding of the arts as they learn to express themselves creatively in music, art, dance, and drama. Doherty said that Darlington’s programs really have a positive impact on youngsters. “I see what a difference these classes make,” she said. “The children are so excited to be here. Parents say that they don’t get this excited about anything else.” A prime reason for the Darlington Arts Center’s success is the collection of teaching artists who share their knowledge and joy for the arts. “I think our teaching artists are our biggest asset,”

Dance classes are among the most popular offerings—for people of all ages. 22

West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

Doherty said. She explained that the teaching artists provide personalized attention to the students, and are able to help each one develop in their area or areas of study. Many students are able to enjoy more than one class or program at the arts center. There are approximately 700 member families. When the Darlington Arts Center was first started, it was housed in an historic farmhouse along Old Baltimore Pike in Wawa, Pa. Hemmenway started the arts center with five music teachers and 35 students. Before long, the Darlington Arts Center added the three other arts to enhance the curriculum. The innovation has never stopped in the ensuing years. Twenty years ago, the organization started a preschool arts program for three- to five-year-olds that proved to be very popular. When the center’s student enrollment topped 500 students around 1996, the board of directors decided to start looking at sites for a new home, eventually settling on a five-acre site in Concord Township that was noted by the Gilman Development Company. A new stateof-the-art facility was built on the site and opened its doors in 2002. Managing the growth and changes of the Darlington Arts Center have been a board of directors and the executive directors who provide vision for the programs. Hemmenway led the Darlington

Students get to showcase their musical skills at a recital.

Arts Center for 30 years, retiring in 2009. Next, Angela Scully served as executive director, a position that is now held by Susan Nicodemus Quinn. According to Doherty, the building is frequently bustling with activity. In addition to the full Continued on Page 24

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Darlington Arts Center Continued from Page 23

schedule of classes and private instruction that takes place, Darlington also has a number of outreach programs that are offered to children with special needs or youngsters who are from economically disadvantaged homes. An arts integration program called Literacy through Songwriting helps youngsters build confidence and develop their creativity while also learning. The Darlington Arts Center also facilitates the Chester Theater Arts Program, which brings music, dance, and drama training to children between the ages of 5 and 18. Students meet each Saturday during the school year for the program at the Chester Charter School for the Arts. Darlington Arts Center offers Suzuki violin instruction to students in three elementary schools—the Stetser Elementary School and Chester Charter School of the Arts and the Chester County Family Academy. The instruments for the program are donated by the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. The organization is always looking to meet a new need in the community. For example, they more recently started offering yoga classes in response to requests.


Music classes are the most popular offerings at Darlington Arts Center.

The Darlington Arts Center also has an expansive summer camp program that is open for young learners of all ages and skill levels in music, art, dance and

West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

Continued on Page 26

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Darlington Arts Center Continued from Page 24

drama. Registration for Camp Creativity is now open, so families can plan their summer activities and explore several options, including half- and all-day camp experiences, as well as one-day art intensive summer camp experiences. The Darlington Arts Center is located at 977 Shavertown Road in Garnet Valley, Pa. To learn more visit www. darlingtonarts.org, call 610358-3632 to request a catalog of programs, or request more information at marketing@ darlingtonarts.org. To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email editor@chestercounty.com.

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——|West Chester & Chadds Ford Q&A|——

Activist and author endeavors to stop human trafficking

‘Facing the monster’ is mission of West Chester’s Carol Metzker

By Natalie Smith Staff Writer Carol Metzker is a fighter. Although a peaceable Quaker by faith, the West Chester woman is battling human trafficking, locally and worldwide. As member of the Rotary Club of West Chester, her chance meeting during the organization’s 2004 trip to India 28

Photos by Natalie Smith

As a member of the Rotary Club of West Chester, Carol Metzker said many members of the humanitarian international service organization have contributed to the effort against human and sex trafficking.

West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

with a girl who had been a victim of sex trafficking so moved Metzker that she took up the cause, eventually writing the 2012 book, “Facing the Monster: How One Person Can Fight Child Slavery.” As a consultant with The Salvation Army’s New Day to Stop Trafficking program and through her involvement with the Chester County AntiHuman Trafficking Coalition (CCAT), Metzker’s activities are myriad. They’ve spanned gathering and delivering food to human trafficking survivors to fundraising to writing “fire drills” advising organizations how to deal with diverse trafficking situations. At least once a week, Metzker’s on the road, giving talks about human trafficking. Metzker, who describes herself as a “writer, activist, author, consultant and volunteer,” was recently recognized for her tireless work by the Chester County Fund for Women and Girls. More information about her cause – and what individuals can do to help -- is available at www.facingthemonster.com. Q.: What is human trafficking? A: Human trafficking has a long, legal definition. There are federal definitions, and as of 2014, Pennsylvania has its own law. It involves

Continued on Page 30

‘Facing the Monster: How One Person Can Fight Child Slavery,’ was initially inspired after meeting an 11-year-old girl in India who had been a victim of sex trafficking.

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Q&A Continued from Page 29

either sex or labor. It involves a number of means. It can be harboring, recruiting or soliciting. You don’t have to transport someone for it to be human trafficking. Essentially, it is making someone do a sex act or an act of labor through force, fraud or coercion. If someone sells a child or buys a child for sex, that is human trafficking, or sex trafficking. You said it became law in 2014 in Pennsylvania. Yes. Act 105. Did you have anything to do with that? I spent a couple days out in Harrisburg with a lot of other really committed abolitionists who said, “Wow, Pennsylvania doesn’t have human trafficking on the law books? We’d better do something about that.” Most likely, people thought that this was covered back in the late 1800s with the Emancipation Proclamation, right? So now everyone is free. The answer is no, they’re not. That was a good step. We needed something else. There’s certainly the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which is


federal and we could – when I say we, I mean prosecutors – prosecutors could prosecute under that, federally. But [Pennsylvania] Act 105 became effective at the end of 2014. How many years had it taken to become law? How many years did the senators and other members of the community work [to bring about its passage]? I remember at least two years. That one passed pretty quickly. But there was a lot of work done, a lot of negotiating. Who was going to pay for some of this stuff? What is the definition going to be? But the lawyers and our elected officials really were very smart. They had a lot of good conversations. What you don’t want to do is make it illegal for a parent to tell a child, “You’re going to do chores.” I mean, that’s a little humorous. But if you write a law in such a way that makes that happen, then are you going to have the 17-year-old child suing the parent for labor trafficking? It seems absurd, that particular instance. I use that just for example. But when we do it, we want to get it right. And they did a great job.

West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

People might say they have a hard time believing that of getting paid for the work you do. It was great fun. At human trafficking is happening in Pennsylvania, or that one point, I was standing at the storefront window and one of the survivors it is even happening joined me. We were in this century. Can looking out at High you tell me the kinds They say that prostitution is the oldest Street, and she said of things you’ve come occupation in the world? It’s not. It’s the to me, “West Chester across in our state? has changed, hasn’t Let’s bring it home oldest oppression in the world. it?” And I said, “Why to Chester County, to yes, it has.” I said, West Chester. Several “How do you know years ago, I had been volunteering for a while with local female survivors of West Chester?” I thought that was a simple question. She human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. said, “Oh, I went to high school here.” I learned later We wanted to take them on an outing. I took them to a that she said she’d been sold for sex by her husband to café that was on High Street, the [now-closed] Three Little support his drug habit. The Salvation Army’s New Day Pigs, and at one time it was just an absolute local favor- to Stop Trafficking program has clients who are from ite for lunches. They were closed on Saturdays, but they Chester County. ... Why wouldn’t there be human trafallowed me to bring a group of survivors [on a Saturday] ficking here? The average length of life for someone in for lunch. The lunch was just this joyous, festive occasion commercial sexual exploitation – notice I’m not using – one survivor had just gotten her first real job with a pay- the word prostitution – is seven years. [They experience] check. It was really beginning to dawn on her, the power Continued on Page 32


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Q&A Continued from Page 31

depression, suicide, untold violence, drug overdose. If I were having sex with 10 to 15 strangers every single day of my life, I’d look for something to numb the pain, too. Here’s another statistic that is also horrifying: The average age of entry into commercial sexual exploitation is 11 to 14 years old. We can do better than this as a society. And it’s not just girls and women; boys and men are affected, too. One of the really vulnerable populations in our society are LGBTQ. Human trafficking – what the rest of the world calls modern slavery – is a $150 billion illegal business. Putting that into perspective: That’s more than Coca-Cola, Nike and Starbucks make in a year, combined. Where is that figure from? That is a 2014 statistic from the International Labour Organization. In addition to people who are sex workers … I don’t call them sex workers. I think that implies that they really want to be doing this. I call them people who


are being prostituted. I call them victims of commercial sexual exploitation. So calling them prostitutes makes it sound as though they went to the career fair and picked that job. They say that prostitution is the oldest occupation in the world? It’s not. It’s the oldest oppression in the world. What about labor trafficking? Typical labor trafficking industries are agriculture, restaurant, food processing and construction. TSA New Day does case management services to help victims of labor trafficking. It’s designed to help with whatever services are needed by the victim/survivor. Does that victim need a place to live and not have any money? Maybe law enforcement has them in a hotel before the money comes in. How do you get the food for the first couple of days? That’s where the Chester County Food Bank comes in. Really, it is an organizational collaboration and community collaboration to get victims of labor trafficking and sex trafficking what they need.

West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

I don’t call them sex workers. I think that implies that they really want to be doing this. I call them people who are being prostituted. I call them victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Tell us about your book. It was inspired by your visit to a center established to help survivors of modern slavery when you were on a Rotary trip to India. It was an international group of Rotarians. One of them was from England, and had recently watched a BBC program about child slavery in India, and had figured out a way to help a particular center, so he took us there. My world flipped upside down. And when it righted, I realized I had a lot of work to do. Now I’ve done projects in India, Nepal and of course here. I believe we can do both. If I can do it, there are a lot smarter, more capable, wealthier people who can do it, too. Up to that point, was child slavery something on your radar? Oh heavens, no. It was a pivotal moment for me. Back in 2004, there hadn’t been a cover of Time or Newsweek about human trafficking. We weren’t seeing documentaries

about it. But there were some organizations, few and far between, that were absolutely pioneering this kind of work. There were some shining lights out there, some beacons; particularly a lot of women who had been victims themselves, who were shouting to us, working with every fiber of their being, saying this is happening. But to look into the face of Maina, this 11-year-old girl who had been labor trafficked and sold for sex …. We never studied anything like that. We learned about the Emancipation Proclamation. It never occurred to me [slavery] would just move underground in slightly different forms. Maina was forced not only to have sex, she was forced to perform in the circus and risked her life with every act. How did she end up there? Were her parents told she was going to a better place? I don’t know what her background was. I assumed that Continued on Page 34

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Q&A Continued from Page 33

was what it was, based on some conversations. And that is a very typical way in developing areas when you’ve got parents who are perhaps illiterate or certainly undereducated and want desperately for their children to have a better life. It’s so easy for someone to come in and there’s that deception, there’s that fraud – force, fraud, coercion. After talking to this young woman, a world of horror opens up for you. What were you thinking? I made it all the way out the gates of the center, and then I cried. I pretty much cried for the next 10 hours. Which is pretty unsustainable; you get pretty dehydrated and wrung out. It was at that point I thought, “I will fight this.” I knew nothing about human trafficking, modern slavery, except what I’d seen, and that was the tip of the iceberg. So I learned. But there weren’t as many outlets for learning back then. Not long after that, a man named Kevin Bales came to speak at Westtown School. He was the world’s foremost authority on human trafficking/ modern slavery. I went to the lecture, I read all his books.

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I kept thinking about how I could do projects. I started out with projects in India. A Rotarian mission has been to eliminate polio. Is dealing with human trafficking a little far afield? Rotary currently has six areas of focus [promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water and sanitation, mother and child health, supporting education and growing local economies]. There are 1.2 million Rotarians throughout the world. We’re all voluntary humanitarians and we’re all there to help each other. While we come from different backgrounds, we have different strengths. And when you all work for the betterment of this world, you can accomplish a lot. So, whether it’s programs to educate the community, writing, actual work with survivors, fundraising, I would say I’d do pretty much whatever it took to end this, within legal guidelines, of course. Have I ended it yet? No. Do I sleep well at night? Sure. Better than the night after meeting Maina when I cried for 10 hours. Natalie Smith may be contacted at DoubleSMedia@ rocketmail.com.

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——|West Chester & Chadds Ford Arts|——

Photo by Arhscana Images

Professional dancers will perform as part of the debut show by Nickerson-Rossi Dance on June 2, 3 and 4.

A thriving home for all the arts 36

West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

The Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center opens its first year of diverse programming By John Chambless Staff Writer


ix years ago, putting a theater in the middle of West Chester seemed like a great idea, but not really possible. But during a tour of the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center in April, Michael Nickerson-Rossi showed off the results: A pristine main theater space with brand-new seating, lighting and sound system; studio space upstairs and downstairs; two bar/reception areas; two immaculate new dressing rooms; rehearsal spaces … In short, everything a performing arts organization could need. The former National Guard Armory building looks the same on the outside, but the inside is a hive of activity, providing a broad, diverse lineup of music, theater, dance, film screenings and classes. It’s been a long road, but after a New Year’s Eve kickoff party and four months of fulltime activity, the future looks limitless. Nickerson-Rossi, who leads Nickerson-Rossi Dance, a resident modern dance company at the theater, can’t wait to get started. Sitting in the main auditorium, where the

Photo by John Chambless

Michael Nickerson-Rossi, Therese Walden-Murphy and Angela Scully are working to make the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center a hub for the arts in West Chester.

seats still have a new-car smell, he explained how the company landed in West Chester. “I’m based in the greater Los Angeles area, where the company is from,” he said. “I also own the brand-new Palm Springs Dance Festival. I had been in that area all of my L.A. dance career. The company had been touring in Italy, and we brought in international guest artists. My family’s from this area, and they let me know about this new project. With my connections, I feel I can make this Continued on Page 38 Courtesy photo

Background photo: The main stage has state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment, and can handle anything from a musical or dance production to a comedy show or concert. www.chestercounty.com | Spring/Summer 2017 | West Chester & Chadds Ford Life


The Uptown Continued from Page 37

an outstanding Mecca for dance. Eventually, I will do a dance festival in the West and here. The company is Nickerson-Rossi Dance, so we have NRD West and NRD East. I’m flying two of my dancers from the West to our performance here for our East Coast premiere on June 2, 3 and 4.” That show, “Blueprints,” will “offer the community the makeup of dance, how I feel I will program dance in this theater,” he said. Nickerson-Rossi offers training for young dancers, and will bring in four professional artists in July – one each week – to teach workshops and choreograph a dance with the students. The results will be shown in a summer program on Aug. 19. “So I’m giving them some really great experiences,” he said. “When I was interviewing here, I was asked if I saw myself competing with the Brandywine Ballet Company, but no, we’re a modern, contemporary company,” he added. “In the borough, there are no others. That’s what the exciting part is. There’s a lot of people from Delaware, from different counties, who travel into Philly

to see dance, and now they can come here.” But there’s lots more going on at the performing arts center. There are nine resident companies who either rehearse or perform there, and the West Chester Studio for the Performing Arts is opening doorways to theater for young people across the region. Therese WaldenMurphy is a professional actress who leads classes in various aspects of theater for ages 4 through adults. She’s also the education director for Uptown. “I brought West Chester Studio to Uptown to be their education program,” she said. “My way of looking at education for young children through the arts is that we do bring in children who might want to work in the industry professionally, but most of the children are not going to go into the industry. But they can learn so much from the performing arts. My thought is that if I can teach kids to connect with themselves, find out who they are and get them to express their ideas, that they will be better off, and do whatever it is they want to do.” This summer, the studio is offering seven camps for kids to explore acting, singing, dancing and

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improvisation. Registration is open now. The theater has evolved from four friends discussing the need for a theater in West Chester to the present-day staff of two full-time paid employees, some part-time technical workers, a 24-member board of directors, an advisory board and an array of donors. After Uptown was allowed to buy the vacant Armory from the state for $760,000 in May 2015 and broke ground just under a year ago, “We raised $4.2 million,” said executive director Angela Scully, “but it cost more than that, so we need to raise another $500,000-plus, and we also need to re-do the outside of the building. It has to be done with historic preservation in mind, so it’s not just power-washing. So we’re still looking for funding, and we have naming opportunities available.” “I’ve seen so many theaters go under,” Walden-Murphy said, “because the only thing that’s supporting that building is one theater company. What I think is great about Uptown is they are pulling in all of these creative arts and allowing them all to support the building.” Outside rentals of the facilities are available as well,

Photo by John Chambless

The former armory building in West Chester looks much the same on the outside, but has been completely revamped inside.

Scully said, adding to the financial support for the arts companies. “Someone is renting the bar for a wedding brunch,” she said. “Someone else is renting a space upstairs for their office party. Another person rented the upstairs space for his album launch.” Continued on Page 40





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The Uptown Continued from Page 39

The initial board backed the idea of bringing in the Resident Theater Company, which made a spectacular splash with their initial production of “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” which sold out nearly its entire run from March 31 to April 16. Leslie Telthorster, who handles publicity for Uptown, said that surveys distributed to those who came to see the debut production came back saying, “We came expecting to see community theater, but got a whole lot more,” she said, smiling. “And people are learning that we have all these other things happening.” That kind of endorsement will pay off when audiences return to see other productions, or concerts, or dance shows. Scully said the center is running at about 85 percent capacity, “and our schedule is quite full,” but there’s room for more. “For us, the goal was having a mix of the arts so we would have a cross-pollination,” she said. “I love when I see people come in for ‘Spamalot’ and they are bringing their grandchildren back for Therese’s shows, or they come for a concert or a travel adventure film screening. That’s what we


were looking for when we started.” At the New Year’s Eve kickoff gala this year, Scully said, there weren’t any chairs installed yet in the theater space, but 550 guests filled the building, even dancing on the stage to celebrate the opening of a new attraction in downtown West Chester. The mood was upbeat and optimistic. With West Chester University’s arts departments on the southern end of town, and now Uptown on the northern end, the borough is bracketed by the arts. The downtown business community has been a firm supporter as well, Scully said. “I think they saw this as the missing piece of West Chester,” she said. For more information about the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (226 N. High St., West Chester), visit www.uptownwestchester.org. For information about the West Chester Studio for the Performing Arts, visit www.westchesterstudio.com. To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email jchambless@chestercounty.com.

West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com


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to lifelong care, enabling our patients to choose a pathway to keep their teeth for a lifetime.” Frequently, patients come to Dr. Franck with photographs taken years ago at their graduation or wedding ceremony, as a way to describe what their smile used to look like, and their desire to see that smile again. By developing customized treatment plans and conservative cosmetic procedures,

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——|West Chester & Chadds Ford History|——

Personal history questions? CCHS Library can help Historical Society facility is a source for all things Chester County 46

West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

We have people who come from all the way across the country to do their genealogy. They’re sort of on a pilgrimage. – CCHS photo archivist Pamela Powell

Photos by Natalie Smith unless otherwise noted

Photo archivist Pamela Powell has been with CCHS for more than 30 years. Powell said while she likes photos with interaction, particularly between people and animals, her favorite ‘is usually whatever I’m working on.’

By Natalie Smith Staff Writer


here are riches on North High Street in West Chester. Of course, you must dig for them. Some treasures are hidden deeper than others, but each is precious. Many veins offer up one singular prize; other avenues are broad and twisting, and could yield unexpected rewards. Fortunately, there are knowledgeable, friendly guides to help you along the way. The Chester County Historical Society Library is proving a vital stop for those wanting to delve into any kind of local history – and it’s particularly invaluable for those interested in tracing their family roots. “We do see a lot of genealogists,” said CCHS librarian Jasmine Smith. The library is chock-full of information for even the most novice investigators. Sources include Chester County history publications, family name files, newspaper clippings, church records, census records and maps. There is Continued on Page 48

Photo courtesy Chester County Historical Society

This 1855 daguerreotype image taken by John Steck is of abolitionist Passmore Williamson in Moyamensing Prison, Philadelphia. Williamson’s visitor’s book, which was signed by hundreds during his 100-day prison sentence, is also at the Chester County Historical Society.

www.chestercounty.com | Spring/Summer 2017 | West Chester & Chadds Ford Life


Historical Society Continued from Page 47

microfilm, along with CD-ROMs of records and newspapers. There is also a collection of more than 100,000 photographs. The thing all those materials have in common: Chester County. For those who are new to tracking their family and are daunted by where to begin, Smith said they would likely be pointed in the direction of four starting points: Family folders, published genealogies, newspaper clips and the manuscript catalogue. All are alphabetical by last name. “So they’re very accessible resources that, for most people, [will] get them at least some information,” she said. Much of the material in the library is from donations by individuals or family members, but they don’t have to be people of note, just from Chester County. Smith said she never knows what sort of items will be donated. “Someone might call and say, ‘I have this,’ or sometimes people just walk in with boxes. You never really know what’s in those boxes. Or even if you talked to the person beforehand, it’s not what you expected. It’s always sort of a magical mystery of what those things will be. “Generally, what we collect is very location specific,” Smith said. “We want things that are Chester County-related. That’s one of the biggest determiners of what we keep and what we don’t. If we look at something and it’s about Delaware County … it might be a wonderful


Volunteer Carol Grigson has been working on the project to mount and file thousands of clipped newspaper articles for more than 20 years. Although Grigson said there was an end in sight, she also said they could always use more volunteers.

thing, but that’s not us. “If we are not accepting something, we do explain to people. Sometimes it’s an issue of condition. We also consider what people are



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West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com


actually using, and what we already have. People like to bring in Bibles, but we have a lot of Bibles, and they don’t get used very often. “We try not to duplicate records held elsewhere. Like, if someone brings in something that’s duplicated as a government record -- like a recorded deed -- those kind of things generally we don’t collect.” In addition to family donations, the reading room contains books that cover a variety of topics, often linked to exhibits at the CCHS. There are dozens of books written by Chester County authors. “We also have good resources on the Revolutionary War, the Civil War,” Smith said. “We have a good decorative arts collection, to go along with what’s in the museum, if you’re interested in pewter or doll making, or something along those lines. We also have a cemeteries collection, a churches collection. Those are popular with genealogists, but serve another range of interests as well. “Newspaper clippings are listed by last name, but also by township. In that section, you’re going to find clippings on businesses, events, transportation – a pretty wide range of topics.” One of the longest and most labor-intensive projects the

Image courtesy Chester County Historical Society

This slide from the Photo Archives is from the Dr. Arthur E. James collection. It was taken by James, former Historical Society president, in the late 1950s. It shows North High Street near the corner of Gay Street.

library has undertaken is to mount and file thousands of newspaper articles. Although the journalism files start in 1810, it was in the middle of the 20th century when former Historical Society Continued on Page 50

www.chestercounty.com | Spring/Summer 2017 | West Chester & Chadds Ford Life


Historical Society Continued from Page 49

librarians took on the project of clipping items from Chester County publications. After they were clipped, they were stored in boxes until time came for them to be mounted in a manner suitable for filing. The librarians would affix them with a wheat paste, and then use wax paper and a sealing machine to preserve them. At the time, they might not have realized the breadth of their project. “The clippings started in 1940 and continue into the 1970s,” Smith said. “And they still [require] pasting.” Volunteers who do the pasting come in multiple days a week. “We’ve got six pasting and clipping people. The third Monday of the month, 12 people come in, kind of like a quilting bee.” The most senior of the clipping volunteers is Carol Grigson. The East Bradford resident has been working with the material since 1995. Many of the boxes of the clips had been in storage, Grigson said. When it became apparent something had to be done with them, Grigson volunteered for the job. She asked how many boxes there were. “I was told about a box-and-a-half,” she said, laughing at


the memory. “Thirty boxes later …” Grigson said that at first, she would get any fellow volunteer she could to work on the project, but it was a solitary activity that didn’t suit everyone. It was her idea to gather a group to meet monthly, and the other volunteers “really seem to enjoy it,” she said. The biggest nod to the modern day is that they no longer use wheat paste. “We started using glue sticks,” she said. Grigson said she has found the work fascinating. Another benefit of devoting two decades to reading “millions” of newspaper articles is that, “I always kid people my head is full of trivia.” And after more than 20 years, the project is nearing its completion, or as Grigson said, “there is a light at the end of the tunnel.” Adjacent to the reading room is the closed storage room, which is not accessible to visitors, but material stored there can be retrieved by the librarians. Items in this room are fragile or older, and most are stored in archival boxes. “It’s temperature- and humidity-controlled,” Smith said.

West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

Continued on Page 52

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Historical Society Continued from Page 50

The collections in closed storage vary, from greeting cards to manuscripts to cancelled checks from long-closed businesses. “Documents here are generally not bound, so they’re more delicate,” she said. Contrary to what might be thought, unlike photographs, cotton gloves aren’t required to handle these items. “You don’t have to wear gloves when you look at them, because gloves make you clumsy and you might rip them. It’s better to handle them with clean, bare hands,” Smith said. Photographs are also kept in closed storage, as the charges of photo archivist Pamela Powell. Powell, who has worked for the CCHS for 30 years, said the most fragile and the most requested photos were being scanned into an in-house database. “You can just sit down and look at pictures of old West Chester or trains or covered bridges or the Brandywine [Creek],” she said. “But for some people, it really is a thrill to see the original. We have people who come from all the way across the country to do their genealogy. They’re sort of on a pilgrimage. And then they find a family reunion photo and see their father in it. It really is exciting for them to see the original, not just look at a computer screen. We can appreciate that. “We want people to appreciate the artifact value of the photographs and the aesthetics of them. We have some beautiful photos.” Donations constitute a large part of the photo collection. “We do get a lot of donations,” Powell said. “People get frustrated with their home collections; they might not be sure their grandchildren will be interested. Often a

Librarian Jasmine Smith looks through one of the card catalogs that contains listings of manuscript material available. The archival material includes items such as ‘letters, diaries and other family papers.’ They are stored in a separate area and must be retrieved by a librarian.



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We want to document all Chester Countians from all walks of life. We’re not looking for the rich and famous. We want to show everybody who lived here. – Pamela Powell, CCHS photo archivist public collection is a good place for that material, then the descendants can all access it. “What we’re looking for is for the photos to be identified, written very gently in pencil [on the backs], putting down the person’s name, and date, where it was taken. All that kind of information is wonderful.” If there’s no identification, sometimes they still accept the photo if the subject is wearing period dress or a costume, for display in the Historical Society’s textile exhibit. Powell said, “We want to document all Chester Countians from all walks of life. We’re not looking for the rich and famous. We want to show everybody who lived here.” Among the photo collection: • Many albums, including ones with daguerreotypes of the 97th Infantry Regiment, which was organized in West Chester during the Civil War. Among those identified are Galusha Pennypacker and Henry Guss, both Colonels of

the unit. Powell said Civil War buffs who have similar images are sometimes able to recognize and identify others pictured. • Color slides from the 1950s taken by Arthur James, former president of the Historical Society. James walked through West Chester, taking photos of streets and buildings. The images and colors are still clear and vivid. • A daguerreotype portrait of Passmore Williamson. An abolitionist and member of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, the Chester County native spent more than three months in jail after he helped an African-American woman and her two children escape the man who had enslaved her. Williamson was an abolitionist of some note, and while imprisoned, he had many visitors. Some of the hundreds were well known, including Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman. His sign-in visitors book, Continued on Page 54

www.chestercounty.com | Spring/Summer 2017 | West Chester & Chadds Ford Life


Historical Society Continued from Page 53

which is part of the CCHS collection, was the winner of a 2013 crowd-funding campaign, “Pennsylvania’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts.” The campaign, sponsored by the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, raised funds to help preserve the book. “We do have the entire studio [works] of professional photographer Joseph Thompson of Paoli, who did work in the 1950s through 1970s,” Powell said. Thompson, who was the father of the late longtime state Sen. Bob Thompson, followed the political circuit, and among his photos were shots of Richard Nixon and Robert Kennedy when each visited Chester County. “I consider the photo collection an integral part of the library,” Powell said. Librarian Smith said she and her staff will do everything they can to aid someone in their search. “People should not be shy about asking us questions,” Smith said. “They might be surprised about some of the material we have. And if we don’t have something, we’re pretty good about telling you where you might find it. “I think people anticipate coming in and getting two


Margie Baillie is assistant librarian. She’s been working at the CCHS Library for 10 years.

pieces of paper and thinking, ‘Well, that was fun.’ And then they realize they’ve gone down a rabbit hole that goes much deeper than they expected,” Smith said. “They found they’ve come to a research repository. My recommendation is to come in the morning. You may be here longer than you expected.” Natalie Smith may be contacted at DoubleSMedia@ rocketmail.com.

West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com


The Future Aviators Summer Camp 2017 will be the 9th year for the Future Aviators Summer Camp. It has been very exciting to see the growth of the program at New Garden Flying Field, New Garden Township. In 2009 we started the FA Camp to be a week of nonstop excitement where aviation fun and discovery are combined for an unforgettable experience. Camp week exposes youth to all aspects of aviation while providing a path for youngsters to cultivate a passion for flight. Since 2009 the program has grown from 28 campers to 160 campers last year. Attracting kids from all over the US, the Future Aviators Summer Camp has become a recognized program by many as a unique and must attend summer camp for ages 7-15. We are proud to say that we have created a program that positively impacts youth where many of our campers have gone on to earn their private pilots license and attend college with aviation focuses in engineering, airport management, professional pilot, and the military. Registration is currently open for July 10-14 and August 7-11.


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West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

———|West Chester & Chadds Ford Arts|———

Alexander Claffy: Playing music from the soul

Photos courtesy of A. Claffy

Alexander Claffy

By Lisa Fieldman Staff Writer


lexander Claffy is making his mark on the jazz world. Playing electric as well as upright bass, he regularly jams with many of the world’s top jazz musicians. He has toured Europe and the United States several times, played gigs in the Middle East, and he’s a fixture in the New York and Philadelphia jazz scenes.


He grew up in Pocopson, graduated from Unionville High School, and currently lives in Harlem. Q.: Is your family involved in the arts? A.: My parents are extremely musical. My dad [Joe Claffy] plays piano, clarinet, sax, drums -- he can pick up and play anything. He’s also a great arranger and conductor. My mom, Patti, was a talent agent in New York, and that’s how

West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

we got involved in child acting. We [Alex and his sister, Mara] did voiceover work for Nickelodeon on “Blue’s Clues.” We also did commercials, and I think my sister did “Sesame Street.” Mara is a vocalist and is currently teaching Spanish. My mom is also a vocalist – that’s how she met my dad. My younger sister, Eliza, just started playing bass, and she also plays piano. She loves music. She’s so talented. When did you start playing music? I grew up playing piano, and also played trombone. I couldn’t really read music for a long time, but I had a really quick ear. I’d have WMGK on the radio, and I’d sit and figure out songs. In middle school, Jason Matthews, Matt Block and Will Berry had a band and needed a bass player. So I went to the guitar store and there was some heavy metal on. I picked up a bass and started playing AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” Mr. Sudimak was my teacher

at Charles Patton. He played bass and he would show me stuff. I also played in jazz band with Mr. O’Rourke. In high school jazz band, they forced me to switch over to upright bass, because if you really want to play jazz or swing -- the true roots of jazz music -- you have to play the upright bass. How did music influence you as you were growing up? I didn’t have many friends in elementary or middle school, because all I cared about was music. Unionville is a wonderful place to be peaceful and serene, and to write music, but there’s not a whole lot of [music] culture. You have to drive to Wilmington or all the way to Philly. In high school, my girlfriend would drive me to the train every day. I’d get out of class, and if we gunned it, I would make the train at Thorndale. It was an hour and 15 minute trip to Philadelphia. Sometimes I would take my upright Continued on Page 62

www.chestercounty.com | Spring/Summer 2017 | West Chester & Chadds Ford Life


Alexander Claffy Continued from Page 61

bass on the train. I would go downtown to play at jam sessions, or hang out at gospel/R&B sessions, and I learned from those musicians. On Monday, I played in an ensemble at the Settlement Music School. Every Saturday, I was in an ensemble at the Clef Club of Philadelphia, which is where I pretty much learned everything about jazz. Also, our band was going this whole time. We were always rehearsing, playing at The Whip, or setting up on the street in West Chester. In high school I was in jazz band, concert band, marching band, choir, and out gigging at night. I was getting as much as I could get musically. Mike Boone is a bass player, and he was very important in my life at that time. Mike played with everyone from Buddy Rich to Joe Henderson. He played in Germantown every Sunday, and I’d get a ride there no matter what. I just wanted to play. Every night I’d be out till about 1 a.m. My parents, of course, would be livid. But my father is also an entertainment lawyer, and he would often drive to


Philly for work. He’d have clients or rehearsals, and he’d pick me up. I’d get to bed by 1 a.m. and then get up at 6 a.m. for school. How did you make the leap from playing local gigs with friends to playing jazz in Philly? Our band, Dogo Wazo, started out playing prog rock --

West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

Emerson Lake & Palmer, Yes, Cream, Led Zeppelin. Matt was a trumpet player, and he got us listening to modern jazz records. Matt showed us Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie and bebop; then I found Coltrane, whom I was super into. We were playing a mix of that stuff and some original compositions. We weren’t that good at playing jazz, but for the standards of the area we were great! I was already getting my butt whooped on gigs since I had started playing bass. So I began going to Philly; I thought I was ready. Then I’d go downtown and I see all these jazz masters. Philadelphia is such a jazz town. I got a warm reception; I had so many mentors immediately. That’s the way Philly is. They heard me play, and they knew I had something. All the gospel and R&B bass players were just hanging out and playing. I can’t tell you how valuable it was seeing them play. I’m a young kid, and I walk into a room full of gospel musicians in downtown Philly, and they call me up to play. They were so nice. There were some guys who really busted my chops, too. It’s part of the tradition. They’d say, “Come on man, get it together, learn these songs. You didn’t sound very good. Here’s what Continued on Page 64 Kush Abadey, Alexander Claffy and Ben Eunson perform together as ACE.

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Alexander Claffy Continued from Page 63

you can work on.” Some people had a better way of doing it, and some people were rough on me. My dad is totally that way, too. I don’t think anyone can hold a candle to my father in terms of being a tough bandleader. When did you move to New York? I went to the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. I was supposed to go to William Paterson University, but I secretly applied to the New School and didn’t tell my parents. In between classes at Unionville, I’d duck into the choir room and call the New School and battle with them about a scholarship. When I applied to the New School, I auditioned for Reggie Workman [bass player in John Coltrane’s quartet], which was surreal for me, as Coltrane was all I listened to in high school. I got this surprise letter in the mail, and my dad opened it and burst out crying. He was so proud. He had to read it three times. They gave me close to a full scholarship. Originally, my parent’s didn’t want me to go to music school. They really fought it because they didn’t want me to go through the hardships they had endured as musicians. At the time, I was angry, but I totally respect it now. It can be a very difficult lifestyle. I’m lucky; I’m 24 and make a nice living in New York City. I’m part of a whole community that tours and plays with others. How did you break in to the New York Jazz scene? While I was at the New School, I always knew that I wasn’t going to learn everything in school. I was going to learn it from the people who were out there doing it. So I’d go and sit in on jam sessions every single night. I would be out till 4 in the morning, no matter if I had a 9 a.m. class or not. That’s how I got connected, and also by practicing. In the beginning, I only got gigs because there was a shortage of bass players. But I proved myself, even though I fell on my face 1,000 times. It’s not like sports, where training prepares you. Practice does, and I can’t stress enough how much music I listen to. In jazz music, you are always improvising, it’s constantly changing, you can never nail it down. You are always playing with different people. I think I love it because I love the challenge. I was working with Orrin Evans -- he and Mike Boone had mentored me since I was a kid. I was still traveling


back to Philly on the weekends to make a living, because working in New York doesn’t happen overnight. I was one of the best bass players in Philly when I left at 18, and I was one of the worst bass players in New York! That’s the way it works, and that is why you move. Fast-forward three years, and I am studying and playing with people like Sir Ron Carter [bass player for Miles Davis]. He was the best teacher in the world. Then I dropped out of school to go tour the Middle East. Jazz at Lincoln Center opened up a club in Qatar, and I got a call with an offer to play. They said, “Can you go to Qatar for a month? We need to know in 24 hours.” I was told, “You’ll be in six-star hotels, all your meals will be paid for, we’ll be wearing suits, and playing two sets a night of your favorite kind of jazz -- swinging Miles Davis standards.” I was like, “YES!” I figured the New School was going to make me drop out because I would be away for a month. But they said they could hold my scholarship for as long as a year. It was an amazing experience being on the road with some real seasoned musicians, like Jerry Weldon, who had been playing with Harry Connick, Jr., for 20 years. It was surreal. That year really took off for me; I toured Europe twice with different people. Then I went back and finished my final semester. For my senior recital, I had a big band. My father played the first tune, “This Could Be The Start Of Something Big,” with us, which was great. Tell us about your album and what else is on the horizon. The album spans straight-up jazz to neo-soul, R&B and some of my compositions. Matt Block (Ropeadope Records) helped me put it out. Jason Matthews is on the record as producer and keyboard player. Matt Helm is the narrator. It’s cool to have these Unionville alumni on the project. I worked with this incredible engineer, Michael PerezCisneros. We spent thousands of hours on that record, and you can hear it in the quality of the recording, mixing and lyrics. The day it was released, we played to a sold-out crowd at the Kennedy Center. What more can I ask for?

West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

Continued on Page 66


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Alexander Claffy Continued from Page 64

The band in full force is eight or nine people. It’s a big band with organist, piano, bass, drums, guitarist, two vocalists and a horn player. The first album does not have a title because it was inspired by Zeppelin and all those bands in the ‘70s who put out a record with just a picture on the front. The back story of my album is unrequited love. It is based on my romance with an ex-girlfriend who lived in Switzerland. The story starts at midpoint in the relationship, and follows it through to the heartbreak and breakup of two people who are separated by distance. I’m working on my next album, “Claffy Vol. 2,” which will have a lot of the same artists from the first album. There will be some Beatles arrangements, some jazz, some new compositions, and some music by French composer Michel Legrand. I think my next endeavor will be putting out a straight-ahead jazz debut. Kind of like introducing Alexander Claffy as a bass player, because I haven’t done that yet. I’ve recorded on so many other peoples’ records, but those records don’t really display me as an upright, straight-ahead jazz player.

I also have a weekly residency at Django in New York City, where I lead jam sessions. Sometimes it’s with the Claffy Band and other times it’s with up-and-coming bands. On June 10, I’ll be recording live and celebrating my birthday at Chris’ Jazz Café in Philadelphia. We are booked as the Alex Claffy Quintet, and I’m excited to have Orrin Evans playing with us. This summer I’m back in Europe for three weeks, touring with a young piano player, Joey Alexander, from Indonesia. A jazz great, in the body of a 13-year-old – amazing artist! What advice do you have for young musicians? Well, one piece of advice has stuck with me over the years. A great bass player gave it to me: “Show up on time, play good rhythm, play well with other people, and be a good time.” In addition to that, practice and study all the masters. Always be a student, but never be afraid to be yourself as a musician. Visit www.alexanderclaffy.com or Alexander Claffy on Facebook for show schedules and news.

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—|West Chester & Chadds Ford Photo Essay|—


West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

Photos by Jie Deng

From inspiration to production:

The art of Bri Brant, owner of Arden + James www.chestercounty.com | Spring/Summer 2017 | West Chester & Chadds Ford Life


Photo Essay Continued from Page 69

By Richard L. Gaw


hroughout her artistic life, industrial designer Bri Brant of Arden + James has used her intuition and understanding of historic local materials to build functional art – the beautiful end result of blending industrial and craft-based design with the finest natural materials. Trained in Industrial Design at the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science, Brant apprenticed with local artists, while experimenting with natural mediums like porcelain, plant dye, beeswax, and textiles. Creating each piece with her own hands, Brant allows the natural beauty of the materials she works with to take center stage in her work. While the majority of her inventory is showcased at worKS in Kennett Square, Arden + James products are available at 17 other retail shops and sites around the globe, including Japan. Recently, West Chester & Chadds Ford Life visited Brant at her Chadds Ford studio. As you will see over the next several pages, the work of Bri Brant is a step back in time to a simpler age – and a look into the handmade vision of an artist.


The leather Brandt works with is finished with natural oils and waxes for incredible strength and durability. The process highlights the leather’s natural grain, and encourages a rich patina with use.

West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

Waxed canvas comes from a 90-year-old family-owned local mill. Brant’s bags are also lined in waxed canvas, which makes them extra functional, durable, and easy to clean.

Hand-cut, pure copper rivets and thread are both sourced from small companies in Pennsylvania, and beeswax, used to create a fresh apothecary line for local shops, comes from a local honey farm. Continued on Page 72 www.chestercounty.com | Spring/Summer 2017 | West Chester & Chadds Ford Life


Photo Essay Continued from Page 71

Locally, you can find Arden + James products at the following locations: • • • • • • • • • • •

Blue Streak Gallery, Wilmington Brandywine River Museum, Chadds Ford The Delaware Contemporary, Wilmington Green Meadows, Chadds Ford Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square Meadowsweet Mercantile, Philadelphia Moon and Arrow, Philadelphia Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia Salt + Stone, Kennett Square Shish, Wilmington worKS, Kennett Square To learn more about Bri Brant and Arden + James, visit www.ardenandjames.com.

Linen comes from a small family-owned mill in Eastern Europe, made from looms that are more than 100 years old, and hand washed to enhance the handloomed texture.


West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

Eco-friendly leather is locally sourced from a historic Pennsylvania vegetable tannery, one of only two that remains in the United States.

www.chestercounty.com | Spring/Summer 2017 | West Chester & Chadds Ford Life


——|West Chester & Chadds Ford Business|—— Spotlight, a photography and visual styling service for businesses and artists in the West Chester-Chadds Ford area, is the merging together of two creative minds

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All photography by Alessandra Manzotti

Fine art photographer Alessandra Manzotti and interior space designer Mary Williams-Veale have combined their skills to form Spotlight, a staging company that adds zest, spark and inspiration to the products and services being offered by their clients. 74

West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

Spotlight’s work uses both interior an exterior locations.

By Richard L. Gaw Staff Writer


he story of how business partnerships begin is often as fascinating as the partners themselves. The story of what drew home organizer Mary Williams-Veale and fine art photographer Alessandra Manzotti together to form Spotlight, a local staging company, was one that began in friendship. “Alex and I were aware of each other professionally – Alex through her fine art photography and me with my fledgling personal business of home organizing, staging and small landscape design,” said Williams-Veale. “As friends, we decided that peanut butter and jelly is pretty awesome, and that we needed to be together. We came up with Spotlight, to serve as a vendor service of each others’ parent company.” For the past year, Spotlight has been combining the best of what Williams-Veale and Manzotti do to help beautify, Continued on Page 76 www.chestercounty.com | Spring/Summer 2017 | West Chester & Chadds Ford Life


Spotlight Continued from Page 75

promote and spark the visual branding for businesses, artists and services throughout Chester County. From consultation to completion, their collaboration – seen in beautiful, high-resolution images, expertly staged – improves the look of websites, stimulates on-line attention and sales, and turns a flat marketing plan into one of texture and color. “We meet the potential clients at a free consultation, in order to get to know each other, hear what their needs are and understand what they’re looking for,” Manzotti said. “If it is a jewelry designer, for instance, we discern what he or she is hoping to portray through his or her work, and what feeling he or she wants to establish. “In this world of internet sales, people don’t touch things anymore,” Manzotti added. “They buy now based on the first impression that the photographs make. To have a great website and brilliant images is hugely important, but to have them staged properly makes one’s product even better.” Before a client of Williams-Veale and Manzotti is, in their words, “spotlit,” a lot of coffee is consumed and a lot of listening is done. Getting to the final images that find their way to a website or social media page of a client involves many more steps than just arranging a product and taking a picture. Continued on Page 78


West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

Photographic images like these serve to boost a client’s on-line branding and marketing efforts.

www.chestercounty.com | Spring/Summer 2017 | West Chester & Chadds Ford Life


Spotlight Continued from Page 76

“I need to hear the artistry behind the image,” Williams-Veale said. “We need to capture the essence of what it is that they want to put forward. Getting a read on a client’s fashion sense is very important, because many of the items we portray through Spotlight are small, and the services that we use and the props that we use have to be chosen carefully.” “We’re trying to portray the product, but also portray the product as it applies to a lifestyle,” Manzotti said. “When you see linen and dyed fabrics, for instance, that portrays an image of country living. We hone in on a detail of that textile. Staging is important, because that linen runner taken alone does not mean anything, but with staging, you create an imaginary life in that image, one that conveys to the viewer, ‘The linen on this table could be the linen on your table.’” Logic would suggest that business partners – particularly those whose company mission is to arrive at a finished product through creative ideas – would sip from the same creative well. At Spotlight, the images that Williams-Veale and Manzotti create for their clients arrive from two distinctly different places. While Williams-Veale arranges shoots in order to illuminate the small details – the perfect placement of a product beside a prop, for instance – Manzotti takes a more organic approach. “The camera sees things very differently than the naked eye,” she said. “I Continued on Page 80


West Chester & Chadds Ford Life | Spring/Summer 2017 | www.chestercounty.com

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Spotlight Continued from Page 78

have a vision of how the product should be seen, because I see it though my lens of my camera, while Mary sees that same product through staging. There’s a lot of trial and error, but I love it, because it’s a departure from my fine art photography, and it involves a lot of problem solving.” “The images that we deliver at the end of a session are very personal to our clients,” Williams-Veale said. “It’s a reflection not only of their work and the definitions they want to portray of themselves, but of the time we’ve spent manipulating each object to capture it perfectly. We’re small. We’re affordable, and we get it right.” To learn more about Spotlight and see sample images of their work, visit www. getspotlit.com. To schedule a free initial consultation, call 610-850-3068. To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail rgaw@chestercounty.com.

After consultation with their clients, Spotlight illuminates inventory or services through rich, detailed photography.

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