Grid Magazine February 2018 [#105]

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The Unruly Rise of An Ed-Tech Startup Innovative electronic floor buttons teach kids the basics of programming Things are getting a bit unruly in NextFab’s RAPID Hardware Accelerator. It started at the beginning of September when a Boston-based startup won a coveted spot in our latest Fall cohort. Unruly Studios, the brainchild of Bryanne Leeming, is an ed-tech startup that is changing the way kids learn about and engage in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – collectively referred to by the acronym “STEM.” Unruly Splats, their first product, is a set of two programmable electronic floor buttons that kids can code to light up with colors and make sounds. The Splats sense when kids jump on, smack, step on, or slap them and send data back to the coding computer, making them fully interactive. Leeming, the founder and CEO of Unruly Studios, is a Cognitive Science major from McGill University and holds an MBA from Babson College. She has taken on the challenge of building and manufacturing the hardware for the Splats product. She led her team through 14 different iterations of the product, while performing testing with over 2,500 kids, parents, and educators. Leeming brings the same factfinding approach to her discussions with NextFab staff and members, too. Bouncing between meetings with NextFab’s engineers, designers, and business thinkers, she wants to know how to improve. For hardware founders who might want to follow in Unruly Studios’ footsteps, Bryanne has some words of encouragement and wisdom: “Share your prototypes before they feel done. I would never have the beautifully designed product I have now if I hadn’t been willing to show and playtest the first wooden, clunky, gigantic prototype with kids. You learn so much from putting even prototypes in people’s hands (or in our case, people’s feet!).” The Fall 2017 Cohort graduated on Thursday, November 30th. Have a great hardware concept that needs a push in the right direction? NextFab is accepting applicants through January 18th for the Spring 2018 Cohort. Learn more about our RAPID Hardware Accelerator and apply online at

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A TIME TO LEAP Our grassroots movement needs to think bigger by alex mulcahy


hen rethinking the economy, small steps won’t cut it. That’s one of the critical points made by the indispensable Naomi Klein in her latest book, “No Is Not Enough.” She argues that a vision needs to be offered that is radically different from what we currently have, and it must provide a blueprint for a society that could work. I know, who has time for vision when everything we value is under daily attack and must be defended? But as the name of the book states, it isn’t enough to just try to play defense. We have to take the time to flesh out an alternative. This takes work. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about energy, housing, farming or education. There is no one-size-fitsall solution. And the answers won’t come from one person, or from the top down. While it may be tempting to imagine a kindhearted, larger-than-life billionaire such as Oprah coming in and saving the day, the truth, Klein argues, is that it just won’t work. We don’t need a savior. We need a framework, a values-based vision. In 2015, Klein, a Canadian, was one of the conveners of a diverse group of activists and thinkers determined to hash out what this vision could be. The goal was to connect the dots between Black Lives Matter, the anti-fracking movement, indigenous peoples’ rights, clean air and water activists, labor rights advocates and farmers. Did such disparate groups have enough in common to form a plan? According to Klein, some difficult conversations occurred, but the answer was a resounding “yes.” Collaboratively, they drew up something called the Leap Manifesto. It is a relatively brief but extremely powerful document. It simply and clearly lays out the priorities of the movement, and the subhead of the document says it all: “The Call for a Canada Based on Caring for the Earth and One Another.” With some minor tweaks, this could be the Declaration of Independence for the 21st century. Find a copy of the Leap Manifesto and feel inspired. I’d like to key in on one

section, and that is the recommendation that we shift our economy to low-carbon jobs that include caregiving, teaching, social work, the arts and public interest media. In the U.S., for every dollar that is spent on education, over $6 is spent on the military. What if those dollars were split equally between those two pursuits? (Actually, if you really want to fill your heart with joy, imagine if the military and education budgets were flipped!) Just imagine what the teachers and schools that we feature in our cover story could do with better funding. Not only would our schools (and students) benefit, but the pollution produced by the military would be significantly diminished. The United States military is, after all, the largest polluter on the planet. What if the intention of most people’s jobs was to help other people? Yes, healthcare and childcare and education would be a big part of it, but what if other services such as nutrition, personal training, music and art instruction were affordable to all? Imagine how rich and healthy our lives could be. Before you write this off as the fever dream of a delusional optimist, keep this in mind: The Leap Manifesto was drawn up because we are facing a climate catastrophe. We have very little time to make an about-face with our lifestyle. Half measures will not work. For change to happen, we need to have a vision. Let’s be bold. *** I’d like to publicly recognize the wonderful job that our outgoing editor-in-chief, Heather Shayne Blakeslee, did from 2015 to our January issue this year. The editorial thrived under her stewardship, and her contributions to the magazine went well beyond the stories you read. Thank you, Heather. We hope to see you back in the pages of Grid soon.

publisher Alex Mulcahy editor-in-chief Alex Mulcahy 215.625.9850 ext. 102 associate editor Walter Foley copy editor Aaron Jollay art director Michael Wohlberg 215.625.9850 ext. 113 writers Bernard Brown Micah Hauger Lauren Johnson Emily Kovach Randy LoBasso Steve Neumann John Henry Scott Paige Wolf illustrators Clarissa Eck Jameela Wahlgren photographer Kriston Jae Bethel advertising director Allan Ash 215.625.9850 ext. 103 distribution Alex Yarde 215.625.9850 ext. 106 published by Red Flag Media 1032 Arch Street, 3rd Floor Philadelphia, PA 19107 215.625.9850 G R I D P H I L LY. C O M


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ACTION MOM What can one squeaky wheel accomplish? A lot. by paige wolf


elcome to Action Mom, a space where I will share my experiences advocating for change locally and globally. Certainly, wanting to make the world a better and safer place is by no means parent-exclusive. But the responsibility of protecting tiny little lives—in my case a 4-year-old and an 8-year-old—often spurs some dramatic action. As parents, we often see concerning things and think, “Someone should really do something about that.” I have a habit of volunteering to be that someone. As a result, sometimes I get stuff done. The consequences of resolving to take action are a mixed bag. Sometimes your efforts are fruitless. And, even if you succeed, you are bound to ruffle a few feathers. But even if you can move the needle half an inch in the direction of progress, it’s worth it. Over the past year, I have sought change in matters large and small. I learned that, sometimes, speaking about something in your own backyard can bring about a broader policy change. For instance, when I noticed a lack of safety precautions for oil-based polyurethane floor finishing applied at my family’s local recreation center, my primary concern was making sure kids would no longer inhale those fumes. When I noticed what can best be described as the smell of a giant red exclamation mark, I immediately reached out to the city’s Parks and Recreation department—with emails revealed by a Google search—to see what was going on. After the city investigated, it realized this was not just a problem at the location at hand; maintenance practices across the city’s rec centers needed reassessment. Later, a councilwoman told me that this sparked an official policy change. Then there have been times when I can’t be sure my actions had a direct effect, but after seeing the desired result, I can feel satisfied that maybe my actions mattered. For



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example, after a trip to Harrisburg, I was appalled by the abundance of antiquated landfill-fodder plastic foam in the capitol building’s cafeteria. In fact, at that time, it was the only serving vessel available. I decided to call this out with a blog post, a few phone calls and a series of angry tweets. A few months later, I learned they had switched over to much more eco-friendly containers and serveware. Was this just a fortuitous coincidence, or was something I did a catalyst for a container revolution? It really doesn’t matter. Action Moms aren’t striving for personal glory—we just want to see stuff get done. And sometimes the journey is long, arduous and complicated. My petition to the school district for more transparency and accountability finally received a response after months of effort. But the information I was able to glean was just the tip of the iceberg. Fortunately, in this case, my action led to a connection to a coalition doing meaningful work to significantly improve this space. It helps when you don’t have to fight these battles alone! We see you, Action Moms. We see you advocating for protected bike lanes, fighting to preserve historic buildings and crusading for stricter gun regulations, better food labeling, safer cosmetics, cleaner water and more commercial recycling. We see you signing petitions on your lunch breaks, marching in the streets with your babies strapped to your chest, calling your members of Congress. If you smell something, say something. Don’t just swallow the fumes. Tell a friend to say something, too, because you cannot underestimate the power of numbers. We are all in this together. Paige Wolf is the author of “Spit That Out: The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in the Age of Environmental Guilt.” Follow @paigewolf on Twitter.

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Clean Laundry Clean Planet Clean Slates

BIKE TALK The unnecessary death of a local bicyclist by randy lobasso

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ou can barely hear Richard Fredricks’ remarks over the sanitation truck across the street and the heavy sheets of rain coming down on dozens of umbrellas at 11th and Spruce streets in December. Barely a month prior, Fredricks’ daughter Emily, 24, was killed on her bike by the driver of a trash truck when she was right-hooked across the bike lane. Since then, Philadelphia’s cycling community has held several demonstrations, vigils and protests for Emily and other cyclists who’ve been injured on our streets, and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, where I work, put out seven demands they want to see enacted now to make the streets safer. As of this writing, the city won’t agree to any of them. What it has agreed to—at least in theory—is Vision Zero, the legislative idea that changes in engineering, education and enforcement can cut traffic deaths in an area to zero. The city has written an action plan to do just that by 2030. But that probably means very little to the 60 or so people standing out here in the pouring rain today. Fredricks notes how his daughter bought a bicycle upon moving to Philadelphia just six months ago, and he had helped her pick it out. She rode on Spruce Street to get to work every day, he noted, because the bike lanes were large and, in theory, safe. But not safe enough. Now, over the coming months, real decisions have to be made if we all want to live in a city where cyclists aren’t remembering their fellow community members the way so many did today. For too many motorists, transportation is about convenience and being on your own schedule; speeding and running red lights when you’re late, checking Facebook while you’re idling, and parking in the bike lane when there’s no legal parking space. This is all universally unacceptable, and yet, it continues with impunity. And until physical changes are made on the street,

people in their cars will continue their deadly behavior. According to the police department, 96 people were killed in traffic in Philadelphia last year. Of them, three were cyclists. The vast majority of traffic deaths here continue to be driver-on-driver. But that doesn’t make Emily’s death any less tragic. For years, cyclists have petitioned and pleaded with the city to install physical protection on Spruce and Pine streets in Center City. Given these are the city’s mostbiked lanes, it seems like a no-brainer. But neighborhood resistance, and councilmanic dictatorial privileges, have put an end to those efforts every single time. Today, we’re left with a situation in which the vast majority of tickets given for vehicles parked in bike lanes are written along Spruce and Pine, with no end in sight. Every day, at any given time, cars are sitting in the bike lane, their owners seeing to some mundane task or another. Other times, delivery vehicles are parked there for hours on end, forcing cyclists into traffic because loading zones are controversial, too. You can’t get to zero deaths if you continue to turn a blind eye to some of the most egregious traffic behaviors by those operating some of the most dangerous machines. As the months since Emily’s passing—and years before it—have shown, you can’t expect motorists’ behavior to change because of a tragedy. But Emily’s life wasn’t supposed to end because a driver cut her off on a road made unsafe by government inaction and neighbor resistance. Only real changes to infrastructure will stop the behavior and the accidents. It’s going to take tough executive choices if the city is serious about Vision Zero. Randy LoBasso is the communications manager of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and an award-winning journalist.

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URBAN NATURALIST Pigeon in: Murals of critters spark joy, conversation by bernard brown

Artist Evan Lovett with the “Prince of Front Street” in Kensington


t started with a blank wall that needed a pigeon… or a rubber duck. Tattoo artist and muralist Evan Lovett could see the wall from the window of the Philadelphia Tattoo Collective where he worked in Kensington, just below the Berks El stop. “I got really sick of staring at it, since every time I see a blank wall I just imagine what could be on it,” Lovett said. “And the shape of this wall just perfectly fit a pigeon, or a big rubber duck, but I wanted to make a pigeon.” The building’s owner was initially reluctant about having a mural painted. Lovett offered to do it for free: “[The owner] was like, ‘What are you thinking of putting up there?’ I was like, ‘I kind of want to do a 8


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big pigeon.’ He took a moment and said, ‘I love pigeons.’ I just happened to nail the one thing he liked.” It took a week to plan and an afternoon to paint. On June 20, 2016, Lovett and a friend rented a lift and used house paint salvaged from the dump along with a few cans of spray paint. “We began at noon and were done by 5.” The pigeon, dubbed the “Prince of Front Street,” took his place on the wall, and VURT’s Local Critter series was born. Visual Urban Renewal and Transformation, a nonprofit group of public artists, paints other subjects as well; for example, a cat-themed Fishtown mural and a series depicting local workers, but Lovett focuses on the city’s critters. A menagerie of

other painted critters have since joined the pigeon on Philadelphia walls, including “Fawn Jawn,” a pair of deer painted in East Falls; “Token Squirrel,” depicting a squirrel holding a SEPTA token, near Norris Square Park; and the “Bickering Birds,” a pair of house sparrows in Queen Village. Lovett sees the critter murals as a break from the advertising images that bombard us every day, and as a tool to get people to notice overlooked wild neighbors. “If we paint a mural of a particular bird,” Lovett said, “and it raises your awareness that, hey, they live here, you might start seeing it everywhere.” Murals don’t just educate; they can help revive a neighborhood. In Port Richmond, Natalie Shaak sought the perfect mural to P HOTO BY KRISTO N JAE BETHEL

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highlight a playground revitalization project next to her house. “Initially when I bought my house I thought, ‘Wow, there’s a really blank blue wall next to a playground. It would be a great place for a mural,’” Shaak said. The Webb Street Playground, bounded on three sides by Webb, Thompson and East Sergeant streets, had seen better days. The equipment was falling apart, nighttime drug users left needles behind, and customers from the Wawa across the street tossed empty cups and other litter, according to Shaak. It was “not very welcoming, not very exciting, not very clean, but a prime location with a lot of potential.” Shaak approached VURT and they agreed on a pretzel-eating raccoon for the wall. Lovett drafted a mockup of the “Pretzel Bandit,” and Shaak added it to her GoFundMe campaign for the playground. With the C raccoon image as a hook, and with support M from the Olde Richmond Civic Association Y (ORCA), Shaak was able to raise nearly $4,000 for new trash cans and other beau- CM tification measures, as well as the mural. MY Neighbors have begun to organize for more CY extensive equipment rehab. ORCA got the CMY Philadelphia Streets Department to empty the trash more frequently, and the 26th Po- K lice District is paying closer attention as well. “This project is an example of what can happen when people in a neighborhood come together,” Shaak said. Murals tend to inspire more murals, Lovett has found: “We meet really interesting people who say, ‘We like what you’re doing, it is helping the community,’ and it sparks a conversation.” A recent deer mural in Manayunk led to the plans this spring for one honoring the peregrine falcons that nest in St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. Lovett reports mostly positive feedback, though it can be hard to please everybody. While he was working on the “Prince of Front Street,” a passerby lowered his car window to complain that the pigeon should have been an eagle. “A couple weeks later we were down Front Street a little bit more painting a big eagle with an American-flag background,” said Lovett, “and a guy yells, ‘Another eagle?’” At least it started a conversation.

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A Novel Approach Noted climate activist Bill McKibben makes a switch to fiction by john henry scott


hen a conversation becomes as extensive as the one surrounding climate change, it can be difficult to remember where it started. Granted, it would be pretty hard to isolate a single point of origin for an entire field of study, developed by decades of observation and research. However, when attempting to identify the moment when climate change became a global conversation, one possible catalyst would be the publication of author and environmentalist Bill McKibben’s 1989 book “The End of Nature.” Considered to be the first book about climate change for a general audience, “The End of Nature” helped spread the idea—from the scientific community to the world at large—that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions affect global weather patterns. 10


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Since then, McKibben has written a dozen books about environmental issues as well as many articles and columns for publications such as The New Yorker and The Atlantic. This past November, he published his first book of fiction, “Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance,” inspired by the outcome of the 2016 election. The book explores themes of nonviolent resistance and increased sustainability through community and local economies, suggesting that creativity is key to effecting change. Climate change is not the focus of the novel, although it is addressed at points. Instead, the plot of “Radio Free Vermont” follows Vern, an aging radio host with a lifelong career in local broadcasting, as he organizes a grassroots effort to allow Vermont to secede from the United States. Along the way, he

receives help from Perry, a teenage tech-wiz; Trance, a former Olympic biathlete; and Sylvia, a self-reliance guru; all of whom serve as caricatures to embody traits McKibben feels are representative of Vermonters and their culture, such as resourcefulness, neighborliness, determination and good humor. The cartoonish characters fit the tone and shape of the novel, which is upbeat and whimsical while managing to address actual issues. There is a sense of play to the writing which seems to advocate for itself as a means of problem-solving—complex problems call for creative solutions. As the novel progresses, it becomes clear that McKibben is not actually suggesting secession as a viable remedy for the problems of Vermont or any other state. Instead, it seems he has created an allegory of the old phrase attributed to Scottish town planner and social activist Sir Patrick Geddes, “Think local, act global.” Grid recently had a chance to ask McKibben as few questions via email concerning the novel, fiction as a medium and how local economies translate to larger cities such as Philadelphia. What prompted you to write a novel? What about fiction interested you? I’d been working on it for a long time, mostly out of homesickness for Vermont as I traveled in my role as a climate advocate. I was very interested in resistance, and it seemed like a good way to write about it—to help people understand how it can be creative and fun. You’ve built a career in nonfiction writing, publishing more than a dozen books over the past two decades. Why did you choose this moment to write a work of fiction? Well, I decided to publish it when Trump got elected. Everyone was sad and anxious, and it didn’t seem like we needed a dark and difficult book from me. Instead, time for something that mixed its meaning with good humor—and a fair amount of beer. Did you encounter any challenges working within this medium? I found it great fun. To me, the characters were like interview subjects—who generally said what you wanted them to say.

Did you receive any valuable advice from fiction authors during the writing of “Radio Free Vermont”? I didn’t dare tell a soul, except my wife, Sue Halpern, who is a very fine novelist and who encouraged me to keep at it. Beyond the plot of secession from the United States, it seems that a lot of “Radio Free Vermont” is about building a sustainable community/economy in a rural state. What suggestions do you have for people who are interested in creating a sustainable, local economy but who live in a large city such as Philadelphia? Well, cities seem much easier in many ways. Everything is so close! You don’t have the big distances rural people must deal with. There’s less land to grow food, but more than you would expect. And so many other resources—Philly is full of people like Judy Wicks who have been hard at work on this problem. What are some things that people who live in urban areas can do to reduce their dependence on imported products/resources? Seek out and enjoy things that come from close by. So, beer—which there’s lots of good examples of in Philly. This is all much easier for me because I never learned to drink coffee—even with global warming it’s going to be a while before you’re growing that in Pennsylvania. In the novel, the Coors Brewing Co. is condemned but the character of Sylvia wears Carhartt and drives a Subaru, brands that seem to serve in establishing her Vermonter identity. Can you talk a little bit about this identity and the difference between Coors and Subaru? Well, for the moment we don’t actually have any Vermont car companies to choose from. Also, Coors Light tastes really terrible, but Subarus work pretty well—in my memory; it’s been awhile. For some reason they don’t have hybrids. Where might you, personally, draw the line in terms of ethical consumption? If I’m drinking beer from farther than about a half mile away, it seems to me like I’m doing it wrong.

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Natural Born Killers Outdoor cats wreak havoc on wildlife by bernard brown


t sure seems generous and altruistic to take care of a stray cat. It is, on the face of it, a noble activity. Confronting the consequences, however, isn’t easy. Birds, small mammals, butterflies—all can end up in the jaws of a domestic cat. Even well-fed domestic cats keep killing smaller creatures for fun, as cat owners know. Hunting might be a natural cat behavior, but there is nothing natural about how our house cats hunt. We’re talking about an exotic species in the Americas that has not evolved alongside our wildlife. And of course we feed cats, boosting their population densities far higher than anything our native critters ever see from natural predators. The effect is disastrous, and a robust body of scientific research backs this up. The domestic cat is responsible for killing at least 1.3 billion birds and at least 6.3 billion mammals in the contiguous United States every year, according to a 2013 study published in the science journal Nature Communications. Outdoor cats’ habits vary, but on average each one kills about 24 birds and 160 mammals per year. And there are a lot of unowned cats in Philadelphia (not counting the pets allowed outside)—estimates range higher than 300,000. Even if we make the conservative assumption that our urban cats have less killing opportunity than their rural counterparts, that’s still a 12


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lot of dead birds and bunnies—a lot of wildlife that Philadelphians won’t experience. And when it comes to birds, how we manage our cats affects our neighbors all over the hemisphere. Our common yellow-throats—charismatic warblers that breed in our wetlands—winter in Central America. The dark-eyed juncos that spend their winters in our gardens breed in northern forests. And scores of other species visit Philadelphia for only a few days on their way along the Atlantic flyway. Everytime a cat kills a magnolia warbler or an olive-sided flycatcher in Philadelphia, it is an international loss. Cat advocates (and the multimillion-dollar lobbying groups behind them, such as Alley Cat Allies) claim that trapping, neutering and releasing (TNR) unowned cats will reduce their population over the long term. Although this might work in small, isolated areas with particularly dedicated caretakers, it is a futile effort on the scale of a city like Philadelphia. A few missed female cats can produce a lot of kittens, and colonies are magnets for irresponsible cat owners who would rather abandon pets than do the work of finding them a home. Cat advocates also often claim that more cats will fill in when we remove colonies of unowned cats (the “vacuum effect”). These claims completely ignore the active human

role in this process. Stray cats wouldn’t hang out on your block if it weren’t for the guy who gives them some tuna every night, and the same goes for larger colonies. It might be impossible to completely remove cats from the urban landscape, but we can do a lot more to shrink the population and reduce their impact. Grid readers know that living in a city doesn’t mean giving up on nature: a mockingbird’s serenade from the roof of a rowhouse, a monarch butterfly drinking from a flower, the antics of chipmunks in the garden. All provide wild experiences in our daily lives. This is true whether you have the privilege to escape to a “wild” place on the weekends or if you’re a 10-year-old whose entire world is her neighborhood. Those who care for unowned cats do so with the best intentions, but sadly there is no such thing as a no-kill solution. What we can do is keep our pets inside, and we can trap strays to remove them from the landscape. Even if that means we euthanize some of them, we save lives. More than that, we do our part to keep nature around our city: for ourselves and for our neighbors. Bernard “Billy” Brown co-hosts the Urban Wildlife Podcast. He also volunteers as the Philadelphia coordinator for the Pennsylvania Amphibian and Reptile Survey. IL LUSTRATIO N BY CL ARISSA EC K

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photo by Tom Potterfield

The 18th Annual

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Thursday, March 15, 2018 at Delaware Valley University, Doylestown, PA CEUs Available Registration & Information:


F E B RUARY 20 18





Heritage Farm enriches its soil and community with Korean natural farming techniques by emily kovach


hat do you get when you put equal parts fish waste and sugar in a bucket, cover it with leaves and forest soil, and let it sit for five months? A stink bomb? Not quite. This is actually do-it-yourself fish fertilizer. And it’s just one of the ways Adrian Galbraith-Paul and his small team at Heritage Farm are using Korean natural farming methods to improve the fertility of their soil and increase the farm’s output. Established in 2011, Heritage Farm sits on a 2-acre plot just outside the northwest corner of Fairmount Park. Galbraith-Paul and one other person work as full-time farmers, and with the help of part-time workers and seasonal interns and apprentices, they grow a variety of vegetables (with a focus on salad greens) from the four high tunnels and a petite greenhouse. The farm sustains itself by selling produce at an on-site market and to local restaurants— customers include big names such as Vetri, Fork and Aldine—but this urban farm is 14


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really about growing and facilitating relationships. Heritage Farm is part of Methodist Services, a nonprofit whose mission is to serve vulnerable families by offering, according to its website, “housing, child care, education programs, permanence in families, mental health services and nutrition programs.” Residents at Methodist Services can enter mentoring programs on the farm, learn about food and nutrition, gain skills, practice self-reliance and connect with one another on the small patch of green. Galbraith-Paul has been at Heritage Farm since the summer of 2013. As a college student, he pursued a degree in political science. “I wanted to be part of a solution… but I learned that politics is an area where you have to constantly compromise in your beliefs,” he says. “I felt that farming was more pure… My parents have a small manufacturing business, so I’ve always been around producers, and that’s always

resonated with me: actually growing the thing, being at the base.” After reading his way through the works of Wendell Berry, the prolific American writer, environmental activist and farmer, Galbraith-Paul decided to go into producing food. After a few internships, he landed at Heritage Farm and worked his way up to farm manager. Though the farm was relatively productive before his arrival, his experimentations in Korean natural farming methods have resulted in exceptional positive changes. “The standard organic methods in North America are really dependent on using consultants and purchasing fertilizers, and the goal of Korean natural farming is for the farmers to make that stuff themselves,” he explains. That means farmers make their own fertile soil by crafting biological inoculants. Galbraith-Paul will go into the forest and capture microbes, bacteria and fungi, bring them back and cultivate them, then P HOTO BY KRISTO N JAE BETHEL

reintroduce those materials to the farm’s soil. This creates a broad base of beneficial microbes that fight off pests and disease and make minerals viable at a high rate. He also sources fish waste from some of the restaurants that the farm sells to and creates the fish hydrolysate described above. “Establishing healthy soil life is the key to healthy plants,” he says. “Doing this takes commitment; it’s not like going out to the store and buying something.” Every year since Galbraith-Paul’s arrival, Heritage Farm has doubled its output, and other urban farming experts are starting to take note of this creative approach. “One of the aspects of Heritage Farm’s systems that I find most intriguing is its use of waste products from the community, such as coffee grounds, wood chips or ‘spent’ fish, to create fertility inputs for the farm,” says Aaron de Long, the Delaware Valley hub manager and dairy grazing apprenticeship education coordinator for Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. “Closing system loops in this way is the essence of regenerative, sustainable agriculture.” Galbraith-Paul’s experimentation in Korean natural farming methods is largely self-taught. Though these methods are still niche among farmers in the U.S., he has found a few mentors, such as Tobacco Road Farm in Lebanon, Connecticut, which he visited this summer on a trip sponsored by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. The methods are also growing in popularity in the high-end marijuana farming community, which Galbraith-Paul sees as proof of the method’s viability. “From a pure farming standpoint, [marijuana] is a crop that has a lot of demands, and it’s a difficult and expensive thing to grow,” he says, “so farmers will invest in what grows the best.” While the size of Heritage Farm won’t allow for endless doubling of production, Galbraith-Paul plans to keep investigating ways of improving on its model and expanding the natural farming practices. “That’s one of the things about urban farmers… Limitations on things like land force people to be more innovative,” he says. “It’s definitely been a good thing for me as a farmer.”

12th & Arch Streets Philadelphia, PA 19107




Take advantage of the fresh produce, meats, dairy, seafood, spices & baked goods that the Reading Terminal Market has to offer. Best time for locals to shop: 8 am – 11 am & 4 pm – 6 pm

Shop Reading Terminal Market. All under one roof. 215•922•2317 Open Every Day 8am - 6 pm

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Taproot Farm

Grid’s guide to CSAs in the city by emily kovach


n and around our fine city, CSAs are so commonplace (a wonderful thing!) that we almost considered skipping an explanation of what those initials even stand for. But for those new to the concept, and even just as a reminder for those of us who dutifully pick up our cardboard boxes every week, here goes: CSA stands for community supported agriculture. It’s a seasonal—sometimes yearlong—subscription to a farm or producer, which ensures them a steady cash flow throughout the highs and lows of the growing season and hooks the customer up with weekly deliveries or pickups of seasonal fruits, veggies and other tasty things to eat. It’s a way that, as a society, we can help independent farmers not just stay afloat, but actually thrive in the face of Big Ag. Amid a growing economy of subscription-based businesses, “CSA” has become a bit of a buzzword, and we urge you not to lose the true meaning of what it is: a symbiotic partnership between member and farmer.

Sign up for a 23-week share in summer or a 12-week share in winter for veggies, berries, melons and options for fruit, eggs, mushrooms, bread and dairy. Areas served: Greater Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley and Berks County • 610.926.1134

Primal Supply Butcher’s Club Vacuum-sealed packages of pasture-raised beef, pork and poultry are available for weekly or alt-weekly pickups, with additional options for fresh eggs, loin steak or other items in the online store. Areas served: Pickup sites throughout Philadelphia, and one in Cherry Hill, N.J.

Collective Creamery Red Earth Farm Greensgrow Farm Share Subscribers to this urban farm’s seasonal share receive an array of fruits, veggies, vegan or dairy protein options, and more. Areas served: Pickups in Kensington and West Philadelphia • 215.427.2780 ext. 2

Philly Foodworks This program offers mostly certified organic produce, and the noncertified produce is grown with clean farming practices. Areas served: Philadelphia and western suburbs • 215.221.6245

Pennypack Farm Likely inclusions in this farm’s next summer/fall share: collards, bok choy, bell peppers, tomatillos, radishes, kale and more. Areas served: Northeast suburbs and Montgomery County • 215.646.3943 16


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Produce from this farm in Kempton, Pa., is grown without synthetic pesticides or herbicides. Red Earth also offers options for eggs, cheese, yogurt and honey. Areas served: Philadelphia, western suburbs, West Chester, Lehigh Valley • 610.756.3600

Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op Choose from large shares (11 to 13 produce varieties, weekly) or medium shares (six to eight varieties) of certified organic produce from a cooperative of family farms. Areas served: Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs, west as far as Harrisburg, north as far as NYC, and south as far as D.C. • 717.656.3533

Tinicum CSA Pick out your favorite veggies directly on the farm, May through November, every week or every other week. Areas served: Bucks County • 215.630.2172

Subscribers can pick up grass-fed, handmade cheese, butter and yogurt every other week, along with special treats from Collective Creamery’s friends in the local cheese trade. Areas served: Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, as well as Chester, Berks, Delaware and Montgomery counties

Yellow Springs Farm This farm in Chester Springs offers assortments of both fresh and aged pasteurized cheeses twice a month. Areas served: Pickup sites in Chester County, Mount Airy and Roxborough • 610.827.2014

Jig-Bee Flower Farm Share Jig-Bee members select their closest pickup location and get 20 to 25 stems of seasonal flowers, already arranged and ready to be placed in a vase. Areas served: Pickup sites in South Philly, Kensington, Center City and Fairmount • 267.777.9636 P HOTO BY iSTO CK.CO M /FLOORTJE

THE WORLD IS CHANGING AND WE ARE AHEAD OF THE CURVE. Over the last decade, our innovative curriculum has given our graduates the tools they need to go out and change the world. Whether they are starting new companies, designing green buildings, or educating future generations, they are making a difference. We are continuing to transform higher education to add even more value and impact for our students. Join us!


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ilary Hamilton, a founding teacher at Science Leadership Academy Middle School located in Powelton Village, is leading an exuberant army of young students sporting headphones through their neighborhood on an unusually warm December day. Like new shoots fooled by a hint of spring, they’re eager to display the fruit of their learning. Along with teachers, family members and community members, they are embarking on a walking tour of the school’s neighborhood that includes podcasts explaining the significance of historical sites in their neighborhood. Each podcast was researched and recorded entirely by students from Hamilton’s and fellow humanities teacher Sarah Bower-Grieco’s classes. “The Bravery in the Neighborhood Project was meant to combine situated bravery in history with situated bravery in yourself,” Hamilton says. Earlier this year, the class focused on those times in history when it was considered courageous to read and write, studying the plight of enslaved blacks in America in the 1700s, women in the 1850s and English-language learners in public schools today. Students then had to write their own autobiographies of instances when they had to be brave in reading and writing. Mosadi LaFair, a sixth-grade girl who lives in West Philly, reflected on the time she had to be brave in learning how to read:

Innovative approaches to public education provide promising results BY S T E V E N EU M A N N PH OTOS BY K RIS T O N JA E B E T H E L

There was a point in my life when I didn’t know how to read, and all the other kids in my class were ahead in everything. But I was too afraid to ask for help. I thought kids would make fun of me for not knowing how to read. At the end of the day I didn’t have any bravery to think that I was doing awesome. I felt like I was dumb. When I got home from school I was so mad that I couldn’t read the words or write the words, but my mom said I had to go tutoring today and I didn’t feel like going to tutoring. But I had to. So when I went to tutoring the tutor asked me to spell the word ‘usually’ and I spelled it. And at that moment I was like ‘WHAT!’ The site Mosadi researched for the walking tour is 40th and Lancaster, the location of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Freedom Now” speech in 1965, now memorialized with a bust and a mural on the side of a building.

Nolen Gerwer, another sixth-grader at the school, clearly enjoyed both the activity and the feeling of being valued. “It’s something that I enjoy doing, because people get to hear me talk, and people can learn from me when I’m doing a podcast,” he says. One of Nolen’s best friends, Amoz Lee, a new sixth-grader at the school, agrees. “I think doing podcasts are awesome,” he says. “Especially the research about my topic, the Title and Trust Company, which got shut down by the Great Depression. I thought that was really intriguing.” The SLA podcast is an example of project-based learning in which kids are tasked with completing a real-world task. This technique has its roots in the progressive education movement, which advocated for more student-centered classroom approaches that were believed to promote “deeper learning” through the active exploration of real-world problems. In 2008, education researchers Brigid Barron and Linda Darling-Hammond conducted a review of the research literature on project-based learning, concluding: “Students engaged in inquiry-based learning develop content knowledge and learn increasingly important twenty-first century skills, such as the ability to work in teams, solve complex problems, and to apply knowledge gained through one lesson or task to other circumstances.” However, a 2017 working paper, published with the support of MDRC (formerly Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation) and Lucas Education Research, suggests that the evidence for the effectiveness of project-based learning in improving student outcomes is “promising but not proven.” F E B RUARY 20 18



Hilary Hamilton (center), a teacher at Science Leadership Academy Middle School, guides students on a walking tour through the Powelton Village neighborhood

The authors did note, however, that some research on project-based learning showed positive academic and noncognitive gains for both suburban and urban students, especially in science and social-studies classes.

STATE OF EDUCATION The work that Hamilton and schools like Science Leadership Academy are doing is situated in a political context that could best be described as a battleground. Journalist Dana Goldstein documents this in her 2014 book “The Teachers Wars”: “Teachers have been embattled by politicians, philanthropists, intellectuals, business leaders, social scientists, activists on both the Right and Left, parents, and even one another.” The Philadelphia School District has been an especially grueling combat zone. A major point of contention has been the School Reform Commission, created by the state of Pennsylvania in 2001 after the school district was declared financially distressed. The SRC closed many public schools in the district and allowed more charter schools 20


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to be established. Critics of charters say that they lack transparency, divert funds away from needy neighborhood schools and, on top of all that, don’t necessarily produce better academic outcomes. To the relief of many educators in Philadelphia, the SRC just voted to disband itself this year. But as recently as March 2013, the SRC voted to close 23 Philadelphia public schools because of the ongoing funding crisis and the flight to charter schools. To make matters worse, an analysis conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Education found that, despite the state agreeing to provide additional funding to help the district stave off its budget crisis, “Philadelphia has received less state school aid than its standing as one of Pennsylvania’s poorer communities would merit, if that money were distributed according to need,” reported The Philadelphia Inquirer in November. But like the dogged persistence of a rose that grows in concrete, to paraphrase the late rapper Tupac Shakur, Philadelphia continues to grapple with the best way to ensure the sustainability of its public schools.

Over the past several years, the school district, under Superintendent William Hite Jr., has opened seven new high schools as part of the school district’s Innovation Network. The ultimate goal is to reinvent and reinvigorate the concept of the school for those students who have been ill-served by the existing system. Like Science Leadership Academy, the Workshop School—also part of the Innovation Network—employs a project-based learning model. Rebecca Coven is in her second year of teaching there, and, like many new teachers, she wondered how she could get her students to be passionate about something. She now concedes that this was a misconception. She found that her students were passionate about a lot of things: They’d talk about gender inequality, they’d talk about race and mass incarceration. They were fired up and angry, but they didn’t know how to take action, or didn’t understand that their voices could be heard and that they could, in fact, make a difference in the world. “It’s through project-based learning that I can help give them the tools,” Coven says,

“and show them the different ways they can not just get fired up but channel that energy into action.” One project Coven’s 10th-grade class did this semester was centered around the topic of mass incarceration. Earlier this year, her class visited the museum at Eastern State Penitentiary on Fairmount Avenue. They then spent several weeks becoming “experts” on aspects of mass incarceration, thinking critically about the action steps they might take to address it. The final deliverable for the project is for the students to create their own exhibit and present it at a public symposium at the penitentiary itself. “I’m going to give you guys an image from one exhibit from [Eastern State Penitentiary] that we saw,” Coven says to her class, “and a piece of poster paper so you can answer these questions.” The questions Coven puts up on her whiteboard are: What does this museum exhibit teach you about mass incarceration? What is effective about this museum exhibit? Does this museum exhibit encourage you to take action? If not, what might be added to encourage people to take action? “When you come up with your own museum exhibit,” Coven continues, “you’re going to try to encourage other people to take action to reduce the amount of people in prison.” When the students are done with their posters, each group takes a turn presenting them to the class. Salena Robinson, 15, leads her group’s discussion. The exhibit they had to analyze was a confession board with letters from some people who are in prison combined with some who are visitors, and students had to figure out who wrote which letters. “What I think they should have done instead of putting just the letters up there,” Salena says, “was put up a quote from each letter. People don’t go to a museum to read and read and read—they want to see interesting stuff, crazy cool stuff. Who’s going to read at an old prison?” Unlike some of her peers, though, Salena isn’t as passionate about the mass incarceration project. “I’m not much of an activist,” she says. “Like, ‘Oh, my God, black rights!’ I think they’re important, and I stand by those people who do that every day, because it takes guts to go out there and be like, ‘Oh, black rights matter!’ It’s just that I don’t have the

Salena Robinson and Darren Nixon, 10th-graders at the Workshop School

energy or the personality. I’m more of an introvert, overall.” But Salena is very passionate about creating art. One of the defining projects for her was one called Digital Memoir, in which students had to reflect on a time that was especially educative for them. “For me,” Salena says, “it was learning that my lack of sleep could actually help out with my talent of art. So I decided to draw my whole memoir.” Salena says some students decided to use photos, others used one single photo combined with a voiceover. When everyone in the class was done, they presented them all. “I’m not really a reality type of person,” she says. “I’m more of a fantasy person. Like, ‘Oh, my gosh, colors! Vibrancy!’ I like art. I want to stick with art.” As for Salena’s plans after the Workshop School, she wants to go to California for college. “I want to get into animation, and it just seems like if I go to where Disney or Pixar is, then I’ll get the best experience there,” she says.

Salena has also been working on a comic strip whose main character is named Rando. “He’s a cat, I guess,” Salena says. “He’s like a superhero; he always comes in to save people, and people look up to him. But he’s like Deadpool in a way. He’s a reluctant superhero.” In addition to Science Leadership Academy and the Workshop School, one of the newest schools in the Innovation Network is Vaux Big Picture High School, which opened its doors in September. Vaux is located in a historic art deco building in the Sharswood section of North Philadelphia. Although run by Big Picture Learning—a national organization known for promoting a high school education centered around students’ interests and career goals—it draws students primarily from its neighborhood, and the teachers are members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. However, it is funded similarly to a charter school in that the district provides a lump sum per student, and the school has the autonomy to spend that money as it sees fit. Jessica McAtamney, assistant principal at the school, says Vaux is all about F E B RUARY 20 18



Last year I had a student who used to call me Google, because he thought I had all the answers. But when I told him I didn’t have them, and that we’re learning together, he started calling me Coach, because I was helping them develop their skills. REBECCA COVEN, teacher, Workshop School

Rebecca Coven, teacher at the Workshop School

finding kids’ passions and putting them into action in internships with local businesses and organizations. “It’s all student-centered,” she says, “so it really meets the students where they are.” Vaux has an exhibition component to its curriculum that lets students present their work each quarter, based on a learning plan that’s individualized for them. McAtamney says it helps students narrow down what it is they like to do, and what they’re good at. “These students develop a relationship with the teacher, and that person becomes that student’s advocate,” she says. “They become their mentor and their coach, and they help navigate that kid through the system.” Vaux also has a systemized block where the students spend a significant amount of time off campus, in a component called Real-World Learning. Here, they’re exposed to all sorts of potential career pathways. “It’s trying to engage them in something meaningful that will spark them careerwise,” McAtamney says. “They have to prepare to go on the trip, and when they 22


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get there they have to look critically at the space to see what career opportunities you could gain either from being employed by that organization or, if you studied within that field, what you could get from it.” Over at the U School, also in North Philadelphia, humanities teacher Sam Reed III—whose students affectionately refer to him as simply “Reed”—says they hang their hat on three principles: competency-based learning, restorative practices and learning that connects students to 21st-century skills. “We’re not tied down to traditional grades, although the work is aligned to Common Core standards,” Reed says. “We’re really focused on what it is that students can do, and then monitoring that and honoring where they are.” In a competency-based model, students are grouped by how independent they are as learners rather than by grade level. So some students are semi-autonomous, where they’re in a classroom, but it’s not run like a traditional one. There may be some kids who are working on one

project, and some who are working on another project, and the teacher is there supporting and facilitating that. But there are also classes that are more teacher-directed, and those are where every student is generally doing the same thing at the same time, and the teacher is building them up to the point where they can have more autonomy.

BEYOND THE INNOVATION NETWORK While the Innovation Network shows early promise and continues to grow, dedicated and proactive public school teachers throughout the school district look for ways to compensate for the funding inequities that plague the city. “I think people need to understand that there are amazing things that happen in schools across Philadelphia every day,” says Chris Lehmann, co-principal at Science Leadership Academy in Center City. “The people who work within them are serious-minded people who believe in doing their best for the kids they serve.”

A prime example of this is Ismael Jimenez, who teaches African-American history at Kensington Creative and Performing Arts High School. “If you travel down the river of tears,” he begins, “in a boat of broken promises, under heavy fog, it’s hard to be clear exactly what your knowledge is.” Jimenez repeats this line by Talib Kweli, hip-hop artist and social activist, like a mantra throughout the lesson. On his whiteboard today he puts up a quote from Brazilian educator and activist Paulo Freire’s widely read book, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”: “The oppressed want at any cost to resemble the oppressors.” “If we want to resemble the powerful,” Jimenez says to the class, “and you’re not powerful, what are the consequences of that?” “You let them define you,” says 11th-grader Brittany Diaz. “You’re corrupted.” The class is at the end of a unit called “American Economic Foundations: The Institution of Slavery.” Today they’re considering the story of Phillis Wheatley, an African girl enslaved at age 7 and educated in the household of the prominent Wheatley family of Boston in 1761.

In 1773, Wheatley became the first African-American—and the second woman—to publish a book of poems. Having been immersed in the values of white society, she came to view white culture as better than her native African culture—as attested to in the final line of one of her poems: “Remember, Christians, Negroes, black as Cain, May be refin’d and join th’ angelic train.” Jimenez encourages the class to make real-world connections to Wheatley’s story, followed by a whole-class dialogue. “Use your knowledge about the beliefs, accomplishments and death of Phillis Wheatley to develop a short essay relating Phillis Wheatley’s life to the experiences of African-Americans generally throughout American history,” Jimenez says. Because Jimenez’s school isn’t part of the Innovation Network, it still relies mostly on traditional curriculum and pedagogy. Jimenez’s class has become a small garden of roses in a mostly concrete landscape. “I only like his class,” says 11th-grader José Toledo. “It opens up your mind to things about the world that you never would have thought of.”

José’s classmate, Mai Nguyen, agrees. “On the first day,” she says, “he told us we won’t pass his class without thinking. Every day he gives us a quote and some analysis, and how it ties into realworld situations. “It urges you to think rather than just sitting there and copying from the board,” she continues. “It really makes you wanna stand up.” Down in South Philadelphia, Jayda Pugliese has taken things into her own hands regarding resources. Her fifth-grade class at Andrew Jackson Elementary School just got its third 3-D printer, thanks to Pugliese’s own initiative. Pugliese utilized a website called Donors Choose, a kind of GoFundMe for teachers, to get her first one from MakerBot. The price tag for the version she acquired was a steep $5,000. But then MakerBot donated a second 3-D printer to her class after they saw an article about how her students made prosthetics. The third 3-D printer, a PrintrBot, is a little more old-school, but was also donated by the owner of a 3-D print supply company called Repkord.

Ismael Jimenez, teacher, Kensington Creative and Performing Arts High School

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I have 71 percent of my students perform at advanced or proficient on their benchmarks, so clearly the connections I’m making are having a positive impact on their standardized test scores—and I’m not teaching to the test. JAYDA PUGLIESE,

teacher, Andrew Jackson Elementary School Jayda Pugliese, teacher at Andrew Jackson Elementary School

“We’re making a prosthetic leg for a bulldog named Walter,” says fifth-grader Carla Luna. “He was in something terrible, like dogfighting. Now he’s in a happy home. Once we make the prosthetic, he’ll come visit us.” “We’re also selling ‘LOVE’ statues to make money for different causes,” says Carla’s best friend, Dibanhi Ronzon. “Like one for a school in Africa, because they’re going to shut down if they don’t get enough money.” “My philosophy is ensuring you make real life connections to anything that you do,” says Pugliese, who also utilizes project-based learning in her classroom. “I have 71 percent of my students perform at advanced or proficient on their benchmarks, so clearly the connections I’m making are having a positive impact on their standardized test scores — and I’m not teaching to the test.” Pugliese is also the recent recipient of the Milken Educator Award, which is comparable to winning an Oscar in education. “You don’t apply for it,” Pugliese says. “All they tell you is that you’ve been 24


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selected by a blue ribbon panel within the state of Pennsylvania.” Along with the award comes a $25,000 check. “It’s ironic,” Pugliese says, “because a few months prior to winning, I had to drop out of a doctoral program because of financial difficulties. After I won, I was able to re-enroll the following semester. Now I’m about to start my dissertation.” Since winning the Milken Educator Award, Pugliese has focused more on being a voice for teachers. She’s currently on the Pennsylvania Teachers Advisory Committee, a group that brings stories from the classroom to various stakeholders to help them understand the effects of funding inequities across the state. “It shouldn’t be a balancing act for a school to decide whether they’re buying textbooks or having a school counselor, or getting a SmartBoard or having 36 kids in a class because they can’t afford another teacher,” she says. The Philadelphia School District’s experiment to cultivate roses that can thrive

in the traditional concrete of public education is “promising but not proven,” just like the project-based learning many of the schools use. There remain some considerable challenges. One is how to define success in an environment of standardization and accountability that values test scores above all else. Many Innovation Network schools are aware of this and have come up with systems that satisfy that need. At the Workshop School, for example, students present exhibitions at the end of each grading quarter where they get up and talk about their learning. “We have a very robust, several-page, project-based report card,” says Simon Hauger, co-founder of the school. “And because we still live in a system that wants grades, we convert that work into grades that make sense to colleges and school district officials.” Another potential obstacle is whether the kind of innovation these schools are experimenting with can work with the typical public school student.

In Philadelphia, as elsewhere around the country, many students reach high school with no other experience of education except the “banking concept” described by Freire in “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” where students are viewed as passive piggy banks into which the coins of knowledge are deposited. “Last year I had a student who used to call me Google, because he thought I had all the answers,” says Coven, of the Workshop School. “But when I told him I didn’t have them, and that we’re learning together, he started calling me Coach, because I was helping them develop their skills.” Fortunately, it looks like the Philadelphia School District has at least some tacit support statewide in the form of Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera, himself a Philadelphia native from the Hunting Park section. “We’ve been trying to build an accountability system that thinks differently,” Rivera said in an interview with Lancaster-based Fig magazine last year. “Right now the system doesn’t allow for a real clear articulation of agreement around how we’re allocating resources.” “We have to understand,” he said, “that there is no one formula that works for every kid or every community. Education is hard work, and you’re always looking for the silver bullet. At the end of the day it’s just folks that are willing to do whatever it takes to educate kids.” And that’s just what teachers in the school district have been doing, whether they’re part of the Innovation Network or not. Reed at the U School realized this at some point during his 20-year career of teaching, which is why he calls himself an “accidental activist.” “In this moment in education reform,” he wrote for Penn GSE’s Perspectives on Urban Education in the summer of 2013, “where teacher agency meets opportunity, it became important for me to embrace my role as a teacher activist.” “As a teacher-activist deeply committed to transforming the landscape of education reform in my city,” he writes, “I think this moment offers opportunities for the District to support sustainable school-led transformations.”


SUMMER CAMPS feat u r ing spor ts, ar ts, technology and mor e gir ls + boys | ages 3 + u p G E R MA N TOW N F R I E N DS S C H O O L 31 West Coulter Street, Philadelphia, PA 19144

SustainaBall is the region's premier event for celebrating the localism movement and impact economy in Greater Philadelphia. All proceeds support SBN's mission to build a just, green, and thriving economy in the region.

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Penn Museum’s Anthropologists in the Making


oing to camp can help turn the lazy days of summer into stimulating experiences filled with learning and adventure. Not only do these programs present a wonderful chance for kids to try something new, they also implement skills and foster friendships that will last a lifetime. ¶ For many kids, camp is one of the first times away from their family or daily social environment, making it a great opportunity to practice decision-making skills in a supportive setting. Being able to make choices is an excellent way for kids to develop confidence and independence—both valuable traits to acquire at a young age. Additionally, learning how to achieve something new as a group helps build camaraderie rather than competition. ¶ Being away from electronic devices helps encourage kids to interact with the world around them, whether that be connecting with nature, engaging socially or simply having a chance to indulge their own curiosity without distraction. With so many camps to choose from, there’s something to satisfy almost everyone. Here are our top picks to help your child have the best summer ever. SCIENCE AND SUSTAINABILITY

Adventure Treks with the Schuylkill Center

William Penn Charter School Science Camp

Teens and preteens start their expedition at the 340-acre Schuylkill Center before venturing out to state parks and forests along the East Coast. AGES: 10–15 WHEN: July 11–Aug. 17 COST: $325–$880 WHERE: The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, 8480 Hagy’s Mill Road WEBSITE:

Steven Wade (aka “Science Steve”) teaches campers topics ranging from robots and electrical inventions to baking-soda rockets, how to make slime and more. AGES: 6–12 WHEN: July 9–13, July 23–27, June 25–29 COST: $395–$445 WHERE: William Penn Charter School, 3000 W. School House Lane WEBSITE:

The Franklin Institute

The Academy of Natural Sciences

Future scientists get a hands-on approach to learning through projects such as building circuits, making chemistry concoctions, studying the solar system and more. AGES: Kindergarten–ninth grade WHEN: June 11–Aug. 31 COST: $369–$399 WHERE: The Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th St. WEBSITE:

Weekly themes include learning about dinosaurs, insects, mythological animals, and reptiles of the past and present. AGES: 5–12 WHEN: July 9–Aug. 31 COST: $320–$360 WHERE: The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway WEBSITE:



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Penn Museum offers a variety of anthropological themes for children, such as exploring cultures from around the world, learning about ancient artifacts, and discovering how perceptions are shaped by myths and legends. AGES: 7–13 WHEN: June 25–Aug. 17 COST: $280–$320 WHERE: Penn Museum, 3260 South St. WEBSITE:

The Waldorf School’s Nature Makers Camp Weekly themes include beekeeping, herbal tea making and urban farming, with opportunities to meander through forests and hike the Wissahickon Trail. AGES: First–third grade WHEN: June 18–July 13 COST: $300 per week WHERE: Penn Museum, 3260 South St. WEBSITE:

Seaport Summer Camp History and adventure combine as kids explore both on and off the water. Campers learn to row and kayak, and will discover the history of the city’s waterways while aboard the cruiser Olympia and submarine Becuna. AGES: 6–12 WHEN: July 25–Aug. 17 COST: $100 per week WHERE: Independence Seaport Museum, 211 S. Columbus Blvd. WEBSITE:

Camp Invention Inspire a future inventor to think creatively and scientifically to bring creations to life. This year’s theme is “Fast Forward!” and includes instruction on building a robotic pet, a self-driving bot and more. AGES: 6–12 WHEN: June 25–June 29 COST: $250 WHERE: Harvey Sabold Elementary School, 468 E. Thompson Ave., Springfield, Pa. WEBSITE:


AWBURY ADVENTURES Summer Camps for Children Ages 8-14 | 8:30am-3:30pm | June 18 - August 3


xplore Awbury’s 55 acres of woods, pond, farm, and field. Hands-on experiences with wilderness skills, diverse ecosystems, and small creatures. Wildcrafting, foraging, fire-building, archery, cooking, fort-building, wide games, water play, arts & crafts - an idyllic summer.

> > > >

Do your kids like playing with LEGO® bricks? They will love this!

Harry Potter Camp

Our programs are designed to promote teamwork and inspire creativity and offer a fun & safe environment for learning STEM concepts.

Get Cooking in the Cope House Kitchen

Awesome birthday parties, after school classes, workshops, camps & more!

Camp Katniss

Advanced Wilderness Survival Skills @SnapologyPhilly • 215.792.3866


Visit for more information & registration.


LEGO® is a registered trademark of the LEGO Company which is not affiliated with these programs

Grades 7-12 Independent College Prep The Crefeld School educates the whole child, and provides a college preparatory, hands-on and experiential curriculum with an emphasis on social justice.

Open House Dates:

February 23, 2018 May 18, 2018 F E B RUARY 20 18




Awbury Adventures

Lavner Camps

Campers choose from four adventurous themes: Camp Katniss, Harry Potter Camp, Get Cooking in the Cope House Kitchen, or Advanced Wilderness Survival Skills. AGES: 10–14 WHEN: June 18–Aug. 3 COST: $275–$600 WHERE: Awbury Arboretum, 1 Awbury Road WEBSITE:

Tech-savvy kids get savvier with classes that teach coding, robotics, 3-D printing, virtual reality, video game programing and more, hosted by the Ivy League campus of UPenn. AGES: 6–15 WHEN: June 18–Aug. 24 COST: $329–$549 WHERE: University of Pennsylvania, Houston Hall and Irvine Auditorium, 3417 Spruce St. WEBSITE:

Dig into the world of pastry and artisan cuisine as you learn how to masterfully prepare dishes while experiencing a regional gastronomic tour of the United States. AGES: Ninth–tenth grade WHEN: July 16–17 COST: $249–$289 WHERE: The Restaurant at Walnut Hill College, 4207 Walnut St. WEBSITE:

Sandy Hill Farm

Miquon Day Camp

Animal lovers learn the basics of horseback riding in an intimate small-group farm setting. Campers also learn how to care for other farm animals such as ducks, chickens, goats, pigs and bunnies. AGES: 5–11 WHEN: June 11–Aug. 10 COST: $65–$400 WHERE: Sandy Hill Farm, 1918 Sandy Hill Road, Plymouth Meeting, Pa. WEBSITE:

Located in a 10-acre wooded valley, this classic summer camp is complete with swimming, arts and crafts, and freedom to experience the great outdoors. AGES: 4–11 WHEN: June 25–Aug.17 COST: $415 for one week, $3,320 for all eight weeks. See website for additional pricing. WHERE: The Miquon School, 2025 Harts Lane, Conshohocken, Pa. WEBSITE:

Elmwood Park Zoo Discover your wild side as you learn about the zoo’s inhabitants through crafts, activities and stories, along with getting up close and personal with unique creatures from around the world. AGES: 6–11 WHEN: June 18–July 20, July 23–Aug. 17 COST: $250–$275 WHERE: Elmwood Park Zoo, 1661 Harding Blvd., Norristown, Pa. WEBSITE:

Culinary Arts Summer Camp

Summer Learning & Summer Fun at AIM

Innovative teaching, fearless learning


610-206-3568 • •

Weekly art camp beginning


and running through (9:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M.)

Creative themes • Mixed age groups 4-10

Freedom to Flourish.

Open House Saturday, March 17, at 1 p.m.



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July 2 - July 27, 2018 4-week enrichment program For children entering K12th Grade

Morning academic skills building Afternoon STEAM activities ACT Prep

SUMMER CAMPS Mud & Music on 50th

Rock to the Future

WHYY Summer Filmmakers

Keep an eye out for more details about this collaborative summer camp with the Green Tambourine Music Studio and Black Hound Clay Studio. AGES: 5–14 WHEN: Aug. 6–31 COST: TBD WHERE: Black Hound Clay Studio, 711 S. 50th St. WEBSITE:

Unleash your inner rock star as you learn to write, play and perform music. Campers collaborate with others, then perform live for friends and family. AGES: 13–17 WHEN: July 24–28 COST: $250 per week; free for low-income Philadelphia youth WHERE: Rock to the Future, 2139 E. Cumberland St. WEBSITE:

Learn how to tell your story through film. This program explores all aspects of filmmaking including shooting, editing, screenwriting and casting. AGES: Middle school and high school programs available WHEN: July 9–27 (high school program); Aug. 6–17 (middle school program) COST: $1,800–$1,950 (high school program); $1,100–$1,250 (middle school program) WHERE: WHYY Studios, 150 N. 6th St. WEBSITE:

Art Camp Theme-based classes teach students how to work in 2-D and 3-D while using a range of artistic mediums such as sewing, ceramics, comics, drawing and painting. AGES: 4–14 WHEN: June 11–Aug.17 COST: $270–$400 WHERE: Philly Art Center, Cherry Hill Location, 1721 Springdale Road, Cherry Hill, N.J. WEBSITE:

Philly School of Circus Arts Aspiring performers learn how to juggle, walk a tightwire, spin plates or defy gravity while swinging from a trapeze. AGES: 5–18 WHEN: June 18–Aug. 31 COST: $80–$950 WHERE: Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, 5900A Greene St. WEBSITE:

Co-ed K - 8th Grade Lahaska, PA


on the hill

Information Sessions Feb. 28 & March 23 Call 215.794.7491 to register Financial Aid is Available

F E B RUARY 20 18




Dance Camp

Spanish Summer Camp

Watch your creative ideas come to life as you learn everything from stitching a button to constructing your own clothing and accessories. AGES: 5–15 WHEN: July 18–Aug. 24 COST: $390–$410 WHERE: Butcher’s Sew Shop Junior, 1912 South St; 800 S. 8th St. WEBSITE:

Beginners learn the basics of ballet, jazz, hip-hop, modern dance, and how to move creatively and confidently. AGES: 7 and up WHEN: July 16–27 COST: $200–$375 WHERE: Wissahickon Dance Academy, 38 E. School House Lane WEBSITE:

These classes are taught entirely in Spanish, allowing for full immersion in the language. Art, theater and craft-making aid in the fun. Beginners are welcome. AGES: up to 10 WHEN: July 16–Aug.17 COST: $300–$325 WHERE: Bilingual Butterflies, 627 S. 2nd St., 2nd Floor WEBSITE:

Woodworking Camp

Campers learn voice technique, how to act through song, storytelling skills, costume and set design, and more. AGES: 4–7; 8 and up WHEN: 2018 dates TBD COST: $375 WHERE: 262 S. 12th St. WEBSITE:

Learn the basics of woodworking and gain experience in proper tool use while creating functional wooden crafts to take home. AGES: 9–11 WHEN: Weeklong classes in July and August. 2018 dates TBD COST: $299, plus materials WHERE: Philadelphia Woodworks, 4901 Umbria St. WEBSITE:

Music Theatre Philly


The Quaker Hub for Peace and Justice in Philadelphia

Summer Clay Camp Learn how to use clay in several ways, including sculpture, pottery, animation and more. These small classes offer lots of hands-on fun. AGES: 6 and up WHEN: 2018 dates TBD COST: $160–$360 (2017 pricing) WHERE: The Clay Studio, 137–139 N. 2nd St. WEBSITE:


SummerSessions June 18 - July 27 (1-6 week courses available)

Where the City Meets Your Kid

Choose Friends Center for Your Eco-Friendly Event! Since 1856, Friends Center has been a gathering place for business, community and private events. With our LEED Platinum green renovation, modern video and teleconferencing facilities, we are both historic, up to date and ready for your use. • • • •


Rooms to accommodate events from 10 to 700 people. 10 unique spaces to fit your specific needs. Centrally located and easily accessible. Bike, transit and pedestrian friendly.

Friends Select SummerSessions provides a unique experience that will engage, challenge, and enrich students in grades 3-12. With instruction from knowledgeable faculty and outside experts, SummerSessions offers courses ranging from a college prep workshop to robotics and creative coding to geometry and pre-calculus. Spots are limited. Sign up today!










For more information: Shakirah Holloway 215-241-7098 • 1501 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102

Register online at

17th & Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19103


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farmSHARE summer 2018

Weavers Way Co-op Community-owned, open to everyone

now open in ambler


217 E. Butler Ave.

Do you have a child in the 3rd through 8th grade? Your family may qualify for a paid research study! We’re interested in studying the way personality, behavior and life experiences influence how the teenage brain develops over time. If you are interested in participating in this study, please contact the Temple Adolescent Development Study at

(215) 204-3444 or visit us online at

Interested in shopping for natural foods? Discover all that the Co-op has to offer: Grocery • Local produce Prepared foods • Meat and Seafood F E B RUARY 20 18




New School, Old School A suburban high school student makes a bold choice by micah hauger


hen I told my friends I would be switching schools, they were stunned. Last year, I chose to transfer from a “high-performing,” well-resourced suburban high school to attend an urban public school in Philadelphia for my junior year. I didn’t get kicked out, and I didn’t fail out. I actually made this choice because I believed it would better prepare me for life. Like a lot of other families, my parents moved to a “great” school district when I began kindergarten. I flourished in school—I was reading novels at a young age, taking advanced math in middle school and had an active social life. My teachers loved me and my parents were proud. At the same time, I was witnessing the work my father was doing. He had started an after-school club at the auto shop at West Philadelphia High School, which grew into EVX, the award-winning electric car program, and then a pilot program at the Navy Yard called the Sustainability Workshop. At the core of the work he was doing was the belief that real-world, project-based education could help engage students who were not responding to traditional classroom learning. So when I entered middle school and found out that a project-based program was being offered, I eagerly applied. I was 32


F EB RUA RY 201 8

accepted, and it was an amazing year. Instead of having a test on the different layers of the earth, we actually re-created them with large draping papers and designs in the hallway. I applied for the seventh-grade and eighth-grade programs each successive year, and loved them. As a rising ninth-grader, I attended Lower Merion High School, along with all of my friends, most of whom I have known since I was young. My experience of LM was that it was often just a grind to memorize mostly useless information to pass the next grade-orientated test. I got good grades in freshman year but I did not enjoy learning, and by 10th grade I was no longer a straight-A student. For my junior year, I decided to transfer to the Workshop School, a project-based school in Philadelphia. This was a huge switch for me. In addition to having the distinction of commuting from the suburbs to an urban high school, there were two other factors that set me apart. One, my father is the principal at the school, and two, I was one of the two or three white kids attending a school where the student body is almost 100 percent black. Of those two factors, being the son of the principal is the bigger challenge. People are sometimes not sure if they can tell me things, worried I could report them to

my dad. It makes me feel like I can view certain situations, but not actually participate in them. I’m happy to say that being the white kid isn’t that bad. In general, compared to Lower Merion, students at the Workshop School are friendlier, the mood is lighter, and everyone laughs a lot more. It feels easier to be yourself. The complete cultural flip and being— for the first time in my life—the minority taught me a lot about collaboration and communication. I found myself intellectually engaged and enjoying this new community. Working on projects with people who are different from me is something you can’t learn in a traditional suburban classroom. I still talk to my friends from my previous school. Last year was horrible for them, up all night studying for something forgotten just weeks later, addicted to caffeine with major sleeping problems and much more. Overall, they tell me that school sucks and they hate it. I’m happy to say that is not how I feel. I am now able to say that school is fun, and I never thought I would be able to say that again. Micah Hauger is a senior at the Workshop School, where he started his own Thai rolled ice cream business, Philly Rollers. He will attend MissionU this fall. IL LUSTRATIO N BY JAM E E L A WA HLGREN


50 ON

Margot & Camille


A COLLABORATIVE SUMMER ARTS CAMP BY Black Hound Clay Studio & The Green Tambourine Music Studio


6 - 31 AGES 5-14

711 S. 50th St. WEST PHILLY


eyewear as an art to wear 47 North 3rd Street Philadelphia, PA 215-923-0508 gift certificates available online





Deep blue

A Penn alumna champions access to clean water for all VIRTUAL CAFÉ Join the MES program director on the first Tuesday of every month from 12-1 p.m. for an online chat about your interests and goals. Log in with us. @Penn_MES_MSAG

“I am connected to water because of my upbringing in Puerto Rico. The Master of Environmental Studies (MES) program at the University of Pennsylvania fostered my passion for linking water and people,” reflects Tiffany Ledesma (MES ’01), an environmental consultant with CDM Smith for the Philadelphia Water Department. In her role, Tiffany works on community outreach, public participation, partnership building and communication strategies on a variety of initiatives. Since its beginning, she has supported Green City, Clean Waters—Philadelphia’s plan to reduce stormwater pollution through the use of primarily green infrastructure. In October 2017, Tiffany founded Clean Water for Puerto Rico by Boricuas in PA through the global disaster relief and clean water non-profit Waves For Water. The organization is raising funds to install water filters to help 20,000 Puerto Ricans who don’t have access to clean water after Hurricane Maria. “Water is my world,” Tiffany adds, “The MES program gave me the tools to work across disciplines to solve problems, and that’s essential because environmental work is highly integrated.” To learn more about Tiffany’s local and global water initiatives, visit:




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