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The local origins of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

Meet Philly’s bug ambassador

Sustainable butcher goes pork only

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MARCH 2019 / ISSUE 118 / GRIDPHILLY.COM

T O W A R D A S U S TA I N A B L E P H I L A D E L P H I A

to the

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EDI TO R ’S NOTES

by

alex mulcahy

The Future of Grid publisher Alex Mulcahy associate editors Vince Bellino Timothy Mulcahy copy editor David Jack Daniels art director Michael Wohlberg writers Bernard Brown Constance Garcia-Barrio Alexandra W. Jones Emily Kovach Randy LoBasso Claire Marie Porter photographers Natalie Piserchio Cooper Reck Allison Sponic Rachael Warriner Albert Yee advertising Santino Blanco santino@gridphilly.com 215.625.9850 ext. 112 distribution Alex Yarde alex.yarde@redflagmedia.com 215.625.9850 ext. 107

L

ast month in my editor’s notes, I wrote about the trouble with our current business model. Like everyone else in the print industry—whether it’s Condé Nast or Drexel’s student run newspaper The Triangle—our ad sales have steadily declined. Just when you think you are hitting a stable point you can build on, the bottom drops out again. Well, since last month, the bottom did a little more dropping. This moves our timeline up on deciding whether or not to continue publishing Grid. On a personal level, I still want to do it. I immensely enjoy working on this magazine, and I remain delighted to publish the stories that we do. I mean, look at our cover. You think this magazine isn’t fun? This month we also have the privilege of printing a special insert about the Sacred Places/Civic Spaces initiative that the Community Design Collaborative and Partners for Sacred Places partnered on. The plans they have created with their teams of volunteers demonstrate bold, creative thinking about how we as a city, and as a county, can reimagine utilizing religious buildings to serve neighborhoods.

Documenting that kind of work is all well and good, but what I continue to love about Grid is that it serves as a catalyst. People read Grid and things happen. Right now, there is a restoration project for orchids in the Wissahickon in the works that is a direct result of an article we published in January. Isn’t that awesome? But we need your help to carry on. We are going to set some pretty aggressive goals for subscriptions and advertising, and if we meet them, we will continue. If we don’t, it will be time to say goodbye. So if you love Grid, sign up for a monthly subscription on our website right now. There’s no commitment, you’ll be plugged in to what’s happening in Philly and it’ll feel good.

ALEX MULCAHY Editor-in-Chief alex@gridphilly.com

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To subscribe or contribute to Grid, go to gridphilly.com


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B IK E TA LK

by

randy lobasso

Changing Gears Bike messenger and homeless advocate Joe Cox is running for Philadelphia City Council

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oday bike messenger Joe Cox spends his days riding the streets of Philadelphia. But tomorrow? He just might be running them. The pink-mohawk-sporting 32-year-old announced his campaign for a seat on Philadelphia City Council At-Large last year. He’s made himself known by protesting the city’s now defunct data-sharing agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and for founding the twice monthly “Positive Mental Attitude” (PMA) campaign, wherein he rides around the city giving pizza to the homeless and the hungry. We caught up with Cox in February to learn a little more about his campaign promises and how he thinks he can make Philadelphia a safer space for bikers. This interview has been edited for clarity and style. You’ve been doing PMA Bike Ride for more than two years now. Can you tell us why you started it? I ride around Philadelphia all day and I see many people that are down on their luck. I saw a problem, and I wanted to do something, so I started the PMA Bike Ride. The idea was, instead of talking about it, we should do something about it. There is no reason anyone should be hungry in America. We should do everything we can to “be the change,” which is a phrase I try to live by. Tell me why you decided to run for city council. Because of my years of activism, I’ve had many people ask me if I was going to run for office. As a bike courier, I talk to dozens of working class people every day and have gotten to know some of them pretty well. One thing I hear a lot is that despite all of the growth, development and investment coming to Philly, quality of life has not improved. It’s hard to disagree, when Philadelphia was named the poorest big city in the country. 4

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Bike messenger and activist Joe Cox is running for City Council at-large.

More recently, I was part of the Abolish ICE coalition group, and after all of our hard work and sacrifice, we forced Mayor Kenney to end the PARS [Preliminary Arraignment Reporting System] agreement. During our organized occupation of the Philadelphia ICE office, I remember someone walking by, asking if one of us was going to run for office in Philly and how we should if we want to change things. After that, I asked my friends what they thought about me running. So many people that don’t believe in voting told me they would vote for me—that is the main reason why I made the decision.

As a cyclist, what’s your take on Philly’s street conditions? Our streets are deadly, and it’s disgusting that our city allows such conditions. Riding around Philly is like an adventure course. Worse than the roads, a lot of times, is the toxic car culture in Philadelphia. Drivers are very aggressive, and I have almost been killed. Sometimes it seems intentional. The state of our roads is a real public health problem. What needs to be done to fix our bicycle infrastructure? We need to make sure that anyone with a license knows you are required to pass

randy lobasso is the communications manager at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. P HOTO G RAP H BY AL BERT YEE


a cyclist from at least a four-foot distance. It needs to be on the tests to get a license. There should be signs throughout Philadelphia that promote the four-foot law, possibly even have it written on the road all over, like a sharrow [shared-lane marking]. Every road should have a bike lane. The bike lanes we have now need to actually be bike lanes. They need to be enforced. If there are cars in the bike lane, they need to be removed. Philly has more people biking than any other big city, and cyclists should feel protected. We need to vastly expand protected bike lanes. Pedestrians often don’t feel safe in Philly, either. What do you think the council can do to make streets safer for those of us who walk to work? Pedestrian safety is yet another thing in Philadelphia that lacks equity. Everyone who lives in Philly knows that Roosevelt Boulevard is one of the most dangerous roads in the U.S. for pedestrians. As a city, we should be declaring this a state of emergency. City council could set up a

task force with the sole purpose of making our streets safer. Better bike infrastructure would make pedestrians also much safer. Are there any outside-the-box transportation options or transportation ideas you would support to make streets safer and the environment cleaner? We need more loading zones. I would love to get rid of a lot of parking to open up those zones. I would support a car ban of some sort. Something like only loading vehicles, shared vehicles, public transit vehicles, any vehicles for handicapped and emergency vehicles. Public transit should be free for low-income people. Any person going to college in Philadelphia should have free public transit, too. For now we need to push for free transfers and better access to the SEPTA Key in low-income neighborhoods. We should put solar panels on our own buildings. City Hall should be run by renewable energy and so should every city building. The city is very windy—with my signs, I can

tell you that. We should be taking advantage of that wind. Can you explain the significance of some of the signs you’ve strapped to your bike over the years? I started putting signs on my bike during the 2016 election. My first sign was “Bernie marched with MLK. He stands for equality!” Bernie [Sanders] inspired me to get more involved politically. The first PMA Bike Ride was a week before the Democratic National Convention. The PMA Bike Ride sign has always been: “Make a stranger smile. Be the change.” Most people—no matter what—smile when they see it. But the sign generally refers to people living on the street. For instance, if you see someone on the corner with a sign, you can make them smile. You can do this by telling them a joke sometimes or just by saying hi or giving them some food or a few bucks. But generally the sign means: spread love, open the door for your neighbor, do good to do good.

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black history

Independent Spirit Unwelcome in their church, black congregants formed the by constance garcia-barrio Mother Bethel AME Church the steps to the balcony where the church segregated African Americans. The move backfired. “We [blacks] all went out of the church in a body,” Allen wrote, “ … and they were plagued with us no more.” Allen and Jones, both of them freedmen, abolitionists and respected preachers, wasted no time. Days after the St. George’s inci-

Clockwise from top left: Mother Bethel AME Church on S. Sixth Street; Richard Allen, founder of the first independent black denomination in the United States; his wife Sarah; and Jarena Lee, traveling preacher and autobiographer. 6

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dent, they formed the Free African Society, a benevolent group that also held nondenominational religious services. The Society provided mutual aid for “ … free Africans and their descendants.” It was almost 2,000 strong in Philadelphia by 1787. Members paid monthly dues of “ … one shilling in silver Pennsylvania currency,” Allen wrote.

GUTTER CREDITS TK

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he trouble during prayers that Sunday in 1787 at St. George’s Methodist Church on Fourth Street in Old City could have bloomed into a fistfight. “We had not long been upon our knees before I heard considerable scuffling and low talking,” Reverend Richard Allen (1760-1831) wrote years later. A trustee of white-led St. George’s yanked up Allen’s friend Absalom Jones (1746-1818), a fellow black congregant, and shoved him toward


I M AG E S C O U R T E S Y O F M OT H E R B E T H E L A M E C H U R C H , P H I L A D E L P H I A PA

In 1793, Allen, committed to Methodism, shelled out $35—more than $800 in today’s money—of his own for land at Sixth and Lombard streets. “I bought an old frame … formerly … a blacksmith shop … and hauled it to the lot … ” he wrote. “I employed carpenters to repair … [it] and fit it for a place of worship.” Allen founded Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church there in July 1794. An anvil served as his pulpit. As the congregation grew, three successively larger churches were built. Today, Mother Bethel AME Church, 419 S. Sixth Street, has become a National Historic Landmark and the oldest parcel of real estate continuously owned by blacks in the United States. In 18th-century Philadelphia, where blacks practiced different faiths, including African-based religions—refugees from the Haitian Revolution added another layer of complexity. Some African Americans may have seen Mother Bethel as a spiritual anchor and a home of activism. The young black churches stirred pride in African Americans and nettled some whites. Jones began St. Thomas Episcopal Church in 1794. “In the olden time … colored beaux and belles … were … unknown,” wrote John Watson in his Annals of Philadelphia. “Their aspirings and little vanities have been growing since they got those separate churches … ” One wonders what galled Watson most: blacks’ increasing independence or their organizational savvy. In response to the 1829 Cincinnati race riot that led 1,200 blacks— more than half of the black population—to leave that city, African American leaders from seven states held the first National Negro Convention in 1830 at Mother Bethel. Allen, by then the first bishop of the AME Church, presided. For many, Reverend Allen represented the face of black spirituality and organizing, but beside him stood the women of the church, including his wife, Sarah. They, too, became a spiritual and activist force.

We don’t have written documentation, but we’re 99 percent sure that Mother Bethel was a station on the Underground Railroad.” —Margaret Jerrido, archivist at Mother Bethel AME Church Born into slavery in Virginia, Sarah Bass Allen (1764-1849) reached Philadelphia at age 8, historians say. A fetching thirtysomething widow when she met Richard Allen in 1801, she’d somehow gained her freedom. Sarah and Richard, a widower, wasted no time. Married in 1802, they had the first of six children the following year. Sarah never learned to read or write, but records suggest she had good financial sense. “Our museum has a rent book where you can see the X Sarah made to show that she’d collected the rent for a property,” says Margaret Jerrido, 67, Mother Bethel’s archivist. Besides running the household with the economy and peace Richard needed for his ministry, Sarah risked hiding fugitive slaves. “We don’t have written documentation, but we’re 99 percent sure that Mother Bethel was a station on the Underground Railroad,” Jerrido says. Sarah also helped give the AME Church a tidy public presence. Once, she met a young couple at Mother Bethel who had spent much time on the road, working as itinerant preachers with scant financial support. They looked bedraggled, their clothes worn. Sarah called together a sewing circle. She and the other women sewed through the night and gave the couple several new outfits in the morning. Thanks to an unusual decision, Sarah helped to gain a higher profile for the AME Church beyond Philadelphia. She cared for the children of Jarena Lee (1783-1864)—the first woman authorized to preach by Reverend Allen and the first black woman in the U.S. to publish an autobiography—while Lee traveled and preached. “From Philadelphia I travelled on foot thirty miles to Downingtown and gave ten sermons … there,” she wrote in the Life and

Religious Experience of Jarena Lee, describing her work in 1822. Though a pious widow of limited means, Lee stirred controversy. “The Bishop [Allen] was pleased to give me an appointment at Bethel Church [in 1823], but a spirit of opposition arose among the people against the propriety of a female preacher.” Racial and gender bias didn’t stop Lee. “I have travelled, in four years, sixteen hundred miles and of that I walked two hundred eleven miles, and preached the gospel of God,” she writes in her book, speaking of 1824. After the Civil War, women missionaries from Mother Bethel went south to help teach freedmen and establish new churches. In addition, the AME Church’s Christian Recorder, the oldest existing newspaper published by black Americans in the U.S., included articles by and for women. First printed in 1852, the newspaper also helped family members separated during slavery find each other. “Information Wanted Of John Pierson, son of Hannah Pierson,” reads a notice in the February 4, 1865 edition. “When last seen by his mother he was about 12 years of age, and resided in Alexandria, Virginia … from which place his mother was sold to New Orleans … Through the reverses of this war she [reached] … New Bedford, Massachusetts … Any information concerning him or his grandmother, Sophia Pierson, will be thankfully received.” Such ads ran into the 1900s. Mother Bethel’s small museum, with artifacts such as the original pews and ballot boxes used to elect church officials, trace church history. To learn more about the church, including when one can hear its soul-stirring music, visit motherbethel. org/church.php M ARCH 20 19

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urban naturalist

Social Butterfly Isa Betancourt co-stars with insects on her popular by bernard brown livestream weekly

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n a room crowded with dusty reference books and bugs—some dead and pinned neatly in glass-topped boxes, others, like the stag beetle grub, alive and growing slowly on a diet of rotting tulip tree wood—assistant entomology curator Isa Betancourt, of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, adjusts her iPhone stand, brushes back her hair and taps a button that connects her to 1,300 of her Periscope app followers. It’s 2:30 p.m. on a Tuesday, and they’ve all tuned in to her weekly BugScope to watch her talk about entomology. This week the topic is the ornate bella moth. It protects itself from predators by using the toxins from plants that it fed on as a caterpillar and then selects its mates based on their toxicity. The more toxic the mate, the better. 8

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Betancourt, known on social media as @IsaBetaBug, illustrates the topic with pinned moths from the academy’s collection, while fielding questions tapped in by viewers. The rest of the week Betancourt cedes the limelight to the bugs. She takes high-resolution photographs of moths and butterflies for LepNet, a digitization project that aims to publish a collective 2.7 million records from 26 institutions across North America online. Although the entomology department at the academy works closely with the public side of the museum through outreach programs such as the annual Bug Fest, Jon Gelhaus, the museum’s chair of entomology, credits Betancourt with leading it into social media as another educational platform. “She loves teaching people about insects, working with them to develop ... an appreciation for the beauty and wonder of insects,”

Gelhaus says. “She’s always exploring new venues to do that.” Betancourt credits a red admiral butterfly she encountered on her family’s back porch as a child for her love of bugs. “It would come and land on our fingers … and then later we realized how it was defending its territory and trying to scare us away by landing on us,” she says, noting that red admiral males show off for females in sunny spots and defend their stages from rivals. “I wanted to be an astronaut or entomologist. I went with entomologist because I like how you can find a bug wherever you are—I like that accessibility.” Betancourt also rescues drowned bugs for science. To be clear, it’s too late for the bugs, but she wades in the Swann Fountain in the middle of Logan Circle outside the academy and fishes out the waterlogged critters in order to learn about urban insect biodiversity. It’s something she came up with in 2013 while she was having lunch near the fountain. “I was walking by the fountain, and I saw an insect float by,” she says. “That gave me the idea.” P HOTO G RAP H BY AL BERT YEE


2019-06_Perks_GridPrint_Burger.pdf 1 2/19/2019 11:51:54 AM

Betancourt estimates she now has 350 samples, with anywhere from 50 to 200 insects floating in vials of ethanol, and is sorting through them as she prepares to publish results from the study. She has also ventured into traditional media with a book: Backyard Bugs of Philadelphia. It’s full of her photographs of local critters, featuring more than 100 species of insects. “It’s something I would have loved to have as a kid … We have some really cool organisms here, and people ought to know about them.” Foremost among those cool organisms is the golden tortoise beetle. About the size of a split pea, it can be easy to miss these insects as they munch away under the leaves of morning glory or sweet potato vines. But if you flip over the right leaf, you’ll find a beetle that can change color—from red to shimmery gold—in a matter of seconds. C “It’s one of those things you think you’d find in Malaysia or the deep, deep Amazon, M but you can find them right here,” Betan- Y court says. “I want to make them the city CM insect of Philadelphia.” MY Since December 2016, when she started on Periscope, Betancourt has made 250 ep- CY CMY isodes. While the academy’s auditorium seats K just under 400, Betancourt can reach anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people per scope (read: video), and her viewership spikes when Periscope features BugScope on its front page, as it did for a 2017 Halloween-themed cast with more than 22,000 watching her talk about tarantulas, scorpions and venom. Mehran Khademi from Dubai stumbled onto the BugScope two years ago and credits it for changing his view of bugs. “What I’ve learned by watching her scopes is that bugs are really important for our world and our survival, even bugs like wasps,” he says. Despite the nine-hour time difference, Khademi makes sure to watch every Tuesday. R.D. Bacre, a regular viewer from the Boston area enjoys tuning in because Betancourt is personable and interacts with the online community as she would if she were with them in person. “Simply put,” the viewer explains, “we are her students, and she is our bug ambassador.”

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local meat

Piggies to Market La Divisa Meats transitions to an all-pork selection

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hen people want their businesses to evolve, they often expand or diversify their services or products. But Nick Macri, owner and operator of La Divisa Meats in Reading Terminal Market, is heading in the opposite direction. After three years serving cuts of sustainable beef, lamb and pork, the butcher shop transitioned to a pork-only selection in January. It’s a big gamble, says Macri, but it’s one he hopes will set him apart from bigger markets and grocery stores and attract customers with an adventurous palette. He’s hoping to create a niche. Macri’s passion for food is rooted in his family. His mother is a chef, and both of 10

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by

emily kovach

his parents made their own cured meats. His culinary career began after he realized during his first year in college that he didn’t want to pursue a career in his major, sports psychology. Macri came to Philadelphia from Toronto to attend Drexel University in 2002 on a soccer scholarship. Wanting to keep his scholarship and stay with his girlfriend (now wife), Ashley, he pivoted to culinary studies. After graduating in 2006, Macri worked in a number of restaurants in the city, such as Farmicia and Southwark, and always found a way to work with meat. “I always gravitated toward butchery,” he says. “I either worked at places that butchered all their own stuff or gave me the op-

portunity to do that and run with it.” In 2014, he connected with Craig Rogers, who owns Border Springs Farm, a Virginia-based lamb farm that had a stand in Reading Terminal. Macri agreed to manage the shop, and within a matter of months, Rogers asked Macri if he’d like to buy the business. Macri took the leap and reopened the shop as La Divisa Meats in January 2015. His goal was always to do as much in-house as possible and to deal with farms directly, no middleperson. “We don’t just want to buy a case of tenderloins, we want to buy as much of the whole animal as possible and get people turned on to other cuts,” Macri says. P HOTO G RAP HY BY CO O PER REC K


Nick Macri bought Border Springs Farm’s Reading Terminal Market retail shop in 2014. He rebranded as La Divisa Meats and now sells pork products both familiar and adventurous.

“Lamb and beef are expensive, and rightfully so—they’re not cheap to raise,” he says. “But even the most expensive, high-value pork is still in the affordable price range for most people. You’re able to put a nice, sustainably raised protein on [your] plate without breaking the bank.” That sustainably-raised pork will primarily come from Country Time Farm, a hog farm run by Paul and Ember Crivel-

laro in Berks County. Their heritage-breed pigs (mostly Hereford and Large Black) live outside all year long and are fed a non-GMO corn and soybean diet. The pigs don’t get their teeth clipped or their nails docked and are raised without the use of any growth hormones or antibiotics. “We use a lot of common sense and that’s basically it,” Ember says. “The fat on our hogs creates marbling and flavor in our meat.”

Country Time’s pigs are butchered at 275 pounds. Most of the pigs take about six-anda-half months to get to this weight. This relatively rapid period of maturity makes pigs less resource intensive than cows, which generally take 18 months from birth to reach market weight. Because he can now buy more whole pigs each week, he can do more with the pork: popular options like bacon, ham and pork rolls, a wide range of charcuteries and fresh sausages, as well as cuts both familiar, like bone-in chops, and the less-so, like cheeks and jowls. “People want encouragement, to find things that they feel comfortable cooking,” he says. “We can point them in the direction of things they don’t know they want.”

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How can historic sacred places support civic engagement, social cohesion and neighborhood equity?


SACRED PLACES / CIVIC SPACES → INTRO

SERVING ALL How can historic sacred places support civic engagement, social cohesion and neighborhood equity? Churches, synagogues and mosques are among the many sacred places that have long served as anchors in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. They stand out for their distinctive architecture, large gathering spaces, cultural significance, strong sense of community and charitable works. Currently, Philadelphia’s historic sacred places are at a crossroads. Philadelphia’s Historic Sacred Places (The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2017) reports that nearly 10 percent of Philadelphia’s 839 historic sacred places have been repurposed as housing, offices, schools and child care facilities through adaptive reuse. An addi-

tional 5 percent are vacant. Since 2009, 35 have been demolished to make way for new development. Among those that remain, hundreds have congregations that find themselves acting as stewards of underutilized spaces. Yet their vacant sanctuaries, sparsely-used meeting halls, and mothballed Sunday School wings offer real opportunities for congregations to fulfill their missions and build stronger bonds with the surrounding community. Through the Sacred Places/Civic Spaces initiative, the Community Design Collaborative and Partners for Sacred Places teamed up to re-envision these underutilized spaces

as community hubs. The initiative adds the design and development community’s voice to a growing dialogue about the intersection of historic sacred places and communities, showing that underutilized space can be activated to expand the civic commons, serve a larger secular purpose and strengthen communities. Within these pages, we share the realities faced by congregations in stewarding historic properties. We challenge the notion that sale and subsequent adaptive reuse or demolition is the only option for struggling congregations and we introduce innovative models for co-locating multiple community uses in religious buildings. Sacred Places/Civic Spaces is about beginning to re-envision and preserve Philadelphia’s historic sacred places. Let’s look at them with fresh eyes, consider the ways that they serve our communities today and imagine the ways they can serve them tomorrow. SACRE D P L ACES /CIV IC SPAC ES

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SACRED PLACES/CIVIC SPACES → PROCESS OF ENGAGEMENT

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS Reimagining religious buildings begins with realizing what you already have b y l i n da d ot to r Imagine a culinary incubator for “foodie-preneurs,” affordable housing with a day program for seniors, a Night Market showcasing healthy food and live music, a women’s self-defense training center or a basketball clinic where both kids and adults can raise their game. These are just some of the ideas that came out of three community task force meetings hosted through the Sacred Places/Civic Spaces initiative. The goal? To envision community-oriented programs that can co-exist— and actually enhance—the worship spaces, administration offices and Sunday schools typically found in sacred places. 4

SAC R ED P L AC ES/C IVIC SPACES

A Collaborative Design Challenge Through Sacred Places/Civic Spaces, the Community Design Collaborative and Partners for Sacred Places matched congregations with community groups and design teams to inspire new ideas and models for growing sacred places as civic spaces. They invited congregations, community groups and design teams to apply. “There are no easy answers,” says Heidi Segall Levy, director of design services for the Community Design Collaborative. “Historic sacred places have their own unique set of challenges including aging infrastructure, lack of accessibility and both large and

small underutilized spaces. That’s why this process brought together congregations, community and design teams to pool their collective knowledge on what could be possible. The congregations were interested in a new approach and the design teams were intrigued by the opportunities.” In June 2018, three congregations, each paired with a community-based organization, were selected and matched with three multi-disciplinary design teams. Together, they began the design challenge with indepth tours of the sites, gathering important information for the next step in the design process.


By The Numbers Mapping a Community’s Strengths “Asset mapping is a group exercise with people from different walks of life and interests. Their common bond is that they each have something to offer—their perspective, enthusiasm, connections, support, curiosity and creativity. They work together to identify specific strengths and resources within the community,” explains Joshua Castaño, director of community engagement services for Partners for Sacred Places. In July, Sacred Places/Civic Spaces brought together leaders and members of the congregations, neighborhood residents, local schools, community-based nonprofits, designers, real estate professionals, public agencies and elected officials for community task force meetings. Over 50 people attended each meeting. The meetings began with a site tour and conditions assessment to give everyone a basic grounding in the sacred places. Then attendees broke into asset mapping groups led by Partners for Sacred Places.

A Sense of Discovery Asset mapping encourages participants to venture beyond the concrete (organizations, institutions, infrastructure and buildings) to identify their own gifts—of knowledge, skills and heart—and to tell stories that shed light on each community. Unlike traditional planning, asset-based community development focuses on the good things already in place, the gifts and talents of the people in the community and the stewardship of relationships between them. As each group shared their ideas, the power of asset mapping to foster original thinking was clear. Each group’s proposals reflected a deep sense of place and community. Assets were called out, written down on sticky notes and put up on the wall. The second step was to rearrange these assets to reveal new ways they could be connected

839 historic, purposebuilt sacred places in Philadelphia

ONLY 36%

35

*

demolitions in Philadelphia since 2009

O F A M E R I CA N A D U LT S AT T E N D R E L I G I O U S S E R V I C E S W E E K LY

87% of the beneficiaries of programming housed in an average national sacred place are not members of the congregation itself

$1.7 MILLIO

N

The average national annual economic impact generated by a sacred place

Sources: Economic Halo Effect (Partners for Sacred Places, 2016); Philadelphia’s Historic Sacred Places (The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2017)

or combined into a program and vision that bore the unique stamp of the community. Bob Jaeger, president of Partners for Sacred Places, says, “I love this approach. There’s a sense of discovery. You see people making connections—between each other

and the assets their community has in place.” Beth Miller, executive director for the Community Design Collaborative, adds, “This work will yield ideas and models for sacred places as civic spaces both citywide and nationally.” SACRE D P L ACES /CIV IC SPAC ES

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SACRED PLACES /CIVIC SPACES → THE PHILADELPHIA MASJID

Building Blocks The Philadelpia Masjid in Mill Creek: a place to learn, gather, live by co n sta n c e g a rc i a - ba r r i o Community involvement is akin to prayer at the Philadelphia Masjid in Mill Creek. “Our religion requires community outreach,” says Aazim Muhammad, 60, president and CEO of Sister Clara Muhammad Community Development Corporation. Built in 1922 as a Roman Catholic school, the one-and-a-half acre property has, like many other buildings of its kind, transitioned to reflect the more recent residents of the neighborhood, primarily African Americans or Latinos. Since 1977, the Masjid has hosted concerts, weddings, funerals, job fairs and prison reentry programs, says Muhammad, but has been underutilized since Sister Clara Muhammad School closed some 10 years ago.

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The Masjid plans to grow, and Muhammad believes word of mouth will alert Delaware Valley Muslims to the Masjid’s broader role. “We’re the mothership,” he says of the current 500 member congregation. “Other Masjids have spun off from us and we maintain close ties.” The Masjid also aims to cast a wider net by collaborating with organizations like the People’s Emergency Center (PEC), a comprehensive social service agency that provides emergency housing, job training, parenting classes and more. “It’s natural for us to partner with the Masjid because many of our interests dovetail,” says James Wright, 37, PEC’s director of community, economic and real estate development. “Jobs are a critical factor in Mill Creek, one of the most impoverished parts of the city,” Muhammad says. “Our programs will allow participants—especially those ages 18 to 20—to earn a GED and learn a trade.” Those


programs include culinary arts, healthcare, early childhood education and construction trades. Through Sacred Places/Civic Spaces, the Masjid was paired with HOK, an award-winning global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm. “President Obama declared Mill Creek a ‘Promise Zone,’” Muhammad says. “President Trump has called it an ‘Opportunity Zone.’ Those designations encourage the city and the federal government to earmark money for development here.” The Masjid’s location will help attract tenants and program participants, Muhammad says. Bus route 64 affords access to the campus and Fairmount Park. Drexel and the University of Pennsylvania are minutes away by trolley. Nearby public and charter schools also increase appeal. Plans for The Masjid include upgrading existing facilities and building affordable, intergenerational housing, a daycare space and a community plaza. HOK’s master plan covers programming, feasibility and aesthetics and addresses cost and sustainable design strategies. “One of the most sustainable things we can do as a city is to reuse existing structures in efficient ways rather than building new,” says Caitlin Youngster, 28, an HOK senior design professional. Renovating the auditorium/gymnasium and classroom buildings will both restore its vibrancy and help to sustain the community around it, she notes. “We’re on the fast track, we’re moving ahead,” Muhammad says. “Faith and finance make an unbeatable team.”

THE SITES —

1 The Philadelphia Masjid 4700 Wyalusing Avenue, Mill Creek COMMUNIT Y PARTNER → People’s Emergency Center DESIGN TEAM → HOK (lead); J+M Engineering;

Tutor Perini Building Corp; Alisa McCann

CO M M U N I T Y P R O G R A M G OA L S

Culinary programs Workforce development Early childhood education Affordable housing Community flex spaces

Left: The proposed 47th Street community plaza invites people in; Above right: A proposed layout of the site bridges old and new.

CO M P R E H E N S I V E D E S I G N S T R AT E GY

»» Renovate existing auditorium (the Musalla) and gymnasium building as gathering spaces for worship and community »» Renovate existing classroom building to house culinary and workforce development programs »» Build new affordable housing for seniors and families including space for senior and early childhood education programs »» Create new welcoming entrances to the existing buildings and a public plaza to connect the site to the larger community

Our goal is to improve the lives in the community; to give people foundations.” —Aazim Muhammad, President and CEO, Sister Clara Muhammad CDC

SACRE D P L ACES /CIV IC SPAC ES

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SACRED PLACES /CIVIC SPACES → WHARTON-WESLEY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

Community Cornerstone Wharton-Wesley offers a beacon to Cobbs Creek by co n sta n c e g a rc i a - ba r r i o Built in 1906, Wharton-Wesley United Methodist Church in Southwest Philadelphia’s Cobbs Creek neighborhood once had a congregation of 600, though today, that number hovers between 150 and 200. Many current members commute to attend services. “We have to reboot ourselves,” says the church’s community pastor and Temple University professor Reverend David W. Brown, 56, “grow our programs and change our space so we can reach more people.” In some ways, that work has already begun. Wharton-Wesley hosts a Mennonite congregation, Girl Scouts, music groups, kickboxing classes and more, which often help to bring in money through sharing space.

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SAC R ED P L AC ES/C IVIC SPACES

Roberta Frost, 74, established and runs the church archive and mini-museum. “People have consulted us when they’re researching family members,” Frost says. She’s also restoring antique furniture in the church and she helps to cook and serve meals. Her sister Shella Waters, 72, serves as treasurer and assists with preparing and serving meals. The ministry currently provides food and clothes for some families, but it wants to do more. Brawer & Hauptman Architects, an award-winning architecture, planning and interior design firm that focuses on nonprofit institutions, was partnered with Wharton-Wesley through the Sacred Places/Civic Spaces initiative to pursue this aspiration. Brawer & Hauptman has offered plans that include a modest but dazzling facelift that would reveal a treasure. “We suggested removing the plexiglass, yellowed with time, that hides the stained


glass windows,” says Christian Kaulius, 26, a design team member. “Then the windows could be lit from inside to show their magnificent colors.” That step would create a trifecta of beauty, thrift and a literal beacon for the community. Once a spruced-up look draws more people inside, the church has to deliver, Reverend Brown says, noting the five recurring areas of concern from community meetings: healthcare, music, education, job training and food. “Philabundance has partnered with us for several years, and through that organization we’re exploring programming possibilities with the Food Trust.” Improved kitchen facilities could serve diverse needs and provide income for the church. Wharton-Wesley has also partnered with ACHIEVEability (ACHa), a West-Philadelphia based nonprofit organization. “The church and ACHIEVEability have complementary goals,” says Erika Tapp, director of community services. Reverend Brown and the design team would like to build upon the sharing they currently do by creating a more inviting venue. “We’ve broken projects down into financially feasible steps,” Kaulius says. “For example, a whole new heating and cooling system is costly, but the church could add three large fans in the sanctuary to make the space more comfortable in summer.” While Reverend Brown recognizes the challenge Wharton-Wesley faces, he feels optimistic. “We have a huge task ahead of us,” he says. “But God will help us accomplish what He put us here to do.”

THE SITES —

2 Wharton-Wesley

United Methodist Church 5341 Catharine Street, Cobbs Creek COMMUNIT Y PARTNER → ACHIEVEability DESIGN TEAM → Brawer & Hauptman Architects (lead); Alderson

Engineering, Inc.; Orndorf & Associates, Inc. | Powers & Company, Inc.; The Sullivan Company

CO M M U N I T Y P R O G R A M G OA L S

Food access and education Musical performances Congregational space sharing Health and wellness Senior programming Afterschool education

CO M P R E H E N S I V E D E S I G N S T R AT E GY

»» Create a new, accessible main entrance and wayfinding system to welcome the community into the church »» Activate the outdoor space with a food truck park, community forum and growing gardens »» Enhance the sanctuary as a performance and event space by accentuating stained glass windows and improving climate control systems »» Renovate and expand the existing kitchen and spruce up the fellowship hall to support food access and create an attractive, revenue-generating event space

Re-entry program Left: Proposed accessibility, signage and landscaping provide a welcoming entry on 54th Street. Above right: A proposed renovation of the chapel for community use.

Community gathering

We have to reboot ourselves, grow our programs and change our space so we can reach more people.” —Reverend David W. Brown, Wharton-Wesley United Methodist Church

SACRE D P L ACES /CIV IC SPAC ES

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SACRED PLACES /CIVIC SPACES → ZION BAPTIST CHURCH

Corridor Connections Zion Baptist Church builds on a North Broad Legacy by co n sta n c e g a rc i a - ba r r i o Zion Baptist Church, which peaked at 6,000 members under civil rights leader and social activist Reverend Leon H. Sullivan, is typical of a congregation that is struggling to build upon the legacy of a larger-thanlife figure who put the church on the map. Located on North Broad in the Nicetown/Tioga neighborhood, the church wants to use its annex to foster optimism. “I grew up about half a block from here,” says the Reverend Michael Major, Sr., 58, associate minister of Zion Baptist Church and president of Called to Serve Community Development Corporation, Zion’s community partner. “Today, I help develop computer software for a Wall Street firm. I’m there because of support I received through Zion.”

1 0 SAC R ED P L AC ES/C IVIC SPACES

“I was in the youth choir, the Boy Scouts, the basketball league, SAT prep classes and more.” Many of these programs operated in the annex, he says. “The annex can give others the same opportunity. Helping people is part of Zion’s DNA, a legacy of the Reverend Leon Sullivan,” Major says of the pastor who led Zion from 1950 to 1988. Zion’s congregation, 500 strong, has two sites: A 1970s building at 3600 North Broad Street and an annex directly across from it. Built as a handsome stone church in the early 1900s, the annex once housed Zion’s outreach programs, but it has stood vacant since 2015. Zion aims to change that. “We want the annex to be a place where local residents gain tools to build fulfilling lives for themselves,” Major says. Reactivation of the annex stands at the heart of a vision to revitalize the commercial corridor, referred to historically, and again


recently by Mayor Kenney, as “the Times Square of North Philly.” Enter Studio 6mm, an award-winning Philadelphia architecture, design and planning firm selected to partner with Zion through the initiative. Their design team developed plans to help the annex become a fount of hope. “The annex has good bones,” says architect David Quadrini, Jr., 38, a principal of Studio 6mm. Three floors plus a lower level could provide an envelope for several programs, Quadrini notes. “We had about 65 people representing different sectors of Nicetown/Tioga at the very first meeting,” Brian Szymanik, another of Studio 6mm’s principal architects, says. “People agreed that an urgent care center on the lower level could increase the health of the community,” Quadrini says. “The first floor of the annex could become a multi-use space for meetings and events,” Major says, noting that it could also house a food co-op similar to Mariposa in West Philly. Ideas for the second and third floors include classrooms for STEAM education and shared business space. Zion has just begun to consider sources of funding. While aspects of the project remain fluid, Major has a sharp vision of what Zion could achieve. “People just need a chance,” he says. “And the annex will provide it.”

THE SITES —

3 Zion Baptist Church 3600/3601 N. Broad St., Nicetown-Tioga COMMUNIT Y PARTNER → Called to Serve CDC DESIGN TEAM → Studio 6mm (lead); Kate Cowing Architect LLC;

Keast & Hood; Burns Engineering, Inc.; International Consultants, Inc.

CO M M U N I T Y P R O G R A M G OA L S

Health and wellness Fresh food access Banquet and gathering space STEAM education

Left: cutaway rendering of the proposed annex design demonstrates multiple opportunities for space sharing. Top right: The sanctuary is proposed as a multi-use space.

Workforce development Entrepreneurship programs

CO M P R E H E N S I V E D E S I G N S T R AT E GY

»» Create an urgent care center to serve the community »» Explore two options for sanctuary reuse: a fresh food grocery or a banquet hall and community gathering space »» Renovate upper floors to accommodate workforce development, entrepreneurship programs and STEAM education for youth and adults »» Enhanced lighting and signage to allow the annex to become a community beacon and an anchor for the Broad, Erie, and Germantown Commercial Corridor

Continuing Zion’s legacy of community support is intensely personal to me … the goal is to be able to provide the same opportunities I had in the annex.” —Mike Major, President, Called to Serve CDC

SACRE D P L ACES /CIV IC SPAC ES

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SACRED PLACES /CIVIC SPACES → WHAT’S NEXT?

SAVING GRACE

mosque in an area you serve may have terrific space that could house the programs that your organization manages.

Creative thinking and new approaches to funding and policy can maximize the civic value of religious properties b y a . r o b e r t ja e g e r

And if you are active in a congregation… Reach out to your neighbors, be open to

This initiative has much to say to the congregations who own and share historic buildings, as well as a wider array of civic leaders who see churches closing and are worried about the waste of resources when buildings—and much of what they host— are lost when congregations disappear. Already we know that sacred places are not, for most of the week, religious places. For most of the people they serve, they are nonsectarian places and have a clear community value that welcomes and supports everyone. However, many of their spaces are underused—they could do so much more to welcome the community and extend the civic plaza. So what new actions, in light of the Sacred Places/Civic Spaces initiative, can Philadelphians take to maximize the value of these buildings?

If you are a community leader… Get to know some of the more prominent sacred places near where you live or work, and see if there are opportunities to collaborate on the creative use of space that may sit empty for much of the week. If you approach a local pastor, priest, rabbi or imam, 1 2 SAC R ED P L AC ES/C IVIC SPACES

you will probably be delighted by the warm welcome you receive and his or her openness to working together in common cause.

If you are a funder or donor… Consider a greater openness to supporting the preservation and re-purposing of sacred spaces. After all, these buildings are already civic spaces and could do so much more if their underused spaces were reimagined and reconfigured in the ways this initiative suggests.

If you are in government… Recognizing that sacred places serve people in need such as children and youth, seniors, the hungry and the homeless, consider facilitating and supporting new initiatives that make creative and energetic use of religious buildings. Sacred places are often the most affordable and most trusted places for the vulnerable populations you serve.

If you are in the arts or human services… Be proactive in reaching out to local leaders to learn if a church, synagogue or

collaboration and be inspired by the design approaches that are offered in this Sacred Places/Civic Spaces initiative. You are not alone, and there is a network of nonprofit and civic leaders out there who can help you rethink and open up your space for civic purposes.

Leaders from each of these sectors can press for new policies and new approaches that would help sacred places become more significant civic assets. Rachel Hildebrandt, Senior Program Manager at Partners for Sacred Places, states that “policymakers should be developing strategies that provide support to vital congregations that are likely to remain in place into the future and implement historic preservation incentives that encourage the reuse of significant properties that are going to be transitioned out of religious use.”

For more information about this initiative or what you can do, go to: www.sacredplacescivicspaces.com


INITIATIVE PARTNERS

Community Design Collaborative provides pro bono preliminary design services to nonprofit organizations in greater Philadelphia, creates engaging volunteer opportunities for design professionals, and raises awareness about the importance of design in revitalizing communities.

Partners for Sacred Places is the only national, non-sectarian nonprofit organization focused on building the capacity of congregations of historic sacred places to better serve their communities as anchor institutions, nurturing transformation and shaping vibrant, creative communities.

SAC R E D P L AC E S/C I V I C S PAC E S is part of Infill Philadelphia, an initiative of the Community Design Collaborative to explore key community development challenges and opportunities through design.

AD HOC COMMITTEE

EXPERT JURY

Kimberly Allen | Wells Fargo Regional Foundation The Rev. Kirk Berlenbach | Episcopal Diocese of PA Rebecca Blake | Beacon Chuck Casper | Montgomery McCracken Stephanie Chiorean | Phila. Water Department Beverly Coleman | Temple University Mike Dahl | Broad Street Ministry The Rev. Patricia Davenport | Lutheran Synod Mary W. DeNedai | John Milner Architects Steve Gendler | MIS Capital David Gest | Ballard Spahr Bill Golderer | United Way MaryBeth Gonzales | Phila. Dept. of Health & Human Services Dr. W. Wilson Goode Sr. | Amachi Cassandra Green | People’s Emergency Center Zakya Hall | PACDC Barbara Hogue | Christ Church Preservation Trust The Rev. Robin Hynicka | Arch St. United Methodist Church Rich Kirk | Calvary Center for Culture & Community The Rev. Peter Kountz | St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Isaac Kwon | Urban Partners Rabbi Annie Lewis | Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia Tom Lussenhop | U3 Advisors Randall F. Mason | University of Pennsylvania Christina Miller | Public Health Management Corp. Cathryn Miller-Wilson | HIAS Pennsylvania The Rev. Sean Mullen | St. Mark’s Episcopal Church The Rev. Christopher Neilson | Christianity for Living Ministries Sam Olshin | AOS Architects Bevin Parker-Cerkez | The Reinvestment Fund Erin Roark | WRT Design Paul Sehnert | University of Pennsylvania Ian Smith | Ian Smith Design Group Laura Spina | Phila. Dept. of Planning & Development Thaddeus Squire | CultureWorks Janet Stearns | Project HOME Paul Steinke | Preservation Alliance Jim Straw | KSK Architects Planners Historians Inc. Nicky Uy | The Food Trust Neville Vakharia | Drexel University Paul Vernon | KSK Architects Planners Historians Inc. Amanda Wagner | Phila. Department of Health Venise Whitaker | Office of Darrell Clarke - 5th District Peter Woodall | Hidden City Philadelphia

DESIGN Alan Greenberger, FAIA | Drexel University, Dept. of Architecture, Design & Urbanism Emanuel Kelly, FAIA | Kelly/Maiello Architects DEVELOPMENT David LaFontaine | Community Ventures Brian Murray | Shift Capital PRESERVATION Mary Werner DeNadai, FAIA | John Milner Architects Daniela Holt Voith, FAIA | Voith & Mactavish LLP FAITH LEADERSHIP The Rev. Canon Kirk Berlenbach | Episcopal Diocese of PA Dr. W. Wilson Goode, Sr. | Amachi FINANCING/FUNDING Kimberly Allen | Wells Fargo Regional Foundation PUBLIC SECTOR/POLICY Anne Fadullon | Phila. Dept. of Planning & Development Angel Rodriguez | Philadelphia Land Bank SITE REPRESENTATIVES (CLIENT GROUPS) Aazim Muhammad | The Philadelphia Masjid/ Sister Clara Muhammad CDC James Wright | People’s Emergency Center The Rev. David Brown | Wharton-Wesley United Methodist Church Erika Tapp | ACHIEVEability Ron Harper | Zion Baptist Church Victor Young, Esq. | Zion Baptist Church The Rev. Michael A. Major, Sr. | Zion Baptist Church/ Called to Serve CDC

INITIATIVE TEAM Project Management | North 4th Communications | Sage Communications Photography | Chris Kendig Photography Evaluation | Penn Praxis Graphic/Exhibition Design | WFGD Studio

FUNDERS

A Grid report commissioned by the Community Design Collaborative and Partners for Sacred Places. Published March, 2019


STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS

CIVIL ENGINEERS SPECIALIZING IN DESIGN OF GREEN STORMWATER INFRASTRUCTURE SYSTEMS IN PHILADELPHIA AND SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES

267-332-8282 tjh@gristdesign.com www.gristdesign.com

CORRIDOR CONNECTIONS: ZION BAPTIST CHURCH We are thrilled to support Studio 6mm as part of the Sacred Places/Civic Spaces Design Challenge!

Jeffrey Brummer Architects

Commercial and Residential Design

jjbarch.com

www.keasthood.com

856-425-2440

KCA

Proud to work with Zion Baptist Church

Kate Cowing Architect, LLC

TOGETHER GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD SHIFTCAPITAL.US

Architecture & Historic Preservation kcowing@cowingarchitect.com

Supports the mission of

Sacred Places / Civic Spaces 1420 Walnut Street, 15th floor Philadelphia PA , 19102 215.546.0800 www.kmarchitects.com

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Chef Wahidah Kennedy (267) 507–8713


First Presbyterian Church of Santa Fe | Santa Fe, NM

CHURCH PHOTO

Temple Adath Israel | Merion Station, PA

ATKIN OLSHIN SCHADE ARCHITECTS proudly supports the

Innovators in conserving our Built Heritage.

Community Design Collaborative & Partners for Sacred Places and their Sacred Places / Civic Spaces Initiative 125 South Ninth Street, Suite 900 | Philadelphia, PA 19107 | 215.925.7812 1807 Second Street, Suite 34 | Santa Fe, NM 87505 | 505.982.2133 www.aosarchitects.com

© Chris Kendig

One Logan Square, Suite 1510, Philadelphia, PA 19103 | www.hok.com Proud partner with The Philadelphia Masjid / People’s Emergency Center on the CDC Sacred Places / Civic Spaces challenge.

SACRE D P L ACES /CIV IC SPAC ES 1 5


Art and Politics, From Graphic to Cinema A Conversation With Marjane Satrapi BEST SELLING ARTIST/ILLUSTRATOR, FILMMAKER & AUTHOR MODERATED BY FATEMEH SHAMS Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

THURSDAY, MARCH 14 • 4:30 P.M. Annenberg Center for Performing Arts Zellerbach Theatre 3680 Walnut Street, Philadelphia

SAS.UPENN.EDU for tickets and information

We are working to enhance our communities through education, sustenance, and sustainability.

Take Root. Cultivate Change.

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M ARCH 20 19

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Goats Ivy and Oliver hard at work devouring an old Christmas tree. Rather than throwing the trees away, the Philly Goat Project encourages people to donate trees so they can be recycled as tasty snacks.

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BRING YOUR KID TO WORK

They’re gentle, they’re cute and they have four stomachs. But perhaps what’s most remarkable about the goats of the Philly Goat Project is how they bring people together. story by claire marie porter photographs by rachael warriner

I

n a clandestine corner of

Germantown’s 55-acre Awbury Arboretum live eight very busy goats who, aside from being the most charming of ruminators, serve as therapists, yogis, landscapers and friends. Two years ago, social worker Karen Krivit and her daughter, Lily Sage began developing the Philly Goat Project, and last year, the pair brought on Raymond, Oonagh, Teddy, Oliver, Annie, Bebito, Ivy and Anthony as bleating ambassadors. M ARCH 20 19

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In warmer weather, the goats’ primary job is grazing, but this winter, they are focused on recycling Christmas trees. On a chilly Saturday afternoon, I arrive to find the herd not just nibbling on pine needles, but voraciously devouring the old trees inside a pen — a few goats pile over each other to reach one particular tree. “Douglas fir is their favorite,” Krivit explains. Krivit, 55, is petite with curly graying hair and the energy of a teenager. “Do you want to hold one?” she asks me, placing 10-month-old Nigerian Dwarf goat Ivy in my arms. Krivit tells the children beside me that they can feed the goats by holding the tree’s branches out in front of them. “Like corn on the cob,” she says. Krivit, sitting in the hay, clutching Anthony, launches into a detailed description of the animal’s four-stomach digestive system. “They tear with their front teeth and the food goes into their first stomach, the rumen,” she says. The rumen, which can hold up to six gallons of matter, is responsible for breaking down plant material. Goats peri-

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odically cough up this broken down plant matter, called cud, before swallowing it again. Krivit continues, explaining that because their rumens produce so much gas, goats are pot-bellied during the day and then “fart all night” to appear thinner in the morning. Everyone laughs. Krivit scurries off to another task. Sage, 24, her equally exuberant, pink-haired daughter, a self-proclaimed “goat encyclopedia,” declares: “Ask me anything!” My favorite kind of invitation. Sage explains most of the goats have iconic Philadelphia natives as their namesake. She named Teddy after local musician Teddy Pendergrass, a Philadelphian R&B singer and Annie and Ray after national trailblazers

Ann Preston, the first female physician in the United States, and Raymond Pace Alexander, first black trial court judge. The youngest of the herd, the three 10-month-old siblings affectionately called “the littles,” she named to represent what the project aims to bring to the community. Ivy, named for poison ivy, represents eradication of unwanted and invasive plants, the ecological purpose of grazing. Anthony, named for Anthony Benezet who established the first school for black children in Germantown, reflects the social justice mission of the program. Last in the lineup, Bebito signifies the project’s dedication to the underserved communities of Germantown. Meaning “little baby boy” in

“What’s really magical about Philly Goat Project is it’s effective in all walks of life.” —karen krivit,

founder of Philly Goat Project


Spanish, Bebito is named in memory of Jose, the beloved 21-year-old nephew of the head Awbury groundskeeper, who was shot and killed in February 2018, due to gang-related violence. Chief among the goats’ weekly activities are community goat walks, during which each goat dons a halter and leash and trots politely alongside their human walking companion. Today Sage leads the way on a jaunty, head-turning goat walk through Germantown. The group stops occasionally to trade goats with one another. The purpose of the outing is to exercise the goats and show them off to the community. The goats are well trained and walk better than most dogs on a leash, save the occasional dive toward a pile of leaves or ivy-covered wall. While the goats are not supposed to munch as they walk, sometimes they try. There aren’t many shrubs they won’t eat, though there are ones they shouldn’t, says Bob Krivit, Karen’s husband. Yew, a coniferous tree with red berries, for instance, is poisonous to goats, he says.

Toward the end of the walk, the group comes to the base of a hill, where the event routinely ends in an uphill race. All eight goats and about 30 volunteers begin running, shrieking in laughter, and dropping halters as the goats dash toward a greener patch of meadow. These are working goats, not pets, in Krivit’s words—but they have a lot of fun.

A Community Tie “I didn’t go to school to be a goat herder,” says Krivit. She and her daughter are not goat experts, but they have mentors who are, and have learned a lot in the short year this program has been in place. Krivit’s philosophy is that you don’t need prior experience to fill a need if you are willing to learn and take criticism. “As a clinician, I’ve learned you can take advice from top-notch people and work it into your practice,” she says. Sage and Krivit have done their research. The goats have been carefully chosen. Krivit describes them as a “closed herd,” and “protected biome.” Before introducing a new goat to the herd, they screen them for a disease she calls “goat herpes.” It’s really unwise to get one goat at a time because of group dynamics, she explains. They’re incredibly social animals. It’s difficult to get an uninterrupted moment with Krivit, but her volunteers are eager to share their personal stories about the goats, the Awbury Arboretum and the program developer herself. I sit in the barn with a line of volunteers waiting to talk to me. “Karen really is the heart and soul of this program,” says Frank Chism, who began volunteering with his 10-year-old daughter Adelia after finding the project online. “I’ve never met anyone like her.” Adelia helps with goat yoga, guiding the smaller goats to jump on top of people. The hoofs, she says, “kind of massage their backs.”

Left: A child offers encouragement to goats Annie, Oliver and Ivy during their meal. Top right: Community members taking the eight goats on a walk through the arboretum. Bottom right: Goat Oonagh shares a smile with an event attendee.

Donald Green, a towering, soft-spoken man with dreadlocks to his shoulders, started out as a volunteer. He stumbled upon the Philly Goat Project while walking around the neighborhood with his daughter Dahlia and now heads up the grazing projects. The goats are excellent at clearing overgrown areas, he says, preparing grounds for landscaping in an eco-friendly way. Green grew up in Germantown and feels his deep knowledge of the neighborhood and its diverse needs contribute to the “very localized” nature of the project. I ask Green about his relationship with the goats. “I don’t want to say they’re spoiled,” he says laughing, “but they’re so comfortable with people.” He says all the goats have individual personalities. Oliver, whose full name is “Oliver Oyster-man,” can be a bully to the other goats. When Green tries to redirect him, Oliver will hold a grudge—often ignoring him until he makes amends. “He’ll give me a look like a child would give a parent,” Green says, amused. Neighborhood mom Jessica McCreary also stumbled upon the Philly Goat Project during a concert the arboretum hosted. She’s grateful to have found an intersection between farm and city life in her neighborhood. She and her kids will come to the farm to get their “goat fix,” she says, proving in the goat’s corner of the arboretum, you really can have the best of both worlds.

The GOAT Owners When I’m able to coax Krivit into sitting down for a moment, she shares a chair with Sage and they wrap their arms around each other, finishing each other’s sentences. “We’re creating a platform that demonstrates generativity. What’s really magical about Philly Goat Project is it’s effective in all walks of life,” says Krivit. “It’s the kind of thing where you didn’t know you needed it,” Sage adds. Krivit nods in agreement. “There are things we can’t control in terms of what’s going on … in the world,” she says. It seems she wants to say more, but she stops herself, carefully choosing to describe the project as one of compassion. People from the underserved communities in the surrounding neighborhood, bring their trauma, their sadness, and their needs and share in the social capital. M ARCH 20 19

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“It’s a social justice platform,” Krivit says. A lot of the neighbors didn’t know Awbury grounds were open, available and free to the public, says Krivit. Green, who has been cooking chili in the project’s kitchen, stops stirring to add: “I thought it was private property.” “Awbury is all of ours,” says Sage. Karen gets up in a hurry. “I have so much to do.” “You got this,” she says to Sage. “But you really need to talk about Awbury’s mission — these majestic meadows wouldn’t be possible without them.” Sage takes over and continues to expound the mission of the project. She researches heavily, hence her encyclopedic knowledge about goats, and plans the children’s programs. She’s living in New York City, studying to become a licensed mortician, but she comes home as much as she can to help with the project. She speaks to the many rewards of the program. “Being able to learn, teach and then watch other people teach it … ” she gives a nod that fills in the blank. “The goats are the ambassadors,” Sage says. “When people find out about them, they invest — it protects Awbury, protects the goats and protects the people who live around here.”

Kid to Kid Krivit was a former resource specialist and licensed clinician for people with special needs and a 30-year social worker in Philadelphia. “I’m kind of famous for ‘the A-list,’ ” a resource guide for Elwyn’s special needs community, she says. She brought her prior knowledge to the Philly Goat Project, where the goats are trained as therapy goats. Every Tuesday, Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (PSD) comes to the barn to work with the goats. Most of the high-school-aged students are from the city, all are deaf or hard-of-hearing with additional needs, and have never worked with animals. The goats are learning to pay attention to signing, says Prinnie Eberle, a Philadelphia school teacher and interpreter. We go on another goat walk, this one more solemn than the first, and Eberle attests to her students’ relationships with the goats. “For them to have somebody to take care 38

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of that has more needs than they do, when they’re so used to us caring for them is empowering,” she explains. Eberle has been teaching deaf children for 45 years.The barn chores and goat walks provide creative ways for her students to develop and hone life skills, like choosing the appropriate clothing for work and deciding when to cross the street. Krivit expresses concern about some of the students once they graduate. For some, this is their only contact with nature; for others, their only form of exercise, which is why she tries to connect with their families. During the walk, we stop periodically to wait for others, to rest and to clean up goat poop. I notice Darryl, a student in a checkered button-down, kneeling next to Oonagh, his arms around her pregnant belly. He sees me watching and gives me a thumbs up, then he rests his head on her back. He’s always connected with Oonagh, says Krivit. After the walk, Eberle gathers the students and aids and asks them the same question I asked her: What do the goats do for them? Mona, a deaf teaching assistant, signs back: “Exposure to the world of nature.” Aids Brian and Hiram both agree. “It helps the staff to see what the kids like,” signs Mona. “We’re used to dogs, but goats are great.”

Tag Team Yoga Not unlike your typical yoga class, goat yoga involves an instructor, mats and open space. The ambience, however, is a little different. The sound of breathing and smell of incense are replaced with bleating and farm odors and uncontrollable giggling. This yoga class meets at the historic Cliveden Carriage House. The space is enclosed with folding tables, the yoga mats arranged on top of painters’ tarps. My impression was that goat yoga was merely yoga in the presence of goats. I was surprised to learn that the goats, at least the Philly Goat Project goats, are very involved. Before we even begin, the room erupts with laughter as Ivy tries to leap onto one of the participant’s backs. As yoga instructor Dawn “Dee Renee” Vance leads us through the various poses, three volunteers lead the littles around the room. Having a 25- to 30-pound goat on your

Goat yoga can be a fun way to combine animals and exercise. Here, Ivy stands on a yogi’s back as she holds a table top position.

back is interesting. It’s just the right amount of pressure, and their little grippy hooves dig into your muscles. It’s fun and funny— the goats sometimes miss their target, tumbling to the ground. “Inhale, and exhale on goooooaaat,” says Vance. Every instructed move is modified with the phrase, “unless you have a goat.” “Move into downward dog, unless you have a goat on you,” she says. “Then, please, don’t move.”


Laughter erupts again as Ivy poops on someone’s mat. A volunteer scrambles to get a broom and dustpan. “We do lots of child’s pose and tabletop, it’s easier for the goats to get on top of you,” Vance explains. Vance says goat yoga makes people happy, combining elements of yoga wellness and petting zoos. It decreases anxiety and depression, she says. It’s certainly true that after an hour of P HOTO GRA P H BY NATA L IE PI S E RCH I O

“It’s a combination of yoga wellness and a petting zoo.” —dee renee , exuberant giggling, you feel pretty buoyant. “It’s also easier to teach than puppy or kitten yoga,” says Vance. “The goats are actually a great yoga assist.” To conclude the session, Vance encour-

yoga instructor

ages participants to take a moment of mindfulness. “Thank yourself,” she says, “for being with the goats.” Everyone does. M ARCH 20 19

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Chef Charles Ziccardi, or “Chef Z” as he is known by his students, is a professor of culinary studies at Drexel University. He’s been an avid gardener for almost 20 years.

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SAGE ADVICE

Drexel’s Chef Ziccardi offers helpful hints for first-time gardeners story by alexandra w. jones • photograph by allison sponic

T

here’s no better way to connect with your food than to grow it—at least according to Chef Charles Ziccardi, a culinary professor at Drexel University. “When you’re growing something, you’re connected to how it looks, how it smells, how it feels, how it tastes and then how it reacts in your cooking,” he explains. Hauling produce from the garden straight to the cutting board, you may also notice a difference in flavor, he says, and because it has spent less time off the vine, the produce will have more nutrients. Ziccardi, 52, has been an instructor with Drexel University since 2000. During the spring, summer and fall, he teaches a kitchen-gardening course for Drexel students at the Summer Winter Community Garden in Powelton Village. It encompasses many facets of gardening, including building raised beds, pruning produce, learning the importance of clearing out weeds—and even getting into how gardening relates to sustainability. As a serious home gardener, and as someone who has been teaching the subject for the last 15 years, Ziccardi is eager to share his wisdom. Below, he’s offered some general tips to get started with gardening in the city.

The Realistic Renter The first step to establishing a kitchen garden is determining how permanent your planting situation is. Philadelphia is divided nearly in half between renters and homeowners. Which category you fall into can determine your gardening setup. “Growing in buckets or planters is a great idea for people who rent,” Ziccardi says. But even renters who know they’ll be in the same place for one year or more should consider putting in a raised bed to grow produce for the following year. “Some people build their own raised beds,” he says, “but for people who don’t have time for that, you can purchase all kinds of varieties.” Beds on a waist-high stand are great for people who can’t, or don’t necessarily want to, bend down to the ground to tend the soil. “Herbs, lettuces and other shallow root

vegetables are the best to grow in these beds,” Ziccardi says. These crops are ideal for the renter because they are easy to grow and have a fast turnaround. For the beginner gardener, Ziccardi recommends sticking to lettuces since the seeds can be easily sprinkled and sown. For crops with long roots, like beets or carrots, he recommends growing in tall buckets. And for those who may not have the backyard for buckets, a potted tomato plant can be maintained inside.

To Join or Not to Join Community gardening gives you the opportunity to trade food and seeds with others and make new friends. But these gardens shouldn’t be joined hastily. For people who aren’t willing or able to make a substantial time commitment, com-

“You want to buy soil that has a decent amount of organic matter in it. That means finished compost.” —chef charle s ziccardi,

culinary professor at Drexel University

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munity gardens aren’t a good option, Ziccardi says. There’s a lot of work involved in the weeding, pruning, and harvesting that comes with your plot. “Sometimes the best thing to do with a community garden is to join it with someone,” Ziccardi says, explaining that a friend can help hold you accountable. Another top consideration is convenience. “Vicinity is important,” he says. “Choose one where you can stop by on the way home or to work or lunch.” Usually you can then communicate with the garden’s officers and arrange a tour to get a better idea of what you’d be working with. Because community gardens have become more popular in recent years, expect to join a waitlist. When a plot becomes available, you’ll have had ample time to plan.

TIPS FOR THE

Beginner Gardener

Pest Problems

Make sure your plant gets the right amount of light, air circulation and water. Find out what environment your plant prefers and tailor your growing space to its needs.

Down in the Dirt Even a novice can identify soil as one of the most important factors in your gardening equation. But how do you know what kind of soil is best? Ziccardi always recommends buying soil you plan to grow food with, so you know what your food is growing in. “You want to buy soil that has a decent amount of organic matter in it,” he says. “That means finished compost.” The technical term you should look for at your local gardening store is humus; it’s the dark, organic material that forms in soil when plant and animal matter decay. You can purchase soil once and then work this kind of compost in year after year. Ziccardi also personally recommends staying away from soils that have chemical fertilizers added to them. Instead, he prefers organic soils, which can sometimes be more expensive but are usually made sustainably by recycling good organic materials like plants. “Choose the garden soil that doesn’t have wood and sticks,” he adds. “They put it into the soil to give it some volume, but that stuff really won’t do much for the garden.” If you’re planning on growing plants in your backyard or if there’s a chance the roots of your crops will extend past your raised bed, you’ll want to test your soil for chemical elements. Soil-testing kits can be purchased online or in gardening centers and offer an in-depth analysis of the chem42

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icals your plants’ roots may suck up. “Often we say we’re testing that soil for lead,” Ziccardi says. “It’s the most prominent heavy metal in the soil—but there are others in there, too.” If the composition is higher for certain chemicals, you’ll want to avoid planting in those areas or take extra steps to ensure your food won’t contact the soil.

Rain water is best for plants. It has a neutral pH, and unlike the water from your hose, it is devoid of added chlorine.

Even if you give your plants all the love and attention in the world, there are still some things that can be hard to plan for, like pests. “They can do some heavy damage,” Ziccardi says. To avoid mice, rats, squirrels and other hungry animals, placing your raised beds on stilts and fencing off buckets and pots may do the trick. For disease and small bugs, covering your growing areas with permeable mesh row covers can help. For leafy greens, this is especially important early on, Ziccardi says, in order to protect the plants from flea beetles, which drill tiny holes in the leaves. The plants that are growing with good access to nutritious soil, light and air circulation will be the plants that are less likely to get insect damage, he notes. “When a plant suffers, whether it’s from drought, or it got too much water, or its just stunted in growth for other reasons, maybe physical damage—those are the plants that pests are likely to go after,” Ziccardi says. “Make sure your plants can grow in a healthy, uninterrupted fashion.”

Reaping the Rewards If you’re growing in pots, try moving your plants around as the sun shifts throughout the day. This will allow your plant to get maximum exposure to the light.

The biggest takeaway with kitchen gardening, Ziccardi says, is getting to be fully present for the entire process from dirt to table: planting, growing, cooking and eating. “People feel like they don’t know anything about gardening, but that’s okay,” he says. At Drexel, many of his gardening students take the class because they don’t know anything about it. Tilling around in the soil is where they gain an awareness of how food grows. “Gardening doesn’t have to be their thing,” he says. “My overall goal is to help them develop a positive and productive mindset, using food and cooking as the vehicle.”


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EV EN TS

march 2019

M arch 4 Academy Town Square: Tomorrow Is Now: How Will We Survive a Changing Climate? Climate change is happening in real time and it affects us at home and in our neighborhoods. Drexel professor and urban disasters expert Scott Knowles leads a conversation with city and regional officials, plus climate scientists. ansp.org WHEN: 6:30 to 8 p.m. COST: Free w/ RSVP WHERE: Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy

M arch 5 Bringing Great Plants to the West: E.H. Wilson & the Heyday of Plant Exploration Author Tony Kirkham speaks about his new book, “Wilson’s China: A Century On,” which discusses the many achievements of E.H. Wilson, who brought over 1,000 plants to the West from China. The book, which was co-written by Kirkham and Mark Flanagan, follows Wilson’s journey and provides a view of how things have changed since. primexgardencenter.com WHEN: 2 to 4 p.m. COST: $15-20 WHERE: Morris Arboretum, 100 E Northwestern Ave

Women Thinking Forward: Highlighting Women in Sustainability A group of women with backgrounds in business, fashion, health and design will

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WHEN: 4:45 to 7 p.m. COST: Free WHERE: Bluemle Life Sciences Building, 233 South 10th St.

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St. Patrick’s Day Tour, Toasts and Tastes Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Laurel Hill with a tour that highlights the most notable Irish inhabitants resting at the cemetery. After the tour, there will be samples of Irish food, whiskey and beer.thelaurelhillcemetery.org WHEN: 11 a.m. COST: $17-20 WHERE: Laurel Hill Cemetery, 3822 Ridge Ave

Mussels in the Schuylkill: Nature’s Power Cleaners

Unlocking the Mystery of Native Orchids

Mussels are an important part of ecosystems, using their bodies as a filter to clean and purify water. The event is designed for children ages 5-13 to learn how mussels clean the water as well as the best ways to protect them in waterways. bartramsgarden.org

Learn about new tools including DNA analysis that can reveal the beneficial fungi that allow orchids to receive necessary nutrients as well as survive stressful conditions and situations. The lecture will also cover what this means for the advancement of conservation efforts. mtcubacenter.org

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. or 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. COST: $12, free for members WHERE: Bartram’s Garden, 5400 Lindbergh Blvd.

M arch 16 Mercer Green Fest Dozens of eco-friendly businesses, schools and organizations gather to share information about a variety of topics, including electric cars, walking/bike trails, food waste programs, robotics and more. There will also be live music, a wild animal show and recycled art. sustainablelawrence.org WHEN: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. COST: Free WHERE: Rider University, 2083 Lawrenceville Rd, Lawrenceville, NJ

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share their thoughts on what everyone can do to create and live in a more sustainable world.

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. COST: $20 WHERE: Mt. Cuba Center, 3120 Barley Mill Rd, Hockessin, DE

M arch 20 Nature Talks with Billy Brown & the Creekmobile Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership brings its traveling education center, the Creekmobile, to United by Blue where Grid columnist Bernard Brown will give a presentation on the upcoming City Nature Challenge that will take place in Philadelphia for the first time this year. unitedbyblue.com WHEN: 6 to 8 p.m. COST: Free WHERE: United by Blue, 205 Race St.


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Where there’s a will, there’s a waterway A Penn alumna applies business acumen to an emerging water research center “Water is a human right,” says Meg Kramer (MES ’18). “We take it for granted, but you will not have energy or food without water.” Meg discovered her passion for water research in Penn’s Master of Environmental Studies program, where she found that the program’s interdisciplinary approach brought depth and complexity to her understanding of corporate sustainability.

Meg Kramer, MES ‘18

VIRTUAL CAFÉ Join the MES program director on the first

Now the Director of Strategic Development for the Water Center at Penn, Meg combines her business background with her environmental education to help the recently established research center connect stakeholders from industry, faculty, and the community to troubleshoot water problems. “I like to think of the Water Center as a water solutions incubator,” says Meg. For example, Meg and her colleagues have been working with Philadelphia water utility professionals, education experts, data analysts and researchers to help local communities build trust in Philadelphia tap water, with the goal of reducing and eliminating the use of bottled water for both economic and environmental reasons. “Water touches everything; it’s an issue that ties all life together,” explains Meg. “Everyone will have a different piece of the puzzle to contribute. We connect people so that we can all see the puzzle more clearly.”

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To learn more about how Meg and the Water Center at Penn identify water problems and collaborate on water solutions, visit:

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Grid Magazine March 2019 [#118]  

Goats to the Rescue The transformative and healing powers of the Philly Goat Project • The local origins of the African Methodist Episcopal...

Grid Magazine March 2019 [#118]  

Goats to the Rescue The transformative and healing powers of the Philly Goat Project • The local origins of the African Methodist Episcopal...