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Narbs

PH OTOG RAP HS BY SC OTT LEWIS


Philadelphia + Dallas based editorial, lifestyle, and portrait photographer

s cottlewismedia.com scott @ scottlewismedia.com 917-386-4555


There are places – once common, now rare – where there’s magic in the cracks of the sidewalks, broken again from the roots of 300-year-old trees; in the bucket of the cargo bike the cycling activist’s kids prefer to the car so they can catch snowflakes on their tongues; in the voice of the immigrant executive as she waxes poetic about the comfort she has found for the family she’s creating here. Surrounded by busy, congested roads and deerfilled woods where George Washington’s troops found shelter after that winter in Valley Forge and the Susquehannock tribe once traded at the spring with Swedish settlers, Narberth, Pennsylvania is a secluded half-square mile speck of small-town Americana just 12 minutes by train to the center of Philadelphia. Narberth has been likened to tales as prosaic as Mayberry and as magical as Brigadoon. The reality is that being a “Narb” is, and always has been, about pitching in to help, embracing independence and, with plenty of good beer at hand, keeping corporate intrusion at a safe distance. The Borough of Narberth was created in 1895 out of the spirit of neighbors looking out for each other and the desire for independence from more established Lower Merion Township. While Lower Merion evolved into one of the nation’s wealthiest communities, Narberth became an enclave of working-class Irish and Italian immigrants. For decades, to call someone a “Narb” was to belittle the community. Today, being a “Narb” is a mark of pride, envied by self-titled “Nearbs,” for a more diverse and engaged community where neighbors have never been strangers. Each subject was asked - “What is it about Narberth?”


“ I get inspired by people fairly easily. There are a lot of people in this town that are very passionate and there’s a long history of that being the case. That’s how I got involved, seeing people working toward a common goal and I wanted to be a part of it.” Ken


“ The thing with Narberth is that it has all I need. It is so overwhelmingly wholesome it has taken time for me to accept it and not be suspicious about the fact that I live in an incredible place.� Bernardo


“ I have always wanted to live in a front porch walking community. I need to be somewhere where my neighbors could hear me scream, like if something happens. I like building community and helping people take care of each other.� Muna


“ It’s like the bumblebee at the end of that No Rain music video. She’s like ‘I can’t always find my place in the world’ and at the end she finds this field of other people dressed like bumblebees and she’s found her place of perhaps unusual interesting people. There are non-tangible things that you cannot create with money that exists here and you have to build it.” Mary


“ Narberth is the one of few and far between. It’s the balance we all seek when a city doesn’t answer, and middle earth is way too isolated. Narberth is, to us, where the lucky few get to enjoy reality with a spoon full of sugar.” Ashley


“ Narberth is more of an experience than a town. People always fantasize about living in it.”

“ Narberth is home. Narberth is where my sister is. ” Izzie & Juliet


“ Beautiful. Playful. Delicious.” Margot


“ You can have an idea, go out and make it happen on your own with your hands. It’s a great place to be the change you want.” Jim


“ Small, honest, fun, principled, loving, dedicated. We argue. We forgive and forget. We will do almost anything for a laugh. We know in our hearts that it is all about the Fourth of July. � Gigi


“ It’s the deep roots mixed in with the little bit of new. Warmth and the quiet energy about it. The essence. The spirit. The close-knit feel. The neighborliness. The first time we went to American Family, the very first time we ever came to Narberth, Angelo said ‘you’re not from here, welcome to the neighborhood.’ He literally welcomed us and knew that we didn’t live here. That was amazing to us and really struck us. It made us want to be a part of that.” Kimberley


“ The park is right in the middle so you can just walk down and meet up with your friends. You can just walk by yourself and feel free.” Sean


“ There was a charm here that I just fell for.� Andrea


“ It’s like one long play date for your children and for you. Most of us have young children we’re trying to raise and we suddenly start to see we’re not alone doing this. There are lots of people trying to do this. It takes a village; well Narberth is that village.” Vidhi


Narbs is a book in progress. The photographs are made with a 1940s 4x5 Speed Graphic press camera, late-1800s Petzval lens and Ilford HP5 film. By modern camera standards, the images are full of imperfections, but like Narberth, without the imperfections it’d be just like everything else.

scottlewismedia.com scott @ scottlewismedia.com 917-386-4555

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Narbs  

Narbs  

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