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DECEMBER 2016 THEWCPRESS.COM

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The

Press

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” –Maya Angelou

PUBLISHER Dan Mathers dan@thewcpress.com ADVERTISING MANAGER Nick Vecchio nick@thewcpress.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Nazarena Luzzi Castro nazarenaluzzi.com COPY EDITOR Jon Roth jroth@thewcpress.com CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Jesse Piersol jpiersol@thewcpress.com Kate Chadwick kchadwick@thewcpress.com STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERS Sabina Sister ssister@thewcpress.com Andrew Hutchins hutch@thewcpress.com

COLUMNISTS Becca Boyd bboyd@thewcpress.com Jaime Jones jjones@thewcpress.com Diane LeBold dlebold@thewcpress.com Andrea Mason amason@thewcpress.com DJ Romeo romeo@thewcpress.com Dr Geoff Winkley drwinkley@thewcpress.com Published By... Mathers Productions 12 E Barnard Street West Chester, PA 19382 mathersproductions.com 610-344-3463 The WC Press is a monthly magazine distributed free of charge to more than 250 businesses. For a free digital subscription, visit thewcpress.com. For more information about specific distribution locations, visit thewcpress.com/distribution.

Worth

Noting 13 25 31 41 45 55

Our no-nonsense table of contents

DIVERSE OUTLOOKS Business owners broaden West Chester’s cultural landscape OWNER OF THE MONTH Julie Lathia founded her own law firm at age 29 EXPLORING OUR ROOTS Comparing your ancestry narrative to the story in your DNA. BARTENDER OF THE MONTH Chatting with Johnny O’Donnell at Barnaby’s BEACON IN BRONZE The tale of how Frederick Douglass’ statue came to stand at WCU PHOTO HUNT Can you spot the five differences in these two photos?

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Letter

from the

Editor

Dan Mathers shares some personal insight about this month’s theme

I recently tuned into an old episode of the popular Reply All podcast. The episode focused on a black man from Silicone Valley named Leslie Miley, and how he’d left his job at Twitter because of their lack of diversity. When asked if diversity should be increased because it was morally right or because it was beneficial for the company, Leslie replied, “Yes.” And Leslie’s right: diversity has measurable benefits. I’ve found tons of articles like Harvard Business Review’s “How Diversity Can Drive Innovation.” Their research showed that companies whose leaders represent both inherited diversity (things like a variety in gender and/or ethnicity) and learned diversity (e.g. variety in country of birth) are “45% likelier to report that their firm’s market share grew over the previous year.” The most interesting piece I came across was the same one that Reply All cited, a study by Professor Scott Page at the University of Michigan. Scott showed that groups of randomly selected computer programs are better at problem solving than groups of programs that were all similar. Regardless of the disparity in computing power between the two, the random group consistently outperformed. He then showed the same results in studies done with groups of humans, extrapolated his findings beyond business, and published his work in a book titled The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies. While producing this magazine, I kept questioning contributing editor Jesse Piersol—who coordinated this issue—about the ethical implications of highlighting businesses just because they represent a minority group. I’d ask, “Shouldn’t we be showcasing them because they’re good businesses, not because the owner of the business doesn’t look like me?” I kept thinking about when Morgan Freeman was questioned on his opposition to Black History Month on 60 Minutes. He replied, “You’re going to relegate my history to a month? Which month is white history month?” That episode of Reply All put the argument to bed. The question I should have been asking was, “Is there a positive reason to highlight these businesses just because they’re different?” The answer is, “Yes.” We all benefit from being part of a multicultural community. We all benefit from our neighbors’ diverse backgrounds. We should celebrate that differentness. But, before we go about congratulating ourselves for our perceived progressiveness, it’s important to note that, according to the 2010 census, Chester County is 18.4% less diverse than the US as a whole. West Chester is about 10% better, but we still lag behind the national average. There is a lot more we can and should do to help cultivate the growth of multiculturalism in this town. As Leslie Miley points out, the goal is to avoid becoming like Twitter, a business that does one thing really well but does a whole bunch of other things poorly, and the solution is cultural diversity. I hope that the minor act of publishing this issue might help to grow the very thing we set out to celebrate. —dan@thewcpress.com

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Near and Far

Jamie Jones of Whirlaway Travel explores some travel options abroad and highlights their local counterparts

Now that the holidays are over, the decorations are slowly getting put away, and the gifts have become last year’s treasures, many West Chesterites are looking to escape Old Man Winter for some place warm, relaxing and rejuvenating to start the New Year off right. One of the biggest obstacles for those who’ve planned to travel in the past year has been finding a great vacation destination that is Zika-free. Pesky, virus-ridden mosquitos have taken over our beloved Caribbean and Mexican retreats, and us frigid North Easterners are looking for new locales to go get our winter dose of Vitamin D. For those travelers not wanting the time commitment involved with long trips to Hawaii, or the headache of flying halfway around the world to visit South Pacific or Indian Ocean locales, there are some great options in the continental US. One of my favorite hotel partners, Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in sunny Arizona, decided to build a beach in the middle of the desert. This new beach area boasts more than 42,000 square feet of water, sand, and lounge space. That’s more than enough sand to dig your toes in with a cold drink and a great book in hand. While this isn’t your quintessential island destination, the Fairmont offers a luxurious resort atmosphere, incredible spa, golf, cuisine and art paradise of Old Town Scottsdale. There are also a plethora of local activities to keep you occupied if you need a break from soaking up the Arizona rays while lounging on the beach (or by one of their six pools). Local hiking, helicopter tours of the Grand Canyon and Pink Jeep excursions into the desert are all options to keep you busy exploring a bit of America’s own backyard. Getting there is as easy as a non-stop flight from Philadelphia and a short transfer from the airport. Though you may miss out on Caribbean steel drums and succulent spiny tail lobster, the break from the cold at this desert retreat is just what may get you through until April arrives. Of course, a busy lifestyle might not allow you to get away at all, so for those of you who can’t make the trip to Scottsdale, one of the things that gets me through until my next escape is a few hours at the spa. My favorite local spot is La Difference Salon & Day Spa. Stepping into the day spa area at La Difference lets me leave behind the hustle, bustle, and cold air. For three glorious hours the therapists remove stress with a Swedish or corrective massage, eliminate the harshness of winter that has taken residence on my face with a signature deep cleansing facial customized to my skin’s conditions, and, if only for an hour, transports me to a far off land with an aromatherapy body wrap. Escaping winter weather is a resolution I make for myself every New Year, and whether it’s just for a few hours or a few days, it’s a resolution you should make, too. —jjones@thewcpress.com

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How Small Business Owners Broaden West Chester’s Cultural Landscape story & photos by Jesse Piersol artist spotlights by Ryan Wasser

F

rom restaurants to salons, antique stores to funeral homes, West Chester’s diverse business owners breathe life into our vibrant downtown. But their influence in the community stretches far beyond what they purvey in their brickand-mortar spaces.

Alice Thomas

The Antique Shop, 11 N. Church St. Tucked within The Antique Shop’s dense array of sparkling Heisey glass, gold-rimmed crystal, and shelves of brightly colored Fiesta dinnerware is Alice Thomas. She and her business partner, Betty Jean Newsome, have been selling antiques here on Church Street since 2003, but their business venture started out almost 30 years ago, with a

stand in the Smithbridge Antique Mall. It is difficult to tell from the shop’s formidable inventory that antiques have not been Alice’s sole occupation in life. After working for 10 years as a licensed practical nurse, she spent 35 years as a case worker at Henderson High School, chaperoning games and field trips. During this time, she worked tirelessly alongside her mentor, Dr. W.T.M. Johnson, to champion integration in the community. “This was in the 50s and 60s,” she recounts. “I was the younger member. He’d pick me up for meetings and we’d march at banks and at the schools for integration. We had a lot of problems back then.” In 1973, Alice formed Henderson’s Black Student Union, the first of its kind in the area. “We formed it to let our kids know that they could compete. That they could take challenging class-

es and not just the basic classes.” Facing discrimination in everything from cheerleading to the band, academics, and social events, “Our kids decided they wanted to host functions and go to colleges,” she relates. “So we went to museums. We took bus trips to visit colleges—Howard, Kutztown, Temple— schools they’d never visit otherwise. The point was to give them exposure. Our kids were challengers. When there were things out there, they’d compete, and that was our thrust.” Alice would recruit members of the community to help with scholarships. “I’d go into all the banks, the churches, and appeal to people to get scholarships for our kids. I was a believer. If I decided to do something, I did it.” At 86, a single job is still not enough challenge for Alice. She’s currently penning a biography about her husband of 60 years, the late Charles A. Thomas, a phar-

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solutely mobbed. I went home and said ‘I don’t want to do this.’” He stuck it out, though, crafting dishes from the informal family recipes passed down through his Lebanese family and Margherita’s Italian roots. IN 1973, ALICE Quality ingredients are paramount. THOMAS FORMED “If I can’t eat it, I won’t feed it to you. We use as much as we can that’s HENDERSON’S local and fresh, including organic BLACK STUDENT meat and wild-caught seafood.”

UNION

macist who operated his own drugstore in town from 1967 until the 1970s. Like all of Alice’s stories, Charles’ is worth hearing in person, so stop by for a visit. You’ll find far more at The Antique Shop than vintage glassware, funky lamps, and shiny, pretty nostalgia.

THE WAY WE COOK AT HOME, I OFFER THAT TO THE CUSTOMERS.” -JOE ANDRAOS

Joe & Margherita Andraos

The Mediterranean, 150 W. Gay St. The year was 1995, and Joe Andraos was restless. Despite having a good job in his field, the St. Joe’s math and computer science grad found himself dreaming of a place where he could use his passion for cooking, so he and his wife Margherita put in a bid on a run-down, foreclosed property on Gay Street. Together with Joe’s brother, they renovated the building themselves, working nights, weekends, and whenever else they could. For two and a half years they kept the “Coming Soon” sign in the front window, until finally everything was ready. “It turned out to be the Gallery Walk in early fall,” Joe recounts, “and we got ab-

Their Lebanese and Italian heritage influences more than just the food. “We’re very hospitable,” he adds. “The way we cook at home, I offer that to the customers. It feels like you’re coming to my

house and not to a restaurant. That’s why I have an open kitchen. People will often come back and shake my hand.” When I arrive for my interview at 4pm, Joe sets down a steaming cup of the tomato and roasted red pepper soup he just made. “You’re the first person to try this today. Tell me what you think.” The flavors are earthy and complex, the acidity of the tomatoes is tempered by the sweetness of the roasted peppers and the tang from the dollop of thick, creamy yogurt that he makes himself. Unlike many restaurants, Joe hasn’t raised his menu prices in eight years, despite seeing competition increase in the 20 years he’s been in business. “There are so many restaurants today. We all share the same pie, but the slices keep getting smaller for everyone. Since we make everything from scratch, we are very self sufficient. Which is why we’re still here.”

MING CHEN’S GRANDFATHER WAS HEAD CHEF AT NOBU IN NEW YORK.

Ming Chen

Tsunami, 10 W. Market St. Architecture wasn’t quite working out for Ming Chen. Two years into his studies in New York, he desperately needed a break.

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Mirëprees

Hoztta

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BUILD MORE THAN MUSCLE Welcome e Welkom Heten

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Heten

AND OSCAR LASKO YMCA AND CHILDCARECroesawu CENTER Toivottaa

Sugeng Rawuh

Dobredojde

Swagatham

Karibu

Siyakwamukela WEST CHESTER AREA Y

Akwaba

Bienvéni

Recoger ecoger

Vítejte í

Fáilte

Goscic

GnindiTonHap

Khoshumadi

Kaabo

Acollir

Benvingut Dobrodošli Velkomin k Selamat Datang Swagata Tervetuloa o Bienvéni Bonvenon Ongietorri Laukiamas Recoger Velkommen Sambut Bienvenue Bonvenon Y kô Swagatham Namaste

Velkommen Karibuni

Herzlich We believe our communities are stronger when everyone is welcomed.

Herzlich Willkommen Kalosllthate

Fáilte

FOR A STRONGER YOU. FOR A BETTER US.

Stop by January 16 to participate in our MLK Day of Service activities! WEST CHESTER AREA Y

a branch of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine

West Chester • 610-431-9622

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JOIN THE Y TODAY!

Income-based membership available

www.ymcagbw.org

OSCAR LASKO YMCA AND CHILDCARE CENTER

a branch of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine

West Chester • 610-696-9622


Ming headed down to College Park, Maryland, where his grandfather had opened his own restaurant after retiring as a head chef at renowned sushi spot Nobu in New York City. Then fate intervened. His grandfather died suddenly, leaving no one to run the restaurant. So Ming took over, eventually opening a second restaurant next door that catered to the students at nearby University of Maryland. He amassed a loyal following of students, many of them becoming his close friends along the way. One of those friends talked Ming into accompanying him on the long drive from College Park to West Chester University to visit his girlfriend. “He told me all about the town,” he recalls, “and how perfect it would be for a restaurant like mine.” His friend was right. Ming became enamored with West Chester, and also with the location, which allowed a much less rigorous commute to see his parents in New York City as well as his other family members in College Park.

HAIR IS LIKE A FABRIC; WE SHOULDN’T THINK OF IT AS A MATTER OF RACE.” -KEYANA CELLUCCI

Today, as Tsunami approaches its second anniversary, Ming credits seventy percent of his business to word of mouth, a testament to the relationships he forges with his customers. “I can feel that people in this town love spending money in my restaurant. Quality food is what I want to do, and it’s all I want to do.”

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: THE COLLECTIVE

He gestures to the bar with a smile. “The students come in, and they always sit there and chat. We create a bond, and I love that.” Keyana Cellucci

Velvet Hair Studio, 308 E. Gay St. Keyana Cellucci always knew she wanted to work for herself. A hair stylist already tuned into the West Chester scene (she owns Roots Café and Sprout Music Collective with her husband Dan), she saw a gap in the market. “There wasn’t a salon around like I wanted to build. So I felt like I should build it.” In an industry with generally little room for collaboration, Keyana envisioned a unified space, where stylists could gather together to learn and experiment with new techniques and styles. Enter Velvet Hair Studio. The name of the studio—Velvet—captures Keyana’s approach to hair. “Hair is like a fabric; we shouldn’t think of it as a matter of race. You have to touch it, to see how it feels. When you touch velvet one way, it’s very soft. Touch it the other way, and it’s a completely different texture,” she explains. “Curly hair isn’t just African American or Caucasian.” Opening on August 25 of last year, the chic storefront salon also houses a secret: 1500 square feet of space in the back that will eventually be transformed into an education space. “It’s important to share the knowledge to create something bigger than I can imagine on my own,” she says. “Instead

The Collective brings four unique personalities together to make music nobody’s ever heard before. The band also consists of rapper Donte Campbell, hip-hop specialist Nathen Shihade, spoken-word poet Aadil Malik and producer Sai Love. The group makes an effort to keep their ear to the collective consciousness that is the greater social media to anticipate future trends. When asked what made their music unique, Malik said, “There’s no one in hip-hop like us: a group of four young, like-minded but diverse, multicultural individuals. We believe listeners today identify with certain trends and fads, and we want to be those trend breakers and trendsetters. Our philosophy is if we put all four of our minds together, we can make waves and create masterpieces.” The band is still establishing their collective music, but the individual members have music you can check out online: aadilmalik.com or soundcloud.com/sailovesbeats. of being the single best salon in the area, I can create all the best salons in the area.” The idea grew out of Friday night jam sessions with friends. “My friends would come over, put on some music, drink some wine and jam out on doll heads. We’d get all these creative juices flowing. So much learning happens in that environment.” Keyana is stoked about everything Velvet has in store for West Chester. “We can all have the same salon,” she says. “As a stylist, you have to be able to tackle whatever fabric walks in your door.”

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Miguel & Tony Nieves

Champions Barber Shop 304 S. High St. 22 W. Chestnut St. Tropical Homemade Ice Cream 125 N. Church St.

THE NIEVES BROTHERS’ ENTHUSIASM FOR COMMUNITY BUILDING IS CONTAGIOUS. ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: HABANERO

If you’ve ever crossed the WCU campus, you may have heard Habanero playing a Latin-themed Michael Jackson cover. Their work is precise, reminiscent of the Gypsy Kings, and it’s always interesting to see stand-up bass being played in the middle of a lawn. Their ten members comprise Juan Puppo, and Valerie Ortiz as the vocalists, Anthony Cherego on the saxophone, Cliff Morin on the ewi, Pat Crider on the trombone, Shane Mulligan and Ted Vaillant on percussion instruments, Tom Lombard on the stand-up bass, and Ian Sadock on the ivories (piano for the layman). Eduardo Sinay, besides also being a part of the percussion section, is also the bandleader. If you’d like to hear (and see) Habanero, you can look them up on Youtube, or follow the link from their Facebook page facebook.com/HabaneroMusic.

On a snowy Saturday afternoon, Champions Barber Shop on Chestnut Street is hopping. Men of every age—from 12 to 70—pack the waiting area as the four stylists finesse razor-sharp edges into hairlines and beards, all the while managing the incessantly ringing phone in a smooth, choreographed motion. An autographed satin robe emblazoned with “ROY JONES JR.” in orange block letters hangs on the wall inside the door, a poignant metaphor for Miguel Nieves’ business philosophy. “It’s not just a haircut. When I named my business Champions I meant it. If you work for me, you represent my brand and who I am. I’m a family guy, and we are very family-oriented here. Everyone respects that about me.” Miguel’s foray into entrepreneurialism began with a mobile endeavor called On the Run Barber Shop, which serviced nursing homes, prisons and funeral homes. While volunteering his services at the Hickman, he met Nancy Wilkinson, who at the time ran a dog grooming shop housed in Champions’ Chestnut Street location. “This location has a long history as a barber shop,” Miguel relates. “It was an Italian shop, an African American shop, and then Nancy’s dog grooming shop. When she mentioned it would be closing, she put me in the right spot with the owner to open a shop myself.” Champions officially opened in November 2010, followed by a second location on High Street in January 2014. In June of last year, Miguel’s older brother Tony became a business owner here too, launching Tropical Homemade Ice Cream just around the corner from Champions on Chestnut. Their aunt, who owns La Micho-

acana Homemade Ice Cream in Kennett Square, is Tony’s business partner. “I thought West Chester would be such a great place to have a homemade ice cream shop, and she agreed,” he says. “Many of our flavors come from Hispanic and Mexican culture. Corn, mango, coconut are all flavors we have in Puerto Rico. I thought they would go very well here in West Chester, too.” Miguel’s next project is a barber school near the university which he hopes to open in March. Students will benefit from the discounted rates on services, while the barbers-in-training will benefit from the experience of working on the different types of hair in the diverse student population. The Nieves brothers’ enthusiasm for community building is contagious. Their neighbor, Fenn’s Coffee, even named a drink after them. “We tell our clients to go there and get one after their haircut,” says Miguel. “Ask for ‘The Champion.’”

EVERYTHING IS MADE FROM SCRATCH HERE.” — SIMI SAINI

Surjit & Tarlochan Singh and Simi Saini

Star of India, 155 W. Gay St. The heady smell of curry suffuses the corner of Gay and Darlington Streets on a weekday evening in late December, offering a warm counterpoint to the bone-chilling weather. Inside the Star of India, pale pink walls and soft lighting evoke a sense of reverence as two couples speak in hushed tones over their food. Surjit Singh fell in love with West Chester during his daily commute from the family home in Delaware to the Indian restaurant in Phoenixville where he was cooking. Someday, he thought, he’d open a restaurant of his own right here in town.

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In 1992, he did just that. He and his wife Tarlochan began serving up authentic Punjabi food that reflected their northern Indian roots, with spice levels ranging from “American hot” to “Indian hot.” “Everything is made from scratch here,” says daughter Simi, who hosts, waits tables, and helps her parents manage the day-to-day operations of the restaurant. “We use a lot of ginger and cumin, as well as organic vegetables, and we avoid processed food.” Specialties include chicken tikka masala and navarattan curry, with a variety of options for vegetarian, vegan, and other diets. Now a student at Reading Community College, Simi intends to finish her business degree at West Chester or Temple University with an eye on eventually taking over the family business. “I grew up here in the restaurant. It’s my second home.” The DeBaptiste Family

DeBaptiste Funeral Home 25 S. Worthington St. Milestone Events 600 E. Market St. It’s a business most of us would rather avoid. “Most funeral directors aren’t in the limelight, but we’re a core businesses in any community,” declares second-generation funeral director Lillian DeBaptiste. “A funeral home, a bank, and a church.” She pauses. “And a bar.”

first of its kind in Chester County constructed for the sole purpose of being a funeral home. It demonstrated their commitment to their business but also to the community, a point furthered by Clifford’s election as mayor in 1994. Lillian notes, “I take pleasure in serving the community. I love the interesting faith traditions we all have, and seeing how those traditions play out in ceremony.” As their business grew, so did their giving. The DeBaptiste Foundation awards grants for social justice projects as well as scholarships. “They are just one of the many ways my dad gives back to the community,” says Lillian. “He has scholarships under his name and also that of my mother (the late Inez DeBaptiste), and also through the university.” Their support goes beyond the DeBaptiste family name. “My father wanted to establish legacies for those members of the community who created opportunities for other people when there weren’t opportunities available. For example, we have scholarships in the name of Dr. W.T.M. Johnson and also Charles Melton. It’s his way of making sure their lives don’t go unnoticed and unremembered.” Today, the business continues to evolve. Granddaughter Elizabeth has joined the team, bringing a third generation into the fold. Their scope has widened beyond funerals. “Dad and I were

“When you think of stability and willingness to serve,” she continues, “that comes naturally to funeral directors, who are already active in the community.” It was her father, Clifford DeBaptiste, who moved the family here after visits to his aunt—a local hairdresser—led him to develop a deep fondness for the town. Raised and educated in Atlantic City, he earned his funeral director’s license before joining the Army during WWII. THE DeBAPTISTE In 1964, FOUNDATION AWARDS they built their GRANTS FOR SOCIAL funeral home on WorthingJUSTICE PROJECTS AS ton Street, the

WELL AS SCHOLARSHIPS.

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: AFROBEAR

AfroBear proves that being versatile in sound and aesthetic is the way of the future. What sets this quartet apart from others is the fact that every member is capable of playing the other’s instruments. Their primary configuration is with vocalist and keyboardist Amanda Rah, Sidney “Shooting Star” Joseph on drums, Teddy “Bear” Powell on guitar, and Doug Barber on bass. Afrobear has a distinct blues/soul sound, with clear rock ‘n’ roll influences, and a reggae undertone. A quick listen to the track conveyed hints of later Led Zeppelin, like “All Of My Love,” mixed with Bob Marley, topped off with a touch of Amy Winehouse in the vocals. Most importantly, it was easy going and fun to listen to. AfroBear regularly play Sprout Music Collective and Rex’s. Check out their website for more info afrobear.com. looking at trends,” recalls Lillian. “We wanted to help families find a gathering place for after the service. And we realized we can support that right here.” In 2008, they opened Milestone Events Center, a multipurpose space where the DeBaptistes have hosted first holy communions, bat mizvahs, wedding receptions, Diwali parties, and more. “We wanted to create a place where people feel welcomed and accepted, and this has given us the opportunity to serve a broader spectrum of the community,” Lillian reflects. “It’s important to me to honor people’s traditions, and to honor people, period. We have so many commonalities that we don’t all get to see. I love how we get to be a part of that.”

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Design Dilemmas Andrea Mason of Perceptions Interiors is a professional interior designer who wants to help you upgrade your space

Every year Pantone announces the color of the year, the color that they predict you will see everywhere from fashion to interior design. The 2017 the color of the year is Greenery 15-0343, a zesty yellow-green shade. Pantone explained that it is a symbol of new beginnings for the new year. They chose Greenery to help revitalize us and reconnect us with nature, one another and a larger purpose. Green also acts as a calming color and is used to help destress. Here are a few ways you can incorporate this hot trend into your daily lives and hopefully inspire a new you for 2017! Paint: There is no easier way to make a huge impact on a space than by painting, especially with a color like Greenery. This shade will definitely make a statement. You can choose to paint just one wall or all four. We also love the idea of painting a door. Hang Art: If painting walls is too labor-intensive, hanging art on the walls will have a similar impact on the space. This can include Greenery-colored shelves, 3D art, a mural painting, or a simple piece of art displayed in a Greenery-colored frame. Accessorize: Purchasing accessories that are easy to change out in the future is an affordable and easy way to showcase Greenery. A few examples are accent pillows, vases, candles, picture frames, rugs or drapery. These are all items that you can move around from room to room dependent upon where your inspiration takes you. Garden: Greenery is inspired by springtime and the environment; I can’t think of a better way to include this color in your everyday life than with a plant in your space. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, a faux Greenery-inspired table centerpiece will breathe new life into your home... and stay alive forever! When springtime rolls around, don’t forget to bring this year’s color to the outdoors as well. Refurbish: Is your dining chair slip seat in need of revitalization? Or maybe your ottoman has seen better days. This is the perfect opportunity to take Greenery to the next level. Pick out a fabric that will coordinate nicely with the rest of the room. Remember to play with texture and pattern. Think paisley, florals, stripes, and geometric. A plush velvet, mohair or even something fancy like silk will set the tone for a room whether it be cozy or elegant. However you choose to incorporate it, Pantone Greenery will surely help to bring out a better you. Whether it is keeping you in tune with nature, which will keep you stress-free, or moving you to renew or refresh something in your life, this color is inspiring us in the best of ways and gearing us towards a brighter and improved 2017. —amason@thewcpress.com

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Owner of the

Month

PHOTO Sabina Sister

INTERVIEW Dan Mathers

Julie Lathia had faith in herself and made the leap to found her own law firm at age 29 How long in have you been in WC? Four and a half years. Where’d you grow up? Lancaster County. It was an Interesting childhood. My parents are from India and came to the US in 1972. They settled in Elizabethtown where there were only three or four other Indian families in the whole town. Other than my brother, there was only one other Indian person in my school. Do you identify first as Indian? I don’t necessarily identify as one specific thing—I identify as human first. There are things I do that are very Indian, like celebrating holidays, but that’s just a part of who I am.

Why did you parents settle in Elizabethtown? They owned a motel there for 21 years. I was raised in the motel’s manager’s quarters—a small, three-bedroom apartment behind the front desk. So, you were raised in a small business. Guess that helps when you’re dealing with your small business clients. I saw how hard my parents worked to maintain their business. I understand that there’s backlash against the idea of a traditional attorney—I mean, I worked at a law firm where we charged people for leaving us voicemails. I want to change that perception. When I tell a new client my rates, they almost always say, “Oh, that’s so much better than I was expecting.” What brought you to West Chester? Work. I started renting my office the day before my 29th birthday. I consider that the start of my law firm. Is 29 kind of early for someone to start a practice? Without a doubt, but I had four years of experience by the time I started my firm, and it was incredibly thorough experience. In a bad market, I had to do a lot of different things and learned a lot. Of course I was still trying to figure out certain

aspects, but I had a good support network of other attorneys willing to offer guidance. How’d you get your start? I was at a crossroads in 2012 wondering if I wanted to be an associate at another firm or go off on my own. Around then, my high school boyfriend called me and said he had a client who needed an attorny present in Philadelphia. So I went down and did the initial appearance. That client said, “I want you on this team.” So with that, when I started my firm, I already had one client. At six months I had multiple clients. What’s the biggest thing you discovered since being out on your own? I’ve discovered that I know more than I realize. I’ve worked with other attorneys who have more years experience, but when I discuss something with them, they’re almost taken aback by having never thought of my idea themselves. I surprise myself sometimes. Why do you think you’ve grown so quickly? My clients tell me that I am approachable, I maintain communication, and my rates are affordable... and I don’t charge for voicemails. New clients constantly tell me, “You’re not like a typical lawyer,” and I take pride in that.

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Home

Becca Boyd shares tips on life and cooking on her blog at homebeccanomics.com

Beccanomics

It’s a new year, bright and shiny, and likely full with the promise of better health. If eating healthfully or losing weight is in your sights, look no further than a big pot of this Sunday soup. But really, I’d be remiss if I didn’t consider your emotional health: enter these lightly sweet, tender, light-as-air scones.

Glazed Maple-Pecan Oatmeal Scones, serves 16 Scones: 1 1/2 c. old-fashioned or quick oats; 1/4 c. milk; 1/4 c. heavy cream; 1/2 c. pecans, coarsely chopped; 1 egg; 1/4 c. maple syrup; 1 1/2 c. all purpose flour; 2 tsp. baking powder; 1/2 tsp. salt; 10 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 in. cubes Glaze: 1/2 c. powdered sugar; 3 tbsp. maple syrup 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 2. Spread oats and pecans on a baking sheet and toast until they’re lightly browned, 5-7 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Increase heat to 450 degrees. 3. Whisk milk, cream, egg and maple syrup in a large liquid measuring cup until well blended. Remove one tbsp. of this mixture to use as a glaze before scones go in the oven. 4. In a larger bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. 5. Scatter the cold butter cubes over the dry ingredients and cut in until blended. 6. Stir the cooled nuts and oats into your dry ingredients/butter mixture. 7. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the wet ingredients to form large clumps. 8. Spread two tablespoons of flour onto work surface and dump out the batter. Press and knead into a large ball, flouring your hands if needed. 9. Cut the ball in half and make two smaller balls. 10. Press the balls into disks, 1 1/2 inches high and about 8” diameter. 11. Cut into 8 triangles on each disk. 12. Using a flat spatula dipped in flour, transfer each triangle to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing two inches apart. 13. Using a pastry brush, spread reserved tbsp. of milk mixture to glaze the top of each scone. 14. Bake 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack. 15. While scones cool, mix powdered sugar and maple syrup with a fork. Using a spoon, spread over top of each cooled scone. Kielbasa, Kale and White Bean Soup, serves 8-10 2 tbsp. olive oil; 1 large onion, or 2 small, diced; 4 carrots, diced; 4 stalks celery, diced; 1 tsp. kosher salt; 12 c. chicken broth; 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes; 28 oz can petite diced tomatoes; 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme; 3-4 inch Parmesan rind; 1 1/2 lb. kielbasa, sliced into half moons; 15 oz can small white beans, drained and rinsed; 1 bunch kalechopped into bite size pieces; Parmesan for serving; 1. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. 2. Add onion, carrot, celery, salt and crushed red pepper. Sauté until softened, stirring occasionally. 3. Add tomatoes with juices, scraping the bottom of the pan as you stir to combine. 4. Add broth, thyme and parmesan rind and increase heat to high. Heat until boiling and reduce to medium. 5. Add kielbasa, beans and kale and simmer until kale is tender. Remove parmesan rind and thyme stems. Serve topped with cheese. —bboyd@thewcpress.com

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Many Americans boast of being Irish or Italian. Plenty of others probably proudly lay claim to Indian or Asian ancestry. But often the plot line of our genetic composition is very different from the story our family’s tell. Who are you? Where did you come from? Do you really know? Anita Foeman, PhD, a professor of Communication Studies at West Chester University, has spearheaded a project for the last decade studying the potential disconnect between the racial and cultural narrative of an individual, and their actual genetic profile. For the past ten years, Anita and her research team have studied the genetic profiles of thousands of students, staff and faculty. This study, “Using Ancestry DNA & Narrative to Explore Our Humanness,” digs deep into what it means to understand your identity based on preconceived notions… or in some cases, blatant misinformation. Anita strives to create a new narrative: one in which we recognize our commonalities simply as human beings. “What I do is look at DNA and ancestry narrative and whether or not they sync up. In either case we learn something about our humanness,” Anita explains. Our lineage is something many of us assume we understand about ourselves, but it is primarily based on oral tradition and the stories we craft about our own experiences. Often when we tell stories, Students submit their DNA in class, then review their results with Dr. Froeman. there are details added or removed for the sake of the storyteller. For instance, Anita has discovered folks who find that they have Jewish lineage and yet had no idea. Their ancestors, who may have emigrated from Europe, had very obvious historical reasons for omitting this portion of the family narrative. In other cases, the change comes because we like nice, neat little stories; we like a relatable beginning, middle and end. And if it doesn’t come to us that way, we’ll change it. In many cases, Anita has found that participant’s oral history has taken one small part of the story and amplified it. There’s no doubt that this kind of digging into our ancestral past is becoming more and more popular with the general public. Several television programs surrounding the issue, like Who Do You Think You Are?, Finding Your Roots, Genealogy Roadshow, and History Detectives, investigate both celebrities and citizens to understand their family history reaching back several generations. The massive popularity of the ancestry.com—a website that helps people find and contact family members as well as discover ancestral roots they may not have known about—is another indicator.

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State Representative Carolyn Comitta submits a sample, along with former univeristy president Greg Weisenstein.

It’s clear that people are hungry for the knowledge of who and where they came from. There is a special power and meaning in knowing what has come before you, what has helped to write your DNA. The medical knowledge and technology we have access to today offers an opportunity to know ourselves and each other in completely new ways. Much like DNA offers a whole new level of understanding of crimes, it now allows for individuals to know biologically essential information about where they come from. In Anita’s project, participants are first asked to explain the stories that they know about their family. This information is primarily drawn from their family stories as opposed to anything objectively scientific. Individuals then fill out a pie chart explaining what percentages of different ethnicities exist in their background. Then they are DNA-tested and shown the results of their genetic profile outlining the percentages of actual ethnicities present in their DNA. When participants are presented with their genetic profile, Anita states, “There is almost always something unexpected.” Robert Hunter Langel assumed that he was mostly, if not entirely, German. While a significant percentage did come out as Western European, he explains, “I was shocked when I found out that I am 15% Eastern European, along with small percentages from the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Greece, and even Scandinavia. And still other trace percentages include European Jewish and the Middle East.” Whether it’s an African American man who assumes he is entirely of African

descent or a woman who identifies as 100% Italian, most people actually learn that they have at least a little bit of something else in their DNA. In some cases, folks find out they have a pretty significant amount in their profile that they had never even considered. In light of how much we tend to think we know about ourselves and our family line, the fact that there is “almost always” a surprise in the results! One participant, West Chester University student Domenica Castro, assumed her genetic profile would fit her family’s narrative that she was mostly Spanish and Italian. But her profile came back more British than Spanish and also included African lineage. Domenica says, “It was mind-blowing, and it turns out I have a much more diverse background than I thought!” A significant part of her maternal grandmother’s narrative was her German heritage, yet no German came up at all in Domenica’s profile.

Anita and her research partner Bes hard at work in Starbucks.

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Participants guess their heritage before being shown their DNA results. In a time when schools, organizations and corporations are working to create equal opportunities and offer “diversity training,” perhaps a more effective shift is to recognize how diverse each one of is. It’s common to think of the United States as a “melting pot,” but many folks tend to think of themselves as one “ingredient” in that melting pot instead of an amalgamation of those ingredients, which seems to be the case, more often than not. An even greater impact is the acknowledgment that “race” is really something that we’ve completely fabricated. There are no racial genes. “As humans, our DNA is 99.9% exactly the same. We are arguing about less than 1% of something that we don’t even understand,” Anita explains. While it’s disheartening to realize that this concept—one that has caused so much acrimony throughout history—is merely a false construct of our own making, we can take heart in knowing that we can change it. Anita reflects, “If I have learned anything from this work, it’s that we are all real relatives. We understand, based on biology, history, archeology and anthropology, that we all originated in sub-Saharan Africa. We are all relatives.” We are all related in a real, scientifically objective way. Knowing and internalizing that information has the potential to connect all of us in a meaningful way. That is not to say that everyone is the same—we all have unique learned an inherited traits—but taking time to unlearn the concept of race as we know it and intentionally rewire our brains to recognize the biological truth that humans are vastly more similar than different has far-reaching potential.

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Home

Grown

Suzanne Adams shares info on local food and the upcomg West Chester Food Co-op

As the cold and gray of Pennsylvania winter sets in, it’s hard to imagine how one can continue to eat local. But if you prepare yourself to alter your diet for the winter, you can do just fine. So what is winter food in our area? Unless you’ve preserved your own, there are three choices for produce—cold storage crops, hoop grown or extended-season crops, and fresh-harvested. What grows fresh in the winter? Why, mushrooms of course! For retail, local, organic mushrooms try The Woodlands at Phillips in Kennett Square or Mother Earth Organics in West Grove. Buying directly from the producer guarantees you the freshest possible product and the lowest price. Both producers offer a variety of mushrooms, including white, portabella, crimini and shiitake. Find what’s available in local cold storage and extended season crops in the Chester County Agricultural Council’s Farm Product Guide available at bit.ly/1TfhFlO. For local retail, try the West Chester Growers Market, open first, third and fifth Saturdays, 10am to noon, January through April. A few producers offer hoop-grown salad in the winter, in addition to cold storage crops. It’s an extra effort to find local in the winter, but cold storage crops are root vegetables and they keep extremely well. You can comfortably buy in bulk and save yourself some shopping and some money. For best storage conditions, see this excellent guide from the Cornell Agriculture Extension Service bit.ly/2hm8dPH. You can supplement and add protein and variety to your diet by incorporating more meat and dairy in the winter. Local meat and dairy producers have product available all winter long and for many meat producers, winter is their peak season. On-farm sales are available at the following Chester County farms: Katt and Mathy Farm in Cochranville (beef), Canter Hill Farm in Malvern (chicken, turkey, eggs, lamb, pork, duck, and ostrich), Wyebrook Farm in Honeybrook (chicken, eggs, beef, pork), Snouts and Sprouts in Kimberton (pork), Baily’s Dairy in Pocopson (milk, butter, cream), and Sunset View Pastures in Cochranville (eggs and raw milk products including milk, cream, sour cream, and yogurt). Be sure to contact farms for hours of on-farm sales. We are fortunate to have a wonderful group of artisan cheesemakers in Chester County, and you can find information about their farms here bit.ly/2hFBZeQ. Some makers offer on-farm sales and local cheeses are also available at winter farmer’s markets and a few retail outlets. Though spring is the peak of the cheese season, most makers have some product available all year round. Here’s hoping you’ll continue to support our local producers throughout the winter! West Chester Food Co-op promotes access to healthy, fresh, local food for everyone in our community. We are working to build a community-owned, full-service grocery store in West Chester. You can learn more about our efforts at wcfood.coop/join-us/. —wcfoodcoop@thewcpress.com


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Bartender of the

Month

PHOTO Sabina Sister

INTERVIEW Dan Mathers

Johnny O’Donnell’s worked a number of bars in the borough, but today you’ll find him slingin’ drinks at Barnaby’s Are you from West Chester? I’m from Exton, and I moved to West Chester when I was 13. I went to college for a year at Penn State then transferred back to West Chester for four more, and I’ve been here ever since. What’d you study? I studied psychology and athletic coaching, all while playing football for West Chester. I was a psych major for a while, but when I decided I didn’t want to go to graduate school, I turned to athletic coaching. It worked out well, because after college I got a job coaching football at Widener University.

How’d that go? It was great, but I actually resigned recently. I’m 27 now. I’ve been involved in football since I was seven years old, so it’s been a part of my life for 20 years. I thought it was time to try something else. I’m interested in the challenge of something new. What do you think that something else might be? Maybe something in sales. I did a lot of recruiting at Widener, and while it doesn’t have a sales title, that’s essentially what you’re doing: selling the school and the team. I’m just interested in pursuing new opportunities. In the meantime you’re spending some extra time working at Barnaby’s. Yup. I usually work Mondays and Fridays, but, since leaving my job, I’ve started working Saturdays, as well as picking up other shifts. It’s really enjoyable; it’s a job that makes me happy to come to work and interact with people. At first I wasn’t a huge fan of it, but the more I do it, the more I’ve grown to like it. How long have you been bartending? I started at Barnaby’s in 2012. I bartended and barbacked at Ryan’s the next year, then I got my job at Widener. When Sa-

loon 151 opened up, I got behind their bar. Not much later, I talked to Steak, who’s a manager here at Barnaby’s, and he got me some shifts here again. I’ve been back here since March—coming up on a year. Seems like you know the bar scene here pretty well. Yeah, I know it from working, but I have to admit: I’m a customer just as much. I really enjoy going to the bars in West Chester. It’s a good town, good people, and a lot of fun. What brought you back to Barnaby’s? I knew the managers really well, and I knew that they liked working with me, and I figured it’s good to be where you’re wanted. Plus, the business at Barnaby’s is always really good—it’s so big, there’s a wide variety of customers, always a good time, and we’ve got great food. What’s your favorite night to work? Well, Monday nights are bingo nights, and Taylor and I are always at the main bar for when Ed Lover does bingo. That means tons of free drinks, so it’s always a fun night, especially for a Monday. Friday nights are good, too. We do $3 Blue Moon and Bud Lights—that really kicks off the weekend the right way.

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Ask

your

Doctor

Dr. Geoff Winkley is a board-certified emergency medicine physician who operates Doctor’s Best Immediate Medical Care

Is whooping cough really still a thing? Yes, even though most of us are vaccinated against pertussis (aka whooping cough) as infants, this serious respiratory infection has been affecting children and adults in our area. Bordatella Pertussis is the highly contagious bacterium that can live in the body for up to 21 days before coughing starts. For older children and adults, the initial symptoms are similar to the common cold with an occasional cough, which then becomes persistent and leads to coughing fits that last several weeks. For some infants and younger children, it can create severe breathing problems and even death. The best way to prevent whooping cough is to be vaccinated. Infants and children receive a combination vaccine, known as DTaP that protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. The vaccine for adolescents and adults is an approved booster against those same diseases. How is it treated? When diagnosed early and treated with an antibiotic within the first week of illness, most people feel better quickly. However, since pertussis usually presents with mild symptoms, most patients don’t seek medical care until too late, at which point antibiotics may be ineffective in shortening the recovery time. If you know someone who has pertussis, or think you have been exposed to the infection, consult with your doctor to evaluate whether you can be treated with antibiotics. Early treatment reduces the spread of illness within your family, friends, co-workers and the community at large. How do I know if I have pertussis? If you have cold-like symptoms and a cough that will not go away, it could be whooping cough. In young children, a telltale symptom is a cough that has an unusual “whoop” sound during the breath before the cough. In older children and adults, it can sound like a “bark.” If you have severe coughing attacks, feel like you may vomit after coughing, or your cough has lasted for two or more weeks, see your doctor. If someone close to you is diagnosed with pertussis, see your doctor, because in most cases the doctor will provide an antibiotic. Why is this happening now and why are vaccinated people getting infected? Pertussis outbreaks have been more common in part due to the movement to opt out of vaccinations. Non-vaccinated adults and children are most susceptible to the illness, and can spread infection into the community. When an entire community is immunized against an infectious disease, it makes it difficult for the infection to find a host to allow it to multiply and spread. Whooping cough vaccines are effective, but their protection decreases over time, so check with your doctor to determine if you need a booster. If you are vaccinated and still get pertussis, you will likely have milder symptoms through the course of the illness. —drwinkley@thewcpress.com

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BEACON BRONZE in

by Kate Chadwick


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The Frederick Douglass Sculpture on West Chester University’s Campus is a Monument for the Ages “Monuments are for the living, not the dead.” – Fred Wedekind

A

couple of years ago, my children and I attended a performance of The Nutcracker by The Brandywine Ballet, which was held in the Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall at West Chester University. As we explored the campus while waiting for the show to start, we came upon the imposing sculpture of Frederick Douglass in the DeBaptiste Plaza on the Academic Quad. The monument stands in front of Philips Hall, which houses the president’s office, and it is framed by the curved archway of the building. It is an arresting figure indeed: the bronze statue, including the mount upon which it stands, measures 10 feet in height, and portrays a younger Frederick Douglass, in mid-stride, his expression and demeanor both thoughtful and purposeful. His left hand rests on a staff (given to him by Abraham Lincoln, according to the statue’s sculptor, Richard Blake), and in his right hand he holds a broken rope, representing the snapped bonds of slavery, the remnants of which are seen draped around his upper torso. The statue is framed by five benches, arranged in a semi-circle, providing a spot not just for “Meet me at the Douglass statue” purposes, but one that also invites gathering, working, or simply resting and reflecting. “Who is this?” my kids demanded. “It’s Frederick Douglass; he was an abolitionist who fought for the end of slavery,” I told them. “But why is this statue here?” they asked. “That I don’t know,” I admitted. But now I do. What I did know about Douglass then was that he was a tireless activist, a great intellect, and a renowned orator and author who had escaped from slavery around age 20 in his native Maryland. He spent the rest of his life fighting for human rights, not just for other slaves, but for women, immigrants, and Native Americans. He also devoted his time and energy to promoting the advancement of free public education and abolishing the death penalty, among other causes. But I was unaware of his connection to West Chester. That connection was serendipitously discovered by some students of Dr. James Trotman, Professor Emeritus of English at WCU, during one of his courses. “Students in one of my literature classes discovered that Mr. Douglass had given his last public lecture on our campus just 19 days before he died,” Dr. Trotman said. “Once we discovered that extraordinary event, I asked a team of other faculty members to join me in exploring what we could do with that historical development.” The team decided that a conference was in order, and, in October 1994, “Voices of the 19th Century: Frederick Douglass and Others” was held to explore the significance of Douglass’ life and times. “We were so pleased with the results. We had around a hundred scholars and student participants, but mostly schol-

ars, from around the country, and a handful from Europe,” said Trotman. “We were the first campus to celebrate Douglass within the framework of multiple voices.” Based on the success of the conference, Dr. Trotman and his team, which included Dr. Jerry Williams, Dr. Patricia Grasty Gaines, Dr. Chris Awuyah, and others, proposed that the University establish an academic institute named in Douglass’ honor. “We proceeded to develop the institute along four lines,” said Trotman. “To continue the research and scholarship on Douglass; to interact with other learning institutions; to encourage a reading of Douglass’ works by schools across the country; and finally, to get those schools involved in a richer examination of Douglass and his works.” After the establishment of the institute at WCU, Frederick Douglass Institutes were established at all of the other colleges—a total of 14—in the State University System, where they are known collectively as the FDI Collaborative. The Institute works to “empower through knowledge,” via scholarships, grants and other types of awards. “The Frederick Douglass Institute advances multicultural studies across the curriculum, while the Frederick Douglass Society promotes his values and visions through programs, scholarships and other initiatives,” said interim WCU President Dr. Chris Fiorentino. “This noted abolitionist and champion of

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TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SAVINGS UP TO 44% JANUARY: The Multicultural Issue

West Chester represents a wide range of cultures, creeds and ethnic backgrounds, all contributing to the culture of our town, a culture worth celebrating.

FEBRUARY: Hearts

Love is in the air, and we’ll be exploring all things heart-related, from cupid's arrows to cardiac care.

MARCH: West Chester's Parks

We’re willing to bet there are about a dozen more parks in West Chester than you think, and we’ll be exploring all of them and the benefits they bring our town.

APRIL: Handcrafted

Profiling the artisans and industries dedicated to crafting the old-fashioned way.

MAY: The Bride Guide to West Chester

Everything you need to know to plan the perfect West Chester wedding.

JUNE: The Summer Fun Guide

Follow our summer fun guide to see what exciting things the warmer months have in store for you (and search for some ideas to keep the kids out of your hair).

JULY: First Responders

Honoring local heroes and showcasing the work they do to keep West Chester the safe and secure place we all love.

AUGUST: The Style Guide

We’re combining the Fashion Issue and the Beauty Issue for one big blowout Style Guide.

SEPTEMBER: Edible West Chester

It’s no secret: West Chester loves food. And, while we’ve all got our favorite restaurants, we hope to introduce you to some meals and mixes you might not yet know.

OCTOBER: Sweet Tooth

Sure, Halloween is there to load our youth on sugar, but what about the adults of West Chester? We’ve got you covered with the best cakes, cookies and chocolates in town.

NOVEMBER: Fresh Brew

When we say “brew” do you think beer, coffee or tea? We’re thinking all three, and we’re planning to introduce you to your next favorite local beverage.

DECEMBER: Holiday Shopping Guide

It's the most wonderful time of the year! We want you to support local business this holiday season, so we’re giving you some great ideas to get started.

CONTACT NICK VECCHIO: NICK@THEWCPRESS.COM | 610.299.1100 THE WC | VOICEVOICE OF THE BOROUGH 22 48 THEPRESS WC PRESS OF THE BOROUGH


human freedom was a visitor to West Chester every decade after his escape from slavery. And as new as the plaza is, it has already become an iconic part of the campus landscape. But beyond this beautiful statue and plaza, we continue to honor Frederick Douglass in a number of other important ways. The statue will always serve as a tangible reminder of Frederick Douglass’ presence and influence on our campus, and of our steadfast commitment to justice and inclusiveness at West Chester University and beyond.” According to Dr. Trotman, the idea for the monument itself was a spontaneous one, prompted one day on campus when he was passing Richard Blake, then a member of WCU’s Art Department faculty, and an internationally-known sculptor. “I said ‘Richard, let’s do something for the Frederick Douglass Institute.’ The timing was perfect— I retired in 2011, Richard a couple of years later, so at that time, Blake had no other obligations, so I asked him to make a presentation to our campus board. Which he did, and the board fully embraced it, but then of course, the sticky matter of money came up.” With the help of “a truly splendid faculty fundraiser, Mr. Mit Joyner,” said Trotman, “we reached out to the community, and specifically, to Dr. Clifford DeBaptiste. We wanted not just his endorsement of the project, but for him to lead a team of people to raise the $250,000 we needed to make the project happen. Within 20 minutes, he donated the first $50,000 we needed for the statue. It was not only because of the money, but his reputation for service and integrity in West Chester, that we were able to go on and raise the rest of the money with the university’s support, along with numerous individuals.” Indeed, the benches surrounding the statue were all donated by various West Chester community members and families. “I’ve been on the West Chester Board of Trustees since 1968,” said Dr. DeBaptiste. “With Jim Trotman’s deep research on Douglass tying into the 13 schools in the state system, this project could be a symbol, a light, a beacon, for people to draw on and understand what the American slave was going through at that time.” DeBaptiste acknowledges both previous WCU Presidents Adler and Weisenstein in furthering the project. “They both deserve a tremendous amount of credit

for being able to understand and accommodate the location of the statue,” he said. “The area surrounding the statue can serve as a neutral space for people who want to have discussions, or bring up issues. They can gather here and take a page out of Frederick Douglass’ book regarding leadership.” As for his own contribution to kick-starting the project financially, DeBaptiste said, “Jim Trotman and Mit Joyner walked in, and within about eight minutes they had what they wanted. They’d been told they couldn’t do it, and when they left here, they knew they could do it.” He laughs. “I tell people ‘If you ever see Jim Trotman and Mit Joyner coming, don’t let them in.’” Sculptor Richard Blake is based in Lancaster County and taught at WCU for about 30 years. When he was commissioned to sculpt the Douglass monument, “I was given more or less free rein, but at the same time was mindful of the fact that the piece is on display in a public place,” he said. One of the challenges in creating a sculpture of someone who has passed away is—obviously—that the subject can’t sit in order to be sketched or photographed. Because of this, Blake had his work cut out for him. “[The sculpture] was more of a composite, rather than based on a single image,” Blake said. “I did a large number of drawings and sketches during the course of my research of his images, followed by several models in clay. It’s an exhaustive process, not unlike the way a musician reviews passages over and over while creating a specific piece…it goes through several stages. The concept with the Douglass pieced started with six-inch wax figures, until I started narrowing down just what he was going to be doing: choreographing the position, his stance, and so on.” In other words, the stance, the expression, the clothing depicted and the things in his hands—all sprang from Blake’s imagination. “I had different versions of Douglass to draw from,” Blake said. “The thinker—how might I portray him? Or as the activist, the abolitionist—how would I portray him? I wanted to address as many aspects of his personality as I could with a single image. But mainly, I wanted it to have the presence and the physical aesthetic that it wasn’t just a sculpture of a black figure—he was an American hero. He was a person of presence.” Which begged the question: was this as daunting a process

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as it sounds? “Yes,” Blake laughed. “It’s a process of working through and stumbling across what works and what doesn’t work. Initially, you have conscious thoughts of what you want to do, but in terms of the creative process, it becomes ‘Well, what if I do this, what if I try that?’ Then everything is a possibility,” Blake said. “The creative process is one of chaos that you’re trying to pull together. You have a vision, but at the same time you don’t want too much logic to come in and drain the power of what you’re doing. I wanted to depict him as a young man—despite his furrowed brow, because he was always thoughtful and introspective—somewhat closer to the age of WCU’s student body. So when they’re complaining about finals or the cafeteria, maybe seeing a figure of someone close to their age who really had some challenges in front of him and was just constantly moving forward might give them some food for thought. Any art that has any kind of depth should change for you as you change.” Dr. Trotman agrees about the impact on students, noting that there are nearly 50 elementary and secondary schools named after Douglass in the United States. “In my mind, and in the minds of those involved in the project, the purpose of the statue is to put before students and others coming to campus the critical role of learning and teaching in our culture and in our society, and using those instruments to lead us towards a better society and opportunities to keep social justice before us on as regular a basis as we can,” Trotman said. “Douglass has always been about fairness, as both a person and a national voice. His is a legacy of the values by which we live, as a nation that may have embraced slavery at one time, but we knew that’s not what we were about. The rope of slavery, in Douglass’ hand in the statue, is broken, representing that it’s no longer part of the future, but part of the past. Douglass represents a standard-bearer for our commitment to freedom. In recognizing him, we’re looking at a key, if not the defining example, of liberty and the pursuit of it in this country, and the support of social justice for everybody. Just as we at WCU discovered Douglass and his significance in the classroom, he also allowed us to understand more deeply the significance of becoming a life-long learner. He never stopped learning about himself and the world around him. So the statue is intended to appeal to our students and to young people starting on the powerful journey of self-enlightenment.” And “powerful” is an excellent adjective to describe the monument. I asked Blake how a sculpture is possibly a more impactful sort of tribute than, say, a painting. “I think the idea is to have a monument or statue prominently displayed somewhere—outside, in a public place,” Blake said. “In other words, this monument is something people are going to encounter whether they plan to or not. Future students, maybe visiting the campus with their parents, or attendees of symposiums that draw people from all over, et cetera. I think a sculpture in a public place has got the advantage of just being there, all the time. Day and night, in all seasons, and that it changes all the time with the light. And the idea of this early on was to put it in a contemplative spot, where students could sit, look, think, and work on their laptops. Or instructors could hold small classes around it, literally at his feet.”

Blake also singled out Dr. DeBaptiste for not only financially jump-starting the monument project, but for continuing to back it. “I’m currently writing a proposal for the maintenance agreement on the monument,” he said. Indeed, outside of the “an earthquake or a war,” according to Blake, the statue will be there “for the next several thousand years.” But its composition is such that the atmosphere does interact with it, so it does change the patina. Clifford wants to make sure that something is in place to ensure that there’s a way that it will be maintained going forward. I asked Blake how that felt, as an artist, to know that something you created will stand, theoretically, for thousands of years? A painting can be destroyed in a building fire; a monument like this is something else again. “You know, maybe on my deathbed, I’ll ponder that,” Blake said. “I never really think about it. In fact, I almost think about it in reverse: when I’m gone, what happens to all this stuff I’ve created that’s not in someone’s collection? I mean, I have kids, but really—how many doorstops do they need?” he laughed. “I have to look at it from a sense of detachment, but I will say this: I do stop, every so often, and I’ll pull up to where maybe I can see it. And I’ll go ‘Well, you know—that was actually a pretty good job.’”

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January Playlist DJ Romeo curates a list of the tracks he expects to start earning a lot of air time this month

The following is a list of songs that will take over the radio stations in the next few months. You’ll soon know them by heart and play them ‘til they’re tired. But, good news: you can download them first and look like the cool musical genius to all of your friends. djromeo@thewcpress.com

www.djromeo.fm | @DJRomeo24

A Tribe Called Quest – “We The People…” ZAYN ft. Taylor Swift – “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” Childish Gambino – “Redbone” The Weeknd ft. Daft Punk – “I Feel It Coming” Machine Gun Kelly ft. Camila Cabello – “Bad Things” Bruno Mars – “Perm” Tove Lo – “True Disaster” Dierks Bentley – “Black” Train – “Play That Song” Dropkick Murphys – “Blood” Britney Spears ft. Tinashe – “Slumber Party” Stevie Wonder ft. Ariana Grande – “Faith” Fergie – “Life Goes On” Steve Aoki & Louis Tomlinson – “Just Hold On” Chris Brown – “Party” Milky Chance – “Cocoon” Billy Currington – “Do I Make You Wanna” Daya – “Words” Big Sean – “Bounce Back” Beyonce – “All Night” J. Cole – “Deja Vu” Kelly Clarkson – “It’s Quiet Uptown” The Lox – “Move Forward” Major Lazer – “My Number” Cazztek – “Come To Get Funky” Ryan Kinder – “Close Phantogram – “Same Old Blues” Clean Bandit ft. Sean Paul – “Rockabye” Alicia Keys ft. A$AP Rocky – “Blended Family” Kid Cudi ft. Andre Benjamin – “By Design”

bdeeney@chestercohistorical.org

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Spot the five differences between these two versions of the only non-copyrighted Google Image search result for “multicultural.” Then, email your answer to contests@thewcpress.com for your chance to win a $25 Barnaby’s gift card.

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The WC Press Heart Issue - February 2017  

Voice of the Borough

The WC Press Heart Issue - February 2017  

Voice of the Borough