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Centennial Parkside CDC and the East Parkside Residents Association host the “Our Dreams Our Future East Parkside Community Dinner” at the Fairmount Park Horticultural Cente

By Chris Spahr, Executive Director, Centennial Parkside CDC

On Monday, February 25 the Centennial Parkside CDC and the East Parkside Residents Association hosted the Our Dreams Our Future East Parkside Community Dinner at the Fairmount Park Horticultural Center. There was a huge turnout from residents and partners creating a productive night of celebrating the history of East Parkside’s many residents, adding to the history and dreams for the future, and working together to design new social enterprises, services, and other projects.

The Our Dreams Our Future East Parkside Community Dinner was an opportunity for the Centennial Parkside CDC to share the many lessons learned from a series of ongoing Green Economy Chat ‘N Chews that it hosted throughout 2018 and continues to host 2019. From these Chat ‘N Chews certain issues, challenges, and opportunities were identified including arts and culture, youth programming, education, trash, zoning, vacant land and blight, affordable housing, farmers markets, community gardens, energy, green jobs, inclusive economic development, unity, health, and safety and security. The Our Dreams Our Future East Parkside Community Dinner provided an opportunity for residents, community experts, and funders to “dig in” on these topic areas and develop project proposals.

At the end of the night attendees voted on one project proposal to receive a seed grant provided by the Philadelphia Foundation. Project proposals included:

  • home repair education and support
  • health and fitness classes
  • a community land trust conference
  • a curriculum related to block captains, trash removal, and creative reuse of discarded materials for youth
  • a tribal council office to advise budding entrepreneurs
  • a nutrition and health after school program
  • and a data collection system for vacant and blighted properties

The project that received the most votes from the community making it the recipient of a $1000 seed grant was a Financial Literacy Curriculum for the neighborhood. The Centennial Parkside CDC and the team who developed the financial literacy curriculum idea will work together in the coming months to expand this project plan and raise more money to implement it. All other projects will be entered into a project idea bank that will be used to direct future funding in the community.

Attendees of the dinner also had the pleasure of listening to an energizing keynote speech by Gabriella Paez, Education and Community Development Coordinator at Esperanza and a song performed by the talented Makeda McFarlane from Central High School.

The Centennial Parkside CDC would like to thank the sponsors of the Green Economy Chat ‘N Chews and the Our Dreams Our Future dinner namely the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, the Climate and Urban Systems Partnership (CUSP), and Pennsylvanian’s Organized to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild (POWER).

For more information on the Centennial Parkside CDC’s ongoing monthly Green Economy Chat ‘N Chews, please

follow them on Facebook @centennypark or reach out via email ( or phone (267-225-8356)


Parkside Resident on Teaching Mission In Myanmar











For the last six months, one of the jewels of Parkside has been teaching in Myanmar (formerly Burma). Mrs. Allison Hatchett Stringfield was born and raised on North 42nd Street.  She attended Leidy Elementary, Beeber Middle School and Overbrook High School. She is a graduate of Cheyney University. Mrs. Stringfield taught in the Philadelphia School System for over twenty years in a number of capacities. She is a Language Arts Specialist and has provided education to many of the young people who still reside in Parkside.

Mrs. Stringfield is on a two-year teaching assignment at the International School of Myanmar. The official name of Myanmar is the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and also known as Burma. It is a sovereign state located in Southeast Asia and shares borders with Bangladesh. Along with her husband, Robert Stringfield, a retired fire fighter, Mrs. Stringfield is enjoying this experience. She did not have to learn Burmese as the students in this school speak English and are preparing to come to the United States to attend college.

Mr. and Mrs. Stringfield hope that their experience will inspire others to reach beyond our borders for opportunities to broaden their horizons.

New Candidate Challenges Incumbent in 3rd Council District Race- by Manuel McDonnell-Smith

In 1992, Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time” topped radio charts in Philadelphia while the city elected a new Mayor, Ed Rendell, and also a new councilwoman, Jannie Blackwell. In the nearly thirty years that followed, Jackson’s music became iconic, the city is on it’s third Mayor since Ed and Jannie “is a legend around here”, according to a West Philadelphia neighbor.

While many residents of the 3rd Council District that encompasses all of Parkside and most of West Philadelphia enjoy having a tenured Councilperson with deep connections to their neighborhoods, a new challenger to Blackwell, Jamie Gauthier, is urging residents to consider their options this election day and to “reject the status
quo.” saying that she has “the experience, the fresh ideas, and the drive to deliver for our communities.” In an exclusive conversation with the Parkside Journal, Gauthier shares why she believes she is the agent of change our neighborhoods need.

“I want to take all that I’ve learned and done to City Council for the benefit of the 3rd District.” says an introductory headline on Gauthier’s website that shares her long resume of service including serving as a Board Member of the Garden Court Community Association, the University City District, and the Philadelphia Crosstown Coalition, a collection of civic organizations that advocate for quality-of-life issues around the city. “That’s why I have my eye on City Council. Being a council member is the biggest way to have an impact on the community and positive impact on people.”, she proclaims.

Many neighbors in Parkside have already gotten to know Gauthier through her leadership of the Fairmount Park Conservancy, a non-profit aimed at raising funds to support the park through partially through for-profit ventures like “The Glow”, the ticketed Halloween experience that’s been hosted just off of Belmont Avenue for the
past two years. It has partially helped to fund Centennial Commons, a multi-million dollar project aimed at remaking the park around Memorial Hall.

But big investments into new park amenities and street construction feel similar to gentrification for some residents. But it’s not, says Gauthier, who says she’s proud of how she and her staff executed Phase One of the projects. “We made sure that we listened to neighbors and ensured that the swings and traffic calming improvements along Parkside Avenue that residents wanted were part of the things that got done first.”. Its experience with projects like these she says makes her a good choice for council. “A lot of my work has been helping neighbors bring their visions for their
communities to life”.

As a single mom of two sons, Education is atop the list of priorities she plans to campaign on. “People in West Philadelphia really value and stand up for public schools.” The Penn graduate says she’s part of a local education tradition. “I went to public schools, my kids go to public schools, and I see first-hand how volunteerism and fundraising in my neighborhood have helped to bolster programs in their schools. Those efforts can help make up those areas where public resources fall short. This starts in neighborhoods, but in council, I can look for and connect organizations that want to support our schools.”

Beyond schools, she also wants to focus on training residents for jobs in the “green economy, look for new ways to protect the significant number of renters in West Philadelphia “who are particularly vulnerable to price hikes”, while also finding
ways to help longtime homeowners. “I know that there are a lot of homeowners interested in low-cost resources to fix up, improve, and keep their homes in good shape. That’s a need throughout the 3rd District”.

Being a resident of West Philadelphia herself, she understands residents’ support of Jannie Blackwell and their initial hesitation around her campaign. But she says it’s time for residents to consider their options on election day. “The Blackwells have served the community and have been in this council seat for almost 50 years if you count Lucien. Now it’s time for us to look to the future. Our communities are changing and we have all of the assets here to build a successful future for them. We can leverage the economic power of the institutions to the neighborhoods’ benefit. I believe I can do that as a councilwoman and I have the track record to do that. To
look forward to what’s next for the 3rd District..”

Gauthier’s next steps. Garnering the 750 required signatures required by city election rules to get onto the official ballots due in March. She knows these initial introductions will be an uphill climb, but she’s positive about her odds. “I feel that people are excited, we’re getting a lot of messages and calls. People are excited to
have a choice, and that’s good because it’s important to have competitive elections.” She hopes that this excitement is enough to carry her through election day.

AMERICA TO ZANZIBAR: Breaking Barriers and Celebrating Diversity by Zenab Toure

“America to Zanzibar: Muslim Cultures Near and Far” is one of the newest exhibits to come to Philadelphia. Opening just a few short weeks ago at The Please Touch Museum in Parkside, this multimedia interactive exhibit highlights the Muslim Culture, Religion, art and traditions. Religion has always been a sensitive subject, especially Islam. Therefore, it was definitely a huge surprise when I learned that ‘America to Zanzibar’ was coming to the Please Touch Museum. One might ask, why the Please Touch Museum? Why a Children’s museum? Exhibit consultant Salima Suswell stated, ”In Islam, we have this term called Da’wa, which is to teach. So it’s a teachable moment for not just children but for their parents as well.” This exhibition’s targeted audience is not only children but for people of all ages as well from various backgrounds and religions.

We are currently living in an era when there is so much controversy and hate happening all over the world, particularly toward Islam and its followers. One way to help foster peace in the world is to teach one another about each other’s religion, cultures, and traditions. Islam is a religion of peace. Philadelphia happens to have one of the largest Muslim populations in the United States, with over 50 Masjids (Mosques), which the Exhibit showcases in one of the
galleries. Thus, one must ask once again, what better city to come to, other than The City of Brotherly Love?

The President and CEO of The Please Touch Museum, Trish Wellenbach, has this vision to break down barriers and bring/teach the importance of diversity to not only Parkside but most of all, to Philadelphia as a whole. After seeing the America to Zanzibar exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Wellenbach was determined to bring the exhibit to the Please Touch Museum, in order to see her vision of diversity come to life. She did it along with
Salima Suswell, who heads a community advisory group of approximately 20 members from different faiths and cultures. This group helped adapt the exhibit to reflect Muslim culture in
the city of Philadelphia. As a Muslim woman myself, I’d say they have done an excellent job recreating the flavors of the Muslim religion.

At the VIP Grand Opening of ‘America to Zanzibar’, it was evident that this exhibit was not going to be a clichéd, stereotypical version of how Islam and Muslims are usually portrayed. In other words, from the virgin drinks to the halal food, to the heartwarming speeches, to the guests from all faiths and backgrounds, and finally- to walking through the exhibit that has such an authentic depiction of this beautiful and peaceful religion. I must say that I was blown
away! As I have never seen this many Muslims at an event that is not specifically run by Muslims for Muslims. It felt surreal, yet so gratifying! It was so obvious that Wellenbach, Suswell, and the community advisory group worked on every detail to really embody and reflect the true meaning of Islam and its various cultures and traditions from all over the world.

There are so many fun activities that you can do in the exhibit. I can say this because I have already visited the exhibit 3 times, and I plan on visiting again, along with my family and friends. I say this because, to me, America to Zanzibar is not just fun, creative, bold, and filled with valuable and authentic information, but it feels like home. Where I feel safe to believe in my faith and proud of where I come from. This is the safe environment that Wellenbach was hoping to create “As you explore the exhibition and discover the prayer room, I invite you to think about the importance of creating a safe space where Muslim children and families can see their faith reflected with joy and respect and where visitors from all faiths can learn about the Muslim faith in a place of joy and without fear.”

Throughout the duration of the exhibit, there will be a range of art
workshops, led by the artists featured in the exhibit. “My whole idea was to create artwork that young people could then look and find other shapes and symbols in, to learn so it’s always easy to draw someone in, and teach them something then to try to just bang them upside the head with something.” Said Keisha Whatley, a Philadelphia Artist. “So for young people, this style really works, because it’s like all this going on! and they are kind of looking like oh look there’s a star! and hey, what’s that symbol? and oh that’s what that symbol stands for? Oh and that means this! and it opens up a dialogue about the faith, and the culture, the religion and all these other things, as opposed to just being like this is this.

There are other programming activities scheduled to run through
September 2, 2019. Therefore, I recommend asking for an event calendar when you visit the Please Touch Museum, in order to stay up to date with the upcoming events, programming, and workshops. Like the Festival they will have for the first Islamic Holiday, Eid-ul-Fitr on June 4, 2019.

The exhibit consists of five different galleries. You will find one of the
oldest Quran’s, dated from 1854, a prayer room, and a living room filled with objects donated from Muslim families in the community. There is also an architecture area where visitors will be able to see and learn about Mosques from various countries. A global marketplace is the perfect hands-on experience for youngsters. Children and their families will be able to see and smell spices and fruits, wear different African fabrics filled with beautiful colors, see rugs from Morocco and ceramics from Turkey. The representation of Islam and Muslims in artwork is magnificent. I could go on and on, but I would rather let you, the reader go see for yourself and indulge in this amazing journey that America to Zanzibar brings!

Interviews with Special Election Candidates for the 190th District – by Alexandra McFadden

190 District Special Election on Tuesday, March 12, 2019

190th. election 2019

The Parkside Journal interviewed three of the four candidates running for state representative of the 190th district, the seat formerly held by Vanessa Lowery Brown. Brown resigned in December shortly after being convicted of several corruption-related crimes, which also followed her reelection to a new
two-year term in November 2018.

The special election race has been fraught with multiple twists and turns, with three potential candidates for the Democratic nomination dropping out (two because to residency issues and one for other reasons) in mid-January. The candidates who will be on the ballot are Amen Brown (Amen Brown Party), Michael Harvey (Republican), Movita Johnson-Harrell (Democrat), and Pamela Williams (Working Families Party). Michael Harvey did not
respond to inquiries for an interview.

Why are you running for representative of the 190th

Amen Brown (ABP): “The district needs something new and young that is from the community, someone who has been doing the work. This district doesn’t need someone just starting. My organization, my team and I have been doing the work for years. [Also,] I’m not tied to any of the leading figures in Philadelphia politics. I can’t be controlled so that’s a problem for them.”

Movita Johnson-Harrell (D): “I’m running because I think the three biggest issues facing the everyday people in this district are poverty, gun violence and education. I’ve lost my father, brother, son, and
nephew to gun violence. There’s a bigger societal issue surrounding gun violence, bigger than the actual gun. I have been speaking with legislators for many years, trying to flip legislators to support
sensible gun control legislation to protect our communities.”

Pamela Williams (WFP): “I’m a lifelong resident of West Philadelphia and my mother was a dedicated community activist. I learned from her what it meant to advocate for disadvantaged people. I believe that progress starts with people. As a state representative,
I will be a vehicle for the people, bringing the voices of the 190th district to Harrisburg. I’m running because there’s no one better suited to do the work than me.”

As State Representive, what will be the three
biggest issues you tackle?

Brown: (1) Stronger senior support services; (2)
Community safety; and (3) Help small businesses in
the community.

Johnson-Harrell: (1) Poverty Reduction; (2) Gun
violence reduction; (3) Fair funding for education  Williams: (1) $15 minimum wage; (2) Fair funding for education; (3) Universal Helthcare.

What is the biggest threat facing people living in
the 190th district?

Brown: “Voter suppression. The Democratic party isn’t informing people about the special election. We’ve done phone banking and educating people about the special election. We have to spend more
time educating people that there is a special election and why there’s an election. Then finally information about me. The party isn’t doing their job to educate people about the election.”

Johnson-Harrell: “Poverty. I think poverty and gun violence are interconnected. The 190th is a Promise Zone and federal money can be brought into creating opportunity and community reinvestment. There are very wealthy portions of the district and very poor parts of the district. There needs to be more balance. I think because it is a Promise Zone and there’s been no checks and balances of the 190th and that’s kept the poor, poor.”

Williams: “The biggest threat is dishonesty. We need people to be sincere about their service. We need to factor in—progress starts with the people. If we don’t  hear the voice of the people then we have been apart of the disenfranchisement of the people. People are
looking to receive the benefit of it. Some of us have forgotten what’s it like to be servants. [There’s a] lack of integrity and empathy with the people and the needs of their district. Who represents you and who is the voice for the people? All of the umbrella of service. My job…is to help you come out of all of the ills that affect you.”

How will you help your constituents in Parkside
deal with issues surrounding homeownership and

Brown: “I’m a heavy believer in relationships and I have good relationships with the current sheriff as well as the candidates running for sheriff right now. It will not be a problem for me to sit down [with them] because my relationships are valued [at the
sheriff’s department], more so than the average state representative. My organization alone has helped a lot of people save their homes from sheriff sale, getting extensions, getting their homes removed from sale and that was as a regular citizen. I’d like to see the City Council and the sheriff’s department to give more assistance and more protections and leniency for families losing their homes. I have a plan to put into action immediately to help the community on a lot of levels. I want to generate a district-wide trade
program for high school dropouts and graduates who choose not to go to college and who want to go straight to work.

Johnson-Harrell: “My plan is to cap the properties that universities can buy in the district and to ensure that those same initiatives that the universities offer so that their people can move in, we can offer those same subsidies to current residents who want to be homeowners. [I am also concerned about the] real estate investors that buy stuff all over the city and in the 190th specifically—who buy properties, notes, and foreclose on homeowners to push people out of properties and squeeze out their equity. In my case, [I filed for] bankruptcy to protect a property from a speculative real estate developer. These speculators are enabled by politicians who are selling us out. We have to stop them from coming into our
neighborhoods, buying up properties, driving up property taxes, pushing people out of their homes. Another issue that concerns me is property theft. I worked on creating a task force at the DA’s office
after someone fraudulently transferred property from
my name to theirs.“

Williams: “I’m putting a plan together to see developers come together with the community. How do we regulate developers to the point where they are not isolating and bleeding the community through their development? The rental costs and taxes in the 190th have increased. We all want to see our neighborhoods develop, but the residents have the right to reach for greater stability. Once you have a stable community where people own homes, but you have a moral base because people have bought into the community because they will do things to help the community thrive, look good, and do things that benefit the community. There needs to be funding
from the state level to help residents purchase abandoned houses and land that has not been developed for many years.

One of my issues is legislating funds for those persons who are affected or threatened by foreclosure, especially older residents. When some people have to make choices between your mortgage
and electricity, what do they choose? How do we help them not lose their homes? This will put people on the right track so [they] can stay in their homes.  We need to talk to the groups who live in communities to introduce legislation that is effective to and meets the needs of what you see and what you live in every day. I will stand toe-to-toe against the developers.”

How will you be accessible to the members of your
district if you should win?

Brown: “I plan to have three offices across the district as well as a mobile office. I’ll also be at all of the community meetings in the neighborhood and hold biweekly meetings in different communities. In the first 100 days, I plan every week or two to have town hall meetings in each ward to discuss the issues to know what to address and be as effective as I can.”

Johnson-Harrell: “I want to take the district to Harrisburg.
I do that by coming to community meetings and hearing
what they want, inviting them to the State House. Something else that I want to do is have a quarterly meeting with the ward leaders and a semiannual meeting with committee people. Since [ward leaders] want to be leaders, let’s make them real leaders and not just when it comes time to have an election. My scheduler will have
every meeting in the district on my calendar.”

Williams: “I’m seeing if can get donated space in every
ward so that residents can get services without having to
travel very far. I will also structure monthly town halls in
every community and hear [constituent] concerns,
whether it’s crime, development, education. I also hope
that all of the 501(c)(3)s and all of the entities that interact
with residents will open their doors to me.”

Smith Memorial Playground’s Black History Month Exhibit Celebrates 120-Year History of Racially Integrated Play

In celebration of Black History Month, families are invited to Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse at 3500 Reservoir Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19121 on Saturday, February 23 from 10am-12pm for “120 Years of Integrated Play” presented by Ballard Spahr LLP, a free exhibition of historic photographs and artifacts that highlight Smith’s commitment to the African American community and integrated play spaces since 1899. Visitors will also enjoy special craft activities and a story collection room where families can share their memories of playing at Smith.

Even during the Jim Crow Era of segregation in public schools and facilities, Smith remained a racially integrated play space and operated additional locations that served large African American and immigrant populations. Smith has been an important part of many Philadelphia families’ lives for generations and continues to serve a diverse population, welcoming children from every zip code in Philadelphia and beyond for free family visits as well as a wide range of on-site programming, events, and community programs.

Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse is a non-profit organization located in Philadelphia’s East Fairmount Park. Founded in 1899, Smith welcomes visitors from more than 500 zip code areas including every zip code in Philadelphia. The mission of Smith is to provide and promote opportunities for unstructured free play for children and it contributes to the development of healthy children, strong families, and safe communities by: 1) maintaining a proud tradition of free family admission; 2) partnering with community-based organizations to reach a diverse audience; and 3) advocating for the importance of play. For more information about Smith please visit 

Contact: Zoe Lowry

215.765.4325 x101 (O)
610.609.1590 (M)



PHILADELPHIA February 5, 2019—The Franklin Institute and its Partnerships for Achieving Careers and Technology and Science (PACTS) program, host the first ever region-wide Black History Challenge, Monday, February 25. The event invites local teams to compete in a high-level trivia competition celebrating the contributions of African Americans to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) while raising awareness and funds for youth programming initiatives and scholarships provided by the Franklin Institute’s PACTS program.

The event takes place during the Institute’s monthly Community Night, where admission is free for all visitors after 5 pm. Hosted by the PACTS alumni association, the evening includes live science demos and educational resource tables from The Franklin Institute and local partners offering advice and support for future STEM leaders.

Tickets for contest registration are now on sale through February 15, or until full. Trivia challenge entrance fees are $25 per person or $100 for a 4-player team. All trivia proceeds go toward supporting PACTS youth programs and scholarship funds.  General Museum Admission is free.

For more information, or to register a team, please visit


Partnerships for Achieving Careers and Technology and Science (PACTS) is an academic youth leadership program offered by The Franklin Institute for middle and high school students in Philadelphia. It promotes science enrichment, career development, mentoring, and leadership opportunities through science workshops, field trips, educational resources, and research.

 About The Franklin Institute

Located in the heart of Philadelphia, The Franklin Institute is a renowned and innovative leader in the field of science and technology learning, as well as a dynamic center of activity. Pennsylvania’s most visited museum, it is dedicated to creating a passion for learning about science by offering access to hands-on science education. For more information, visit and follow The Franklin Institute on Twitter @TheFranklin and Instagram @FranklinInstitute, hashtag #franklininstitute.

Contact: Stefanie Santo, | 215.448.1152

Noah Lattanzi, | 215.448.1388