All posts by prentice34

West Park Arts Fest – Saturday June 9th, 2018

Founded by West Park Cultural Center in 2008, the West Park Arts Fest is moving to South Concourse Drive in West Fairmount Park. The site is adjacent to the Centennial Commons project along Parkside Avenue- an exciting public space project by Fairmount Park Conservancy as part of Philadelphia’s Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative.

Fairmount Park Conservancy and Mural Arts Philadelphia are joining West Park Cultural Center as organizers for this free public event advancing the festival’s mission to bring communities together in the park, promote greater awareness of the area’s history and heritage, while celebrating the arts and cultural diversity of Philadelphia. The festival embraces partnership and has over the years been made possible in great part to the participation of many arts, cultural and community partners from West Philadelphia and across Philadelphia.

On Saturday June 9th from 12pm to 5pm attendees of all ages will enjoy stages of exciting culturally diverse performances by some of the area’s best dancers, musicians, vocalists, and spoken word artists. Some of the talent includes the popular West Philadelphia Orchestra, Badd Kitti, Gretchen Elise Music, Lauren Putty White, The Philly Clicks, Jasmin Yahne Dance Company, and many more. The event will engage attendees in dance, art making, and many other activities including guided historical trolley tours through the Centennial District. The Franklin Institute will showcase prototypes of its new exhibition “Game Masters” as well as providing PACTS program activities. Attendees can buy unique items in the Handmade Market, browse other vendors and enjoy refreshments from diverse food vendors. An estimated 3,000 are expected to attend. There are Sponsor and Vendor opportunities.

Fairmount Park Conservancy’s Arts & Culture Program, with the support of ArtPlace America, will commission one artist or artist team to create an outdoor art installation for Arts Fest with interactive elements that draw their inspiration from the neighborhood. Festival goers will also see a standing timeline created by Global Philadelphia that documents Parkside’s history and heritage with pictures and text.

To see more visit http://www.westparkcultural.org /westparkartsfest or call 215-473-7810

Niesha Kennedy, PR Manager West Park Cultural nkennedy@westparkcultural.org

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Chess Cadets Championing West Philadelphia- by Jasmine Bullock

Chess mentor Fred Austin Working with students

Throughout the years, movies like Life of a King and Queen of Katwe have shown us how small, local clubs can change lives. This is happening at the 40th and Walnut Streets Library. The Walnut St. West Chess Cadets Chess Club has been practicing and competing for approximately ten years. The club is sponsored by the Local Friends of the Walnut St. West Library lead by group president, Alice Wells.

Each year 30 children ages 6 to 18 participate in the Walnut Street Libraries Chess Club. Children must be in first grade to attend and many of them return for several years. The current program consists of 32 students ranging from age 6 to 13. The children are expected to attend club sessions each week in order to make progress throughout the year. The students are broken into four groups based on skill level. Their continued participation and weekly commitment is exemplified through the wide range of growth throughout the year!

Student success would not be possible without the dedication of 8 coaches. Most of the coaches and mentors are solicited via word of mouth, the After School Activities Partnerships (ASAP) organization and local community groups. Current coach and mentor, Fred Austin, stumbled upon the club in 2011 when searching for a group to play chess with. He was impressed with the enthusiasm of the children and decided to share his talent and love for the game. In past years, former participants have returned to coach younger students while in high school. The club also has unwavering parent support. Each week, parents take turns helping during meeting sessions.

The team participates in approximately four tournaments, sponsored by ASAP, per year and has had several victories as individual competitors and as a team. In their most recent tournament, the Checkmate Violence Tournament at Temple University, Walnut St. West Chess Cadets competed with approximately 300 other participants and went home with four trophies including the 1st place prize!

Each year, the Walnut St. West Chess Cadets Chess Club meets on Wednesdays from September through June. Students are required to complete applications, which are available from librarians. The program runs on a rolling application process. Once spaces are filled, any additional applicants are placed on a waiting list. All students must re-apply each year in August.

For more information about the Walnut West Chess Cadets, contact library personnel at

https://www.freelibrary.org or wswlibraryfriends@gmail.com.

 

“TrolleyTransformation” Is in the works for Girard & Lancaster Avenues

by Manuel Smith

In 2024, hopping on the trolley on Girard and Lancaster Avenues could be a new experience. That’s because SEPTA is planning a fleet of new, longer, ADA-accessible trolleys for Routes 10 & 15, and the four other city trolley routes in the city. Sounds good for riders, but big changes are also in store for drivers and pedestrians on these routes.

For starters, SEPTA’s planned fleet of modern trolleys will operate in new ways. The new vehicles will be at least 80 feet long. (For comparison current trolleys are about 53 feet long.)

Longer trolleys mean more room for seats and riders, and up to four doors on the trolley, up from the current two. This would speed boarding and reduce travel times. Speaking of boarding, this is the part that would be very different. Longer trolleys will need ADA-accessible platforms that will look a lot more like stations. This is so the trolley car could meet the platform allowing riders to get on and off without steps. The platforms would also include space for benches and other passenger amenities. Of course, you could not build full stations at every corner. Plans call for the trolleys to stop every quarter-mile (or every five blocks) at new stations.

SEPTA says this will also allow the trolleys to operate faster than stopping at every block. The building of platforms will mean the elimination of parking at each stop. Depending on the length of the stations, three to five parking spots on each side of the street would be lost. But transit planners explain the effect on parking could be neutral. That’s because if trolleys are stopping at fewer stations, the city could reduce the number of no parking transit zones.

These plans are still in the early planning stages. SEPTA will have to hold hearings to secure both funding and public approval for trolley plan. City Council would also have to approve the parking and street changes that are proposed. We’re sure that there will be many concerns, especially from bicyclists and property owners along the streets to be affected.

SEPTA says the trolley modernization plan including new vehicles and street construction will cost $1.1 Billion Dollars. If funding is identified and secured, we could see new vehicles and new stations on the streets in about six years.

Saving Our Park’s Forests: Restoration Project Underway!

by Jennifer Mahar

Editor’s note: If you have been anywhere near the Horticultural center in the past few weeks you must have noticed all the work going on in the park and the trees being cut down. The Casual Park goer probably pays little attention to the specific types of trees or other plant life found in Fairmount Park. Most of us simply see the ‘woods’ in the park they love and take for granted that they will always be there. However, that’s not guaranteed. Our Park lands take care and nurturing to preserve for future generations. The following article emphasizes why we must now take a more ‘hands on’ approach regarding plant life in our parks. It details what is being done to meet the critical challenge of ensuring the continued survival of a healthy, diverse forests in our city’s parks.

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) and the Fairmount Park Conservancy selected the forests surrounding The Horticulture Center, one of the jewels of the Philadelphia park system, as the focal point for a major restoration effort. The Horticulture Center facility and grounds, which include an arboretum, are historic and provide the setting for horticultural excellence in our park system. The facility features a conference center, indoor gardens and greenhouses, and is a destination for ceremonies, including weddings, corporate events and holiday celebrations. Unfortunately, the native forests surrounding the site are being lost. The forest canopy is dominated by a large number of invasive tree species and portions of the canopy are over-run by invasive woody vines, which are tearing the forest apart. The understory is dominated by a limited number of non-native species of saplings and shrubs, and the native herbaceous layer (wildflowers, ferns and grasses) has disappeared. This forest is on a trajectory to become dominated by a limited number of invasive trees, shrubs, and vines, with little aesthetic appeal, diminished wildlife habitat and minimal diversity. Without intervention, the future forest will provide an unfortunate example of neglect and lost potential.

The Horticulture Center Forest Restoration and Protection project includes three distinct Project Areas, identified as Lansdowne Glen ( 12.8 acres); Montgomery Creek ( 10.7 acres) and Michaux Grove (5.9 acres), totaling approximately 29.4 acres in size. The project sites each abut the Horticulture Center and grounds. The current project will demonstrate to our many visitors that carefully planned restoration can transform a degraded forest into a diverse and functional ecosystem.

Urban forests are subject to a wide range of stressors that do not commonly afflict non-urban or “wildland” forests. The cumulative effect of these stresses is too slow to be observed, but over time, the impacts become obvious. The native trees and shrubs are replaced by non-natives, rampant woody vines tear off limbs and encroach into the canopy; regeneration (i.e. seedlings and saplings) disappear, diversity diminishes, and eventually the forest is lost.

One of the most significant stressors, surprisingly, is an over-population of white-tailed deer. Deer are a native animal; however, the abnormally high population that roams our park system takes a huge toll on the native forest. These herbivores selectively and continuously consume almost every native tree or shrub seedling growing within the forest floor. The “carrying capacity,” or ability of our native forest to provide sufficient food for the deer herd, has been overwhelmed. In addition, these same deer also prefer to consume the native plants rather than the non-native or invasive plant species, which have become increasingly common throughout Philadelphia’s forests. This is because that over the millennia, our native deer co-evolved with our native plants and as a result find the native plants far more palatable and nutritious than the non-natives. In addition to herbivory by deer, our forests have become overrun with non-native plants. The Philadelphia region has a high diversity and abundance of invasive plants due to our rich history of botanical introductions and horticultural plant promotion. These two factors – deer browse and invasive plants – will, over time, result in the replacement of our native forest with a degraded landscape dominated by a few species of non-native trees, shrubs and vines. Unlike most wildland forests, urban forests must be maintained and stewarded if they are to survive.

The goal of this forest restoration project is focused on the removal of nonnative species of plants (trees, shrubs and vines) using traditional forestry equipment in order to prepare the sites for planting and to promote the regeneration and establishment of native plants.

Following the removal of the undesirable vegetation, each of the sites will receive targeted herbicide treatment and then be protected with eight foot (8′) height deer exclusion fencing. Deer fencing is visually unobtrusive and the fence will include multiple pedestrian gates so as not to impede access by park users. A new walking trail for education and passive recreation will be constructed within the Lansdowne Glen project area. While performing clearing, the contractor will be “topping” a number of the undesirable trees that are being removed as part of this project. Standing dead trees are referred to as “snags,” which provide valuable wildlife nesting and feeding opportunities. The contractors will also leave large logs or “habitat logs” laying onsite. These provide habitat and help return nutrients back to the soil as they decay. In fall 2019, PPR and the Fairmount Park Conservancy will plant the site with thousands of native trees and shrubs. Some of these plants will be purchased from local native plant nurseries; however, many will be grown from locally-sourced seed at PPR’s Greenland Nursery (off of Ford Rd. near the Organic Recycling Center).

The project should result in the restoration to a regionally-native forest along with a significant increase in plant diversity. Plant diversity is closely correlated with wildlife diversity, so the project should provide improved nesting and breeding opportunities for resident and migratory wildlife. This effort will reset the trajectory of this urban forest and provide an example of ecological restoration that can be used to teach students and practitioners alike.

Heritage Alive: The Reinvention of Parkside’s Historic Places

– by Melissa Stevens (World Heritage Coordinator, Global Philadelphia Association)

What do you picture when you think of “Philadelphia heritage”? Or the Founding Fathers crafting the Constitution? How about children building rocket ships and having tea parties with the Mad Hatter? Philadelphia became a World Heritage City in 2015 in large part because of our historic achievements and our rich array of historic sites. But recognizing the illustrious history of Philadelphia is only half the story.

We are a World Heritage City because of who we are today and how we have taken what we inherited from past generations – the places, ideas, values, and culture – and made it our own. Heritage is alive. And so are our historic places. Many of these relics and reminders of our past can be found right here in Parkside today. Parkside’s Memorial Hall is a wonderful example of living heritage and the reinvention of a historic site.

Memorial Hall was built as the art gallery for the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, which was the first major World’s Fair in the United States. After the Exhibition, Memorial Hall was reinvented several times: as the first home of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the University of the Arts, as a recording studio for the Philadelphia Orchestra, and as a recreation center.

Today, this National Historic Landmark is home to the Please Touch Museum, where children, rockets, and the Mad Hatter have become part of Philadelphia’s World Heritage story.

Not Far from Memorial Hall is another reminder of Philadelphia”s rich and varied heritage. Shofuso Japanese House and Garden is another Parkside historic site that has undergone several transformations.

Originally, the site was home to a 14th century gate from a Japanese Buddhist temple brought to the US for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition. After a fire destroyed the gate, the Shofuso House was installed in its place in 1957.

The house was originally built in Japan in 1953, using traditional materials and techniques, for an exhibition on Japanese influences on mid-century modern American architecture. Today, the historic site and museum hosts over 30,000 visitors annually.

Historic Belmont Mansion is another example of how Parkside is constantly reinventing itself.

Built in the 18th century as the residence of an English lawyer and farmer, today it is an underground railroad museum, highlighting the history and culture of African Americans, who make up the majority of Parkside’s current population. Parkside’s historic places are living heritage sites, where the neighborhood’s past generations left their mark, and where current residents go to connect with their roots and imagine their futures.

The Mann Music Center Celebrates Black History

As we approached the end of Black History Month 2018, the Mann Music Center treated the public to a special program — their Black History Month Soiree. The Mann used this event to announce details about the Mann’s upcoming community festival called Brilliantly Bernstein: Beyond the Baton and to recognize the achievements of three community leaders. The honorees included Parkside’s own Callalily Cousar, president of the East Parkside Residents Association, along with Sara Lomax-Reese, President & CEO of WURD Radio and Rev. Dr. Mark Tyler, Pastor, Mother Bethel AME Church.

Ms. Cousar has been a fixture in the Parkside Community for many years. As the President of the East Parkside Residence Association (EPRA), she has been on a mission to empower the residents of Parkside.

Brilliantly Bernstein: Beyond the Baton will celebrate the life and legacy of iconic composer Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein would have celebrated his 100th Birthday in 2017. To mark his centennial birthday, festivities spanning six continents are being presented from August 2017, Bernstein’s 99th birthday, through December 2018.

Brandywine Realty Trust Selects the Centennial Parkside CDC as a Co-developer on Schuylkill Yards

Philadelphia, PA (March 15, 2018) –  Centennial Parkside Community Development Corporation announced today it has been selected by Brandywine Realty Trust as a co-developer for the initial phase of Schuylkill Yards, which will include the development of Drexel Square, a 1.3 acre community park at the corner of 30th and Market Streets, and the reimagining of the Bulletin Building.  The 20-year, $3.5 billion mixed-use, master planned project, developed by Brandywine Realty Trust on land owned by both Brandywine and Drexel University, will bring to Philadelphia a next-generation innovation community defined by thoughtful place-making, civic engagement, and quality execution.

As part of Brandywine’s Neighborhood Engagement Initiative and ongoing commitment to the surrounding community, Brandywine selected the Centennial Parkside CDC in a competitive process to provide co-development services on the Drexel Square and Bulletin Building projects. The Centennial Parkside CDC will work as an integral part of the team helping to create community connections to Schuylkill Yards so that all West Philadelphia residents have the opportunity to share in the economic progress exemplified by this project.

“We received a number of high quality proposals from local CDCs making our decision a difficult one, but we are very pleased to have selected Centennial Parkside CDC as our co-developer for the initial phase of development on Schuylkill Yards,” said Jerry Sweeney, president and CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust. “We have established a meaningful role for Centennial Parkside CDC that will generate revenue and create both human resource and capital capacity to foster growth within their organization. This is a practice we will continue to implement for each project within the master plan for Schuylkill Yards.”

Chris Spahr, Executive Director of the Centennial Parkside CDC stated, “We are thrilled to be selected to work with such an experienced team at Brandywine Realty. By contributing to such a transformative project we will serve as an important community engagement arm for these projects to ensure they provide benefits to the surrounding West Philadelphia neighborhoods. Additionally, the injection of resources from Brandywine will help us increase our programmatic work in East Parkside, which is highly aligned with creating more healthy neighborhoods around Schuylkill Yards.”

About Brandywine Realty Trust:

Brandywine Realty Trust (NYSE: BDN) is one of the largest, publicly traded, full-service, integrated real estate companies in the United States with a core focus in the Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Austin markets. Organized as a real estate investment trust (REIT), Brandywine Realty Trust owns, develops, leases and manages an urban, town center and transit-oriented portfolio. Brandywine Realty Trust’s deep commitment to their communities was recognized by NAIOP naming Brandywine the 2014 Developer of the Year — the highest honor in the commercial real estate industry.

The Centennial Parkside CDC is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization located in the East Parkside neighborhood of West Philadelphia. Its mission is to preserve, promote and revitalize East Parkside through partnerships with businesses and institutions and programs that engage residents, increase opportunity, and grow a diverse, thriving community.