Category Archives: Community Happenings

THE OVAL+ Launches Summer Season With Expansion

This week Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and its nonproprofit partner Fairmount Park Conservancy unveiled the latest version of summer at The Oval:  now called the Oval + (plus) because it includes installations and activities at two other parks along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.  Public events began on July 20 and will run through August 20.  This year, the schedule of events at The Oval+ will include programming by The Free Library of  Philadelphia at the newly renovated Shakespeare Park and the Franklin Institute and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University at Aviator Park.

The Oval+ will have food, fun, and entertainment for a month between July 20-August 20, Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 am -11 pm. Highlights at the main Eakins Oval site include:

Eakins Tavern, a beer garden serving Meltkraft sandwiches, local wine from Blair Vineyards, craft brews by Yards, and “Adult Water Ice,” a vodka-spiked slushy.

A rotating line-up of food trucks including these that were ranked in the top 101 in the country in April: Chewy’s, The Cow and the Curd, Surf and Turf Truck, Foolish Waffles, and Cupcake Carnivale.

A brand new drinking fountain with water bottle refill station, a wheelchair accessible nozzle, and dog bowl station; free water bottles will be provided by sponsor PNC.

Wellness Wednesdays with CKO Kickboxing, Philly Dance Fitness, Power Yoga with Yoga Habit, CoreFitness, and Dance Boot Camp.

Arts & Culture Thursdays featuring Hip Hop Fundamentals and dancing with DJs lil’ dave, Skipmode, Mike Nyce, Rich Medina, and Matthew Law from 7pm -11pm.

Food & Flicks Fridays with free screening of the movies Clueless, Hidden Figures, Up, Spaceballs, and Invincible at 9pm.

Game Day Saturday featuring live kids’ music jams and the trivia game Quizzo by Johnny Goodtimes in Eakins Tavern.

Family Fun Sundays with an afternoon-long kid-friendly dance party called “Let’s Rock Recess.”

At Aviator Park, the Free Library will host a jazz series on Thursday evenings, storytelling on Saturday mornings, and improvisational theatre (involving kids from the audience) on Sunday mornings.

Also at Aviator Park, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University will present “Wild Wednesdays” at 1pm, a learning session about birds, butterflies, small mammals, and other creatures in our neighborhoods.

For an interactive calendar of events go to http://theovalphl.org

 

 

FRESH FOOD FEST COMING TO PARKSIDE WITH KNIGHT FOUNDATION SUPPORT

Reading Terminal Market will provide cooking demos, food share with fresh produce and more,

PHILADELPHIA – The first-ever Parkside Fresh Food Fest will come to life this summer thanks to support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and collaboration between the Centennial Parkside Community Development Corporation (Centennial CDC) and the Viola Street Residents Association (VSRA).  The festival will bring healthy, fresh food to Parkside residents via a food share program and cooking demonstrations from Reading Terminal Market, as well as live entertainment and activities for families.

The series of six events begins Thursday, July 6 and will be held on Viola Street between 41st Street and Belmont Ave in West Philadelphia. The Food Fest continues on select Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. until September 21 (July 6, 20; Aug 10, 24; Sept 14, 21).  The series seeks to use food as the foundation to build community, utilize common public space, and provide Parkside residents with access to fresh food.

“Every community in Philadelphia should have access to fresh, healthy food, and Reading Terminal Market is committed to helping facilitate that,” said Anuj Gupta, General Manager of the Reading Terminal Market. “Using food as an avenue for diverse communities to come together is at the heart of what we do at the Market. We want to thank Knight Foundation for involving us in this project and highlighting the need for community gathering spaces for relationship building in Philadelphia.”

In addition to the Reading Terminal Market cooking demonstrations led by Chef Tess Connors, attendees can participate in organized art activities, bicycle safety workshops from the Indego Bike Share, and a Philadelphia Free Library Book Nook for children. Activities will vary each week and may include live music performances and a movie night.

The idea for The Parkside Fresh Food Fest was born from a community-building program hosted in the neighborhood last summer – the Viola Alley Connector, part of the Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative. Reading Terminal Market used this event to gauge resident interest in a potential subsidized Community Supported Agriculture service for East Parkside. Thus, the food share concept was born.

Each food share includes fresh fruit, vegetables, locally-sourced eggs and/or dairy, and an assortment of other grocery items from two merchants at Reading Terminal: Iovine Brothers Produce and Fair Food Farmstand. Participation in the food share program requires a subscription, which may include either a six-event ($50) or four-event ($35) subscription, but some limited single shares ($10) will be available at each event. Information on each item in the food share package will be included along with a recipe card.

“The Parkside Fresh Food Fest is helping to support the wider goals of the Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative, bringing neighborhood residents and organizations together in one of our city’s great public spaces to promote collaboration and new ideas,” said Patrick Morgan, Knight Foundation program director for Philadelphia. “This project leverages the early actions as part of the Civic Commons and takes them to a new level to improve our civic assets and community connections.”

The Centennial Parkside CDC and VRSA are involved in the local Reimagining the Civic Commons Initiative, a pilot program supported by the William Penn Foundation and Knight Foundation, which seeks to connect public spaces such as parks, plazas, trails and libraries to bring together people from different backgrounds. The initiative expanded nationally additional partners in 2016. Centennial Commons, located adjacent to Parkside, is one of the five sites included in the initiative.

“I’ve lived in Parkside for 10 years and am in love with the neighborhood and its beautiful people,” said Joyce Smith, Development Coordinator of Viola Street Residents Association. “The general vacancy on our blocks is something the VSRA has been trying to tackle, and I’m thrilled that the Knight Foundation is implementing wonderful programs like the Fresh Food Fest. Some challenges of living in this area are the lack of a commercial district and stores to find healthy food. This is going to be a great resource for our neighbors and I look forward to seeing its impact.”

The Parkside Fresh Food Fest is made possible through funding from Knight Foundation, developed in partnership with The Centennial Parkside CDC, PennPraxis, the Fairmount Park Conservancy, and All About Events.

About Reading Terminal Market

One of America’s largest and oldest public markets, the Reading Terminal Market serves as a public trust providing a venue for independent local businesses to showcase the Philadelphia region’s culinary bounty and cultural diversity. Housed since 1892 in a National Historic Landmark building, the Market offers an incredible selection of farm fresh produce, meats and poultry, plus the finest seafood, cheeses, baked goods, confections, flowers, kitchenware, cookbooks, jewelry and crafts. The Market is managed by a not-for-profit management company as a tenant of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority, which has owned the historic Reading Terminal since 1990. In 2014, the American Planning Association named Reading Terminal Market as one of the 10 Great Public Spaces in America.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy.

About the Viola Street Residents Association

VSRA was founded in 2009 by a group of pro-active residents advocating for positive improvements in the East Parkside neighborhood through beautification, civic engagement and community revitalization enterprises. Through resident driven initiatives the civic seeks to empower the community by helping residents take ownership of community building initiatives. VSRA’s goal is to generate strength by connecting the community to resources and building on local assets.

About the Centennial Parkside CDC

Centennial Parkside Community Development Corporation (CPCDC) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit community development corporation located in the East Parkside neighborhood of West Philadelphia. The organization responds to a long-standing need for a Community Development Corporation in East Parkside that can align resources and leverage partnerships to spur equitable revitalization in the Community. CPCDC was established in 2015 with the intention of promoting an equitable development strategy that sustains an economically and culturally diverse community, improves the health and well-being of residents, strengthens the community’s identity and connectivity to Fairmount Park, and enhances the quality of the physical environment.

Contact: Alex Styer  Bellevue Communications

astyer@bellevuepr.com

 

 

11th. Lancaster Avenue Jazz & Arts Festival

Philadelphia’s Jaleel Shaw to Headline Free, Family-Friendly Lancaster Avenue Jazz & Arts Festival

Event Celebrates 11th Anniversary with the New Wave of Jazz on July 15th

Philadelphia, PA – Saxophonist Jaleel Shaw will headline the 11th Annual Lancaster Avenue Jazz & Arts Festival on Saturday, July 15th from noon to 7pm in Penn Presbyterian Medical Center’s Saunders Park Greene, 39th and Powelton Avenue. Hosted by People’s Emergency Center (PEC), this marks the 11th year that this annual event has taken place, which has grown from a few hundred attendees to more than 3,000. This year the FREE Lancaster Avenue Jazz & Arts Festival offers a family-friendly event showcasing the best of Philadelphia: a mix of up and coming young artists who are shaping the future of jazz, a diverse gathering of people, a view of the city and a chance to enjoy a neighborhood that is rich in arts and culture. Rain date is Sunday, July 16.

Artisans and vendors along with a variety of specialty food trucks will be on site. Activities such as a moon bounce, face painting, community resources and digital pop-up computer lab will be available for everyone’s enjoyment. Free parking is available one block away at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center’s lot at Powelton Avenue and State Street.

Also performing on the Lancaster Avenue Jazz & Arts Festival stage are jazz performers Matthew Clayton on sax, the vocalist V.Shayne Fredrick, Josh Lawrence on trumpet, the vocalist Lee Mo, Nazir Ebo on drums, and Phoenix Mystique! The Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble will also be back by popular demand, courtesy of The Mann Center for the Performing Arts.

“We are excited to present the 11th Lancaster Avenue Jazz Festival by ushering in the New Wave of Jazz. These under-40 performers will offer the audience very best in fusion, rhythm, and smooth jazz musicianship. The Festival is gaining in renown and popularity, as is Lancaster Avenue. The corridor’s rich artistic and cultural history is leading to a bright future for businesses and residents,” says PEC President Kathy Desmond.

Sponsors include Duane Morris, United Healthcare, The Mann Center for the Performing Arts, Drexel University, Ellen Brotman Law, Citizens Bank, Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, and Ember IT. Talent for the Lancaster Avenue Jazz Fest is curated by the Producer’s Guild of Philadelphia.

A Community Dedicated to Arts and Culture

The community that organizes and supports the Lancaster Avenue Jazz Festival is dedicated to increasing the profile of arts and culture institutions in West Philadelphia. PEC and the Lancaster Avenue Jazz & Arts Festival committee will honor James Dupree and J. Michael Harrison for their outstanding contributions to advancing arts and culture for youth, this community, and the world. The Producer’s Guild of Philadelphia will also grant Lifetime Achievement awards to some musicians.

Master Class

The Community Education Center will host the Lancaster Avenue Jazz & Arts Festival 4th Annual Masters class. This provides an opportunity for youth to participate in practice sessions under the direction of a seasoned Master musician. This year we are honored to have Brent White join us as the curator of the classes. He will instruct the students in the original music of PEC’s headliner Jaleel Shaw supervise practice sessions and lead the students in a special performance on Friday, July 14 at the Community Education Center.

More about the Lancaster avenue Jazz and Arts Festival

The goals of the Festival include: celebrating jazz performers under the age of 40, increasing awareness of the Lancaster Avenue commercial corridor, stimulating the local economy, energizing the community, bringing together partners, and highlighting the community’s rich cultural arts and educational assets. For more information, go to  www.lancasteravejazzfest.com and facebook..com/lancasteravejazzfest.

About People’s Emergency Center

           The People’s Emergency Center’s mission is to nurture families, strengthen neighborhoods and drive change in West Philadelphia. PEC offers affordable housing, job training, parenting and early childhood education, financial education and planning, life skills and technology coursework. PEC seeks to change the life trajectory for the women and children who seek its services and inspire them to aspire to new heights. The PEC community development corporation programs respond to community needs and build on neighborhood assets to help bridge the digital divide, expand mixed-income housing opportunities, stimulate economic growth, create wealth, and improve the quality of life for all West Philadelphia residents. http://www.pec-cares.org www.lancasteravephilly.com www.pechousing.com  # # #

Contact: Trish Downey, PEC Cell: (267) 334-5778  Office: (267) 777-5811 tdowney@pec-cares.org

 

 

REMEMBERING A LEGEND – 2017 Jackie Robinson Day Celebration in Memorial Park

by Nikia Brown

“He could hit and bunt and steal and run. He had intimidating skills, and he burned with a dark fire.” -Roger Kahn, The Boys of Summer

On April 15, 2017, Parkside community residents and civic leaders gathered around the Philadelphia Stars Negro League Memorial Park to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut as the first African American to enter Major League Baseball (MLB). Robinson broke the color barrier in MLB when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. Nevertheless, his legacy far surpasses that of a typical athlete. He is an iconic legend, Civil Rights ambassador, record breaker, and a man he lived by his own ethos: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”

The Memorial Park Celebration attracted a diverse audience including Gwen Gould, the last surviving wife of one of the Philadelphia Stars players, Harold Gould; Kenny Johnson, Coordinator of Community Engagement for the Philadelphia Phillies; Ron Whittington, a Jackie Robinson storyteller and impersonator; and, of course, the eagerly anticipated and wildly unpredictable, Phillie Phanatic.

Gould, who is now in her late 80s, expressed feelings of deep satisfaction and pride after the day’s event. “It was wonderful. I saw a lot of little kids out here which is encouraging. It’s a wonderful thing, and at my age you appreciate just getting out and being among friends.” Philadelphia Phillies Community Engagement Coordinator, Kenny Johnson, grew up in West Philadelphia right around the corner from the Philadelphia Stars Memorial Park. He feels a connection to the community and is grateful for the positive impact of Negro League baseball on urban neighborhoods.

“This event is important because baseball is an intergenerational sport. It’s grandmothers and grandfathers passing it down to their kids,” says Johnson. “Stories of Jackie Robinson and his exemplary legacy are very important (and must) stay within the consciousness of families and the community. It shows that when you persevere, when you work hard and bring folks together, you can do some amazing things.”

Two Phillies Ball Girls accompanied Johnson to the Celebration, Courtney Williams and Trisha Lang. This was Williams’ second year coming to the event and she expressed that it is important “to look back at our history to see the movers and shakers and how we got to be where we are today.” Williams, who is African American, feels her race provides a greater impetus to survey the events of Black history and how much the African American community has progressed since oppressive times. “It’s sometimes hard to see how far we’ve come, but we really have come very far,” says Williams.

While this was Lang’s first time attending the event, she was equally grateful to be a part of the experience. She stated, “I am thankful to be able to be in this position where I can come out and be involved in such a great event that involves the entire community and brings everyone together to look back at how far we’ve come and where we started.”

The event was also well-represented by key members of the Business Association of West Parkside such as Marjorie Ogilvie, Miller Parker, Lucinda Hudson, Cassandra Hayes, and Dennis Lee.

Parker, who has been the treasurer of the Business Association of West Parkside for about 15 years, remembers with fondness the early beginnings of the Philadelphia Stars Negro League Memorial Park. He shares, “One of the things we want to do is draw attention to this neighborhood and community and get the community involved in the park. We came up with this idea that baseball might be the way to go because there was a baseball field here a number of years ago where the Negro League played.” Parker believes this annual celebration is one way of keeping the legacy of extraordinary African Americans alive in the community.

Hayes, an animated and dedicated community advocate, continued, “This is something that we have been doing for the past eleven years. I’ve been a part of it every year. I come, I eat, I play, I meet folks. It’s a great way to just enjoy the community and recognize one of the historical figures in Black and American history.” Lee, who emceed the event, felt this year’s festivities was special because it marked their 11th year of hosting the Memorial Celebration and Jackie Robinson’s 70th year of remembrance. “The future is promising if we remember our legacy,” offered Lee before jetting off to his next event. The team is already expectant of next year’s activities and look forward to sharing the rich history of the Philadelphia Stars with a broader and more diversified audience.

 

Parkside’s New Ambassadors Program

Our thanks to all members of the ambassadors program, seen here are Tracy Reed, Quentin Drew and John McFadden.

By Michael Burch

You may have seen the hard-working guys, pictured above, working around Parkside. They are part of a program from the Centennial Parkside CDC called the Ambassadors program. In an effort to learn more about this program, I contacted Chris Spahr, the executive Director of Centennial Parkside and asked him some questions.

PJ: Can you tell me what the Ambassadors program is all about?

CS: The Ambassador Pilot Program helps to achieve one of the goals of the Centennial Parkside CDC, which is to clean and beautify the corridors of East Parkside. To do this, the ambassadors are sweeping streets, cleaning vacant lots, and working to combat illegal dumping in the community. Our hope is that this will encourage residents and business owners to keep their sidewalks and lots clean and beautiful and extend their concern to vacant lots and alleyways in the neighborhood. It is also a sign that East Parkside is no longer a place where people can illegally dump garbage. Rather, we hope that this program will empower residents to take control of their neighborhood and demand an end to illegal dumping.

PJ: How many staff currently and what is their service area?

CS: There are currently three staff members and their initial focus areas are vacant lots, 40th and 41st streets from the bridges to Girard Avenue, and Girard Avenue from 40th Street to 38th Street.

PJ: Do you have a plan to expand the program?

CS: This project, supported by the Knight Foundation and Brandywine Realty, is currently funded through October but the CDC is pursuing additional funding to extend and expand the program.

PJ: One more thing, if residents should need help with a neighborhood problem, can they request help?

CS: Yes, if residents request help from the Ambassadors, this information will be relayed to management at the CDC, who can then add this to the work plan. Residents can also contact the CDC directly to request help with any specific neighborhood problems.

PJ: Thank you for answering our questions.  For residents that have a need to contact the CDC they can be reached at 267-225-8356.

 

WEST PARK ARTS FEST – CELEBRATING 10 YEARS on Saturday, June 3, 2017

Philadelphia, PA – Founded by West Park Cultural Center in 2008, the West Park Arts Fest is celebrating 10 years and moving to the Avenue of the Republic near the Please Touch Museum. This site is adjacent to the Centennial Commons – an exciting public space project under construction by Fairmount Park Conservancy as part of Philadelphia’s Reimagining the Civic Commons initiative.

Fairmount Park Conservancy and Global Philadelphia have joined 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 3rd from 12pm to 5pm attendees of all ages will enjoy two stages of exciting culturally diverse performances by some of the area’s best dancers, musicians, vocalists, and spoken word artists. Some of the talent will include the popular West Philadelphia Orchestra, Badd Kitti, Gretchen Elise Music, Pasión Y Arte Flamenco, Megan Flynn Dance Company, Academy of Classical Indian Dance, Jasmin Yahne Dance Company, and much more. The event will invite participation in dance, collaborative painting with WEPAINT, free guided historical trolley tours through the Centennial District, heritage storytelling with Global Philadelphia, children’s activities with the Franklin Institute PACS Program, Tree House Books and more to be announced. As part of the celebration, Fairmount Park Conservancy’s Arts & Culture Program, with the support of ArtPlace America, has commissioned artists to create special installations and interactive elements that draw their inspiration from the neighborhood, the park and the history of the 1876 Centennial. Festival goers will see a standing timeline created by Global Philadelphia that documents Parkside’s history and heritage with pictures and text.

Attendees can buy unique items in the Handmade Market, browse other vendors and enjoy refreshments from food vendors and the popular Parks on Tap – the traveling beer garden developed by Fairmount Park Conservancy with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and FCM Hospitality. An estimated 1,500 are expected to attend. Participating partners this year include Mann Center, Philadelphia Zoo, The Franklin Institute, Tree House Books, Keepers of the Culture,

Sponsors as of this writing include ArtPlace, UPS, ShopRite, Rockland Capital, Zakian, and Zerflin. The event is also supported in part by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.

To learn more about the festival visit http://www.westparkcultural.org/westparkartsfest and http://www.facebook.com/westparkartsfestival  For more information call 215-473-7810 or email info@westparkcultural.org.

Niesha Kennedy, PR Manager

West Park Cultural Center

215-278-3450

nkennedy@westparkcultural.org