Refugees are welcome here: West Philly neighbors step up for a family in need

Posted on 20 February 2017

Paige Whiting and “Amina” embrace on the porch of Whiting’s home on the 5300 block of Pine St. (Photo by West Philly Local).


Editor’s note: The woman who is the subject of this story asked that we not use her name or show her face in a photo. We honored that request and so we have used the pseudonym “Amina” throughout the story.

Paige Whiting was at Malcolm X. Park a couple of blocks from her home on the 5300 block of Pine Street last fall when she first met Amina, who was at the park with her three children. Their friendship grew to include meetings at one of the many mom groups in the neighborhood. Amina made friends quickly and worked on her English. A refugee from Afghanistan, she and her family had only been in the United States since September.

“I’m so lucky to find these friends,” Amina said, sitting on a couch on the second floor of Paige’s home.  Continue Reading

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West Philly Community Rally and Strike (photos)

Posted on 17 February 2017

A West Philadelphia Community Rally and Strike took place this afternoon in solidarity with the nationwide general strike. West Philly residents, adults and children alike, and many business owners gathered at noon in Clark Park to protest the current administration and to celebrate the diversity in the city.

Some photos from the rally and from around the neighborhood are below, courtesy of Hanbit’s Contemplative Imaging. For more photos, go to Hanbit’s Facebook page.

Continue Reading

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New group, Friends of Kingsessing, to hold first service event this month

Posted on 17 February 2017

Neighbors now have a chance to get more involved with Kingsessing Recreation Center (5001 Kingsessing Ave.). A new official program within the center, Friends of Kingsessing, has recently been formed and their first official service event is being planned for next week.

The program is seeking volunteers to come out on Saturday, Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help paint the front offices and basement, along with a few light maintenance tasks around the building.

Future events will be held on a monthly basis (no-commitment is needed), dates TBA, and future projects will be based on the input from and skills of the volunteers who participate.

“The Advisory Council, the Rec center, and the community would be very grateful if you can make it to this event, as volunteers truly make this facility function,” reads a message on the group’s Facebook page. “Pass the word around and invite your friends to come too, the more help, the better!”

Neighbors interested participating in the event can RSVP to Will Tung at: or through Facebook. Coffee, water and snacks will be provided!

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West Philly Community Strike and Rally planned for Friday in solidarity with general strike (updated)

Posted on 16 February 2017

West Philly Strike and Rally flyer.

In an effort to provide an opportunity for West Philly residents and businesses to protest the decisions by the current administration and to show solidarity with the general strike that is taking place across the country, a West Philadelphia Community Strike and Rally is being planned for Friday, Feb. 17.

Neighbors and businesses in West Philly will be gathering for a rally in Clark Park from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. the rally that will include interactive work by Theater of the Oppressed, puppets from Spiral Q, and a speaker from local activist organization West Philly Forward Together. Participating local businesses will be closing their doors from 12 – 2:00 p.m., if not for the entire day, according to event organizers, local activists Thomas Morello and Jessica St. Jacobs.

“Another aspect of this event’s purpose is in the location, as travel to Center City presents a barrier to some members of our community and does not highlight and empower our specific neighborhood as such,” Morello wrote in an e-mail.  Continue Reading

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Greensgrow offering small community beautification grants

Posted on 15 February 2017

Here’s a chance for West Philly community members who want to beautify their neighborhood to get some financial help. Greensgrow Farms, which recently opened a larger and more permanent West Philly location at 5123 Baltimore Ave., is offering small grants to individuals or organizations in the area for projects that will:

• Improve neighborhood public spaces;
• Beautify the community;
• Nurture a shared sense of neighborhood identity and community pride

The grants are being offered as part of Mary’s Community Fund, a legacy project to continue the life and work of Mary Seton Corboy, the founder of Greensgrow and a supporter of a greener Philadelphia.

Each applicant group must represent a specific neighborhood or organization and may request up to $1000 in direct grant support towards the project budget. Applications are due on March 11, 2017. Grantees will be announced at Greensgrow’s 20th Anniversary Opening Event on March 25.

The application form as well as more information about eligibility, funding guidelines, and project ideas can be found here.

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SEPTA expands Key Fare program (but you need to purchase a TransPass)

Posted on 13 February 2017

SEPTA is expanding its Key Fare program to more transit locations. Starting Thursday, Feb. 9, customers can get a new Key Card at 69th Street Transportation Center with the purchase of a Weekly/Monthly Transpass, Convenience Pass, or when they load funds to a Travel Wallet.

Beginning Monday, Feb. 13, and continuing throughout February and early March, Fare Kiosks will be activated at all Market-Frankford Line and Broad Street Line stations, and all major bus loops. Key Cards will be available with the purchase of Weekly and Monthly TransPasses, and then reloadable for all passes and the Travel Wallet.

Fare Kiosks will be activated on the Market-Frankford Line in West Philly on the following dates:

• Thursday, Feb. 16: 30th St., 34th St., 40th St., 46th St.
• Friday, Feb. 17: 52nd St., 56th St., 60th St., 63rd St.  Continue Reading

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Funeral services for UC Green’s Winnie Harris, murdered last week, set for Monday, Feb. 13

Posted on 10 February 2017

Funeral services for beloved West Philly community activist and acting executive director of UC Green, Winnie Harris, who was found shot to death in her Powelton home last Friday, will take place Monday, Feb. 13.

The funeral will be at the Christ Community Church of Philadelphia (4017 Chestnut St.), beginning at 10 a.m. A closed casket Memorial Hour will begin at 9 a.m. Burial will be at the West Laurel Hill Cemetery, 215 Belmont Avenue, in Bala Cynwyd, followed by a reception for family and friends.

A number of community organizations where Harris, a longtime Powelton resident and green space advocate, has been involved with posted their messages grieving her tragic death.  Continue Reading

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SRC approves KIPP Parkside charter school

Posted on 09 February 2017

The School Reform Commission on Wednesday approved a new charter school to be located in the Parkside neighborhood in West Philadelphia. KIPP Parkside is scheduled to open during the 2019-2020 academic year with grades K-4.

The school’s opening was one of the stipulations the SRC placed on the approval. The school’s application proposed opening in the 2018-2019 school year. The SRC also limited the school to grades K-4, adding that it could expand to the proposed K-8 if it performed well.

KIPP Parkside garnered unanimous approval from the SRC, which denied the applications of two other schools – the Friendship Whittier Charter School in the West Allegheny neighborhood and the Deep Roots Charter School in Harrowgate. Only three proposals made it through the full process this year. The evaluation reports for all three proposed schools are available here.

About a third of Philadelphia’s approximately 130,000 public school students attend charter schools, second only to Detroit among big cities.

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Curio staging of Waiting for Godot opens Friday

Posted on 09 February 2017

Cast members Brian McCann and Paul Kuhn (Photo by Rebecca Gudelunas).

The Curio Theatre Company’s production of the Samuel Beckett classic Waiting for Godot premieres Friday night.

The play features two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, waiting along a country road for someone named Godot, who never arrives. The two engage in a number of comically absurd discussions and encounter others along the road. The British Royal National Theater named the play the most significant English play of the 20th century.

The Curio performance features Brian McCann, Paul Kuhn, Robert DaPonte and Harry Slack. The director is Dan Hodge, who guided the 2016 Curio staging of Death of a Salesman.

A second preview performance is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 9, and the play opens on Feb. 10 and runs through March. All performances begin at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are available here.

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Snow emergency to begin at 12:01 a.m. Thursday due to approaching storm (Update: public, parochial schools to be closed Thursday)

Posted on 08 February 2017

UPDATE (Feb. 9, 1:30 p.m.): The Snow Emergency for Philadelphia was lifted at noon on Thursday. Parking is now allowed along snow emergency routes.

A winter storm is approaching the region (6 to 10 inches of snow is expected in the area on Thursday, Feb. 9), and the city announced that a Snow Emergency will be declared beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday.

All parked cars must be moved off Snow Emergency routes to allow plowing vehicles to pass. When moving your car, park as far from the corner of the street as possible; vehicles parked too close to the corner get in the way of snow plows trying to turn corners.

Here is information on snow emergency routes, including in West Philadelphia.

Cars left on Snow Emergency routes will be moved to other parking spots to assist in snow plowing operations. If your car is moved, call 215-686-SNOW to find it (please don’t call 911).  Continue Reading

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Free community tax filing sites are now open in West/Southwest Philadelphia

Posted on 08 February 2017

Click to enlarge

Campaign for Working Families has again opened sites across the city, where volunteers are helping qualified individuals and families to prepare and file their taxes. Free tax preparation services are being offered to families with incomes less than $54,000 and individuals with incomes less than $20,000.

The following tax preparation sites are currently operating in West and Southwest Philadelphia:

Ebenezer Church

5649 Christian St.
Mon. & Tues. – 12-6:30 p.m.
Weds. & Thurs. – 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Sat – 9 a.m.-3 p.m.


59 N. 60th street
Tues. & Thurs. – 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sat. – 9 a.m.-1 p.m.  Continue Reading

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West Philadelphia Skills Initiative offering security officer training – job interview guaranteed

Posted on 07 February 2017

The West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, the program of the University City District that connects West Philly employers seeking talent with West Philadelphians looking for opportunity, is currently recruiting residents for a training program with Allied Universal, one of the largest providers of security services in North America.

The program is seeking applicants who possess a high school diploma or GED, are currently unemployed, and live in the zip codes of 19104, 19131, 19139, 19143, or 19151. Applicants should have experience working in security, customer service, or related fields.

Program graduates are guaranteed an interview with Allied Universal. The participants will receive a performance-based stipend during the training and will learn the skills needed to successfully connect to employment and a fulfilling career path.  Continue Reading

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Three proposed charter schools, including one in Parkside, up for vote tomorrow

Posted on 07 February 2017

The School Reform Commission is scheduled to vote on three proposed charter schools, including one in West Philly, during a special meeting this Wednesday (Feb. 8) beginning at 4 p.m. at the auditorium at the school district offices at 440 N. Broad Street.

The meeting is the final step in the charter review process. The three proposed schools include KIPP Parkside that would be located in the West Parkside neighborhood. Under the proposal, which can be found here, the new school would open for the 2018-2019 school year and have a projected enrollment of 860 students by 2022. The district had several questions about the fee structure that KIPP, which runs four other charters in the city, set up for the school, according to an evaluation report released last month.  Continue Reading

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Longtime Powelton resident and green space advocate Winnie Harris, 65, found shot to death

Posted on 06 February 2017

The last time we spoke with Winnie Harris was last summer, when she was rallying support for the Holly Street Neighbors Community Garden. The garden, built on a vacant lot, was just down the street from her Holly Street home in West Powelton, where she had lived for 40 years. Gardens, trees and keeping this part of West Philadelphia green was her passion and, as one of the driving forces behind UC Green, her occupation.

Harris, 65, was found dead in her home on the 300 block of North Holly Street late Friday with a single gunshot wound in the abdomen. No arrests have been made, and the police say the motive is unclear. Neighbors on her block noticed Friday that Harris’s second floor window was open. Police found her in a second floor bedroom. Harris lived alone in the house.  Continue Reading

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Cracks discovered on some Market-Frankford Line rail cars; Rush hour delays expected Monday

Posted on 05 February 2017

SEPTA customers who are planning to use SEPTA’s Market-Frankford Line on Monday should prepare for service delays. Due to ongoing inspections following the discovery this weekend of support-beam cracks on two Market-Frankford Line rail cars, there will be a temporary shortage of rail cars during peak travel times. Beginning with the morning rush hour on Monday, Feb. 6, trains will operate with longer intervals, and supplemental bus service will be provided.

During the peak periods – 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. – service will operate as frequently as possible with available vehicles, and A/B stop service will be suspended. Supplemental buses will be positioned at locations along the line to provide alternative service. Midday and evening train service will operate on regular schedules, as will overnight Owl Bus service.  Continue Reading

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Shakespeare in Clark Park holding community workshops, auditions

Posted on 03 February 2017

Shakespeare in Clark Park will return in July with five nights of Coriolanus. The company is continuing its commitment to “radical community engagement,” which for the past three years has seen the community become a part of its annual summer show.

Shakespeare in Clark Park community workshop (Photo courtesy SCP).

Since this fall, Shakespeare in Clark Park has been hosting free acting workshops for the community and private workshops at senior centers and youth groups.

On February 16 and 17, the company will host two workshops in West Philly, where community members can hone their acting skills, have a good time, and even prep for the upcoming community auditions for Coriolanus. Community members will receive training on voice, movement and scene work from professional actors.

Here’s more information on the workshopsContinue Reading

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Aksum owner opens a New American-inspired restaurant on Baltimore Ave

Posted on 02 February 2017

Aksum is among the finer dining options on Baltimore Ave, it’s actually one of my favorites to take out-of-towners to when they come to visit. Owner Saba Tedla has held her restaurant to a high standard, plans to continue with her new restaurant, Booker’s Restaurant and Bar. The new 2,400-square-foot space opened last month just a few blocks away – on the 5000 block of Baltimore.

Don’t expect the same menu as Aksum. Booker’s will offer a more expanded and New American-inspired menu thanks to chef Michael Thomas, who worked previously at Bar Ferdinand in Northern Liberties, Lolita in the Gayborhood, Kraftwork in Fishtown, and Honey’s Sit-and-Eat on South Street among other spots.

Booker’s menu will offer small items such as fried smelt and local mushrooms, large items such as the vegan terrine and pan-seared trout as well as dessert items such as dolce de leche breaded croquettes. This restaurant will also have a bar with a focus on bourbon mixed cocktails and will also feature a wine selection. There are no plans of offering a wide selection of beer options. Tedla describes the menu as “Old classic dishes that are converted to a modern American style.”  Continue Reading

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Philadelphia Parks & Rec hiring lifeguards for 2017 summer pool season

Posted on 01 February 2017

Here’s a summer job opportunity for young West Philly men and women who can swim or are willing to learn to swim. The Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation has launched its 2017 Lifeguard Recruitment Campaign and will begin its competitive lifeguard recruitment process this month.

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to begin the process early in order to have enough time to pass the required screening and lifeguard training course. Parks and Rec staff is also able to provide beginner-level swimmers that apply early with assistance in preparing for the screening. The lifeguard position pays a competitive wage of $12.33 to $14.60 an hour.

Parks and Rec hires 400 lifeguards annually to patrol its 70 outdoor pools and four indoor pools, and there are a lot of West Philly pools that need lifeguards (Pictured: Kelly Pool in West Fairmount Park). The first step for interested candidates is to attend a screening at one of three indoor training facilities during the following screening days and times beginning now through June:  Continue Reading

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High number of gunpoint robberies reported in University City; UCD issues special crime alert

Posted on 31 January 2017

The University City District has issued a special crime alert for the area residents due to a high number of armed robberies reported in the western edge of the neighborhood in the past 10 days. Ten robberies with a gun have been reported since Saturday, Jan. 21, mostly occurring between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. in the areas between Chester Avenue and Pine Street and 47th and 49th.

Here are dates, times, locations and some more details for robberies reported in the past week (via Spot Crime):

− Jan. 27, 8:28 p.m. – 4800 block of Sansom St.
− Jan. 27, 9:06 p.m. – 800 block of S. 49th St.
− Jan. 28, 8:14 a.m. – 900 block of S. 46th St.
− Jan. 28, 9:11 p.m. – S. 49th St. and Springfield Ave. A wallet, iPhone, and headphones were taken in this robbery. Suspects are described as three black males 18-21 years old, wearing jackets and jeans.  Continue Reading

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