Philadelphia Science Festival continues with West Philly STEM-A-THON

April 26, 2018

Science in the Park was held April 21 at Clark Park (Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Science Festival).

The Philadelphia Science Festival kicked off Friday, April 20 with tons of fun and educational events being held around the city. The goal of this annual event is to “educate, inspire, and engage the region with the science and technology that surrounds our everyday world.”

In West Philadelphia, West Philly Star Party and Science in the Park were held last weekend. This Friday (April 27), West Philly STEM-A-THON will take place at White Rock Baptist Church. More details are below.  Continue Reading

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Go West! Craft Fest returns this Saturday

April 26, 2018

The Woodlands historic grounds is hosting the Spring edition of Go West! Craft Fest this Saturday (April 28), 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The popular West Philly festival and craft market will feature handmade items from about 100 local makers, plus live music, food trucks, children’s activities, and acrobatic performances.

This is a great opportunity to spend a nice spring day outdoors and also shop for unique Mother’s Day gifts. There will be a lot to choose from, including artisan jewelry, ceramics, home wares, clothing, cards, candles, soaps, scents, sweets, toys, tinctures, treasures, and works of art! You can check the vendor list before heading out to the Fest here.

Also check out the entertainment schedule:  Continue Reading

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Catch-22 opens Friday at Curio; Preview performance tonight

April 25, 2018

Photo by Rebecca Gudelunas

West Philly’s Curio Theatre Company is closing out the season with another production that looks back in time to shed light on our current sociopolitical moment. Curio staged Marie Antoinette, a work that highlights political and personal excess, earlier this year. This week Catch-22, an adaptation of Joseph Heller’s classic novel, opens on the Curio’s stage in the Calvary Center for Culture and Community at 4740 Baltimore Ave.

Set during World War II but aimed as a critique of the Cold War and McCarthyism, Catch-22 follows the travails of American bombardier John Yossarian and other soldiers who are walking the fine line between carrying out their duty while trying to remain sane amid the absurdity and hypocrisy of a stultifying bureaucracy.  Continue Reading

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Residents of two apartment buildings at 48th and Locust ‘ordered’ to leave within three weeks (updated)

April 25, 2018

UPDATE: A Dorset/Admiral Court Mass Eviction Rally, hosted by Philadelphia Tenants Union, will take place Monday, April 30, 4-5:30 p.m. at 4710 Locust St. For more information, visit the event Facebook page.

Residents of two apartment buildings, Admiral Court and Dorsett Court, located at 48th and Locust, were told earlier this month to move out by April 30, according to media and neighbor reports. The reason? The owner is reportedly selling the buildings, which include affordable, Section 8 housing.

According to the eviction letter, received by the tenants on April 9, the doors will be locked and utilities will be shut off April 30, so many residents are currently scrambling to find new places to live. About 70 tenants are working with Community Legal Services to determine their rights in this “unlawful” situation, according to a report by

The two four-story buildings include 105 apartments, about 30 percent of which are vacant, according to the report. The prospective buyer hasn’t yet been identified, but demand for market-rate apartments has ballooned in recent years. The buildings are across the street from the newly developed West Lofts (former West Philadelphia High School).  Continue Reading

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Demolition permit issued for 131-year-old Christ Memorial Church at 43rd and Chestnut

April 24, 2018

Evidence of the pressure on the historic building is just across the street from the Christ Memorial Church, where an apartment building aimed at students is under construction.

After years of speculation about its future, it appears that the end is near for the 131-year-old Christ Memorial Reformed Episcopal Church at 43rd and Chestnut.

Earlier this month the city issued a permit for the demolition of the church. The permit was issued to building owners Kalidave Limited Partners, which is run by local developer Guy Laren. Laren saved a Frank Furness church at 47th and Kingsessing from the wrecking ball three years ago, prompting some to hope he might salvage some of Isaac Pursell-designed English Gothic Revival building. He has not responded to calls or e-mails.  Continue Reading

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People’s Emergency Center, Brightside Academy offer training, employment in early childhood education

April 23, 2018

People’s Emergency Center (PEC) and Brightside Academy announced a new partnership to fast track individuals looking to break into the early childhood education field. The goal of the innovative employment strategy is to provide employment opportunities and create highly-skilled employees that are encouraged to continue an employment and educational journey in early childhood education.

PEC’s Center for Employment and Training (CET) will recruit individuals interested in this career path and prepare them for the program with five weeks of Professional Development Training, which provides an overview of critical employment skills applicable to every field, such as time management, effective communications, working on teams, presentations, and more. CET will also assist with resume building, interview skills, attire, transportation, child care, connections to resources, and assistance applying for the CDA voucher from the state of Pennsylvania.  Continue Reading

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Prescription drug take-back box installed in University City

April 23, 2018

University City and West Philly residents can now safely dispose of unused prescription drugs by bringing them to the Penn Police headquarters, where a prescription drug take-back box has been installed. The box installation is a part of the Pennsylvania Prescription Drug Take-Back Program, which is focused on alleviating the health and safety concerns from the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs.

Improper disposal of prescription drugs can also create environmental hazards impacting groundwater, rivers, and harming wildlife.

Residents are encouraged to dispose of unwanted drugs safely by dropping them in the prescription drug take-back boxes installed around the city, including the new one at 4040 Chestnut Street and  another at 61st and Thompson Streets (19th Police District headquarters). For more drug take-back box locations in Philadelphia, check out this mapContinue Reading

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Retailers begin selling SEPTA Key cards

April 20, 2018

SEPTA Key Cards are now available for purchase at a number of retail locations, in addition to transit station and Bus Loop Fare Kiosks and SEPTA Sales Offices.

The initial launch of the “SEPTA Key External Retail Network” earlier this week included more than 100 locations where customers can purchase a Key Card and load/reload fares such as Weekly and Monthly TransPasses, Convenience Passes, and Travel Wallet value. The retail network will eventually grow to approximately 1,500 locations, including grocery stores, pharmacies and local convenience stores, among others, according to SEPTA.  Continue Reading

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Shop for plants, visit historic Bartram’s House this Saturday at Bartram’s Garden

April 19, 2018

Heritage roses, historic boxwoods, vegetable and herb starts, native perennials, shrubs, trees and more will be available for sale at this year’s plant sale at Bartram’s Garden. The popular annual event will be held on Saturday, April 21, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.. It is also a great opportunity to visit the 1731 Bartram House which will be open all day.

Throughout the day, horticulturalists will be on hand to answer questions and share garden-planning advice.

Bartram’s Garden members are invited to check out this year’s fabulous selection of plants during a Member Preview Party on Friday, April 20, plus enjoy discounts on plant and Welcome Center purchases.  Continue Reading

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Meet candidates for 3rd Congressional seat and Lt. Governor Thursday at USciences

April 18, 2018

Here’s a chance to meet and hear from some candidates up for election in next month’s primaries. The 27th Ward Democratic Executive Committee is hosting a candidates forum on Thursday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Rosenberger Hall on the University of the Sciences campus (west side of the 600 block of S. 43rd St. – across from Clark Park).

The forum will feature candidates for the seat from the newly redrawn 3rd Congressional district. Incumbent Dwight Evans, a Democrat and former state representative from North Philly running for his second term, will join Democratic challenger Kevin Johnson, a pastor at the Dare to Imagine Church in East Mount Airy, at the event.

Pennsylvania’s 3rd Congressional district, which was unveiled earlier this year after the state Supreme Court ordered that it be redrawn, includes West and Northwest Philadelphia and Center City.  Continue Reading

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Mixed use building under construction on former Elena’s Soul lot on Baltimore Ave

April 17, 2018

It’s been more than five years since the devastating Christmas Eve fire destroyed the popular Cedar Park bar & restaurant Elena’s Soul and damaged the adjacent diner and hair salon. After the fire and demolition, the empty lot at 4912 Baltimore was temporarily used by Greensgrow West (in 2014-2016), and now we noticed a new building coming up. We reached out to the property owner, local businessman Algernong Allen, for more information.  Continue Reading

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New zoning and construction tax bills proposed in City Council aimed at increasing home ownership and affordable housing

April 17, 2018

A bill introduced last week at the Philadelphia City Council would levy a 1 percent tax on construction and relax some zoning codes to fund programs aimed at providing more affordable housing in the city.

The bills are a series of compromises arising from battles between progressive city council members and real estate and construction lobbying groups. Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez had been pushing for a bill that would mandate the inclusion of affordable housing units in any new development, but her proposal was almost unanimously opposed by the powerful building and real estate lobbies, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The compromise, which replaced a mandate with incentives, but which would also allow developers to pay a penalty fee in lieu of including affordable housing in their developments, has the backing of some of the previously opposed lobbying groups, like the Building Industry Association.

Current estimates are that the tax will raise $25 million a year. There is no word yet on when these proposals will be put to a vote.

Mike VanHelder

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Apartment building proposal on 4800 block of Baltimore back before Cedar Park Zoning Committee tomorrow

April 16, 2018

Click to enlarge

A proposal for a 5-unit apartment building at 4829 Baltimore Ave. will be back in front of the Cedar Park Neighbors zoning committee on Tuesday, April 17. Last month the committee asked the developer to slim down the building so it would encroach less on adjacent buildings.

The owner has requested a variance for construction of the apartment building (see rendering) at the site currently zoned RSA-3, which would allow only a single-family structure on the long vacant lot.

The public is welcome to attend to the meeting, which will be held at Calvary Center (48th and Baltimore, entrance on Baltimore), beginning at 7 p.m., to see the revised plans and elevations for the proposed building and to voice your opinions on this proposal. If you cannot make this meeting and wish to comment, please contact Cedar Park Neighbors.

To read more about the original plans presented at the previous zoning meeting, go here.

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West Philly public hearing on proposed water rate increases this Tuesday

April 16, 2018

The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) filed a notice of proposed rate increases to help pay for maintenance on one of the oldest water systems in the country. A hearing is scheduled for West Philly on Tuesday, April 17, to provide more information and answer questions.

The meeting will take place at White Rock Baptist Church (5240 Chestnut St.) from 6:30 to approximately 8:30 p.m.

The Water Department is responsible for the maintenance and replacement of more than 6,000 miles of water mains and sewers. There were 715 water main breaks in Philadelphia between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017, which impacted about 700 neighborhood blocks. And this past winter season was especially challenging, with 625 water main breaks in just over three months, according to the PWD.  Continue Reading

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Cedar Park Neighbors Board election, info session on taxpayer assistance programs on Monday

April 13, 2018

parkCedar Park Neighbors (CPN) will hold its annual meeting on Monday, April 16, and all interested neighbors are welcome to attend. During the meeting, the CPN executive and board member election will be held. You can check the list of candidates here (please note that only CPN members can vote; if you want to join CPN, go here for more information).

After the election, Vicki Riley from the Department of Revenue will speak about taxpayer assistance programs.

The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. with the election, and the presentation and Q & A with Vicky Riley will be held from 7 – 8 p.m., followed by the board meeting.

The meeting will be held at the Calvary Community Center at 48th and Baltimore (please enter on 48th Street for the chapel).

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Mussels in the Schuylkill? Local organizations to establish Aquatic Research and Restoration Center

April 11, 2018

Photo via

A species in decline, the once-abundant North American freshwater mussel is one of the bedrock animals of our local aquatic ecosystem. Last year, a combination art exhibit, educational facility and working mussel hatchery opened at the Fairmount Water Works. Building on the success of the hatchery, several prominent local organizations including the City of Philadelphia, Bartram’s Garden, The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, Drexel University and the Independence Seaport Museum are joining forces to establish an Aquatic Research and Restoration Center (ARRC). 

The Center will be dedicated to the restoration of local aquatic ecosystems in general, and specifically the reintroduction of freshwater mussels and river shad (a kind of herring) to the Delaware Estuary, including our own Schuylkill River. Why shad? Mussels require shad and other host fish in order to breed. Though the shad don’t get anything out of it, we do: Mussels are filter-feeders, and a single mussel can filter waste out of enough drinking water for anywhere from a dozen to two dozen people a day. Considering that the source of Philadelphia’s drinking water is the Schuylkill, which is also where local sewage treatment plants dump their treated effluent, more mussels and therefore more filtration seems like a pretty good idea.

The ARRC program kicks off May 3rd at the Fairmount Water Works (640 Water Works Drive) when a memorandum for the development of the ARRC will be signed.

Mike VanHelder

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SEPTA Key Card program changes to go into effect May 4

April 10, 2018

SEPTA recently announced some important changes to its Key Card program that will go into effect on May 4, 2018.

Here’s the summary:

• In response to customer feedback, the minimum amount to load funds onto the SEPTA Key Card Travel Wallet will be lowered from $10 to $5. The maximum per transaction will remain $250.

• The card itself will no longer be free after May 4. The $4.95 cost to buy a Key Card will go into effect.  Continue Reading

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Philadelphia artists sought for art program as part of MOVE bombing site redevelopment project

April 9, 2018

The city’s Redevelopment Authority (PRA) and AJR Endeavors, the developer working on rebuilding the homes on the 6200 blocks of Osage Avenue and Pine Street, the site of the 1985 MOVE bombing and subsequent fire, are seeking Philadelphia-based artists for their “Percent for Art” project.

The art project will be based on community engagement and may ultimately take a more traditional artistic form, or less traditional form, such as performance-based, ceremonial, a print or digital publication, and other forms.

The Redevelopment Authority has recently issued a Request for Qualifications for Artists for the project.  Continue Reading

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Meet State House of Representatives candidates, ask questions this Thursday

April 9, 2018

Community members are invited this Thursday (April 12) to a Candidates’ Night for the Democratic candidates running for the 188th district seat. The event is hosted by the 27th Democratic Ward and will feature candidates Jeff Curry, Dianne Settles and the incumbent Jim Roebuck. As the primary election day is approaching fast (it will be held on May 15), this is a great opportunity to discuss current issues in Pennsylvania and ask the candidates what they would do in Harrisburg to bring about the policies you support.

The event will take place at the University of the Sciences, Rosenberger Hall (600 S. 43rd St.) beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Also a reminder that the last day for voter registration before the primary is Monday, April 16. For more information, visit the Committee of Seventy website.


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