Archive | November, 2013

Explore holiday traditions from around the world this Sunday at Penn Museum

November 29, 2013

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On Sunday, Dec. 1, there will be a great opportunity to wind down your Thanksgiving weekend and learn more about other cultures at the 18th annual “Peace Around the World: Passport to Cultures” event at Penn Museum (3260 South St). This is a free event for the whole family. Visitors will receive museum “passports” with itineraries to visit different cultures (Brazilian, Cameroonian, Indian, Kenyan, Pakistani and more) and explore their holiday traditions.

The event includes a wide array of activities, such as dance, storytelling, sari-wrapping, yoga sessions, Middle Eastern drumming workshops, face painting and balloon art for children, and international family crafts. And of course, there will be free treats for children!

The event will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. and guests are also invited to bring a new, unwrapped toy donation that will go to a West Philadelphia charity. For more information about this event and schedule of activities, visit this page.

(Photo courtesy of Penn Museum)

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‘Them That Do’ Profiles of West Philly block captains: Juanita Hatton, 3900 Poplar Street

November 27, 2013

Editor’s Note: West Philly Local is proud to present the fourth in a series of vignettes of local block captains drawn from Them That Do, a multimedia documentary project and community blog by West Philly-based award-winning photographer Lori Waselchuk. Check Them That Do for more information, updates and additional photos.

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Juanita Lewis Hatton / Photo by Lori Waselchuk.



Juanita Lewis Hatton leans over the thick black back-support belt, noisily adjusting the Velcro clasp. “Oh God!” she says. “I suffer with this back pain. It’s not as bad as yesterday, mind you,” she tells me.

Ms. Hatton was preparing to step outside and distribute her monthly newsletter door-to-door for the residents of the 3900 block of Poplar St, where she is the block captain. She lives on a street peppered with vacant lots, abandoned buildings and dilapidated homes. Yet the street has no visible trash and the grass in vacant lots is cut.

Hatton moved into her two-story row home on Poplar St. in 2009. Within the first week of moving in, she swept as if it was an obvious thing to do. The neighbors were intrigued. They questioned the 72-year-old grandmother to find out which government agency she worked for.

Hatton’s answer: “I don’t work for the city. I just don’t like livin’ around dirt!”

Hatton has been a block captain for over a total of 38 years. Most of those years she served her former block in Nicetown where she became known as the ‘Granny of Nicetown’. She rallied her neighbors to board up abandoned houses, organized neighborhood watches, planned summer festivals and flea markets, connected civic and health resources to the community and she spearheaded the rehabilitation of Nicetown Park on Germantown Avenue. Continue Reading

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Thanksgiving holiday hours for local cafes, shops, grocery stores

November 27, 2013


If you are spending Thanksgiving Day in the neighborhood, here’s the hours for assorted local stores, cafes and restaurants. And here’s our story on what to do and where to stay in West Philly for the holidays in case you missed it.

Aksum (4630 Baltimore Ave) – Thursday: Closed; Friday: Open for dinner.

Cafe Renata (4305 Locust St) – Wednesday: 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Thursday: Closed; Friday, Saturday & Sunday: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. By the way, Cafe Renata will be serving complimentary mimosas with brunch on Black Friday and begin offering seasonal specials like: pumpkin french toast, cranberry chutney turkey club sandwiches and roasted butternut squash soups.

Earth Cup Coffee (45th & Pine) – Thursday: 7 a.m. – noon.

Green Line Cafe (all locations) – Wednesday: Close at 5 p.m.; Thursday & Friday: Closed.

Mariposa Food Co-op (4824 Baltimore Ave) – Wednesday: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Thursday: 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Milk & Honey Market  (4435 Baltimore Ave) – Thursday: Closed; Friday: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Supreme Shop n Bag (43rd & Walnut) – Wednesday: 7 a.m. – 12 a.m.; Thursday: 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.

The Fresh Grocer (4001 Walnut St)  – Thursday-Sunday: Open 24 hours.

VIX Emporium (5009 Baltimore Ave) – Wednesday: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.; Thursday: Closed; Friday & Saturday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

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Tattoo studio appears to be heading to 4500 block of Walnut

November 26, 2013

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4510 Walnut Street / Photo by Mike Lyons.


After years as a shop selling phone cards to most recently an art studio, it looks like the storefront at 4510 Walnut St. will become West Philly’s third tattoo studio.

The property owner and the potential studio proprietors presented their plan to the Spruce Hill Community Association’s zoning committee last night for the 1,200-square-foot storefront, which is a couple doors west from Monarch Hardware. Marvin Graaf, the owner of the Falls Taproom in East Falls who would be a co-owner of the studio, told the committee that the studio would require no changes to the facade of the building, “no major construction” inside and, importantly for the committee, no neon signs anywhere, Graaf said.

Graaf and his partner recently met informally with people from nearby businesses, a church and mosque to talk about his plans and told the committee he received mostly positive feedback. One local business owner initially responded negatively, afraid that “Hell’s Angels types” might be hanging around the studio, a committee member said. But that business owner was persuaded that the tattoo scene has changed.

“I think the common perception is that you get a seedy crowd hanging around,” said Graaf. “That’s really not how it is anymore.”

The studio would be open until 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends.

The studio still needs a nod from the full SHCA and a special use variance from the city.

Mike Lyons

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Historic mansion stays?: As lawsuit winds on, new plan offered for embattled property at 40th and Pine

November 26, 2013

A new chapter began last night in the ongoing saga of 400 S. 40th Street, the contentious property on the edge of the University of Pennsylvania’s growing footprint that includes a historic mansion that community members, developers and Penn officials have been quarreling over for a decade.

Developers presented preliminary drawings last night to the Spruce Hill Community Association zoning committee for a graduate housing complex that keeps the original mid-19th Century Italianate mansion, strips away the hideous concrete block additions added when it was a nursing home and adds a detached five-story, L-shaped housing complex aimed at graduate students.


Residents look over a preliminary drawing of a new proposal for 40th and Pine last night at the Spruce Hill Community Association zoning committee meeting.

“We’re hoping to build support for this approach and avoid a couple more years of litigation,” said Jonathan Weiss of Equinox Management and Construction, the developer behind “Azalea Gardens.” “We’re trying to find a way forward.”

The developers and officials from Penn, which bought the property at 40th and Pine streets in 2008,  presented the plan as a compromise to  head off a lawsuit filed by the nearby Woodland Terrace Homeowners Association after the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment (and the Philadelphia Historical Commission and SHCA) approved a plan last November that would have demolished the mansion to make room for a five-story structure. Penn officials argued that the mansion presented a hardship for any plans to develop the property.

That five-story structure without the mansion was proposed after many residents balked at a previous plan for a seven-story structure that kept the historic mansion intact. That proposal came after a plan to build an 11-story, long-term stay hotel (which was eventually built on the 4100 block of Walnut) was abandoned.  Continue Reading

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Local farm, food program seeking community support

November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving is a great time to give back, so if you’re looking for some local causes to help this week you might want to consider donating to local food growers and distributors. Check out these two fundraising campaigns currently underway in the area.

‘Bring in the Harvest with Mill Creek Farm’ fundraising campaign


Photo via

Mill Creek Farm, and urban educational farm operating at 49th and Brown in West Philly, is dedicated to improving access to fresh produce and building a healthy community. The farm underwent a lot of transition this year, bringing a new farmer, acting director and board of directors, and is trying to stay afloat through the end of this season and into the winter. The current fundraising goal is $13,400 and there are still 12 days to go. Here’s what your money will go toward, according to the project’s Indiegogo page:

  • keep our farmers employed through the farmers market season
  • continue offering affordable, fresh, vegetables at 2 weekly farm stands
  • offer educational tours for students from pre-schoolers to undergrads

For more information and to donate go to:

The Fresh Food Hub Mobile Grocery Store expansion project


Photo from The Fresh Food Hub’s Facebook page.

The Fresh Food Hub, a mobile grocery store and farmers’ market bringing fresh and healthy food to Powelton, Mantua and Belmont neighborhoods, is raising funds for its expansion into other parts of Philadelphia. The project launched in Spring 2012 and as of August 2013 The Fresh Food Hub has distributed over 15 tons of fresh fruits and vegetables and served over 1,500 West Philadelphia families.

The Fresh Food Hub fundraising campaign in on Kickstarter (some of you have probably seen it in the sidebar widget on West Philly Local) and there are still 11 days left to help. As of Monday, Nov. 25, 1:30 p.m., $8,555 has already been raised toward the $9,773 goal. To read more about The Fresh Food Hub and to donate, click here.

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