Big fences, small zines and hands-on learning: West Philly in the news

July 28, 2015

Here’s a round up of some of the latest news coming out of the area.

St. Francis de Sales School photo

St. Francis de Sales School (Photo from

Cool things are happening at St. Francis de Sales, the local Catholic school. The school recently received a $13,000 grant from the nonprofit faith-based Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia to help fund its Science and Arts Innovative Learning on the River (SAILOR) program. The program provides real-world, hands-on engineering experience to participating students who visit the Delaware river, build boats and learn how to operate them. The program has inspired many St. Francis de Sales students to pursue an education in engineering, according to The Philadelphia Tribune. By the way, the school’s highly-acclaimed after-school music program, Play On Philly!, has also been featured in the news many times.


Photo from

Have you checked out The Soapbox yet? Philadelphia City Paper has recently published a nice feature on the West Philly-based independent publishing center. Co-founders Mary Tasillo and Charlene Kwon opened the space at 741 S. 51st St in 2011 to be used as a community studio for book arts and zine-making. Now, in addition to the studio, which is free to use for their members, The Soapbox also hosts a variety of workshops and houses a vast collection of zines (about 1,500!), over 500 of which have been cataloged. In other independent publishing news, the annual Philly Zine Fest will take place at The Rotunda (40th and Walnut) on Aug. 30


William Street Common cafe fence then and now (Photo from

• William Street Common, a new “flat pricing” concept restaurant that opened an outdoor cafe this spring at 39th and Chestnut, was forced to update its fence after the June 17 publication by Philadelphia Magazine’s Citified, titled Twee West Philly Restaurant Fences In Big Chunk of Public Sidewalk. In the article, the tall fence surrounding the cafe was called a “barrier” grabbing a large chunk of the public sidewalk instead of blending private space with public space as outdoor cafes are supposed to do. The article also stated that Citified had contacted the mayor’s office with questions about whether the fencing structure was legal after which the authorities started investigating the matter. According to last week’s update from Citified, the fence has been shortened and some parts of it were removed after the city Streets Department found it non-compliant. The restaurant owner Avram Hornik, who also owns Morgan’s Pier, Union Transfer, Boot & Saddle and other establishments, told Philly Mag that the fence “was a reasonable answer to the high volume of cars that pass by on Chestnut.”

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