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Lots of live music, fun at 40th Street Summer Festival and more events this Saturday

July 24, 2015

MixedPeople

Mixed People band will perform this Saturday at 40th and Walnut.

The 40th Street Summer Festival which includes dazzling acts ranging from jugglers and fire dancers to puppets and percussions, kicks off at 5 p.m. this Saturday (July 25) in the green space behind the Walnut West Library near 40th and Walnut.

The festival will also feature live music from Mixed People, Red Cedar Strings (Facebook page) and Au Jus, and entertainment and activities for the whole family.

nejoehill-roadshow-philadelphiaLater on Saturday the University Lutheran Church (3637 Chestnut St.) will host the Joe Hill Roadshow, a tour commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of International Workers of the World activist and songwriter Joe Hill. Hill, who was executed in 1915, had a long-lasting influence on radical organizing in the country. The tribute concert starts at 7:30 p.m. and includes music from MagpieCharlie King, George Mann and special guest John Braxton. Tickets for this show are also available at Bindlestiff Books at 4530 Baltimore Ave.

For more upcoming events, please visit our Events Calendar.

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Registration for 2015 Block Captains Forum ends July 27

July 24, 2015

Here’s a great opportunity for local block captains to meet other captains, share their experience and better their community organizing and other skills. The annual West and Southwest Philadelphia Block Captains Forum will take place at Philadelphia Boys’ Latin Charter School (55th and Cedar) on Saturday, Aug. 15, and registration for the forum is open through July 27. Several free workshops will be held at the one-day event, including Crime and Safety, Community Organizing 101, Vacant Land Management, and more.

Block captains who are registered with the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee (PMBC) are encouraged to attend this event and can register for the forum by contacting The Partnership CDC/NAC Office at 215-662-1612 or at 4020 Market St. See the flier below for more information.

Blockcaptains

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Philly Student Union looks to community to raise funds for new space

July 22, 2015

The West Philly-based student leadership and public education advocacy group, Philadelphia Student Union (PSU), a highly visible and effective youth organization in the city, is launching a fundraising campaign to help cover rent for a new space.

PSU, which has been around for some 20 years, has been operating without an office for a couple of months. For many years they worked out of a small space at 42nd and Chestnut until they had to move this past spring due to rising rental costs. Previously headquartered at 50th St and Baltimore Avenue, PSU plans to stay in West Philadelphia, with the goal of settling somewhere on the 52nd Street corridor.

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PSU members at the #reclaimMLK march on January 19, 2015 (Facebook photo).

PSU is looking to raise $11,000, which will help them cover everything from rent increases to moving costs.

PSU’s mission is to give young people the tools and skills to organize and fight for better public education in the city of Philadelphia. In their new space, PSU intends to continue holding political workshops covering topics from structural racism, school funding and the school-to-prison pipeline. These workshops are open to all high school aged youth. PSU also holds youth-led media literacy programs, which are meant to educate youth on different ways to communicate their message. One of these programs is a radio production program called On Blast, which gives youth an opportunity to portray how they want to be represented in the media.

“Through organizing, media production, and leadership development, PSU gives young people the tools and skills they need to learn how to change the world around them,” said youth media organizer Beth Patel.

The fundraising campaign can be found on IndieGoGo: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-philadelphia-student-union-needs-a-home

Rana Fayez

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Interested in being a host site for a Little Free Library? WePAC seeks 9 responsible homes

July 13, 2015

You may have seen them cropping up around the neighborhood — Little Free Libraries are tiny libraries installed on posts outside homes or organizations where community members can “take a book, leave a book,” and they are often just the size of large birdhouses.

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A Little Free Library is being installed in front of Samuel Huey school (Facebook photo).

The West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC), which works systematically to reopen closed school libraries in West Philly and around the city (95 percent of Philly public schools lack a functioning school library), is also using the Little Free Library model to get books into the hands of children over the summer and in the evenings.

New research suggests that having books in the home is the single most important factor in future literacy, more important even than the educational attainment or income of parents.

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2014, WePAC organized a build day that produced 11 Little Free Libraries. But only two have been installed so far — one in front of Samuel Huey school, and one inside Y-HEP, a health clinic at 15th and Locust that is part of Philadelphia FIGHT. In addition to allowing the tiny library to be installed on their property, host sites make sure the libraries stay in good condition and re-stock them with books if borrowers neglect to return.

But WePac has nine other libraries still awaiting homes. “The challenge is to find locations where someone can commit to maintaining the library for the long haul,” says Mica Navarro Lopez, WePAC’s Deputy Executive Director.

WePAC is actively seeking sites where the remaining nine libraries will be cared for by a responsible steward—this might be a school, a community organization, or private individual who lives within their service area. If you or your organization is interested in becoming a host site to a WePAC Little Free Library, get in touch with them by filling out their contact form at http://wepac.org/contact-us/.

Emma Eisenberg

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Live outdoor jazz and scholarships; a feel-good Friday in Cedar Park

July 9, 2015

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2014 Cedar Park Neighbors scholarship recipients. (Photo courtesy CPN)

Tomorrow evening is a good chance to catch some outdoor jazz at Cedar Park (49th and Baltimore) and congratulate a hard-working group of neighborhood young people who are heading off to college.

Gretchen Elise and Friends is scheduled to take the stage at 6 p.m. as part of the Summer Live Jazz Fridays in Cedar Park series. In between sets, folks from the community group Cedar Park Neighbors will announce the recipients of college scholarships from the Gary Bronson Memorial Scholarship Fund. Each year Cedar Park Neighbors award scholarships to students in the neighborhood.

As always, the concerts are free and open to everyone.

Upcoming concerts in the Jazz Fridays series include:

• July 10th – Gretchen Elise and Friends
• July 17th – Dahi Divine and Friends
• July 24th – Broke and Blue Band
• July 31st – Side by Soul

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Petition to help West Philly’s cultural icon get air conditioning

July 8, 2015

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Tangle Movement Arts performs at The Rotunda. (Photo courtesy of Tangle Movement Arts)

The Rotunda at 40th and Walnut is one of West Philly’s cultural landmarks, hosting over 300 art and community events and 17,000 visitors each year. It’s an early 20th century building, and those who work, perform or gather there in the summer know that it may be tough to deal with the heat. The only cooling at the space comes from some old industrial fans in the windows and some weak house fans on the floor. The Rotunda is part of the University of Pennsylvania Facilities and Real Estate Services Arts Portfolio (FRES ARTS). Penn purchased the building in 1995 as part of a community investment strategy. Now a petition is being distributed on Change.org, asking Penn’s Board of Trustees and university administration to fund installation of a much needed air-conditioning system at the space.

“The challenge is that the venue lacks the air-conditioning needed to support summer events without creating dangerous conditions for audiences and artists alike. We think it is time for the University of Pennsylvania, which sits on a $9 billion+ endowment, to upgrade the facility so that it can be utilized fully during summer months,” the petition reads.

The petition was started about a week ago, and has already been signed by over 500 people. To read the petition and sign it, go to: https://www.change.org/p/university-of-pennsylvania-air-condition-the-rotunda-for-the-community

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