Big Band Gospel Christmas Concert this Sunday at Calvary

Posted on 18 December 2014

If you like gospel music you should definitely enjoy this holiday concert: On Sunday, Dec. 21, a 16-piece big band “Big Push”, led by Greg Scott, and Calvary United Methodist, St. Luke, and Greater Exodus Baptist Church choirs will give a joint performance at Calvary Church (48th and Baltimore). The concert, which starts at 7 p.m., benefits West Africa food relief (suggested donation is $10).


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Community garden or housing? Meeting Thursday on the fate of the Wiota Street Garden

Posted on 17 December 2014

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 12.22.55 PM

A sign erected this fall at the Wiota Street Garden aimed at Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell underscores the campaign to preserve the garden, which developers are eyeing.

A meeting will be held Thursday to discuss the controversial proposal to build housing on the site of the Wiota Street Garden, a neighborhood fixture for 30 years that highlights the tenuous existence of the hundreds of community gardens in the city.

The Redevelopment Authority of Philadelphia, the city agency tasked with connecting private investors to developable plots, owns the 1,100-square-foot parcel in the West Powelton neighborhood. The plot, which is zoned for residential development, has been an active community garden, hosting a weekly farmers’ market and providing produce to local residents and food banks. But the proposed construction of a 12-unit residential structure would spell the end of the garden.

Construction is underway on a number of similar housing units, many aimed at students, in the immediate vicinity around the community garden. Supporters of the garden have been pushing to have the plot protected as part of the Neighborhood Gardens Trust.

That’s what Thursday’s meeting is all about. The ultimate arbiter of the parcel’s fate, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, will be at the meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at 4001 Baring St. The Redevelopment Authority has reportedly deferred any decision to Blackwell.

Using the Wiota Street Garden as her main example, The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Inga Saffron distills the “gardens or housing” dilemma facing many developing neighborhoods here.

Mike Lyons

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Learn about new development projects at Spruce Hill Zoning meeting on Wednesday

Posted on 16 December 2014


Former Transition to Independent Living facility at 46th and Spruce.

Community members are invited to discuss new development projects in the Spruce Hill Neighborhood area at an upcoming Spruce Hill Community Association zoning committee meeting this Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Two development projects are at the focus of Wednesday’s meeting:

1) A proposed six unit development at 100-02 Ludlow Street. The project was discussed at an earlier zoning committee meeting and the committee asked for some additional specifics. The property owners are following the procedure for RCO (recognized community organizations) notification.

2) The proposed development to replace the former Transition to Independent Living facility at 4536 Spruce St. This will be a second meeting with the developers to examine updated drawings and plans. The attendees will also hear a report from discussions between the developers and the owner of the adjacent property on 46th Street, according to zoning committee chair Barry Grossbach.

The Mission First Housing Group proposed a four-story affordable housing building at the southeast corner of 46th and Spruce, where the former Transition to Independent Living Center building is located (pictured). The building was damaged in a fire in 2011 and since then has been shuttered and slowly deteriorating.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. at the Spruce Hill Center (257 S. 45th St).

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Help needed at annual Holiday Basket Giveaway event in Cedar Park

Posted on 15 December 2014

holidaymeal-1024x413Over the past few weeks Cedar Park residents have been donating money for holiday food baskets for their neighbors in need. Now it’s time to give away those baskets put together by volunteers at Cedar Park Neighbors (CPN). The annual CPN Holiday basket packing and distributing event will take place on Saturday, Dec. 20 at the Renewal Presbyterian Church (47th and Cedar), from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., and more volunteer help is needed to make this event a success.

Also, volunteers who are comfortable lifting heavy items are sought to help with unloading poultry at 8:00 a.m. (meet at the church). If you have some free time this Saturday and would like to help out at the event please contact Michelle Smith-Lewis at: mlewis1071[at]

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University of the Sciences to reach out to local community through quarterly meetings (updated)

Posted on 15 December 2014

UPDATE (12/16/2014): Here’s the agenda for tonight’s meeting:

Support of K-12 education
Ongoing Engagement activities
Campus Master Planning
Call for university – community collaboration ideas

(12/15/2014): University of the Sciences (USciences) is reaching out to the local community by hosting a regular public meeting every three months. In a message circulated via email, USciences president Dr. Helen Giles-Gee writes that “as a member of our community, University of the Sciences recognizes that it’s important that we communicate with each other and share information.”

At the quarterly meetings, university leadership will provide updates on new and ongoing projects and “will seek your feedback on ways in which we may work together for the betterment of our community.”

The first community meeting will take place this Tuesday (Dec. 16) at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the McNeil Science and Technology Center (43rd and Woodland, see map here). Light refreshments will also be served.

It’s not clear whether the meeting will include information and discussion of the university’s recent purchase of the former Wilson Elementary School building at 46th and Woodland, which it plans to convert into student housing (read more here).

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Weekend Events Roundup (Dec. 13-14) (updated)

Posted on 12 December 2014

There will be a bunch of festive events this Saturday and Sunday, including some great local holiday shopping opportunities and Christmas caroling at Clark Park. Plus Santa will make a stop at a local bar, so bring your camera! For more upcoming events, visit our Events Calendar.

Go West! Holiday Craft Fest at The Rotunda (40th and Walnut)


Over 50 local craftspeople will present their work at this year’s holiday edition of the popular Go West! Craft Fest. The event will be held on Sunday, Dec. 14, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at The Rotunda (40th and Walnut). Stop by to check out beautiful handmade items like jewelry, ceramics, warm knitted accessories, prints, stationery, soap, candles, home accents, children’s items, and more (here is the full list of the vendors). If the weather is clear, vendors will be indoors and out. There will also be sweet treats by West Philly’s Weckerly’s Ice Cream and the Lil’ Pop Shop.

UPDATE: The fest organizers sent a note that Walnut street will be closed to traffic on Sunday due to construction work across the street from The Rotunda. The street will be open to pedestrians, but no cars will be allowed on Walnut between 40th and 41st streets between 6:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

40th Street AIR Holiday Art Sale (4007 Chestnut St)

40thStAIRsaleWork by West Philly artists in the 2014-2015 40th Street Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program – Althea Baird, TenBroeck Cripps, Brujo de La Mancha, Aislinn Pentecost-Farren and Lorna Williams - will be featured at this weekend’s 40th Street AIR Holiday Sale. The sale will take place on Saturday and Sunday, from 12 – 6 p.m. at the AIRSPACE Gallery at 4007 Chestnut Street (1st floor). Many guest artists will also take part in the event, including AIR alumni.  Continue Reading

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