“Don’t I look like a nice lady? Well I’m not.”: Jessica is sick of your off-the-leash dog at The Woodlands

Posted on 30 September 2015


Jessica at ease at The Woodlands. She doesn’t like your dog as much as you do. Photo by Lori Waselchuk.

The tension between those who walk their dogs off-leash at The Woodlands and those who wish they wouldn’t is kind of the west-of-the-Schuylkill version of the Hatfields and the McCoys, Liam and Noel Gallagher, Biggie and Tupac. That may be overstating it slightly, but it’s kind of a big deal to many who frequent the cemetery/park.

Jessica, a West Philly yoga instructor and blogger, has had it. In “An Open Letter to People Who Let Their Dogs Off-Leash at Woodlands Cemetery,” she draws a line in the dirt. “I was once a vicious 13-year old girl,” she writes. “And given the right situation, she can return.”

Jessica originally posted this on her site, but has graciously allowed us to repost it here:  Continue Reading

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Help West Philly falconer find her missing hawk

Posted on 14 September 2015

hawk3Courtney Douds, a falconer living in West Philadelphia, is looking for her missing bird, a red-tailed hawk (pictured). The bird lived behind a row home in an outdoor aviary, and sometime on Sunday her tethers broke and she flew out.

“While she is fully capable of surviving in the wild, I am predictably distraught,” Courtney wrote in an e-mail. “The bird is a red-tailed hawk, and she’s wearing very loud bells (that don’t interfere with her ability to catch food for herself) that can be heard from quite a distance away.”

So if you hear bells above you or see a red-tailed hawk wearing bells please let Courtney know of the bird’s general whereabouts. Please don’t try to catch the hawk, Courtney says, and it’s unlikely she will come down to anyone. But narrowing down the range of where the bird might have flown to might help Courtney recover her. By the way, Courtney is one of three falconers living in Philadelphia County.

If you spot the hawk, please email: courtney.douds[at]

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6-year-old neighbor hosting ongoing ‘Super Duper’ food drive in Clark Park

Posted on 25 August 2015

elliottSix-year-old Elliott is in Clark Park every Wednesday to collect canned goods and other non-perishables for Philadelphians in need. His ongoing “Super-Duper Food Drive,” which benefits Philabundance, started in early August, and the response so far has been great. This Wednesday, Elliott will be in Clark Park at 43rd and Chester from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for his 4th collection, so everyone is welcome to swing by and bring a donation. High-priority items are:

• Jelly, jams or preserves;
• Miscellaneous shelf-stable proteins (peanut butter, beans, canned stews, or chili);
• Pasta, rice, & dry mixes;
• Breakfast foods (hot & cold cereals, bars, & oatmeal)

Elliott plans to host many more events throughout the year, according to his mom Jennifer. “We’d like to get others involved, especially kids,” she writes. “Elliott wanted to fill my empty coffee cans with food + water for those in need, so this is our compromise: an ongoing food drive to benefit Philabundance.”

For more information on Elliott’s Super-Duper Food Drive check out this Facebook page.

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Kevin Bacon challenges you to win $5,000 for design interventions in Promise Zone neighborhoods

Posted on 14 August 2015

KevinBaconAs you may know, actor Kevin Bacon’s father, Edmund Bacon, was born in West Philadelphia and was a renowned architect and Philadelphia city planner. Kevin and his brother, well-known musician Michael Bacon, are encouraging both students and professionals to be part of the 2016 Better Philadelphia Challenge with a chance to win $5,000. The annual urban design competition was founded in 2006 in memory of Ed Bacon.

The 2016 competition focuses on the Mantua/Belmont section of West Philadelphia, which was designated as a “Promise Zone” by President Obama.

“As part of this neighborhood’s development, what physical design interventions could encourage healthy and active lifestyles, thereby improving public health among residents?” reads the competition announcement.  Continue Reading

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Neighborly love: Two West Philly authors discuss their books in person this week

Posted on 03 August 2015

Here are two chances to meet and support West Philly-based authors who will be presenting their new books this week.

badkhen walking with abelAnna Badkhen, a journalist, world traveler and writer, is inviting neighbors to the Penn Book Center (34th and Sansom) on Tuesday, Aug. 4 for the launch of her new book, Walking with Abel. Named a top summer reading pick by the Los Angeles Times, Playboy and Mental Floss, the book takes readers on a journey with a family of Fulani nomads, as they embark on their annual migration across the African savanna. Badkhen spent much of 2013 living with the nomads in the Sahel region of Mali in Western Africa (read our earlier post about Badkhen and her book here).

“[Badkhen] mak[es] Fulani culture come alive as she follows the herders’ daily efforts to cope with drought, disease, and death in an often unforgiving landscape…,” reads a review by Library Journal, and Playboy calls the book a “vivid, memorable nonfiction.”  Continue Reading

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“Glen’s Village”: Must-see doc on West Philly kid, his mom and redemption

Posted on 03 August 2015


OK, first thing … You need to carve 30 minutes out of your day and watch the mini-documentary Glen’s Village, a film about a kid who grew up around 52nd and Haverford, was dealing crack by the 9th grade and is now, thanks to the strength of his mother and himself, a student at Penn. (It’s embedded below).

The film takes you through Glen’s childhood growing up with a dad who was, as one person in the film puts it, basically a “drug kingpin.” He was later deported to Jamaica, leaving Glen’s mother to raise him alone. It wasn’t going well as he entered his teens and by ninth grade Glen was regularly skipping school and selling drugs.

But at University City High School he turns it around. As one of the school’s star students, Glen testified before the School Reform Commission as it considered closing the school. UC High’s closure is an important part of the film, as is his work at Sayre High School, where he teaches part time to fulfill his scholarship obligations.  Continue Reading

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