Books Through Bars hosting workshop, speakers, fundraiser on incarceration issues

Posted on 17 October 2014 by Mike Lyons

Books-Through-Bars-LogoAn important discussion about incarceration has gained traction nationally in recent years and an important facilitator in that discussion locally is the organization Books Though Bars.

The group’s primary mission is to obtain, pack and ship books to inmates in the region, a volunteer-heavy activity they have been doing in West Philly for more than 20 years. There is a chance this Saturday to be part of this ongoing conversation, meet people from Books Through Bars and other organizations engaged in incarceration issues and raise a little money to keep their work going.

Books Through Bars is hosting a fundraiser tomorrow (Oct 18) at the LAVA Space at 4134 Lancaster Ave, beginning at 2 p.m. The event will feature free workshops and speakers (2 to 6 p.m.) from the following organizations: Decarcerate PA, Hearts on a Wire, The Center for Returning Citizens, HRC, Books Through Bars Address This!, and DreamActivist PA. After that there will be a rockers show (6-10 p.m.) hosted by MMGZ.

Please bring $5-8 to donate at the event. Also, Books Through Bars’ Business, Science and Math shelves are pretty empty right now, so if you have any books that you don’t need please bring them to tomorrow’s event or to the A-Space where the organization is located (4722 Baltimore Ave).

For more information, check out the Books Through Bars Facebook page.


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Open bar, buffet, fortune tellers: Help support Curio Theatre at ‘The Carnival Macabre’

Posted on 16 October 2014 by Mike Lyons

4027323West Philly’s own professional theatre company, Curio Theatre, is throwing a party this Saturday to celebrate its 10th anniversary and raise money to help keep this important community resource going strong.

This year’s benefit, titled “The Carnival Macabre,” kicks off at 7 p.m. at the St. Francis DeSales Ballroom (917 S. 47th St.) and will include games of chance, fortune tellers, silent and live auctions and dancing. The Gold Standard Café will provide a buffet and there will be an open beer and wine bar along with a signature cocktail. Second Vision will supply the music.

Tickets are $50 and are available online here.

Speaking of Curio, the company recently announced the debut performance of the 2014-15 season: The Matter of Frank Schaefer, which will open Nov. 18 at 8 p.m. The performance takes on the story of the Methodist minister from Lebanon, Penna. who was defrocked after officiating at his son’s gay wedding.

“What grabbed us right away with the story of Frank Schaefer is that it felt like a civil rights movement was starting right in front of us,” said Curio Artistic Director Paul Kuhn.

That’s just a taste. We’ll have more information on The Matter of Frank Schaefer before the premiere. In the meantime, please do what you can to help support the amazing work at Curio.

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16 Years of Greening Community: Support UC Green at Harvest Moon Social

Posted on 03 October 2014 by


Photo courtesy UC Green.

West Philly is home to a number of great non-profit organizations that do many important things in the area. One of them is UC Green, a group of dedicated members and volunteers who make this area greener by planting and taking care of trees. On Thursday, Oct. 9, UC Green is celebrating its 16th anniversary and hosting its second Harvest Moon Social. This is a fundraising event supporting UC Green’s community tree planting and greening initiatives throughout West Philadelphia neighborhoods.

Community members are invited to join UC Green staff and volunteers at the event and enjoy a buffet and cocktail party. There will also be a raffle with some great local items, including gift baskets and certificates from the Four Worlds Bakery, Milk and Honey and Local 44.

Each year, the organization manages close to 2,000 volunteers who plant and tend hundreds of street trees and enhance public green spaces contributing thousands of hours in service to the neighborhoods. Harvest Moon Social is one of the events that helps UC Green to continue doing their work.

“I rely on the folks at UC Green as the go- to people when it comes to all things having to do with trees. They have given not only material support but moral support in helping us address many challenges we face as community gardeners working in vulnerable areas where efforts are sometimes undermined by many factors of the urban environment. Thanks to their hard work over many years, a greener, calmer and healthier landscape is unfolding in our neighborhood,” says Maureen Tate, a Cedar Park resident and block captain.

Harvest Moon Social will take place from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the recently opened Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships (3509 Spring Garden St). Tickets are $85/person, two for $150. Please call: 215-573-4684 or email: for more information and to reserve your ticket.

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Ice Cream Bowl fundraiser at UC Arts League on Sunday

Posted on 05 June 2014 by

LittleBabysIceCreamSome really creative and entrepreneurial folks work at the University City Arts League, one of the oldest nonprofits in West Philly. They always find fun and delicious ways to raise money. Many of our readers have probably heard about UCAL’s annual Chili Bowl, all-you-can-eat chili as long as it fits in a handmade bowl from UCAL’s pottery studio (you need to buy it at the event). And now, quite fitting for summertime, UCAL introduces a first ever Ice Cream Bowl on Sunday, June 8, 1 – 4 p.m.. Sounds yummy, right? So here are the deets from the UCAL website:


UCAL pottery studio. (Photo courtesy UCAL)

“Bassett’s, Little Baby’s, Shake Shack, ‘Lil Pop Shop, Ben & Jerry’s and Weckerly’s will be offering their delicious goodies, but it’s the ice cream bowls that will share center stage. Cost for a handmade bowl with ice cream is $10 per person or $30 for a family of four. Each additional family member costs $5. An array of toppings will be available for outfitting your ice cream including Greg Salisbury’s mean chocolate sauce and whipped cream.”

Sunday’s event will also include family-friendly events like face painting, live music and wheel throwing from the pottery studio. There will also be a raffle and a sale of pottery “seconds.” Proceeds will go towards improvements to the pottery studio.

University City Arts League is located at 4226 Spruce St. More information is available at the UCAL website.


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Buy sweet treats at Ben & Jerry’s this Mon-Wed, support Walnut St West Library

Posted on 12 May 2014 by


Here’s a sweet way to support a local library! This Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, you can buy some ice cream at the 40th Street Ben & Jerry’s location and help the Walnut West Library across the street. Ben & Jerry’s will donate 20 percent of the proceeds toward the library and its summer programming from all sales between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. on these days.

So stop by the shop located at 218 S. 40th St, enjoy some treats with your family and friends and also meet the wonderful folks from the Friends of Walnut St West Library who are behind this cool event.

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UC Arts League’s annual fundraiser this Saturday; online auction closes today

Posted on 08 May 2014 by

auction2014Tickets are still available for the University City Arts League‘s annual fundraiser, “Spring Fling,” happening this Saturday, May 10 at the University of Pennsylvania’s Hall of Flags (Houston Hall, 3417 Spruce St). Traditionally, the fundraiser includes a silent auction featuring many great items and dinner. The online portion of the auction is also still open (closes tonight at 10 p.m.). You can choose from a number of unique experiences, classes, works by local artists and more. To view the auction items, to bid, and to buy tickets, go here.

The Spring Fling fundraiser will take place on Saturday from 6 – 9 p.m. and here are some more details (from


6 p.m. – Cocktails and Silent Auction; 7:30 – Dinner (by chef Greg Salisbury); 8 p.m. – Live Auction.


Free parking will be available at the Penn Museum Garage at South St and Convention Center Blvd. A shuttle will be running from the garage to the Hall of Flags from 6 to 7 p.m. and then from the Hall of Flags to the garage at the end of the evening.

Child Care

The Arts League will be offering an evening of pizza, movies and activities for children aged 5 to 12 from 5:30 to 9:30. Cost will be $35 for the first child and $25 for each additional child for the evening. Please contact the Arts League Office to make arrangements for child care.

Sample of Auction items

  • Six oriental carpets including beauties from Tibet and Pakistan will be available at the Auction plus two silk on silk wall hangings. Winning bidders can also get free custom padding for their carpets at Woven Treasure.
  • An iPad from the University of Pennsylvania Computer Connection, one of the special items to be auctioned at the Arts League auction.
  • Gift certificates to numerous local restaurants including the White Dog Cafe will be available.
  • Numerous spa services.

For more information, call 215-382-7811 or email:

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