The Legend In Our Backyard : Coltrane

imageThese are a few of my favorite things; when you realize your sitting on a musical,  cultural, and historical goldmine.  It doesn’t always happen but if you’re into jazz and you live in Philadelphia; if you’re in Brewerytown, or thinking of visiting or moving, then you may relate to the uniqueness of John Coltrane’s house being located just yards away from Fairmount park.  For those who do not know of Coltrane or the legacy he’s left behind in the realm of “Big Jazz” then hopefully you will be happy to get a brief summary on the man, the myth, and the legend.

Coltrane was not born in Philadelphia as much as we’d like to claim him as our own born and bred son, but he came here to learn under the tutelage of Leo Ornstein at  Granoff Studios.  Out of which were some pretty magnificent artist, notably Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Fortune, and of course the one and only John Coltrane.

Coltrane’s house, where he honed his craft in Philadelphia, has been notably in disrepair but that doesn’t mean it’simage past the brink of revitalization. Like the surrounding community that’s experiencing a surge of vibrancy and life all around, so too will the Coltrane’s house likely be restored to it’s glory and perhaps then some.    Jazz was such a cutting edge art form that it was once considered taboo or too sexy to play in the presence of your straight laced parents.  It passes for meditation now-a-days and with the music that plays on the popular radio stations now; jazz is definitely a welcomed alternative to what most parents are introduced to by their children.

Coltrane was one of the great pioneers of the art form and while there are little traces of his existence in Philadelphia where he stayed and learned to become the musical great that he his; among music heads, people who love jazz and even people who just skim the surface of what jazz is about; the name Coltrane serves to invoke some nostalgic reaction to a time where music was much more expressive,  orchestrated and was the culmination and syncopation of numerous artists all at once.  That’s what jazz music is, and it is still alive to this day in certain areas throughout the city.  John Coltrane’s house is more like imagethe mecca where people could pay homage to a legend, and discover the conditions for which something so beautiful could spring out of conditions that were once so harsh.

As times are changing and there is new light being brought to Brewerytown, one could only imagine the possibilities and heights one John Coltrane could’ve attained had he been living in Philadelphia in this day and age.  Perhaps he’s reincarnated in one of our youth who only has to discover the rich history that’s right in his or her own backyard that would launch them into the stratosphere of legendary stardom.  But, I could be considered a bit of a dreamer as well.  It’s up to us, the citizens and the community of Brewery town to facilitate the needs of our artists and perhaps encourage them so that they may one day discover the greatness that lies within.  As we collectively appreciate this historic monument, we also by default encourage and inspire many John Coltranes to come both from, and through our neck of the woods.image

Shouldn’t Kids Have A Music Festival?

Is a music festival for kids a great idea?  You better believe it!  The only thing cuter than puppies and kittens are kids.  (This is a scientific fact…i think)  I’ve had dozens of puppies throughout my life and although I currently do not have children, there’s nothing like the look of discovery worn on my little nephew or nieces’ faces.  Or the sense of amazement and wonder that surrounds them on a constant basis.  When everything is new, it all seems  so spectacular.

 

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That may have been a long introduction to announce that Kidchella is coming to Smith Playground, just a walk away from Brewerytown and it’s nearly guaranteed to be a complete fun blast!  Weather permitting, you should definitely bring your kids, or borrow a kid, (you know, like a nephew, niece, or young cousin) seriously, check this thing out.  Now, granted the name “Kidchella” is a resemblance of a weekend of young adult, spring-breaker style madness Coachella, but the acts that are going to perform are solid and fit for all ages!  If your kids love music, and if you are an awesome parent….(you are an awesome parent, you’re reading this aren’t you?) You might want to take a look at Kidchella because here is where the kids get a chance to experience live music (one of the best forms of entertainment in my opinion) under your supervision, and it’s entirely age appropriate.  This could ligitimately be your childs first concert!  How cool could that be?  Visit  <a href=”http://smithplayground.org/kidchella/”>here</a>  and find out.

 

Kidchella is coming to Smith playground this Friday on the 25th and it will last from 6 – 8 pm.  The bill is highlighted by three bands that are spectacular in their own right.  Brady Rymer, Walter Martin, and The Not-Its will be onstage.  It won’t last for days on end, nor will it be flooded with 20 somethings, without responsibilities and way too much recreational time on their hands.  Kidchella is actually one of those great ideas that you’d love to see more of because it creates an opportunity for children to learn about music, spark their interest about music as an art form, and allows you to give them the experience of a music festival and all the fun that can possibly be had while under the supervision of adults.

 

Check out this <a href=”http://smithplayground.org/kidchella-press-release/”>press release</a>

 

 

 

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You may have seen posters and signs around Brewerytown advertising the music fest for weeks now.  If you can make the time, if you love music, and if you’d like to show your children what rock and roll, and fun are supposed to look like, then guess where you’ll likely be heading to??  Kidchella!  Tickets are only $10 at smithplayground.ticketleap.com/kidchella, however, admission is free for current members of Smith playground.  If you’re not a member, but would like to become one, you can become a member by visiting smithplayground.org/membership.

 

So who came up with the idea for Kidchella anyway?  I always credit “the genius’ in marketing” whenever my attention is brought to something you previously had no awareness of, but has now become one of those things you know you have to experience for yourself.  Aside from being the type of thing that celebrities are into now-a-days; Kidchella doesn’t have to involve multiple stages, carnival rides, or fire spitting performers to be an authentic music festival experience.  Although, there may be some face painting, and an opportunity for you and the children to hang out with and interact with the band during and after the show, Kidchella, and all music festivals like it are going to soon become the desire of birthday boys and girls everywhere.  Better than a magician, better than a clown (which too often scares the ba-jee-zus out of kids), this is a party for children that you are allowed to enjoy as well.  To be honest, there isn’t much that can compete with a live band on stage, and especially if they are good.

 

So who is on the bill?  The Not-Its have been rocking and rolling, performing for kids and families for over six years.  They are all about giving children the first rock show experience (head banging should be done with supervision)  They are from Seattle, are the sum of five members and they have released their 5th album to date called “Raise Your Hand”.  You can check out their sound on their bands website (http://wearethenot-its.com/music/).  With songs like “Funniest Cat Video”, “Motorcycle Mom” and “Great Day”, The Not-It’s provide an up beat rock/indie vibe that both adults and children can really jam to.

 

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Brady Rymer and the Little Band that Could :  Brady Rymer is a musician who’s been recording and touring with RCA records for 13 years.  He’s been on stage with names like Bob Dylan, Dave Matthews, The Grateful Dead before, so he’s no amateur when it comes to putting on a show that all people can enjoy.  Lucky for us, he’s decided to create children’s music and give the little tykes an opportunity to hear music that’s not only age appropriate, but contains a positive, upbeat message along with a catchy tune that may be hard to get out of your head.  All the great songs are like that.  You may just find yourself singing “Just say Hi” on your way to work or during your coffee break.  He’s a great songwriter, and backed by an energetic, talented band, Brady Rymer and the Little Band that Could will likely be there to make a wonderful impressionable mark on your children and yourself as well.

 

Walter Martin is the third man on the bill and his sound helps to round out the collective experience of the music festival as his songs are a bit slower in tempo, feature animal noises and sound effects, all playing the back track to his rural draw and the slight southern twang of Walter Martin’s voice and pitch of guitar.  This isn’t just kids music, no, this is music for all ages.  True and true, Walter Martin writes beautiful songs, plays a beautiful melody and just makes you want to place the world on time out, stop your children from growing for a moment, and enjoy the moment that’s created the moment he starts strumming his guitar and spreading  his vocals through the P.A. system.

 

So this Friday, with all the wonderful things going on in Brewery town and around the city as a whole.  Under the summer sun, and through the atmosphere of fun, if you’re going to create memories with your little tykes, think about creating some with good music and good fun at Smith Playground with Kidchella.  Oh, to be a kid again.

Brewerytown: Gateway to Hiking Megalopolis

Hiking Megalopolis

by Shelby Smith

Many don’t realize that they can dive into nature, right from their urban dwelling in North Philadelphia.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 10.10.32 AMThere’s a harmony about Philadelphia in terms of the manmade and organic cohabiting. You can start a jog next to a skyscraper, and end in the woods in less than a mile. I’ve always preferred outdoor exercise to working out in a gym, but my move to Philly has piqued my interest for urban/park exploration. Runners and bikers line Kelly Drive all day, but there is so much more space in Fairmount Park and beyond that is untapped. Philly’s best kept secret might just be its vast network of trails, so here is a guide to information on hikes that are off the beaten path.

No stranger to Philly, Brian Schwarz moved to Brewerytown with express intent on getting the neighborhood involved in his hikes. Certified by the Delaware Valley chapter of the Appalachian Trail Club, Brian- under organization name Hiking Megalopolis, knows the best spots to sneak in a hike just a stone’s throw from the city’s central hubs. The advent of his hiking initiative is his personal health journey, a journey he is adamant about sharing with those around him.

Weighing in at 420lbs in 2008, Brian made a career and lifestyle change by moving from North Philly to Miami so he could spend time outdoors getting active year round. Meal consciousness and a new interest in walking and swimming afforded him a 165lb weight loss that he maintained when he subsequently moved to Boston. As a man with a history of making excuses not to work out- to avoid the intimidation of the gym, and to evade potentially awkward or uncomfortable situations- Brian frequented the two mile loop circling Walden Pond in the 80 Acre Woods. Nervous to push his limits and feel vulnerable out there in the elements, one day Brian climbed Cat Rock and despite his hesitation, proved to himself that he could hike, and that he was capable. From that point on, he rode the high of that first great climb as motivation to pursue bigger and tougher ranges.

No longer at risk of critical medical conditions due to obesity, Brian made a move to Albuquerque, where a childhood dream of his came true. Having associated Sandia Mountain with his Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 10.09.26 AMgrandfather his whole life, Brian hiked all seven miles and 4000 feet of elevation to the top of “Grandfather Mountain”, as he affectionately called it, to show respect for the recent passing of his grandparents. This particular hike carried a sentimental value that brought a spirit of family and community into his inspiration for getting in shape, and ultimately giving others the confidence to have a similar experience.

Returning to Philadelphia in 2013, Brian found what the city lacked in mountainous terrain, it more than made up for in watershed parks and gorges, such as the Wissahickon. Philadelphia proper also offered a historical value that was unparalleled elsewhere. The nationally registered properties of Strawberry Mansion, Sedgley Woods, and East Fairmount have a deeply specific American tradition to share, but they sit out there on the famous Boxer’s Trail largely unacknowledged. Sharing this history with people who have lived here their whole life is important because many people focus on developing their family history alone and miss the nuance of the landmarks around them since they’ve grown familiar with their environment, and if there was any sense of novelty about the attractions nearby, it’s worn off.

I went on one of Brian’s hikes on a Saturday morning where I met Melony Burnom, a Brewerytown resident of five years. We started at the Sedgley Woods disc golf lot, and walked the Boxer’s trail all the way up through the Strawberry Mansion steps and back to the lot by way of 33rd.  Along the way, Brian shared insight about the Smith Playground, trail erosion, and hike etiquette. This was Melony’s third hike, having originally found out about his free hikes through Nextdoor- a local resource connection app. On the first two hikes, she brought her mother and sister-in-law, and all three of them loved their experience. Melony commented on how Brian is very knowledgeable and takes hiking very seriously, but that he also offers a sense of inclusion and encouragement for those of all fitness levels. Melony said, “It’s a very good form of exercise that isn’t typical and mixes things up with learning history. Brian brings a learning aspect about a territory that no one in this generation in this neighborhood has explored—the real Fairmount Park.” She said that it’s a shame people don’t seem to know about the intricacies in their own backyard. She went on to say that she would recommend the hikes to anyone and that friends and family are responding very positively to pictures and posts about her adventures.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 10.10.03 AMThe biggest platforms of Hiking Megalopolis are accessibility, acceptance, and education. “The mission is to learn, educate, lead, and rise up new leaders from within communities,” shares Brian. The accessibility piece comes into play because Brian feels strongly about residents getting to hikes by public transportation. These hikes should be available to all who are willing, not just those who have access to a car. These hikes are also free. Acceptance is at the very crux of Brian’s initiative because he doesn’t want anyone to be afraid of fitness the way he was for so many years. He spent formative years feeling ostracized and discouraged from trying to become athletic, and he doesn’t want anyone to feel like they can’t work toward a healthy lifestyle. Even down to the gear, there is a clear-cut push to welcome all who sign up for hikes as long as they are dressed appropriately and with safety in mind. In almost every case, plain sneakers are just fine and there is no need to turn someone away who doesn’t have boots or specialty hiking shoes. To stay hydrated, you should always have water, but a bottle is just fine. There is no need to run out and buy a Camelbak hydration unit. Acceptance also applies to age. While certain hikes pose a particular liability to children because of conditions or elevations, all are welcome. People of all ages and walks of life are invited to get outdoors and explore. Education is what propels the future of hiking in Brewerytown and beyond. Brian, a self-proclaimed nomad, moves often but not before teaching his students to become leaders. He stresses the importance of adults teaching their children the value of exercise and obesity prevention. The hope is that the people who call Brewerytown home will get entrenched in the most natural aspect of their local culture.

Signing up for a hike is simple. The Hiking Megalopolis Facebook page is active and consistently updated with the week’s hikes and activities. That is the simplest way to find out what’s coming up. Google searching Hiking Megalopolis will also bring up info about past hikes and what can be expected for future hikes. Information is also shared via Nextdoor, which is essentially a facebook for the neighborhood. You can download the free Nextdoor app on your smart phone, like Melony did, to see the most recent news as well. Reach out on Instagram @fitlifechronicles to see pictures and connect with Brian more personally.

Though he has a penchant for changing his scenery more often than not, Brian Schwarz has made it clear that he will be calling Brewerytown home for a good while, and who could blame him? There are 100 reasons not to get up and get out into the woods, but once you discover the reasons why you should, it transforms your city and makes all the difference.

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Keep it real and keep it clean B-town!

“Real people do real things. A collective of a whole bunch of people who do things in their own locale, in their own neighborhoods – the sum is bigger than the parts, and the parts will grow.”

– Chuck D

Organization_002Now that winter comatose is officially over and annual spring block cleaning has occurred on many city blocks across Brewerytown, let’s begin with a huge and phenomenal thank you to all the block captains out there that hang onto that motivational vision of a pristine sidewalk to walk, and a lovely street to drive on. The organized cleanings lend themselves to the idea that one day maybe there could be no more having to maneuver around broken glass, and hop scotch your way around, for lack of a better term, poop! These people are troopers in the battle against the constant flow of litter, that unfortunately has given this city the nickname “filthadelphia”.

As someone who grew up out west, where people at one time staked their claims, and where land is still a much sought after commodity, most people owned their homes in my neighborhood. trash-534x350People had yards, and lawns were for the most part kept up. Sure, you had your one guy on the block who only mowed once in a blue moon, but as a whole, things like recycling were not just a concept, but a routine habit, and there were heavy fines for littering. To be fair, the only other cities our children have spent any time in are all vastly smaller in comparison to Philadelphia. So upon coming to Brewerytown about five years ago, it was our children who were most shocked about how “garbage-y” our new neighborhood was.

On one hand, this was good, meaning that “not littering” was deeply ingrained in their little minds. On the other hand, it took awhile to help them to see they did not have to accept the litter passively, but they had to be able to see past it to embrace our new block. Fortunately, we were renting on a block consisting mostly of long term homeowners. We were first introduced to block cleanings by receiving a flyer in our mailbox. Participation in our first official block cleaning gave our children the opportunity to connect with other caring neighbors, and over the years has kept them from being desensitized to their daily surroundings. I really give credit to those people who have turned empty lots into green spaces and gardens. The neighbors who always turn up for the several organized block cleanings, and don’t let the frustration of the seemingly endless barrage of garbage to keep them from picking it up, and putting it in a garbage can.

litterlg1-956x620These are the real people doing real things. Right here in Brewerytown there is a small revival happening. An energy that occurs when transition happens. The shuffle of new people coming in. Block cleaning helps connect those people born and raised on the block to those people looking to make the block their new home. What can, and has emerged on our block, is a place where our children have learned to appreciate different backgrounds, and take pride in keeping their space picked up. We need more people that are willing to take ownership and pride in these spaces in a way that has a wet napkin effect so to speak. If enough people are taking the time to show that litter and garbage are not something they are willing to cope with, that energy will spread from block to block. While organized block cleanings are great, it will take even more to truly alleviate the garbage issues. Brewerytown’s baseball field and basketball courts at 31st and Jefferson, as well as the Recreation center at 27th and Master, are essentially meant to be public parks. It is sad to see these spaces continually bombarded with trash. There are not efficient garbage cans, and you can see on a daily basis, litter scattered carelessly around spaces that are supposed to be green and clean, spaces for kids.

If our environment is a reflection of us, this means that we are not caring for our community sufficiently. It is true that the streets and public spaces are certainly lacking sufficient public trash 3ee7b5cf-6d25-449e-805c-8443e916ff3fcans, and I am sure we’d all love to see some of those solar powered receptacles that scatter Center City, but until that day comes, we must take it upon ourselves to keep our community clean. We must not allow these factors to deter neighbors from taking initiative to keep spaces clean. I urge people to take action, and be determined to keep blocks clean, not just on block cleaning days, but everyday. Brewerytown needs more people to actively participate in making this “up and coming” urban space clean, after all, that is a reflection of taking pride in our community. There may not be a quick solution, but if enough people are determined to be proactive, that energy will spread. So thank you again to all the block captains who take time to keep it real, and this is an open invitation for everybody to do their part as well!!! Keep it clean Brewerytown, keep it clean!

Want to organize your own block cleaning? Contact your block captain, or follow the instructions from Philly 311 here

The College on the Ave

New Brewerytown resident Shelby Smith, shares her thoughts and some history about the famous Girard Avenue architectural icon – Girard College.

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Brewerytown Literally Dead Ends into the History of Philadelphian Academia, Forcing the Neighborhood to Pay Attention to its Past.

Having once lived in Fishtown, I go back to visit my old roommates and my boyfriend on Fankford, meaning I take Girard- (meaning I take Girard, and S. College, and N. College, because Girard just disappears). When I first moved to Brewerytown, I was confused by the intersecting angular routes I was expected to take, when I knew that Girard should take me all the way down to where I needed to be. What was this strange interruption, this natural detour that everyone else seemed to understand with no skin off their teeth? Once the cardinal College streets meet back up with Girard, to the left drivers can see some seemingly out of place Greek Revival Architecture that looks more like it belongs in Fairmount Park, but is in fact breaching the intersection of Broad and Girard. Those who have been North Philly residents for longer than I have, know this to be Girard College.

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It looks like it’s closed for business, like it’s no longer in operation; perhaps because of the style, perhaps because of the slight-of-hand/misdirection sense of seclusion and distance from the city. However, my inclination to think that Girard College is a mere landmark, rich with history and nothing else, is wholly false. Girard College is a boarding  school in full operation for grades one through 12, the sentinel of its contribution to the community being its academic scholarship program that supports the entirety of every single students’ tuition, room and board.

The school has been met with a wide variety of criticism and praise since its inception in 1833, and official door opening in 1848. The city of Philadelphia, having been the recipient of the largest private philanthropic donation to date, was torn between the last will and testament of founder Stephen Girard, and the ever-changing sociopolitical climate, culminating in the American Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Philadelphia was no stranger to pushing the boundaries of state vs. independent business, in many positive ways, including the Eastern State Penitentiary’s ethical philosophy on imprisonment, the Franklin Institute’s commitment to advanced and complex scientific research, and Penn Hospital’s humane treatment of mental illness at a time when lobotomies and electro-shock therapy were the only practice.

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Stephen Girard came to Philadelphia from Bordeaux in 1776, fresh off of a 12-year stint at sea where he served a nontraditional apprenticeship in mercantilism, acquiring unique business acumen that poised him to be the first independent banker, and subsequently wealthiest man in America by the time he died. His will very specifically outlined the explicit intentions for the sizable fortune he had built over his 55 years in the states. He wanted a boarding school to be built for the admission of white boys who were fatherless and poor. He wanted a national contest to determine which architect to commission for the planning of all academic and campus buildings. He wanted to steer away from Greek and Latin curricula in favor of French and Spanish and the practical real world application of those romance languages as opposed to the classical. First admitting boys between the ages of six and ten from Philadelphia, enrollment spread to Schuylkill and Luzerne counties, as many children were orphaned due to an increase in the mining trade and the inevitable accidents that unfortunately accompany such a profession.

While the institution served many struggling families at its advent, the parameters for acceptance into the school grew increasingly ostracizing to the growing neighborhood surrounding the property walls. Though North Philly had become home to a substantial population of black residents, the statute on which the school was founded still outlined exclusive admittance to white boys. Prominent Philadelphian black physician, Dr. Nathan Mossell, challenged Girard College in 1944 and was soon backed by the NAACP in what would be a long battle to integration. Appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, and led by Cecil B. Moore, figurehead of the Philly chapter of the NAACP, Girard’s tax exemption and educational licensure was challenged through picketing and standing firm ground against a prominent police presence to see the first male minority students welcomed on September 11, 1968. Female students began enrollment in the ‘80s.

While the history of Girard College has elicited controversy, much like most government or independently-owned institutions of the time when segregation was the rule, the mission and core values of the boarding school reflect an evolutionary loose grip on the once firmly affixed specifications of Stephen Girard’s will. The present state of the Girard College website beautifully details this evolution under the History section. In terms of the Evolving Curriculum, and Girard Today, “The ways Girard College has changed over the years reflects the ways America has changed. In its first century, for example, the school prepared boys for the trades and professions of their era with academic, mechanical-trades and apprenticeship training. Today we prepare boys and girls for college and to lead successful adult lives.” Also, “Stephen Girard, born more than 250 years ago, could not have imagined the ways that our country, its citizens and their roles would change over time. He couldn’t imagine a female justice of the Supreme Court or an African-American U. S. president. The great triumph of Girard College today has been its adaptation to changes in American society while maintaining Stephen Girard’s original mission to educate children to become productive citizens.” All constitutions need amending.

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Today, over 22,000 boys and girls turned young adults have matriculated from Girard College, having received a phenomenal and comprehensive education featuring advanced placement and honors courses, with an impressive 95 percent college placement rate. Even more remarkable, is that students are granted the opportunity to study and live there through academic merit alone, since no one can buy their way into the program. Students come from single-parent low-income families and are bestowed with all of the essentials including their books, supplies, and uniforms after successfully interviewing and testing adequately on the entrance exam. Students whose families live in Philadelphia proper often visit them on weekends, but field trips, community service and sporting events are planned every weekend as well for those who stay on campus.

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While sitting at Rybrew yesterday, an acquaintance of mine compared the 3000 to 2700 blocks of Girard to Sesame Street. Experiencing the diverse neighborhoods and boroughs of Philadelphia makes the strengths and weaknesses of each region clear, and an undeniable strength of Brewerytown is its family-style bond. When walking down the street, a friendly greeting is always appreciated and I can’t go half a block without a friend, shop owner, or person I met once three weeks ago saying “Hi” and asking how I’m doing. It’s been interesting to see how genuine the connection between people is and how deeply the ties are knotted. Girard College is an abrupt rerouting of Girard Ave. on the way to Northern Liberties or Fishtown from Brewerytown, but really it was an abrupt rerouting of the American ideal of education at the turn of the 20th century, as it tested the limits until they broke in terms of racial, religious and gender equality. Its location only strengthens the deep pride of Brewerytown as a staple in the continuing cultural evolution of our city.

 

Buying in on Brewerytown

Buying in Brewerytown makes dollars and sense, and here is your quick guide as to why, and how.

Bustling Brewerytown is one of the most sought after locales in the city. With all the eateries, Fairmount Park, and a great location, rent is starting to rise. With all this great potential, why not buy?

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Many renters sign a lease, put down a deposit, and then start the process all over again after the lease is up. A lot of folks think this is the only way, at least until they are making the big bucks. In Brewerytown, you can own a home without breaking the bank, and the savvy are realizing that they can do the same thing renters are, for virtually the same price, but end up with an investment that has a return. Especially those willing to shack up with some roommates.

Let’s look at some numbers:

Let’s say a home costs $230,000….

That seems like a daunting number, but consider this – most first time buyers qualify for a 3.5% down FHA mortgage loan. That would require an $8,500 down payment.

Before you become overwhelmed, consider that renting will usually require first month, last month, plus security. So for an $1,100 dollar rental home, you are looking at $3,300 up front. For an additional $5,200, you could be paying a mortgage on your own home, for about the same monthly cost as you would shell out to rent. So…if you are looking to get in on the action, this is not only a great time, but a great opportunity to do so in Brewerytown.

Renting vs. buying

Either way, you are putting money down – the question is how much? For just a few thousand extra, you could be making payments towards your own home, rather than helping an owner pay his/her mortgage, or if fully owned, filling their pockets with extra cash. So why not pay a mortgage rather than a landlord? Some people are apprehensive because of the maintenance costs, but a properly inspected home should bring up mostly fix-it-yourself issues, that aren’t significant damages to the wallet. For the do-it-yourself renter, you could be adding value to an investment every time you make a home improvement.

If you are buying into a neighborhood you love, one with good vibes, and one that is moving in a direction you like, you should get in early in order to reap the benefits. This will guarantee that you get in at a good price, and see an appreciation in value. If you are buying in Center City, the value will probably rise, but it won’t rise with the significance of a place that is still developing, such as Brewerytown.

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What to do:

In Brewerytown, there are certain programs, like the one Citizen’s Bank is currently offering, that allow for a  person to put down just 3.5%.  On top of that, there is no monthly mortgage insurance payment required. This payment, necessary for most FHA mortgages, can tack on hundreds of dollars a month on top of your mortgage.

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Steps to take:

1) Choose a neighborhood

2) Reach out to several banks to see what you can be pre-approved for. This shouldn’t cost you anything, but will allow you to know your boundaries.

3) Choose a home that will suit your needs. Location, size, amenities, condition.

4) Visit somebody who knows what they are doing, such as MM Partners, and they can help make your dream a reality, and do it all within your means.

Who you gonna call? 

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MM Partners provides a one year warranty on all homes, but because they are invested in the neighborhood (unlike the big guys), they will be around to assist and guide you throughout your stay, and to provide support down the road.

So…what are you waiting for, get rid of the rent, and get into your home.

HOT LISTINGS: 

3008 Baltz Street:     $205,000
3031 Baltz Street:      $215,000
1402 Corlies Street:  $185,000
Looking for photos or walkthroughs? Inquire at Aaron@mmpartnersllc.com

 

Living in the fresh

by Shelby Smith
Inspiration born and bred in Brewerytown

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Gerald Lawson was driving down 31st this past January, undoubtedly through snow and ice, when he realized upon approaching Jefferson, that the old Red Bell Brewery property would be the perfect backdrop to showcase his DhengiBrand Clothing line. He got out of the car, trudged through the snow, looked at the space and said “here.”

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Sunday May 18th, this winter discovery became a spring reality as a family of colleagues and friends gathered around to support the Brewerytown brand, right in Brewerytown. Local models Rebecca Parker, Maria Pisano, Tyreese O’Neal, and Brian Wells posed in DhengiBrand iconic tees each labeled with one word in the company slogan “Live in the Fresh”- a playful take on the saying “Live in the flesh.”

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Photographer Lawrence Lowe, armed with his professional camera equipment quickly set up and got to work testing the lighting and surveying the space. Up and coming photographers Tyree Lawson (Gerald’s
nephew), and Tarik Halloway (family friend), also came to the shoot to capture the experience from their perspective. Nadirah Beyah, assistant, stylist and model coach, was also on set helping to cultivate the vision and get the best looks.

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The graffiti-covered wall of the abandoned building was ideal for the DhengiBrand image as it reflects life and hope in something dead and forgotten. Gerald also made it clear though that he wanted the models to walk toward the camera with Jefferson in the background so that the actual neighborhood could be a presence, playing a vital role in what inspired the fashion label in the first place. As the shoot was wrapping, I asked Gerald to sum up this experience and what the day meant to him personally, to which he replied, “Today was historic to say the least because this is the first time this has been done in the area to my knowledge.” As a child of Brewerytown, Gerald values the community very highly. He was sharing with excitement his plans for the next thing, because life and business and pursuit of passion is all about
moving to the next big discovery. For the next shoot he wants to go bigger and better to move the brand further. Stay tuned for new looks from DhengiBrand Clothing as the team experiments with denim and accessories in the coming seasons.

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Above all, it was apparent that Gerald is grateful for the opportunities he can provide to other people and for the opportunities that have been provided to him. Time to Live in the Fresh with DhengiBrand Clothing in Brewerytown, Philadelphia.

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Bringing in Spring – Brewerytown Style

by: Shelby Smith

Brewerytown is bringing in Spring with the B-Town Spring Festival.

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In memoriam, and yes, I’m thinking in terms of death and the afterlife – let’s celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of Spring. After a historically awful Winter, I can’t think of many more worthy causes for celebration. The Brewerytown Spring Festival is a block party coming to 2600-2800 Girard in the heart of B-Town on May 10, 2014 from 12-5pm. It is a celebration of not only the fact that we can all spend time together outside as a community, but a celebration of the art, food, and music that lives in the greater art museum area. Private and commercial vendors will be tabling alongside each other as the local businesses and residents fill the sidewalk, street, and empty 2700 Girard lot for a day of creativity and freedom.

You can eat all day and sample an array of foods between the food trucks and specials from restaurants and bars on Girard, and those coming in along the Avenue. However, the focus for me is going to be on the art and the music. Don’t get me wrong, I will most certainly be eating all day, but that unfortunately is no different from any other day.

This will be the perfect opportunity to get gifts and ideas for Mother’s Day as well, because the festival is the day before moms across the nation will be receiving cards. Why not can give mama something homemade instead of, or perhaps in addition to, a card. In fact, all vendors are selling only handmade items. When it comes to arts, crafts, and gifts, the offerings are eclectic and in keeping with the culture of the neighborhood.

terrangementsOne example is Terrangements. Nadia Studnycki has customized an indoor gardening experience for even the least of green thumbs that is extremely apartment friendly, and no-backyard-because-I-live-in-the-city friendly. Talk about low maintenance- which is a description I can always get down with. Nadia custom terrariums are beautiful hanging glass spheres housing succulents, ferns, and cacti-like little living baubles. Some even come showcased like the single rose from Beauty in the Beast, which is obviously a selling point. More than just a potted plant, Terrangements are the perfect gift for a mother, be her yours or someone else’s, because the last thing a mom needs is something that requires a lot of work and attention disguised as a present.

Another interesting table will be the stylings of Ms. Written Art. A self-proclaimed “visual junkie” and “polymer nerd”, Ms. Written Art herself will be exhibiting her fine art pieces that play on the dynamic between the textures of latex and acrylic paints. The vibrancy of her work wants to be on the wall in your house that gets the most natural light. Come swing by her table and buy a piece, so that the bright colors can get what they want- a stern slap in the face from early morning beams.

If you want to eat and promote your business at the same time, then look no further than Debra Sacca’s Calling Card Confections. It’s edible cookie art- finally, a way to eat what you’re supposed to be remembering. I know I personally retain important information much better if I am well-fed. Seriously, if I was handed a cookie that had all the fine print and contact info of a business card on it, I would remember the person that handed it to me for the rest of my life. You better believe I would jot down their phone number before I sank my teeth into said business relationship.

Other featured artists will be the likes of Sarah Peoples, a local artist who has hand-drawn a quirky map of Brewerytown that you will be able to see for yourself if you make your way to the Spring Festival. Melinda McKee will be displaying and selling her unique hand-sketching as well, having been touted as a master illustrator in the area – you should come check her out and see what the fuss is about. I’m also excited about mixed media artist Elizabeth Core and her cool take on textile layering and embroidery in her otherwise two-dimensional pieces. The technique is pretty stunning. I’m looking forward to chilling at her table.

If Etsy is more your thing, you can also find all manner of handmade jewelry and knits, which would also make great gifts to other people or to yourself, because beaucycledthere are a plethora of options, some of which include Beaucycled, K. Louise, and Rhoda Crawford. Beaucycled will be offering items like hand knits and jewelry such as a pendant of bottled gold flakes- fancy. Beaucycled lives by the motto, “Live simply, live creatively,” and has an exciting assortment of handmade beauty. K. Louise likes to focus on internationally-sourced woods from Hawaii, South America, and South Africa. Precious stones and vintage and local blown glass can also be found in these necklaces and earrings rendering them distinctive pieces. Rhoda Crawford will be tabling under the name Manic Muse, a decision she made based on her persona as a kinetic inspiration to herself, an energy that follows through in her art. I looked on her site, and she is currently selling a from-scratch magnifying glass, which is a pretty good indication that I want to buy things from her. She’s super into animal relief and rescue, so a portion of her proceeds always goes to benefit these causes. This means your beloved pet, will thank you with puppy kisses every time you wear one of those statement necklaces or look in its ears with a big magnifying glass, unless it reminds them of the vet!

On to the music – Get ready to jam to DJs and live bands reaching across all sorts of interesting genres. Jess Jones aka DJ MAMBISA is a producer/percussionist/vocalist with a mix of sounds spanning roots, folk, retro, sacred spiritual, and electronica. A yoga practitioner with influences from Brooklyn to Bolivia, she generates sound with Ableton Live+ Akai APC 40+ voice+ samples. Color me curious. Conrad Kubiak, of Spirit in the Wood Conga Drums, will be conducting a workshop and drum circle which is basically a dream scenario. Whether you’re a djembe guy, more into the bongos, or if you can barely handle a rhythm egg, I can’t imagine this going any less than spectacularly. Remind me to bring out the rain stick that is definitely in my room, it’s not going to turn itself upside down. Returning acts Left of Logic, No Good Sister, and Ronald Reagan? THE ACTOR? might be around as well so keep your ear to the ground.

This is a family friendly event, with something for everyone. Children live in Brewerytown and they contribute to the ethos of this whole area perhaps more than anybody. Look for Pleasant Valley Promotions, where the kids can get superheroes painted on their faces, beads wrapped in their hair, tattoos temporarily applied to their forearms, and sand art projects to take home. The West Girard Community Council also mentioned the possibility of a “Farm Stand Express”, where families can buy fresh food in the style of a full-scale farmer’s market all from one booth, allowing them to get the farm to table experience right in the midst of an urban block party. That sounds good to me!

Freedom of creativity is one of the best things about Philly, Brewerytown, and the greater art museum area in particular. On May 10, from 12-5, come on down to the 2600-2800 blocks to get a taste of spring, and the life that accompanies good weather and good people.

Brewerytown Sippin’

Brewerytown Living Presents – Brewerytown Sippin’

Looking to quench your thirst? Summer is coming, and the changing weather is sure to demand the right place to wet your whistle and relax to a cold one (or hot) during the coming months. This is a list that compiles the places you can claim as your own to ease in the heat. From bars to cafes to tea houses, there are a plethora of options to please your desires, and all are walkable from right here in Brewerytown.

RyBrew   rybrewCold beer + Shuffle Board = Awesome. RyBrew has become a Brewerytown staple and the go to for a sandwich and a beer since opening its doors last year, just in time for summer. The door welcomes regulars and newcomers alike. They are constantly rotating beers here, and continually adding new stock and seasonal’s. RyBrew has an answer to all your beverage desires with arguably the best selection of cold craft beers in the greater art museum area. Add to the beers an extensive variety of sandwiches, soups, coffee, and there is something here for everyone. This is a regular lunch beer temptation for frequenters, so tread with caution! Stop in for a beer, a mix and match six pack, or even a twelver to go. Need help? Ask for Sean, who is on top of the beer game, and provides knowledgeable advice for those who can’t decide between the hundreds of options. Oh, and the beer is COLD – just how you like it on a hot day. 2816 W Girard Ave

 

Bridgid’s This local neighborhood bar has impeccable service and an excellent selection of draft beers. The bartenders know what they are doing, and make real deal cocktailsBridgids Flash as well. As if that weren’t enough, the chef is a certified bad ass with mouth-watering meals and rotating specials. The bar is small, and the perfect place for a night-capper, a happy hour, or a meal. Oh, and from 11pm to midnight, there is a 5 dollar special. You get whatever the chef decides, but it’s well worth the “risk”, as everything out of the kitchen is worth trying. The service here is so good, your bar napkin will be folded and awaiting your return when you make a trip to the bathroom. Great vibe and great atmosphere. The place is easy to miss, but well worth looking for. 726 North 24th Street

 

ERA Neighborhood staple, this bar hasn’t changed much and doesn’t intend to. Doors open at five, and they offer a beer (Lion’s Head) and a shot (Heaven Hill) special for four bucks. Basic draft selection with Sly Fox, Yard’s and Yuengling, as well as cans of PBR for the hipsters and Temple students playing quizzo on Thursdays…Long time bartender Fitty keeps customers smiling, and there is a beat up old pool table worth passing some time. Although the jukebox needs constant feeding, and this isn’t the spot to order any upscale cocktails, there is something very comforting about ERA. Hungry? Get your hands dirty (literally – you eat with your hands) the Ethiopian cuisine here is top-notch. 28th and Poplar

 

Lemon Hill   lemon hillA whiskey lover’s dream, with food to match. The neighborhood tavern is tucked away on Aspen and 25th, and has limited space. Bar seating can be tricky on a busy night, but make no doubt, it is worth risking the wait for this spot. Lemon Hill probably has one of the most knowledgeable bar staffs in the entire city, and watching them mix specialty drinks is like watching Bob Ross lovingly paint a little tree. Ordering a drink here is not just an action, it is an experience. There is a fine selection of American craft brews, but this is a bar where the focus should be on the custom drinks designed by Al Sotack to present options for every taste. “From the lightly sweet and tart through the dark and brooding and deliciously bitter, we’ll have your poison. If you prefer your liquor as just that, ask advice of the wall of bourbon that is our bar, but be warned: it only says nice things.”

747 North 25th Street

 

North Star Bar    What can I say – easily one of the best happy hours in town with 50% off all drafts, daily drink specials, dollar wings, and half off mussels. The venue regularly has live music and is a great place to unwind, with an impressive craft beer selection. The crowd can range, and often depends on whether or not there is music. The beer is always cold, and they can splash together some decent cocktails as well. There is usually a bartenders special, so keep an eye out and be sure to try it! They are also happy to provide to go beers in a plastic cup for the day walkers. 2639 Poplar St

 

Brown Street Tavern   Cheap food (7 dollar burgers) and cold beers, not the most impressive selection, but they offer drafts and bottles and provide a pool table. Oh, and there is a ladies entrance as well. 795 North 24th Street

 

Jack’s Firehouse Once considered the outskirts of town, this was the original Philadelphia Fire House because of its hill top view of the city. Tons of history, and the original fire pole jacks-firehouse-fairmount-philadelphia1-600vpstill stands. Adding to the atmosphere – the fire doors swing open to make the bar an outdoor bar right inside. Awesome place for a hot summer evening. Food is pricey, but Matt is one of the finest barmen in town, with one of the most genuine smiles, and will make sure you have a great time. 2130 Fairmount Avenue

 

Playmakers Owned by former NFL star Marvin Harrison, Playmakers is home to probably the best pool tables in the area. Music bumps loudly at night, and they offer specials during sporting events. There are no drafts, but a respectable assortment of bottled beers to choose from.

28th and Harper

Bishop’s Collar 

This is a great day time spot with reasonably priced food, and one of the better burgers in the neighborhood. It can be packed at night and for games. Outdoor seating is abundant, but hard to come by. This is a great place for a cold one on a hot day. They offer the Philly standard of craft beer selections and the bartenders mix quality drinks. What more could you need?

2349 Fairmount Avenue

Krupa’s

This is an interesting place because it has a very old-school, blue collar, PHILLY vibe. This really is a neighborhood bar. You will probably stick out like a sore thumb if it is your first visit, but they are generally welcoming, and offer mainly beer from the canned variety. You are sure to experience some interesting convo, avid Philly sports fans, and perhaps a game of poker.

2701 Brown Street

Rembrandt’s

This spot has gone through some management changes over the years, and has been around the neighborhood in some form for ages. Formerly Patsy’s, in 1985 it became Rembrandt’s. They have a decent beer selection at prices (6 bucks) that don’t scream out that you are getting a great deal, but the service is good and the food gets mixed reviews around the city. On a good day, they have a great burger.

741 North 23rd Street

La Calaca Feliz

la calaccaViva la Tequila! Shots, shots, shots, shots, and a great happy hour. La Calaca Feliz offers the best tequila selection in the area, and although the bar only seats about 6 to 8 people, there is plenty of seating for dining as well. They make a respectable margarita, have a solid draft selection, and for the hungry; the closest thing to authentic Mexican in the area. Service is always great, and the atmosphere has always been one conducive to conversation and meeting some new faces.

2321 Fairmount Ave

Urban Saloon

Sort of like a Fairmount version ERA for young professionals, Urban Saloon can come off as a frat boy bar for dudes that are too old to be in frats on a bad night, but is a fun mix of professionals and shakers on a good night. They have plenty of beer to offer and a friendly enough staff.

2120 Fairmount Ave

London Grill

This place has a really cool decor, and is surprisingly, often a great place to conversate or bring a date. I say this, because amazingly, there is usually some bar seating london5despite the location and service that would suggest the place would be forever packed. London Grill has a very old school pub vibe that is both comforting and relaxing. They have an excellent rotating draft selection, make killer cocktails, and are at a prime location. Hungry? Don’t let England’s bland and boring food reputation fool you, this London bar does it up well. It’s a little pricey, but worth the cash for a special treat.

2321 Fairmount Avenue

Fare

Fare offers 3 dollar bottled beers for happy hour and makes a good martini. The vibe varies, but generally it draws the locally minded, but occasionally pretentious clientele. This may not be your go to spot, but it’s worth going to, if just to sit in their amazing courtyard. Fare is, “Organic, local, sustainable, crafted and Artisan,” offering an impressive menu of locally minded dishes.

2028 Fairmount Avenue

Old Philly Ale House  

Most people don’t realize, but you can actually drink on site here. This is true Philly, and feels that way the moment you walk in. They have been in the game for a long time and know their beers. Most choose this for buying beers to go, but you won’t be disappointed if you sit with the owner and have a chat. Excellent selection of some of the world’s finest beers. What’s that you say, you want a new beer? Old Philly Ale House has you covered and if they don’t, they’ll order it for you. They have hundreds of beers including Belgian, English, Micro Brews, and of course Pennsylvania’s Pride, Yuengling.

565 N 20th St

Belgian Cafe

Claiming to have the sunniest tree-lined corner in Fairmount, the Belgian Cafe offers an awesome selection of brews. They usually have at least twelve drafts that rotate, and offer seasonals as well. The menu is intriguing and extensive. This is also arguably one of the best places in town for mussels.

2047 Green Street

 

McCrossens01_LoResMcCrossen’s Tavern 

McCrossen’s has a feel good neighborhood vibe and offers an amazing weekend brunch that includes all you  can drink Bloody’s or Mimosas. They have a great craft beer selection and excellent service. The woodwork adds to the atmosphere, and this is a great place for a day beer or a night capper. The food is excellent and the menu is constantly changing as well. Friendly and accomodating staff make this an easy choice for a quiet drink.

529 North 20th Street

The Green Room

This place isn’t trying to be anything it isn’t. Many complain of it as a dive bar in reviews, but it is worth going in for a cold one. There are two pool tables, a juke box, drafts, bottles, and liqour. They may not mix the best drinks, but you can’t go wrong with a cold beer here.

1940 Green Street

Non-Stop Deli

Distributor closed? No worries – Non-Stop carries a surprisingly good selection of quality beers such as Victory Hop Devil and Dog Fish, while also supplying Steele Reserve, PBR, and Coors Light for the budget-minded, this is the best price on late night beers you will find.

29th and Girard

High Point Cafe

New in the neighborhood, but not new in Philly, High Point’s third location on Girard Ave offers perhaps the most extensive list of nonalcoholic beverage options in the area. Priding themselves on service and quality, High Point is an avid supporter of local economy and small business. From traditional hot cocoa to delicious iced teas and even a specialized wellness elixir, baristas also make a mean variety of espresso drinks, using one of the best machines in the business. Need more than a coffee kick? High Point offers their own pastries and makes crepes to order. There is outdoor seating, balcony seating, and a large communal table as well as a small bar area to enjoy your order, or you can take it to go.

2831 Girard Ave

iMunch

This little hidden spot on the corner of Baltz Street across from the Bottom Dollar has been quietly winning over residents for well over a year. The upstairs seatingimunch area is perfect for relaxing, although the massive screens might be intimidating. They offer hearty sized portions, illy coffee, teas, and espresso. The service is friendly and the location convenient.

1233 N 31st St

Lucky Goat

Tucked on a corner of Poplar, the Lucky Goat has become one of the neighborhoods most talked about coffee shops. With many options around, this might prove to be a quieter, and more relaxed choice. They offer all of the espresso options your heart desires, and provide snack items such as bananna bread. They also have an enticing season drink special menu to choose from. Definitely a great place to read a book, or to grab a quick one for the road on your way to the city – however, parking can be tricky.

888 N 26th St

Rita’s Water Ice

The name speaks for itself. Tucked into a tiny stall on Girard, Rita’s is a classic summer quencher.

2827 Girard Ave

Teaful Bliss

Hand bagged teas and a friendly owner make this a great spot to bring a date, have a meeting, or to relax to conversation with a friend, giving a new meaning to “tea time”. Teaful Bliss believes that the calming sensation that comes from drinking tea is universal, and that the ingredients should reflect the cultures and countries of the world. They offer a wide range of delightful flavors, and have something for everyone. Not a tea drinker? They offer coffee, but be prepared to become not only a tea fan, but a connoisseur. More than just thirsty? They have that covered also, with a pallette-minded menu, and generous portions for breakfast and lunch.

28th and Cambridge

Tela’s Market & Kitchen

Tela’s on Fairmount is a fresh and prepared food market. The inside has a modern, local, fishtowny vibe. They are meant to be passionate about offering local and high-quality foods, but closer inspection may disappoint some shoppers, with offerings of some mega brands such as  Dole fruits, and some other non-locally minded big boys on the shelves. Get past that minor disappointment, and you are met with delicious coffee, including what many have said is the best Cafe Au Lait in the city. They offer other beverages such as sodas, and even a 20 dollar bottle of rootbeer. There is adequate space for seating, and a delicious menu that offers hearty portions. Overall, there is a respectable selection of local and the place is comforting, with an excellent and mindful staff.

1833 Fairmount Ave

OCF Coffee

A spacious and self proclaimed “industrial-chic cafe”, OCF has primetime location and reasonable parking options just across from Eastern State Penitentiary. The coffee shop is “a real estate company’s sideline java empire, thanks to a full kitchen, lunch and brunch menus, and a wide array of house-baked pastry.” Although OCF seems to be confused about its identity as an “empire” that is also a BYOB, and a “best of local farms” restaurant with a full menu, somewhere in there, it is a coffee shop with free wifi.

2100 Fairmount Ave

Give Back and Go Forward

- Shelby Smith

Giving back is one of the most important elements of building a community, and passing that along continues that process of growing. This is where Give and Go comes in.

The hours of 3-7pm, after school, are perhaps the most critical time of the day for the youth.  These are the least structured, and the least supervised time in a child’s day, and  a lot can happen on the way home from school.

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Andre Wright was born and raised  in Brewerytown, spending the better part of the past thirty years here. He’s moved away several times, yet he always comes back. He grew up on the 1400 block of 29th and Master, and regards the annual 29th street block party as a “family reunion.” I spoke with Andre about the neighborhood, and he knows from experience what it is that the neighborhood needs. His respect for the community that raised him, combined with his background as an in-school therapist, were what started him thinking about better and more comprehensive ways to provide coping strategies, encouragement and positive programming to the overwhelming 80 percent of children who have experienced trauma. Andre told me that when he was younger, the neighborhood rec center was his safe haven. He also told me that he feels his responsibility is not only to the kids, but to his friends who have lived in Brewerytown forever. He said, “Sports are the perfect way to do that. There is no color, no race. It’s the best way to bridge the gap, making sure that people from the neighborhood are heard.” The idea turned into a reality in 2009, when Andre founded Give-and-Go Athletics with partner Caleb Jones as an after school sports program. What was once a basketball league comprised of four boys, has since expanded via word of mouth to over forty kids. When Give-and-Go was adopted by Resources for Human Development, and registered as a non-profit 501(c)(3), opportunities became endless.

received_m_mid.1378506605751_c8271aea29e9c04623_0Basketball sooned turned into baseball and dance in 2012. When the siblings of the basketball kids heard about the program, they wanted in, but not all wanted to shoot hoops. A baseball league was the resounding request of the neighborhood students, and to Andre, adjusting goals and expectations to satisfy the neighborhood students, became an immediate priority. In a matter of months, the organization raised enough money to offer group skills, life skills, and clinics for both basketball and baseball, with funds available to recruit coaches and obtain all necessary equipment.

 

In the past few months, Give-and-Go began submitting proposals to the Board of Education to implement programs through the schools, but issues arose in the matter of securing transportation from the schools to the gym where Give-and-Go operates.  Unwilling to be thwarted, they then submitted new proposals to the board asking to secure use of the school gymnasiums for after school sports practices on the premises, which would eliminate the need for a new school bus contract. Those proposals were successful, and there are now flourishing in-school pilots at McKinley Elementary School and Bache Martin.

This led many to wonder, “What about girls?” There are some girls on the basketball and baseball teams, but at the co-ed level. There are not enough girls thus far to field full rosters or provide stipends for more coaches. If your daughter, sister, niece, or granddaughter plays sports, now is the time to enroll her in the Give-and-Go program, so that she can build a strong bond with her teammates, learn to balance school and extracurricular activities, and engage in healthy competition.

Andre advocates for children because he knows that they are the beginning, and they still have a clean slate. What they become later, is still totally up for grabs, and it IMG_20140103_203059is the duty of mentors, teachers and coaches, to invest in them while they are on a good path, so that they continue on that good path and grow into productive, responsible adults and citizens. Exercise is important, and childhood obesity rates are staggering these days as well. Kids need a well-rounded education, and that does not end when the school day does. Those four critical hours before they finally head home to complain about the broccoli on their dinner plates before bed are when Give-and-Go has the chance to influence kids. “There can never be enough positive socially-conscious programs in the inner city,” Andre says. If Andre is any benchmark for the future, the kids today will look back on the time they spent at practices and games in the gym as their safe haven as well.

Dance is an expanding program that Give-and-Go now offers. Caleb Jones’ sister, Sarai, was already working on a dance repertoire for young girls to learn, and Give-and-Go was in a position to use its stance and budget to get Sarai’s dance plans off the ground. In addition to Sarai, there are three other dance instructors, and between the four of them, they teach modern, jazz, tap, hip hop, and ballet. This has become a popular offering for girls, and boys are showing interest as well.

IMG_20131116_164800Back in 2010, Give and Go used the Broad Street Run as a platform to get people involved with the organization by running for the cause. Andre shared that, “While there are many causes that any city must support, youth programs are perhaps the most important, because they are the ones offering preventative measures.” This involvement with the ten-mile run began when Bonnie Dugan, of the “One Step Away” newspaper, saw a story and photo that Andre posted on social media of the kids competing for Give-and-Go, and she reached out for more information because she was inspired. She then took on the Broad Street Run Initiative entirely, understanding the effectiveness of asking people to donate to their friends, colleagues, and family members by sponsoring their races. People always feel more comfortable giving money to people they know, and to causes they can see. These funds raised by this network of runners offset the operating budget which allows for the purchase of sporting equipment, space, and the hiring of coaches, instructors, and staff. All of these resources are essential to keep the kids well-attended. This year marks four years for the Give-and-Go Broad Street Run team. The first year Andre ran it alone, the second year Bonnie joined him, the third year there were five runners. This year, there are an impressive twelve runners participating. While registration for this year’s run on May 4th has already closed, it is not too late to donate to the runners by simply following the links on the website: www.giveandgoathletics.com. If you are already registered to actually run, you can still join the team also! There will be a Give-and-Go after party following the event at Infinity, and volunteers will be needed to work that event. This year’s team of twelve has been divided into two groups of six representing the Give-and-Go staff and Team Brewerytown. Andre is currently looking for volunteers to cheer on the teams and support Brewerytown at Broad and Master by passing out water and encouraging the runners.  If you are interested in volunteering, joining the team, or donating, please mention so in the comment section, and I will follow up with the appropriate contact information for you.

Another opportunity to see Give-and-Go in action is during the May 10th cleanup as part of Love Your Park Week. All parks throughout the city such as Fairmount, Sedgeley, Smith Playground, Hunting, and Gemantown will get some spring cleaning, and Give-and-Go in collaboration with Lemon Hill, will be hosting a cleanup at 30th and Poplar. Any and all help is appreciated, so comment your availability to receive further instructions.

 

What is Give and Go?

In the beginning, Andre and Caleb weren’t sure what they wanted to name their organization. They knew they wanted to give back, give time, give resources, and give money. We all know the Give-and-Go play in basketball, and Pick-and-Roll didn’t have quite the same ring to it, so they knew what to do. The play is about giving the ball to your teammate, then working the court, maintaining good position and receiving the ball back to score. When we teach kids, they teach us. They take what they’ve learned and they re-instill those lessons in us so that we can continue to be of service. That very important process is happening every day in Brewerytown, thanks to some very devoted residents. Volunteerism is essential to building strong foundations for youth, providing an example, and helping to build pride in a community. Thank you, Andre Wright. We hear you as you speaking up for so many others!

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