Sat., April 12, 7 to 11 p.m.
Sun., April 13, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thurs., April 17, 7 to 9 p.m.








An injured rider finds support from the bicycle community

illustration by Andrew RobertsI could be the safest bicyclist i know. I teach people how to ride bikes in the city as part of my job at two nonprofits—the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and Gearing Up. Off the clock, I’m a bicycle evangelist who encourages everyone to give two-wheeled transportation a try. But my enthusiasm was recently challenged. 

Days before Christmas, I was biking home, heading west on Reed Street past the Acme in South Philly. I turned south where the trolley tracks turn north at 11th and Reed, and suddenly, my bike slipped out from under me and I was on the ground. 

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South Philadelphia recycling program Feed the Barrel transforms used cooking oil into compost and biofuel

Cut Zahara, program director with Feed the Barrel, poses with her daughter, Geubrina Jalil. photos by Sahar Coston HardyWarm, welcoming and barefoot. That is Cut Zahara, owner of Barizkhy Daycare. (It’s still fairly new, come on in and make yourself at home.) Although she’s a petite woman among a sea of children vying for attention, you can’t miss her—she’s the one with the hot pink scarf wrapped around her head.

Zahara (whose first name is pronounced “choot”) is one of the program directors of Feed the Barrel, Philadelphia’s first residential cooking oil recycling program. Members of the Indonesian Diaspora Network of Greater Philadelphia, a local chapter of the national organization, created the pilot in early 2013 with the help of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Asian Pacific American Council, which serves communities that are typically under-represented. In Indonesia, families have more space—big backyards and gardens—and so dumping used cooking oil outside was never an issue. But in Philadelphia, where open space is limited, many Indonesians resort to throwing away their oil after cooking with it; or worse, pouring it down the drain, where it would block their pipes as well as city-owned water mains, making for some very expensive plumbing fixes.

“We as a community … never dealt with this problem in our country before,” Zahara says. She moved from Aceh, Indonesia, in 2000 and has lived in the U.S. since then. “We [Indonesians] use a lot of cooking oil, we fry everything, so that’s why … after we use it, we just pour it down the sink; that’s how we dealt with it before. [But] now we know how to do it better.”

At a meeting in early 2013, members of the Indonesian Diaspora Network of Greater Philadelphia decided that Zahara, who has been an activist and a speaker on environmental and human rights issues for 14 years, was the kind of champion that Feed the Barrel needs. Zahara and Merlin Lamson, project manager, were chosen after the community leaders saw “the scope of the project, and realize we need back-up,” says Hani White, chairwoman for the Indonesian Diaspora Network of Greater Philadelphia.

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Made in the Shade: Buying shade-grown coffee helps the region’s migratory songbirds 

How can you help local birds at breakfast? Think beyond the chickens that laid your eggs, and look at what’s in your coffee mug. Many of Philadelphia’s local birds spend their winters where I would if I had wings: in the lush forests of northern Latin America’s coffee country. Unfortunately, many of these migratory songbirds are in decline.

“One reason populations can decline is because of threats they are facing on their wintering range,” says Keith Russell, Philadelphia outreach coordinator for Audubon Pennsylvania, drawing the connection between our birds and where we get our coffee. 

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King of K&A: Plain Sights at Wishart St. & Kensington Ave.

The Flomar Building, now home to Esperanza Health Center and the Hispanic Community and Counseling Services, in K&A (Kensington and Allegheny), serves as an example of a would-be eyesore that went from neighborhood burden to neighborhood benefit.

The building was built in 1928 for the Northeastern Title and Trust Company. While other banks in the area were building low-slung Neoclassical stone castles, Northeastern opted for a brick high-rise. While it was an ostentatious megalith that represented the company’s success, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 led to Northeastern merging with the Industrial Trust Company of Philadelphia, and taking on its name in 1930.

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Grid Alive at The Oval


Next week, Grid is putting on a special free Grid Alive, as part of The Oval's Farm Festival. 

The event at 7 p.m. April 17 at The Oval is part of a three-day FREE farm-themed festival and is presented by Grid Alive, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the Fairmount Park Conservancy. The Oval's Farm Fest will feature Victory Brewing Company, other food trucks and live bluegrass music.

Grid Alive is Philadelphia’s only live sustainability talk show, hosted by Grid publisher Alex Mulcahy and Head & The Hand founder Nic Esposito. Come meet and be inspired by the leaders of Philadelphia's sustainability movement. There will be fascinating conversation with guests including:

  • Mary Seton Corboy, urban farming pioneer of Greensgrow Farms
  • Ben Wenk,  seventh generation family farmer at Three Springs Fruit Farm
  • Lena Kim of the EPA, Sage Piszek of Eden Green Energy, and program director Cut Zahara, who are a part of Feed the Barrel, an innovative cooking oil recycling program in South Philadelphia

Need a ride? Head over to the Farm Festival hassle-free. The Oval partnered with Uber to offer all new users a free ride, up to $20, using the promotional code FARMFESTIVAL14. Visit to get started. 

It will be a great evening and we hope to see you there. Stop by and say hi!