Sustainable Book Club Series

Wed., May 27, 6:30 p.m. 

Wild Edibles Walk

Wed., May 27, 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Tai Chi in the Garden 

Thurs., May 28, 10 to 11 a.m 





Soap City

For every bar purchased, Hand in Hand says it donates a bar of soap and provides a month of clean water to children in need.Vegan soap-making companies in Philadelphia offer natural products for the environmentally conscious

For many soap makers, there is concern over using palm oil in their products. The vegetable oil is linked to environmental issues such as climate change, deforestation and animal cruelty. To combat this concern, vegan soap companies, which make soap that doesn’t come from animal fat and is not animal-tested, are becoming more popular. Vegan soap, compared to store-bought soap that contains tallow—animal fat— is generally handmade, gentler to your skin and uses plant-based oils, such as olive oil, coconut oil and almond oil. Those opting to use vegan soap recognize that vegan soap makers put thought into using specific ingredients to produce quality products. Here’s a list of four vegan soap companies in Philadelphia you can try for yourself.

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Small Space, Big Life: A family shows how large love fits in a tiny home

Illustration by Mike L. Perry

by Natasha Alvarez

My love affair with tiny houses started when I was tiny myself. Delighted by all things small, I spent hours playing with my dollhouse as a achild, imagining whole lives for the Lilliputian family that lived inside. How wonderful it would be, I thought, if I could just shrink myself to fit inside that itty-bitty home.

Later, forts and tents were my specialty. A broomstick, a mop and a sheet were the makings of my own personal world. But by far, my favorite makeshift dwelling was an old forsythia bush in the backyard, its tangle of branches perfectly arranged to leave a hollow room in the center, just big enough for me and my little sister to create an entire universe for ourselves. Small spaces offered my shy young self shelter from a sometimes harsh world. 

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Bold Prints: Smak Parlour celebrates 10 years in business with a locally-inspired and manufactured collection

Fan Dancers dress with print by street artist Joe Boruchow

by Claire Margheim

Abby Kessler and Katie Lubieski of Smak Parlour debuted their street art-inspired The Cut & Sew Collection on March 20 at their Old City storefront. It’s their first collection of originals since 2010, but that isn’t because they’ve been slacking off.

In addition to keeping their retail boutique open seven days a week, in 2013 they launched their retail-on-wheels Smak Parlour Fashion Truck, a 22-foot box truck outfitted with vintage furniture, hardwood floors, track lighting, a skylight and a dressing room. 

Smak Parlour began as a sewing parlor for the friends’ in-house label “Smak” in 2005, before evolving into a retail outlet featuring chic, affordable women’s clothing and accessories from a variety of brands.

“We are celebrating our tenth birthday by getting back to our roots,” Kessler says. “After all, sometimes looking to the past is the best way to move into the future.” 

The duo has created a truly made-in-Philly line, working with a manufacturer in Hatboro for the printing and sourcing of a new generation of spandex, and using Sewing Solutions in Bedford for cutting and sewing. They also partnered with three Philadelphia artists to create the prints: graphic designer Dave Holley, street artist Joe Boruchow and Smak Parlour employee Chelsea Goich.

“Having designed the graphics on our fashion truck, Holley was a no-brainer,” says Lubieski. “And we saw Boruchow’s fan lady image on a mailbox years prior. We had it in our minds from then on that we needed to work together.”  

Kessler and Lubieski looked to their own staff for the third inspiration. After finding Goich’s sketches in the margins of their register tapes, they felt she was sending them a message. So, they turned her hand-drawn polka dots, strawberries and watermelon halves into prints.

The combination of these diverse artists produces a surprisingly balanced collection: bold repeat prints on burlesque-inspired dresses; classic black-and-white patterned skater skirts; and whimsical peplum tops.

So, what’s next for Smak Parlour? “We hope to wholesale our Smak Parlour collection,” Lubieski says. “The bold prints would be perfect for so many fabulous shops!”


Following A Pattern: Mother and daughter team design and manufacture kids’ clothes in Port Richmond 

Chau Tran, left, and Thao To, right, pose in their Port Richmond workshop. | photo by Jared Gruenwald

Thao To, the designer and manufacturer behind ToT, a new line of locally-made girls clothing, may seem an unlikely textile entrepreneur. The daughter of a Vietnamese couple who immigrated in 1986, To was an academic overachiever who planned to become a doctor. She graduated in 2005 from George Washington University with a major in Biology. 

But Chau Tran, To’s mother, says her daughter’s plans to become a pediatrician were derailed by a simple realization. “She loved the kids, but the kids don’t love the doctor.” 

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Come Intern for Grid!


Summer internships available at Philadelphia's leading sustainability magazine

Grid interns will help table events while learning the ins and outs of working at a niche publication.

Are you passionate about sustainability and looking for a way to get involved in Philadelphia? Grid, Philadelphia’s leading sustainability magazine, is looking for eco-minded individuals interested in an editorial internship during the summer. Internships at Grid provide an experience for current or recent students to learn the ins and outs of what it takes to put out a free monthly niche magazine.

Interns will work closely with the Sales & Marketing Manager and are an integral part of the process. While learning how to improve his or her writing skills, our interns manage our popular events calendar, fact-check articles, blog and carry out  social media strategies, and occasionally help us table events. The position requires strong writing skills and a well-rounded awareness of environmental issues.

The internship is 12 to 20 hours per week and very flexible about schedule;  and typically internships last 10 to 12 weeks, but can be extended. The positions are unpaid, with the option of receiving school credit. Internship lengths mirror semesters and are broken into three parts: spring (January through April), summer (May through August) and fall (September through December).  We would consider other options for a strong candidate.

Internship applicants should email a cover letter describing their qualifications, including how Grid interests them and what they’d like to learn during an internship, along with a resume and any recent writing clips (no class papers, please) to In general, the most helpful writing samples show your ability to research facts, organize information, and interview a variety of sources.

Applicants should indicate which internship period they prefer. The deadline for application is May 22 for the summer period. No phone calls please. We only meet in person with applicants under serious consideration for the internship.