Fixing social problems requires a new framework for philanthropic giving

Illustration by Carter Mulcahy

Illustration by Carter Mulcahy

Old Money, New Ideas

by Omar Woodard

I believe in social innovation as a pathway to eradicate poverty in Philadelphia. 

Broadly defined, “social innovation” is new thinking or novel approaches to longstanding challenges facing society, such as poverty. Philadelphia suffers the distinction of being America’s poorest big city, and accelerating the pace and success of social innovation is more important than ever.

In the for-profit arena, angel investors and venture capitalists drive innovation by betting on innovative leaders who understand their markets. Funding rounds include a community of investors. Startup companies with viable business models quickly scale regionally or nationwide—even internationally. 

In the nonprofit sector, foundations fill the “angel investor/venture capitalist” role but often do not achieve the same outcomes. Nonprofits that secure funding do not scale quickly: In fact, they very rarely get close to meeting the need, or, to think about it a different way, “market demand.” Without a similar pathway to reaching a broader market, social innovations will never achieve the impact needed to address the deep social challenges facing Philadelphia and elsewhere. 

Reflecting on my brief time as a new foundation executive, I see three ways local foundations can refocus energies and activities to accelerate social innovation when it comes to poverty. 

First, we must start collaborating with one another in new ways to achieve solutions at scale. This is not an insurmountable task—in fact, we can build upon existing momentum. 

Foundation giving in Philadelphia is heavily reliant on family foundations such as the Knight Foundation and the William Penn Foundation, which are at the vanguard of philanthropic partnerships to achieve social change. Launched in 2014, their $11 million Reimagining the Civic Commons partnership has improved social cohesion and accelerated economic development through targeted investments in civic assets. The success of this partnership, and the momentum it built, in part led to Mayor Kenney’s announcement of Rebuild, a $500 million, citywide revitalization effort for Philadelphia’s greatest civic assets: its parks, playgrounds, libraries and recreation centers (funded also in part by the “soda tax.”)

We can replicate this partnership approach to eradicate deep poverty in our city and improve the lives of the nearly 200,000 households that subsist on $250 per week or less. The William Penn Foundation is investing in quality early childhood education in Philadelphia; Knight invests broadly, including in entrepreneurial opportunities for youth and young adults; but their example shows that all of us can partner to develop new strategies that fill in and connect the dots with an eye toward systemic change. 

Second, philanthropic institutions should continue to infuse more talent into their ranks from backgrounds outside of the foundation world. Diverse professional expertise is always key, but we must also solicit solutions from people who intimately understand the communities impacted by challenges such as intergenerational poverty. 

While my background growing up poor in North Philadelphia alone does not qualify me for a job as a foundation executive, the experience does inform and guide me to make different decisions about investing resources and identifying what innovation really looks like. 

Earlier this year, researchers from Australia and Michigan studied the relation between the socioeconomic backgrounds of mutual fund managers and their investment performance. The study found that fund managers from lower-income families outperformed those from wealthy families. The research found that managers from low-income backgrounds made different decisions, borne out of having a different relationship to money and wealth. Simply put, we need to continue efforts to diversify the foundation and nonprofit sectors in all ways, including with those who understand poverty—through their own experiences—to accelerate social innovation in Philadelphia. 

Finally, we must prioritize community-based approaches to investing in social innovation, rooted in the needs of the people and places in which we are investing. As foundation professionals, we cannot afford to insulate ourselves from the problems we attempt to solve, and should regularly engage with local communities and other stakeholders to find sustainable solutions to our problems. 

The GreenLight Fund model employs all three of these approaches. It is a community-based approach to grantmaking that radically changes how foundations and other institutions engage with communities, especially communities of color. The model is based on driving social innovation by developing partnerships with government, businesses and other nonprofits, investing in challenges identified by those who live and work in high-poverty neighborhoods, and hiring local leaders who understand the communities in which we invest.

At the GreenLight Fund, we’re committed to ensuring that Philadelphia benefits from the best social innovations in the country. The time is right for the region’s philanthropic community to coalesce around a shared vision and to address the greatest threats and key systemic barriers to the full development of human potential in Philadelphia.

Join us as we continue to listen, learn and take action in new ways. Together, we can position Philadelphia as a hub for the nation’s best social innovations and entrepreneurs, and as an attractive destination for the world’s most talented people to solve the world’s biggest challenges right here at home.

Omar Woodard is the executive director of the GreenLight Fund in Philadelphia.

Hero-worship of entrepreneurs won’t build sustainable communities

Illustration by Nicholas Massarelli

Illustration by Nicholas Massarelli

Caveat Emptor

by Jerry Silberman

Question: Is social entrepreneurship a way to build a sustainable society?
The Right Question: Can any entrepreneur really be expected or trusted to do
the right thing when the going gets tough?

The term “entrepreneur” has a newly minted positive cachet in our society, the result of a concerted effort to frame as a hero and role model an individual who becomes fantastically rich within his (and yes, they are overwhelmingly male) own lifetime, allegedly because of his particular talent or genius. It’s the success of the American Dream on steroids. Think Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg, the Koch brothers. One such entrepreneur has just parlayed that success into the White House. 

When I was in school, we learned that Andrew Carnegie was a robber baron; today he is remembered as a great entrepreneur and philanthropist, a man who endowed music halls, foundations and libraries. But I still remember that some of his employees were murdered for attempting to form a union.  

The entrepreneur is a very different character in my mind than a small-businessperson. The latter starts a business to support their family, based on their particular skills or talents, with no dream of becoming a huge corporation or accumulating wealth—someone who takes pride in being a member of their community and contributing something of value. This person understands the limits of their business and is concerned with their personal relationships with their customers. It’s the doctor or plumber who makes the emergency house call on Christmas Eve (without charging extra!), the grocer who gives a laid-off neighbor credit or an unofficial discount: This was the business behavior that earned (and still earns) respect in a community. 

Corporate behavior will have none of that. Large insurance companies are proud of their ability to figure out ways not to pay claims, or how to cut off people whose claims they know will exceed their premiums. Hedge fund heroes win praise for purchasing companies and slashing wages and benefits of workers who have no place else to go.

To the extent that a social entrepreneur seeks to set up a business that addresses a social problem and places the contribution to the good of society ahead of unlimited personal wealth, she or he is reviving some old-time community values, tapping into a tradition that modern mega-business is busy trying to extinguish. It seems every possible business gets compressed into a cookie-cutter chain. (Philly Pretzel Factory has just about eliminated one of my favorite foods, in favor of their tasteless, textureless white bread with salt.)

The unremitting effort of capital to turn every human relationship into a commodity has as its inevitable consequence the effect of destroying and debilitating communities, and relations of responsibility and accountability between individuals. Caveat emptor—buyer beware—becomes, in a fully commoditized society, the “Trust no one” mantra of “The X-Files.” The word “entrepreneur” or the phrase “social entrepreneurship” implies individual authority and accountability, which leaves a huge loophole for what nonprofit organizations sometimes call “mission drift.” In the case of the well-intentioned entrepreneur, it’s what happens when the business isn’t going as well as expected, and her community-centered choices about ethical sourcing, fair wages or environmental commitment start to erode—or go away entirely.

Unfortunately, the concept of “social entrepreneur” doesn’t make the systematic break with values of consumer capitalism that it needs to. It doesn’t clearly enough move to replace the primacy of market and profit with the primacy of community, and ultimately that’s what needs to happen if we’re to have a viable alternative to big business. 

If we want to change the direction of our culture, we must move away from the values that maintain it. This means that leaning on the “entrepreneur” as a role model and hero who will solve social problems must be jettisoned in favor of the community, and community builders and organizers. While I applaud individuals who want to do the right thing in their businesses, the structure of a proprietorship, or even a partnership, is very limited in its ability to challenge the alienation of the market, and owners are under phenomenal pressure. 

Judy Wicks, a Philadephia hero and, yes, an entrepreneur, has led great work to stimulate the development of companies that honor the triple bottom line, but they account for a vanishingly small part of our total commerce and cannot compete with the purely profit-driven corporations in the larger marketplace. 

Social problems need social solutions, i.e., solutions identified by the communities that they affect. They need to empower members of the community to be accountable to the whole for the solution to the problem. The volunteer fire companies that provide fire protection in many smaller Pennsylvania communities are a model of what I’m talking about. 

We need communities where neighbors share skills, labor and compassion with each other because they understand that this increases their own security, safety and happiness. We need to have more respect for the person who can repair a bicycle, lamp or computer than for the person who can afford to replace it at the first sign of a problem. 

We need to pool our time and energy working within our communities to solve problems locally, as a model for solving the larger problems that cross all of our communities.

Jerry Silberman is a cranky environmentalist and union negotiator who likes to ask the right question and is no stranger to compromise. 

February: Comings & Goings

Thousands take to streets in protest
IssueAn estimated 50,000 people joined the Women’s March on Philadelphia on Jan. 21 as part of an international day of protest.

Roughly 2.6 million people worldwide took part. Many of the rallies, including Philadelphia’s, were an outgrowth of the Women’s March on Washington, an event that drew nearly half a million protesters marching under a policy platform that includes equal pay for women and access to reproductive health care, among many other progressive policies and programs. 

Marchers in Philadelphia started around 10 a.m. at Logan Square and filled streets and sidewalks to the point of disrupting traffic. Signs included, “We Deserve Better,” “We Need a Leader, Not A Tweeter” and “We are the LOVE Revolution.” 

More marchers organized for a Jan. 26 rally when news spread that President Trump would attend a Republican Party retreat at Philadelphia’s Loews Hotel. Black Lives Matter Pennsylvania, the Center for Popular Democracy, Philly Socialists and other groups organized through social media for their respective demonstrations in Center City.

On Jan. 9, about 300 people representing 13 local sponsoring groups joined a National Day Against Denial rally. The march went from Democratic Sen. Bob Casey’s office in Center City to Republican Sen. Pat Toomey’s office a few blocks away as organizers delivered personal letters demanding climate action. Speakers included Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition Vice President Ramona Rousseau Reid and 350 Philadelphia’s Mitch Chanin.

PennFuture and Conservation Voters of PA to Partner
In an effort to increase the impact of their respective environmental advocacy organizations, PennFuture and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania (CVPA) announced an official partnership in January.

CVPA will remain a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization, but its staff will assist in a new civic engagement program at PennFuture. PennFuture staff and board members will take on roles in CVPA’s advocacy and accountability programs, including the Pennsylvania Environmental Scorecard, which tracks the voting records of state lawmakers on environment-related bills.

“We’ve reached this moment not because of one election cycle—big polluters and their political allies have been making strategic gains for years,” said PennFuture CEO Larry Schweiger in an email announcing the collaboration. “If we’re going to stop them, we must respond with smart, long-term strategic thinking that’s going to result in real change… The time for action is now, and business as usual won’t cut
it anymore.”

Land Bank Releases Annual Plan
The Philadelphia Land Bank, a city clearinghouse for managing vacant properties, submitted its 2017 Draft Strategic Plan to City Council for consideration. The report analyzes market conditions, resident needs and identifies opportunities where publicly owned land might support housing, green space and other reuses. 

“We heard from the public about the need for affordable, accessible housing, and we listened,” said Tania Nikolic, interim executive director of the Land Bank. “After receiving public input, we doubled our goal of properties targeted for the lowest-income families.”

The plan includes a target for the acquisition of 1,650 privately owned tax delinquent parcels over the next five years. These parcels will in turn be conveyed to new owners for affordable and market-rate housing, business expansions, community gardens and side yards.

Drexel, SEPTA and Water Department Honored at Commonwealth Awards
Drexel University received the inaugural Joanne Denworth Founders Award on Jan. 24 from nonprofit 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania for “visionary institutional leadership in community revitalization initiatives that exemplify sound land-use principles.” 

During the ceremony at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, SEPTA was presented with the Excellence in Community Transportation Award for infrastructure renewal and capacity-enhancement projects, as well as business strategies that emphasize sustainability and safety efforts. Philadelphia Water was given the Excellence in Public Infrastructure Award for its Green City, Clean Waters program.

Major Construction Begins at Rail Park
In mid-January, construction workers began removing earth for a new concrete base for the Rail Park, which will cost $10.3 million and is expected to be completed in early 2018. The Rail Park will connect Fairmount Park with Center City, running from Brewerytown to the area at 9th Street above Spring Garden Street. Plans call for green space, lighting, walking paths and swinging benches. The park’s three sections—the Viaduct, the Cut and the Tunnel—are divided into underground and overhead walking areas.

Gov. Tom Wolf has said the park will likely encourage new development, and Center City District is continuing to raise money to close a $700,000 gap to complete the funding. 

Pay-What-You-Wish Eateries Receive Accolades
Jan. 14 through 16, EAT (Everyone at the Table) Café in West Philadelphia—which allows diners to pay as much or as little as they like for menu items that rotate daily—hosted the annual summit for One World Everybody Eats (OWEE), an international nonprofit focused on a pay-what-you-can business model to help alleviate hunger. 

OWEE founder Denise Cerreta is the recipient of the James Beard Foundation’s 2017 Humanitarian of the Year Award for her efforts in hunger relief.

 “One World Everybody Eats began in my small coffee shop in Salt Lake City in 2003. Food insecurity embodied my business daily,” said Cerreta. “One day, a woman who was clearly struggling to making ends meet approached my register to pay for her sandwich and I suddenly felt inspired to tell her to pay whatever she could.”

Camphill Village Kimberton Hills in Chester County expanded it’s own version of this business model early January and now hosts Pay as You Wish Saturdays. Thursdays at the market had already been centered around this model. 

‘What work is’ in the time of Trump

Carnage or Crossroads?

by Heather Shayne Blakeslee

In the autobiographical poem “What Work Is” by former U.S. poet laureate and Detroit factory worker Philip Levine, he thinks he spots his brother in the rainy line that he and 200 other men are being made to wait in for two hours to apply for work. 

Though it’s not him, Levine is nonetheless suddenly overwhelmed with love for his sibling. But he writes that his brother is “home trying to/sleep off a miserable night shift/at Cadillac so he can get up/before noon to study his German./Works eight hours a night so he can sing/Wagner, the opera you hate most,/the worst music ever invented.” I’ve always loved that in the dig at his brother he is also chipping away at the assumption that a blue-collar worker must like low-brow art.  

It’s a unifying poem whose fierce humor, humanity and solidarity shine through its anger: It acknowledges that, despite their differences, these men ultimately stand in the same place. They are both at the mercy of the man at the end of the line who may tell them, “No,/we’re not hiring today/for any reason he wants.” 

Though American unemployment numbers are back to pre-recession levels (under 5 percent) and our manufacturing output continues to be strong, many fewer people work in American factories like the ones in Levine’s Detroit. Automation allows us to produce the same products with fewer workers, and globalization has played a role, as well.

People who have lost those jobs feel it viscerally, and President Donald Trump appealed to their anger, fear and sense of loss in order to gain entrance to the White House. For all of Trump’s cynical attempts to paint the entirety of America with the same carnage-dipped brush, this part is real, and America needs to find meaningful work for her people.

At issue is what that work will be. Will it be coal mining jobs or jobs building windmills? Guards in a vast and increasingly privatized prison-industrial complex, or well-paid teachers at properly funded public schools? Construction of walls or of bridges? And as we build new companies, will they be social entrepreneurships—community-centered agents of change—or hollow shells that send the value of our work elsewhere? 

We are standing at a cultural and economic crossroads, and by all accounts Donald Trump wants to sell America’s soul.

And yet. There were half a million people standing together—with overwhelming love for their sisters, brothers and country—as they marched on Washington to protest his vision of America. Downtown Philadelphia shut down by a crowd of 50,000. New York City shut down by a crowd of 400,000. Protests on every continent.  

I think again of Levine’s poem, and that all of these people, too, were standing in line—for work. For the same work of Levine’s poem: celebrating our dignity, our self-worth and solidarity. And at the end of the line at Pennsylvania Avenue is an aspiring tyrant who thinks that he can, for any reason he wants, say, “No” and put an end to that work. But Donald Trump and others who would demean and dismiss these rallies underestimate what’s actually going on, because it’s not all poetry and pageantry, and it’s certainly not all up to him.

Make no mistake that while these millions are raising their fists in defiance and anger, they are also raising money and rearing progressive children. They are painting signs, and also training more women to run for office. The energy of participating in these artful celebrations of our shared humanity has also been channeled into organizing: Both, in the time of Trump, are what work is.

The Institute of Hip Hop Entrepreneurship is preparing Philly’s youth to compete in a ‘Shark Tank’ world.

Photo courtesy of the Institute of Hip Hop Entrepreneurship (IHHE)

Photo courtesy of the Institute of Hip Hop Entrepreneurship (IHHE)

The Hustle

by Lucy Vernasco

Quin Bowen is going to change the world.

She’s a bubbly South Philadelphia native with a background in nonprofit management, entrepreneurship and corporate compliance. Bowen describes herself as a lover and advocate for quality innovation and education. 

Earlier last year, while Bowen was putting together her own website, she got a message from one of her friends. 

“She sent me a text and said, ‘Hey! There’s a program I think you should apply for,’” Bowen said. “She knows that entrepreneurship is my thing. That’s where my heart is.” 

The program, enticingly named the Institute of Hip Hop Entrepreneurship (IHHE), piqued her interest. 

“When I went to read about it,” Bowen says, “I was really excited… It seemed a little bit different in that it was more about the creative and the innovation, and putting that all together with entrepreneurship.”

Bowen, along with 300 other hopefuls, applied and interviewed. She was elated to be in the program’s inaugural class of 24 students, evenly split between men and women. 

IHHE is not a workshop created to roll-out the next best emcees. Instead, it may help Bowen with her goal of helping people break the cycle of poverty or lend support to another student who wants to create a nonprofit that uses break dancing to stop youth violence.

Born from a Knight Foundation grant and the minds of co-creators and Little Giant Creative partners Tayyib Smith and Meegan Denenberg, IHHE is designed to pave alternate routes to entrepreneurship and business training through mentorship, networking and a carefully created curriculum aimed at students ages 19 to 35. The program was one of 37 winners in the Knight Foundation’s national Cities Challenge, and a $300,000 grant allows all participants to attend for free. Four other winning projects also hail from the City of Brotherly Love. 

Before entering the program, Bowen already had ideas for her individual project. Recently, her focus has been teaching fiscal literacy—saving, investing and budgeting—to minority children. She’s already piloting her project for first-graders and sixth-graders, and they love it. 

“The state that our country is in when it comes to minority children, be it Asian or Latino or African-American, [is] a state [of] economic decline and not really being able to get out of that vicious cycle,” Bowen said. “My goal is to teach [minority children] financial literacy early on and to make it as embedded as it can be, like the basics, and really scale it, so if they’re kindergarten or 12th grade there’s a program that helps them learn the keys to financial literacy. You get a chance to break that cycle of poverty.” 

Bowen is driven. When she’s not working on her business plan or collaborating with her mentor and fellow entrepreneurs, she’s daydreaming about making that final pitch to potential investors. 

Squad Goals
IHHE co-founder Tayyib Smith is a third-generation Philadelphian who has a GED and also attended a year at Temple University. Though he may be soft-spoken at times, Smith’s opinions and passions are bold. Since growing up in Philadelphia, Smith spent time in the military, in Colorado, and traveled around the country with musicians. No matter where he went, hip-hop music was the underlying current. 

Hip-hop gave him a new perspective on how to achieve his goals: Instead of performing as an emcee, Smith worked in public relations, tour management and production. Now, he’s a partner at Pipeline Philadelphia, along with his leadership roles at Little Giant Creative and IHHE.

“I have had a very untraditional trajectory into several different careers,” Smith said. “My formative experiences were in the music industry and being a fan of music. [Hip-hop] gave me conceptualization of business practices or how it could be a lifestyle of financial independence. A lot of colleagues that I have now may not work in music, but how either we met each other or how I’m aware of them is from hip-hop or the experience of hip-hop. If you think of modern marketing—what people consider guerrilla marketing—that’s the original street teaming that came through hip-hop.”

Thoughtful and composed, fellow Philadelphia native Meegan Denenberg—a co-founder of IHHE and also a principal at Little Giant Creative—is a marketing guru who has made her mark in Philadelphia’s creative scene. She understands the tug Philly creatives feel from other cities. She previously spent time in Manhattan specializing in guerrilla marketing for media companies and brands including Discovery Channel, HBO, Clorox and Citibank. Guerrilla marketing strategies are nontraditional and are often interactive or engage with people where they wouldn’t expect, such as storefronts and street corners. 

“We created an actual archaeological dig in a mid-city, vacant storefront, Manhattan location, where a replica of a dinosaur skeleton was buried at intervals for kids to dig up to promote a show,” Denenberg said. “For the show ‘BIG,’ a gigantic popcorn maker was made to hand out snacks to passers-by in New York and L.A.  For the robot toy Robosapiens, we had people in life-sized costumes dance on street corners while street teamers would show people how the actual toy worked—in five different cities.”

The founders have comfort around each other that’s only seen in long-time creative partners. They’re relaxed and let their conversations play off each other, adding to the other’s insight. Denenberg’s academic-like speech is a function of the depth of her knowledge of brand development and of popular culture, which she gleaned from more than 20 years of experience.

“I think there’s a large portion of people out there who learn in different ways, and hip-hop contextualizes certain things and practices that allow people to move forward in a way that they’re not scared and there’s no fear involved,” Denenberg said. “When you use case studies, Jay Z, the big names, and you break down how they actually broke certain paradigms in business, that’s a much easier way—especially [for] people from underrepresented communities—to understand business.”

Smith first thought of the idea in May 2015 at a Chicago workshop named Cultivating Amenities sponsored by the Knight Foundation, Rebuild Foundation, The University of Chicago, Arts + Public Life and Place Lab. According to the program’s website, the workshop “gathers creative, visionary people to collectively generate and work through provocative, functional ideas for ethical and cultural destinations and enterprises that could spark investment in neglected districts and increase the economic integration of neighborhoods.” As a participant, Smith brainstormed ways he could impact Philadelphia positively with creativity and music. 

The Knight Foundation invests in cities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Philadelphia is one of those cities. Philadelphia projects and organizations have received considerable grants for providing economic leadership opportunities, increasing civic engagement and community relationships. 

“IHHE is an idea which focuses on a number of key drivers of city success,” said Patrick Morgan, Philadelphia’s program director for the Knight Foundation. “In particular, it helps to expand economic opportunity by providing youth with new skills and an outlet to express their creativity.  It provides a framework for up-and-coming innovators to build ideas according to their unique vision and turn their ideas into reality. Through entrepreneurship they are also able to give back to their community and engage with others.”

Morgan believes that as Philadelphia grows it’s “important to make sure everyone can be a part of shaping the city’s future,” and that IHHE will help a new generation of leaders learn skills and build networks to become successful in Philly.

Smith and Denenberg are both active participants in the creative community and have brought their professional relationships into IHHE to develop an engaging curriculum that’s like no other. 

IHHE’s students meet once a month for an intensive weekend from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Pipeline Philadelphia, a co-working space near City Hall where Smith and Denenberg are partners.

After just two sessions, Bowen is still excited about the institute. Not only has she been impressed by the speakers who have visited, but she also loves the community. 

“The energy is just really high,” Bowen said. “There are creative, innovative people bouncing ideas off one another, and people are coming up with things you may not have thought of yourself. So far I haven’t been disappointed. One of the things about the program that I think is different from a lot of others is, instead of telling you how to be an entrepreneur, it gives you access to resources and access to capital, and I think that’s where that hustle comes from. We’re in this position where we have crazy contacts and resources from all kinds of industries with all different kinds of components that can help move forward on our idea.”

Sessions with hip-hop-inspired titles such as #SquadGoals—and others, such as Disruptive Leadership—teach the students about financial modeling, fiscal literacy, business and marketing proposals, and social impact. The instructors relate lessons in the entrepreneurial world to lessons learned by musicians as they’ve built their careers with hustle and self-starting attitudes.

Each weekend features an array of guest speakers sharing narratives of what they’ve learned through music and entrepreneurship. Past speakers include Bahamadia; Joe “The Butcher” Nicolo; CEO/President of WURD Radio Sara Lomax-Reese; Yusuf Muhammad of the A3C Festival;’s “Grouchy” Greg Watkins; producer for Pandora’s “QuestLove Supreme” podcast Laiya St. Clair; and Executive Director of Coded by Kids Sylvester Mobley.

On “Alternate Weekends” the students visit nonprofits, companies and innovation centers in and around Philadelphia, including the Pennovation Center and Spotify.

“We have them going to beautiful spaces where they can do their independent work but also get to meet the founder of the space,” Denenberg said. “They also get to meet people that are doing interesting things and to make sure at the end of it they’ve actually built a Rolodex, and they’ve met significant people that are doing great things in Philadelphia.”

The program also includes a mentorship component and culminates with the opportunity for students to pitch their ideas to investors. 

“We want to make sure that at the end of this course that they will walk away not feeling as if, ‘Well that’s one and done,’ go forward and just whatever. We want them to feel that they’ve actually developed some roots in the professional community here,” Denenberg said.

Redefining Success—and Millennials
What sets IHHE apart from other entrepreneurship programs is its focus on training young adults between the ages of 19-35—loosely, millennials—who may not have a traditional educational background. According to a Pew Charitable Trusts report from 2014, Philadelphia’s millennial population increased by 100,000 from 2006 to 2012. Smith hopes the program will address a broader definition of this generation.

“When people speak of millennials, whether they’re cognizant or not, they’re oftentimes speaking in code,” Smith said. “There’s one definition of millennial that, within tourism, or within marketing or retention... means college-educated white people from a different place. But by definition ‘millennial’ means what year you were born. There’s all kinds of black, brown, Latino, Asian, African-American millennials who are not included in the new plans of what the economic future of the city holds.”  

Smith and Denenberg want IHHE to be a counter narrative to the expectation that young people can only go “to college and get a job” in order to be successful. They hope the program will “move the needle” for underrepresented groups, especially in business fields. Smith said that having lists to celebrate outliers—such as the Forbes 30 Under 30—romanticizes our relationship with age, as if people are not successful if they aren’t accomplished by a certain age.

“A lot of people don’t have the luxury to be able to go to school,” Denenberg said. “They have to immediately go to work. We constantly talk about taking into account women who have had a couple children and then at the age of 26 or 27 think that their life is over, and [wonder], what are they going to do now?”

The two founders have designed the institute to be easily digestible and don’t rely on reading textbooks and other more traditional methods of education. 

The 24 students come from very different backgrounds, but have two things in common: their love for entrepreneurship and enthusiasm about the program. David Brooks, a student at IHHE, is a 25-year-old musician under the name YKNC from Mt. Airy. When he was accepted to the program he was as ecstatic as Bowen.

“I’ve been involved in music for a long time, the majority my life,” Brooks said. “I have an entrepreneurial spirit. I knew what I wanted to do at 8 years old. This is the perfect way to get myself in alignment with my dreams.”

Brooks believes the deep connections with the staff, speakers, his mentor and fellow students will help open doors for future opportunities. He finds one connection between hip-hop and entrepreneurship to be the music’s impact on other industries, such as technology and sportswear. 

Some of his favorite artists have collaborated with clothing lines and technology companies. Brooks is impressed by hip-hop artist Travis Scott’s collaboration with Apple Music through the launch of his own show “.wav radio” on Beats 1 Radio, a 24/7 online radio show. What impresses Brooks is Scott’s venture into another “lane.” He compared it to having one of his favorite athletes begin working for a television network like ESPN. He described the new radio show as “getting an exclusive listen into a dope artist’s playlist.”

The IHHE student hopes hip-hop music’s influence will continue into other industries and promotions, such as cable commercials and additional podcasts and radio shows. 

“[Advertisers] sell country music [with] cigarettes,” Brooks said. “So why can’t we sell hip-hop music and clothes or hip-hop music merging with Comcast commercials?”

Though he doesn’t want to reveal too much yet about his final project, Brooks hopes to bring together hip-hop music, gaming and a lounge atmosphere.

“It can be entertainment, but at the same time it can be something that’s giving back to the community and enriching everybody that’s a part of it. I feel like this program is giving me the tools and the space to achieve these goals.”

‘Entrepreneur's Paradise’
Born in Germany but raised in Philadelphia, Dom Landry, founder of Common Ground Management, housed in Pipeline Philadelphia, is a mentor for IHHE. Landry became an entrepreneur six years ago at the age of 24 when he and business partners James Burks and Sherman Washington began their company, which offers branding and marketing services for Philadelphia businesses. 

Web design and logo creation are among the specific services Common Ground Management offers to Philadelphia-based clients such as Mint Pillow, a high-end cleaning service, and Diafora, a locally made clothing line. Most clients come to Common Ground Management to jump-start their businesses with commercial activity registration or formation of limited liability corporations. Others need help navigating a period of substantial growth.

Landry called Philadelphia an “entrepreneur’s paradise” because of its low cost of living, high amount of resources and opportunities, and the close-knit community. 

“[My team] always thought that Philadelphia is the perfect storm for entrepreneurship,” Landry said. “People come to Philly or they’re from Philly, and they want to build it up, which is entrepreneurial in itself.” 

He said the ability to easily make connections during the program will be helpful for his mentee, Ben Barnes-McGee, who is developing a program to use break dancing to combat youth violence in Philadelphia. 

“I would like him to learn [that] if you start a business, it starts from you yourself, your cause, your experiences,” Landry said. “It’s going to take trial and error. It’s going to take persistence. It’s based on the quality of the entrepreneur, and I think that’s what IHHE is trying to do.”

While starting Common Ground Management, Landry and his partners learned about “not being a hero” by focusing on the greater community and giving back. Looking back, he sees how he would have greatly benefitted by working with a mentor like Smith. 

“Value isn’t a dollar amount. It’s a perception, and I think I would have learned that from Tayyib six years ago,” Landry said. “Not that we wouldn’t have been further along than we are now, but we wouldn’t have gone through as many growing pains.”

Student Quin Bowen is also excited about the opportunity to have an experienced mentor to work with her in developing her ideas and final project that will help break the cycle of poverty for children in Philadelphia. 

Bowen’s mentor holds her accountable. “Just in the way that I work and function, [he’s] going to push me a little bit harder,” she said. “It’s going to require me to dig a little bit deeper or really look at aspects that I didn’t think about.” 

As IHHE supports Philadelphia’s next generation of socially minded entrepreneurial leaders, it’s also creating a narrative of who these students are. 

“It’s not so much how [the students] treated us or the instructors or facilitators but how kind, thoughtful and engaged they are and supportive they are of one another,” Smith said. “It kind of contradicts everything you hear or see in media or written about young black youth. It was really rewarding.”

Smith is hopeful not only about the individual students but also about how IHHE will enrich the city’s larger creative community. Smith said his colleagues who live in Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Chicago have encouraged him to seek opportunities in other cities. But by building businesses and opportunities in Philadelphia, Smith has been developing pathways for other creatives to thrive. 

Denenberg agrees. “We want to start retaining the creative community here,” she said. “We’re really dedicated to making sure we create an ecosystem here where people can actually thrive and have a professional life… We also want to make sure we have avenues for creative people to stay in Philadelphia. It’s important for the city for [that to] happen.”

Sweeping away cobwebs in the homes of women with cancer, a volunteer finds lasting connections

Illustration by Anne Lambelet

Illustration by Anne Lambelet

The Business of Caring

by Kathleen Albertson

Eight years ago, I started working in the commercial janitorial industry. At an industry trade show, my boss came across a charity called Cleaning for a Reason, which gives free house cleaning to women with cancer. I have four kids myself, and it’s hard to keep my house clean—and I don’t have cancer. I couldn’t fathom how hard it must be to keep things tidy and organized while suffering through chemo treatments and radiation.

We immediately jumped in to help.

I went on my first assignment with one of our local maid services. As soon as we entered the woman’s house, it was clear that a cleaning wasn’t going to be enough. The patient was elderly, and her whole house was in disarray. We cleaned her home, but I decided to go back over the weekend with my daughter, and we helped her throw things away and get organized as a next step.

While we were there, I realized that cleaning and organizing was only part of how we were helping her: She was normally alone. We gave her someone to talk to and connect with. She was thankful to have her house cleaned, but also just thankful that we were there.

She was so happy with the experience that when I threw a fundraiser for the charity, she decided to go out and collect donations for the raffle.

It was a powerful first experience for me, and she is one of many patients I’ve met on this journey who have had the same impulse: So many of them, despite what they have been through, want to give back themselves as soon as they can. It’s beautiful to watch them “pay it forward” and for our work to create a virtuous cycle of help and hope.

Personally, I keep volunteering because I see myself in these women. One woman who stands out was introduced to me through a mutual friend on Facebook. I told her about the free cleaning she could receive, but at first she turned us down. I remember her saying, “Oh, please, give that to someone who really needs it.”

Like me, she also has four children. I kept thinking to myself, “If this were me, I know I would need this kind of help.” I kept at it, and we were finally able to clean her home for her. She is now a Stage 4 breast cancer patient, which means her cancer has metastasized. And yet, this beautiful, strong woman now helps me by doing volunteer work. First, she attended a wellness day with me to help more patients. When she spoke at the fundraiser, it was so touching that the entire audience was in tears.

Just as with the first patient whose home we cleaned, as these women share their stories, it helps them feel less alone. They can relate to each other’s issues and often bond immediately.

For me, I know that I have made a difference, and I have also gained lifelong friendships. I come in to clean the cobwebs from their homes, but I leave connected to their lives.

Kathleen Albertson is an account manager for Allan Industries Inc. If you would like to help give the gift of a clean home to a woman so she can focus on her health, please contact

February: To-Do List

Illustration by Nicholas Massarelli

Illustration by Nicholas Massarelli

1. Get ready for daylight saving time
March 12 is coming before you know it, so instead of getting hit all at once with an hour
less of sleep, make the transition slowly.

2. Spend a day at a museum
There are hidden treasures all around Philadelphia that will get you out of the house for a day and into a different frame of mind. 

3. Do something daring
You know February is Black History Month, but did you know that it’s also Spunky Old Broads Month? We’ll leave it up to you what kind of civil disobedience best suits the current clime.

4. Plan a cozy winter getaway
Not everyone can take a week or two off to get to a warmer locale in the winter, but you can still change your scenery even if you skip the plane ride. Consider a two-night stay at a regional bed and breakfast, or even search for a foray at an Airbnb rental that features a fireplace or access to wooded walks. Many locations are pet friendly, which means the whole family can go along.

5. Go on a crocus hunt
It’s hard to believe, but little green tips are about to start heralding spring. Make a game out of finding them with the kids, or pick out some spots you might plant bulbs next year.

6. Check on your emergency supplies
Just because we haven’t been hit by a big winter storm yet doesn’t mean it’s not coming. A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and nonperishable food are at the top of the list—don’t forget food and water for your pets. You should also have on hand flashlights with extra batteries, a wrench and pliers to turn off utilities, a first aid kit and a whistle to be able to call for help.

7. Get your ice skates on 
Your last chance to skate at City Hall is on Feb. 26. When you’ve had your fill at the rink, you can also try out America’s Garden Capital Maze, which features winter shrubs, topiaries and even flowers. Afterward, head to the Rothman Institute Cabin for some hot chocolate.

8. Start your search for a spring farm share
When March comes around, you’ll want to know which farm you’re going to pair up with for farm-fresh produce, delivered weekly through a CSA.

9. Sow your lettuce and radish seeds
It’s also time to start thinking about starting seeds indoors for long-germinating annuals such as petunias and snapdragons. It will take two months until they’re ready to transplant.

10. Clean out the freezer
At some point during the year, you’ve got to get through that extra pasta sauce and the vegetables and herbs you froze from the garden. Make a plan to use something every week so that you don’t end up tossing a freezer-burned bag of homegrown peas or the winter stew you made last month.

Will you help us keep the next two million copies of Grid free?

by Alex Mulcahy

The Free Press

Here’s a bet I’d like to make: You were among those sign-carrying activists, rallying for justice and equality during last month’s march. I believe this to be true because the people who read Grid are the people who are passionate about making Philadelphia a better city, and the world a better place. And you are willing to work for it.

Whether you just moved here a year ago or you’ve lived here all your life, you believe the same thing we do: Philadelphia can be a just and sustainable city that will serve as an example to the rest of the country about what is possible when we all work together for change. 

For the last eight years, Grid has been there to document and reflect your victories, great and small. The innovative projects and programs you’ve run. The community gardens you’ve started. The bike lanes you’ve swarmed. The socially responsible businesses you’ve launched. We’ve seen you turn problems into opportunities. 

As we approach our 100th issue, we’ve been thinking about what we can do to continue to support your work. In the face of a brutal national regime intent on dismantling everything we believe in, we’re rethinking our commitment to you, our neighbors and fellow Philadelphians, and we believe we need to do more.

We’re doubling down on Philadelphia. 
Because human beings do not live on artisanal bread alone, we are going to expand our coverage to include Philadelphia’s vibrant arts and culture community. In a time when the human spirit needs to be inspired and nourished, the role of the artist has never been more essential. Because it’s critical that peace and happiness begin with each person in our city, we’re going to devote more editorial to self-care and health and wellness. In the face of disorienting and dispiriting news, we must keep our minds calm. 

Now back to that artisanal bread. Since the food we eat is both personal and political, and the fortunate among us partake in it three times a day, we’re going to expand our food coverage, as well. We will support our farmers, and the chefs and restaurateurs who share our values. 

Finally—though this is perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle—we would like to provide investigative journalism and cover stories that others can’t or won’t. The news on the federal level is alarming, and you can be sure that the local fallout will be significant. We want to separate the facts from the alternative facts, and hold people accountable and keep you informed.

We’re going to stay free.  
Grid was originally conceived as a newsstand publication, but we decided to forgo that income to ensure that we reached the widest possible audience. We knew we needed to be in every neighborhood to honor our lofty stated goal to make Philadelphia “a more just and livable city.” Since our inception, we’ve given away over two million copies of Grid, and we hope to give away two million more. 

We’re going to amplify the positive voices that share our vision of the world.
I’ve been in business, and committed to print, for over 20 years. I still believe in the medium’s power and the value of holding a publication—particularly a publication dedicated to your city—in your hands. In the slippery world of fake news and lie-spewing social media accounts, the importance of credible and independent journalism has never been greater.  

I also still firmly believe in Grid’s original mission. As we evolve, we’ll remain grounded in our roots: a belief in economic, environmental and social justice. 

To achieve our vision, we need your help.
Donate. Subscribe. Advertise. It’s how we survive as a free, independent voice in the city.

A personal note on behalf of our staff: Thank you for all the kind words you have shared with us through the years about this publication. Grid was designed to inspire you, but—in reality—it is you who have inspired us

Alex Mulcahy, Publisher

Donate. Subscribe. Advertise.

Help us be the best publication in Philadelphia
1. Make a monthly contribution. Like many other publications, we are now accepting donations that will go directly to the cause of expanding our coverage, widening our distribution and keeping Grid free. You can donate in any amount, so support us with a monthly dollar or two. Or 10. Or 20.  

2. Subscribe to the magazine. Like your favorite public radio station, you can always pick up Grid for free. But if you can afford to subscribe, we encourage you to do so. You’ll get the best of Philadelphia delivered to your door and know that you’re supporting a positive force for change.

3. Subscribe to our new weekly newsletter. Starting in February, we plan to send out a weekly newsletter where you’ll get featured events, job listings, curated recommendations for taking action on local causes, and highlights from the magazine. 

4. Advertise, and encourage others to do so. We love bringing you the stories we cover, and our advertisers are a big part of ensuring that we get them to you each month. By advertising in Grid, you’re investing in your business. But you’re also investing in independent media and a more culturally vibrant Philadelphia.

Peter Singer: Why don’t we think more clearly about effective giving?

Illustration by Bart Browne

Illustration by Bart Browne

Effective Altruism

interview by Heather Shayne Blakeslee

Globally renowned ethicist Peter Singer wants you to ask yourself if you are a “warm glow” giver—someone who writes a check for a small amount of money because it makes you feel good, whether or not the gift is actually effective. In his recent book “The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically,” he asks hard questions about how we choose to give our money and time. If the same donation could save 10,000 individuals from being blind or facilitate 1,000 people seeing the art in a new museum wing, is there really a question about the ethical choice? If the same donation or action would save either the person in front of you or 10 people 10,000 miles away, what would you do? What if the person in front of you were your sister? It’s the stuff of “Philosophy 101” classrooms everywhere.

But even if we’re biased against starkly utilitarian choices and instinctively give close to home to causes with emotional appeal, Singer believes we can still do better. Even after we’ve chosen our cause, a mere 3 percent of us base our gifts on the relative efficacy of nonprofit groups that address our cause. Singer urges would-be philanthropists and advocates to do better: to reconsider our ethical framework and do our homework if we’re serious about doing the most good we can. 

Many people, especially here in the U.S., are ratcheting up their volunteering, and they’re giving in anticipation of Donald Trump’s administration. According to your book, most of us are going to make emotional rather than rational decisions when choosing to do those things. Is that biology? Is it psychology?
PS: I think it is biology, ultimately, that underlies a lot of the decisions we make, and of course it’s psychology, as well. Psychology is clearly influenced by biological factors—the factors that have led our ancestors to survive and reproduce… I think that’s pretty well accepted, even though of course we also think that culture makes a significant difference, as well. 

So, I think people are responding to this situation as they respond to other situations along those lines, on the basis of things like a sense of support for one’s tribe and social group—a kind of group ethic, I think, here is important. That’s perhaps leading people to focus as they typically do on their own immediate community rather than the wider world.

You cite a study from the nonprofit Freedom From Hunger in which they tested their own fundraising letters: An emotional appeal in which you were shown a picture and story about a person affected by their work increased donations for people who gave amounts under $100. But the addition of analytics—information that showed the effectiveness of the contribution—decreased the donations, essentially showing that giving people numbers was dampening the emotional response that engendered the original impulse to give. Does that surprise you?
PS: Well, it certainly disturbed me. I guess it did surprise me to some extent that it actually had a negative effect. If it said that putting in the figures has a zero effect on people’s giving, I wouldn’t have been that surprised.  

But that it actually has a negative impact on, not all givers, but on small givers—who are, in terms of numbers, the majority of givers, even if in terms of dollars they’re not giving the most: That is disturbing. Because that says something about human psychology—that the emotional response overpowers what ought to be the rational response. You would think that anybody would be concerned about whether their giving was effective.

In response to that irrationality, enter “effective altruism,” which is encouraging people to push past our emotional giving and/or advocacy work and use evidence and reason to work in the most effective ways to improve the world. But when the book came out, it really rattled some major players in philanthropic giving and fundraising. 
PS: There are a lot of people raising funds for charities that, by my view, really are not a high priority... People ought to be thinking twice about whether they ought to give to [them] at all—or certainly should not be making it a major part of their charitable donations. So, people who [are], for example, trying to raise money for galleries and museums were disturbed by the arguments to some extent. 

Also, people trying to raise money for local concerns were disturbed by the argument that you can get a lot better value for your dollars by giving to organizations that are helping people in developing countries, even though there might be relatively poor people and people who you feel have been wronged and oppressed in your community—and I’m sure that’s true of people in Philadelphia, as well.

Measuring a charity’s effectiveness by looking at its administrative costs compared with its programs’ expenditures or its overhead ratio is common. Why is it such an incomplete picture?
PS: That is the first thing people start thinking about when you say, “Is the donation effective?” It’s extremely incomplete and it can even be directly misleading. 

So, think of it this way: If an organization is trying to reduce its administrative costs, one thing it might do is get rid of some of its staff. If it gets rid of some of its staff, it has fewer people who can check that the grants that it’s making—let’s assume that it’s making program grants to different organizations in the field that are trying to do good things that it’s promoting—it now has fewer staff to vet the applications, and perhaps even more importantly, to follow up to see what is actually happening and whether the program grants have achieved the results desired. 

Maybe the organization can now say, “Hey, 90 percent of the money we received goes directly to our programs,” but perhaps only half of those programs have any positive effect at all. So, really, only 45 percent of every dollar you’re giving is doing any good, whereas if the organization had kept on its staff, it might, let’s say, be able to only send 80 percent of its funds programs, but because it had more staff, perhaps 90 percent of those programs would have been cost-effective. So, now you’re getting 72 cents on every dollar—you’re giving is doing some good—which is a lot better than 45 cents.

Can you talk a bit about “metacharities” and how they factor into evaluating a charity’s effectiveness? 
PS: This has been a really promising development in the field. We now have bodies that look very carefully at which charities are effective and go beyond looking at things like administrative expenses and principles about how their boards are run, and so on—and instead look really at what’s happening in the field. Is there independent research that is showing whether this program is really achieving something good, and at what cost?

I think it’s really important to use these organizations, and let’s name some of them: GiveWell was really the pioneer in this field; an organization that I founded, The Life You Can Save, has taken this up and is also promoting this with slightly broader standards than GiveWell. There are a number of organizations now which are trying to encourage people to think about cost-effectiveness and making recommendations.

Donating money is one strategy, career choice is another—80,000 Hours is a group you mention in the book that advises graduates with research on impactful careers. You quote its executive director advising would-be advocates to “target groups that you care about more than other people.” So, for instance, if animals are your thing, you might choose to help farm animals rather than shelter animals?  
PS: The strategies that some people will find unpopular and unattractive and the groups that people will find unpopular and unattractive are often neglected—and more worthy. The example you gave is an excellent one: The amount of funds that flow to dogs and cats in shelters is way out of proportion to the amount of animal suffering that dogs and cats constitute. Wayne Pacelle, who’s the head of the Humane Society of the United States, said something like 90 percent of all charitable dollars are going to a group of animals that probably only constitute about 1 percent of animal suffering; and certainly the most neglected are the farm animals.

What’s the simplest way you might describe “living ethically”? 
PS: The first thing that comes to people’s minds is not doing certain bad things: hurting people, cheating them, injuring them, killing them, whatever. And of course those things are important, but I want to balance that—especially for people who are reasonably comfortably off and have the opportunity to do a lot of good for others. I want to balance it with the idea that to live ethically in this world, where some people have so much and others have so little, does require you, if you’re one of the ones who has so much, to actually do things that are positively beneficial to others—to help others. That’s the requirement. So, to do good in the world, to do the most good you can, seems to me to be an important part of what it is to live ethically today.

Peter Singer is an ethicist, educator and author. His other books include “Animal Liberation” and “The Life You Can Save.”

Hidden rooms, nooks and alcoves that will open up your world

Wagner Free Institute of Science

Wagner Free Institute of Science

Museum Miles

by Lauren Johnson

For the Science Set

1. Insectarium
Some of the insects are alive and ready to show their stuff up close
8046 Frankford Ave.
Whether you’re an entomologist or an insect enthusiast, Insectarium offers an educational experience fit for all. Situated in Northeast Philadelphia, the museum is fairly unsuspecting for being the largest insect museum in the nation. Upon entering, you will find three floors filled with interactive learning tools, insects of all kinds and experienced staff waiting for you to “bug” them with your questions, or show you the insects up close—out of their enclosures. John Cambridge, Insectarium’s new CEO, and his team have been working hard to make improvements to enrich visitor experience by making it more interactive. Displays housing the insects can be viewed at any angle and are carefully constructed from materials familiar to the insects’ native environment, and touch screen games help encourage children to learn in a playful way. Insectarium is in the process of building a butterfly pavilion (due to open to the public Feb. 25), where visitors will have the opportunity to roam about in a tropical setting among several species of butterfly. There is also an observation center where one can watch the different stages of butterfly metamorphosis. 

2. The Wagner Free Institute of Science
Animal specimens among the first of their kind to be discovered
1700 W. Montgomery Ave.
Amid the modern day bustle of the city sits a museum with some of our earliest relics of our natural world. The Wagner Free Institute of Science, founded in 1855 by William Wagner, is dedicated to natural history. Specimens include fossils, minerals, dinosaur bones and even the first-discovered American saber-toothed cat. Little has changed about the museum since the 19th century, giving visitors a glimpse of the Victorian era. Artifacts are showcased in their original cherry-wood and glass displays, many of which still have Wagner’s handwritten labels. Specimens are laid out as originally intended: for scholarly research that was open to all at no cost, just as it is today. Other highlights of the collection include Wagner’s considerable mineral display—one of the oldest in North America. To further foster the love of natural history, visitors are invited to take courses held at the institute, taught by professors from surrounding universities, or share in one of their many lecture series events.  

3. Chemical Heritage Foundation
Some off-the-wall paintings of alchemists doing their mad-scientist best
315 Chestnut St.
In the heart of Old City, the Chemical Heritage Foundation is home to a historic collection of scientific archives, art, relics and artifacts that have been influential to how science and technology have affected our past and will ultimately shape our future. The museum takes special care in telling the stories of the people who influenced scientific breakthroughs and their processes in getting there. Guests can learn how plastics are made or how to measure oxygen on Mars, and they can compare 170 different chemistry sets from around the world. The museum also relays the relevance of science and art, offering a comprehensive collection of paintings and drawings from the past several decades depicting the work of chemists and alchemists. Aside from enjoying the exhibits, patrons can take advantage of the Othmer Library, which houses rare books and scholarly papers open to researchers; a weekly Brown Bag Lunch series with talks by local scholars; and First Friday programs that are free and open to the public. The Chemical Heritage Foundation is a great place for those who love asking “why?” 

Artist Alcoves

1. Tiberino Museum
The collective nine-lot backyard includes a giant treehouse and stage
3819 Hamilton St. 
Founded in 1999, West Philadelphia’s Tiberino Museum is a living memorial dedicated to the memory of the late renowned Philadelphia artist Ellen Powell Tiberino. The museum is unique as it celebrates the artist’s life in a collective, familial way. Her husband, Joe, along with their children Ellen, Raphael and Gabriel, still inhabit the residence that is filled to the brim with the family’s eclectic art, which ranges from paintings to three-dimensional murals and sculpture.  It’s rare to have such a personal experience like this, being able to tour the house and property, meet the family and hear their stories that span nearly half a century. Visitors are invited to share their world by attending art salons, drawing sessions, poetry readings, musical performances and more. The collection not only includes the family’s art, but that of friends and others involved in the Philadelphia art community. Over time, the five-building complex in the Powelton Village neighborhood has grown to include a shared courtyard that has turned into a lush and expanding sculpture garden. Neighbors who share in the vision of encouraging art in the community have opened up their yards to expand the garden to include nine city lots. The Tiberino Museum offers an extraordinary opportunity to surround yourself with art and hear from the devoted family that made it possible.     

2. The Fabric Workshop and Museum
You can see an artist’s process as well as the final result
1214 Arch St.
In the heart of Center City you’ll find the Fabric Workshop and Museum. Founded in the late ’70s, itserves as a resource for artists of diverse backgrounds to share their visions and artistic processes with the public. Part museum and part living workshop, the museum provides studio and workspace to artists-in-residence, whose creations and methods are shared as their projects approach completion. The museum’s permanent collection encapsulates its rich history and includes more than 5,000 objects documenting the creative journey of contemporary artists. Though originally focusing on fabric arts, it has since expanded to include those working in painting, sculpture, performance, architecture, video and installation. To further the interactive experience, a host of educational workshops and programs are also available and open to all ages. 

3. The Rosenbach Museum and Library
Acclaimed poet Marianne Moore’s actual living room was reconstructed in the space
2008-2010 Delancey Place
Notes for James Joyce’s “Ulysses” and Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”? Early notes and drawings by Lewis Carroll? They’re all hiding at the Rosenbach Museum and Library. Whether you’re a literary enthusiast or a lover of history, the Rosenbach will spark your zeal for both. This iconic literary museum got its start in the early 1950s through brothers and renowned American book dealers A.S.W. and Philip Rosenbach. The brothers played a major role in developing private libraries, which now house some of the most prominent collections of rare books. The majority of the collection at the Rosenbach is composed of the brothers’ personal collection, which includes more than 400,000 rare books and historic treasures, including the manuscripts and drawings of the writers listed above, as well as many others.  There is also a trove of artifacts on view, which include Herman Melville’s desk, as well as modernist poet Marianne Moore’s actual living room—transported from her home and assembled on site. Though visiting a museum full of rare books may seem like a “hands-off” experience, the Rosenbach offers interactive opportunities with the collection. Special Hands-On Tours allow visitors to get up close and personal with some of the museum’s artifacts, including the opportunity to turn the pages and read from rare books.  

4. Woodmere Art Museum
Beautiful galleries and an outdoor sculpture garden adjacent to the Wissahickon
9201 Germantown Ave.
Located in the picturesque Chestnut Hill area, the Woodmere Art Museum is situated in a handsome stone mansion previously owned by civic leader and passionate art collector Charles Knox Smith.  Dedicated to the art and artists of Philadelphia, this historic building is both elegant and inviting, with unique touches such as sparkling cut-glass windows and an “Edison ceiling,” which lights part of the permanent collection with “modern” light bulbs of the late 19th century. Nine galleries house the museum’s growing collection of more than 6,000 works of art, and the permanent exhibition features pieces by Benjamin West, Edward Willis Redfield, N.C. Wyeth and Violet Oakley, among others. Aside from its impressive regional collection, the surrounding property comprises 6 lush acres adjacent to the Wissahickon Creek, offering an opportunity for a nature break during your visit. The grounds are free for the public to roam and interact with the monumental sculptures, which complements and provokes interaction with the surrounding nature. Patrons are encouraged to take part in educational programs offered throughout the year for children, adults and professionals alike, and there are ongoing gallery talks, musical performances and lectures throughout.      

Living History

1. Mercer Museum
Turn-of-the-century tools, musical instruments and Harry Potteresque nooks
84 S. Pine St., Doylestown, Pa.
If one museum never seems to be enough, then the Mercer Museum is just for you. Located slightly off the beaten path, the museum is about 40 minutes north of Philadelphia in the bustling historic borough of Doylestown and is operated in conjunction with Fonthill Castle, the former abode of founder Henry Mercer. As an anthropologist, Mercer thought that the story of human advancement could be told through the tools they used, which at that time were slowly diminishing through the onset of industrialization. The museum’s collection includes artifacts of artisanal culture, including lumbering, brick and stone making, watchmaking, musical instruments and more. A short drive from the museum is Fonthill Castle, which is a castle like no other: The six-story structure is cast entirely in concrete, and it is said that Mercer opted to build it this way as a safety precaution after a relative’s collection of prized medieval armor was destroyed in a fire. The edifice is a feast for the senses and full of odd stairways, peculiar alcoves and eclectic rooms, many of which are embedded with quirky, decorative tiles handmade by Mercer himself at his adjacent tile workshop (Moravian Pottery & Tile Works), which is still active today.  

2. Cliveden
Records that show how prominent Northern families made money from Southern slaves on their plantations
6401 Germantown Ave.
Just outside of Center City, Cliveden is a historic site that was previously the summer home of Benjamin Chew, a member of an elite family who made their fortune in part through several plantations in the South and mid-Atlantic. The home plays a vital role in cataloging important moments in Pennsylvanian and American history, including economic activity that was made possible by the slave trade. The Chews were meticulous record keepers of all the doings of their family’s estates: Archives comprising more than 200,000 documents reveal some of the oldest maps of the city, first-hand commentary on major historic issues and events—many of which can be seen on site. There are also detailed records and accounts of the slaves owned by the Chews, documenting the lives of those who may otherwise have been forgotten. The property was also the site of the Battle of Germantown during the Revolutionary War, where Gen. George Washington’s army fought the British to free occupied Philadelphia, leaving behind more than 150 dead soldiers. The battle is commemorated every October, when visitors can watch a live re-enactment, participate in the folding of a massive American flag, listen to a pipe band and take part in a host of other Revolutionary War activities.  

3. Independence Seaport Museum
A full-sized replica of a 1790s schooner sailed by John Barry
211 S. Columbus Blvd.
It’s hard not to be enticed by historic Penn’s Landing and Philadelphia’s waterfront, and it’s even harder not to notice the stoic ships docked there. If you’ve ever wanted to hop aboard, the Independence Seaport Museum offers that chance and more. Visitors can explore the Olympia, the oldest American steel war ship, which belonged to Admiral George Dewey during the Spanish-American War; or they can squeeze their way through the Becuna, an original submarine that fought in the battles of the South Pacific. In addition, a full-sized stationary replica of the 102-foot schooner Diligence, sailed by John Barry during the Quasi-War, offers a hands-on experience. Guests can learn about shipbuilding and operation, including how to steer and hoist the sails. The museum also showcases an array of maritime-themed artifacts such as ship relics, tools, nautical equipment and art relating to the historic importance of our Delaware River region.  

Mercer Museum

Mercer Museum

Researchers sound the alarm on federal scientific datasets that may be ‘disappeared’ by the Trump administration

Ghost in the Machine

by Lucy Vernasco

Federal research and data have helped to create everything from new life-saving medicines to the internet, driving innovation and economic growth. But that doesn’t mean that every administration wants to share it. And, in some cases, presidents have used their executive power to scrub data of important context that actually misleads other researchers, policymakers or would-be entrepreneurs.

That’s why, since dawn on Nov. 9, 2016, researchers have been racing against the clock in the name of protecting research datasets. The fact that references to climate change were taken down from the White House website on Jan. 20 have only stoked fears, as have other developments. 

President Trump has placed a gag order on the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Employees are forbidden from “providing updates on social media or to reporters”  and no new contracts or grants may be awarded until further notice. Even before he took office, the new president asked the Department of Energy to report the names of all employees who had worked on climate change initiatives during the Obama administration, a request that was refused.   

“There is a sense of urgency to all of this,” said Billy Fleming, an urban designer and policy specialist who is currently a doctoral student at University of Pennsylvania and a fellow in the Penn Program in the Environmental Humanities (PPEH). 

Like many academics, Fleming relies on federal datasets to perform his research on city and regional planning. After the election, Fleming began receiving alarming emails from his professional association listservs.

“Senior academics, they aren’t people who are prone to using very colorful and energetic language,” Fleming said. “They are some of the driest people I know, and they were sounding alarm bells. Most of that was based on their experience with the [George W. Bush] presidency, and a lot of these folks work in either some field that’s related to environmental science or social justice or criminal justice.”

After President Bush’s inauguration, these researchers and academics began to see the datasets and web tools disappear or the information suppressed on federal websites. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists’ (UCS) Scientific Integrity Program, during Bush’s presidency researchers found suppressed, inflated and distorted data about endangered species, including the trumpeter swan, Florida panther and bull trout. 

The UCS report says officials at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “censored an analysis of the economics of protecting the bull trout, a threatened trout species in the Pacific Northwest, publishing only the costs associated with protecting the species and deleting the report’s section analyzing the economic benefits.”

According to a 2008 article by The Washington Post, the EPA responded to a $2 million funding cut by closing physical access to “three regional office libraries in Chicago, Kansas City and Dallas, and to the headquarters library and the Chemical Library in Washington,” and reduced hours at several other libraries. The reduction in data access negatively impacted the work of researchers, academics and
climate scientists.

At a mid-November PPEH meeting, Fleming raised his concerns about disappearing data.

“It was clear almost right away after I raised that concern that that conversation was happening in parallel in pretty much every discipline that has some reliance on federal funding or public data to exist,” Fleming said. “Which is to say, every academic department in the country was on the precipice of panic when they realized what would happen to all the things that make their work possible.”

In response to research anxieties, a group of concerned professionals launched DataRefuge, a “public collaborative project” created to address concerns around federal environmental and climate data. Among those who initiated the program are Bethany Wiggin, an associate professor of German and the founding director of PPEH, and Patricia Kim, a PPEH program coordinator and doctoral student—along with PPEH fellows. 

“Policymakers work in a political context and their decisions affect accessibility to science,” Wiggin told Bloomberg Markets. “More copies in more places is always a good idea.”

DataRefuge and the Internet Archive's End of Term Presidential Harvest project are becoming offloading destinations for critical research around climate change and the environment. Ideas for additional datasets can be submitted to the End of Term Presidential Harvest website. 

“We realize that the populations that we work with, most of whom are very vulnerable and rely on the kind of information and resources and other digital platforms that have been created by the Obama administration over the last eight years, would find themselves in a position of unimaginable precarity,” Fleming said. “We found out there were a lot of other people working on this.”

‘A 21st-century book burning’
Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist, writer for Slate’s Future Tense and host of the podcast “Warm Regards,” has raised deep concerns about the Trump presidency and the dismantling of climate science research and resources. 

President Trump, whom Holthaus refers to as a “purveyor of conspiracy theories” in a recent Washington Post editorial, is enlisting Cabinet secretaries who have spent their careers railing against the agencies to which they’ve been appointed. Some, such as Department of Energy pick Rick Perry, have in the past called for the agencies they may lead to be abolished. Perry’s prepared remarks for his confirmation hearing include that he regrets “recommending its elimination.” He is also walking back on his view of anthropogenic-caused climate change as a “contrived phony mess,” and now concedes that human activity is—in part—to blame.  

The new president nominated Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. In 2016, Pruitt sued the agency “over the EPA’s recently announced regulations seeking to curtail the emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from the oil and gas sector,” according to The Washington Post.

“There is no remaining doubt that Trump is serious about overtly declaring war on science. This isn’t a presidential transition. It’s an Inquisition. It’s a 21st-century book burning,” wrote Holthaus in his Washington Post editorial. “The incoming administration is likely to be willfully hostile toward the scientific process, with far-reaching implications. One of the most tangible consequences of sharp cutbacks in federal funding for climate science is the potential loss of critical data—whether by neglect or malice—that underlie global efforts to understand our climate system. By all accounts, that’s exactly what Trump and his team want: Ignorance of how human actions are affecting our planet makes it easier to maintain the status quo.”

Since Trump’s presidential win, Holthaus has been active in identifying datasets that are likely to be threatened by the incoming administration. The meteorologist has been working in conjunction with University of Pennsylvania and PPEH to identify and archive vulnerable datasets. 

“I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that people are scared about what might happen to environmental data in this country when the nominee for the secretary of state is an ExxonMobil executive,” Fleming said.

Data destroyed ‘with the stroke of a pen’
On Jan. 13 and 14, PPEH held DataRescue Philly at the University of Pennsylvania Library with more than 250 participants copying 3,692 web pages. The focus of the archive was largely the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

According to a blog post from Patricia Kim, “All the datasets from the National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI); National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS); National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) as well as a significant portion of the Office of Oceanographic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), were successfully seeded to the Internet Archive.”

Dataset archiving events similar to PPEH’s took place before the inauguration with Guerilla Archiving at University of Toronto, #DataRescueChicago, DataRescueIndy and #ProtectClimateData in Los Angeles. The Sierra Club is also archiving and downloading information. The urgency is widespread in the environmental advocacy sector. 

Once the datasets are moved or completely removed from federal websites, it can be extremely difficult and expensive for researchers to gain the information through Freedom of Information Act requests. 

“I'm worried that under the Trump administration, that environmental data might not be as available as it has been,” said Ted Wong, co-founder of the Bellwether Collaboratory in Philadelphia. 

Wong, an ecologist, programmer and data storyteller, participated in DataRescue Philly over the weekend before inauguration. His problem-solving consulting firm helps organizations think through environmental processes including climate change. Wong is not only concerned about climate data that would affect his clients but also air, water quality, fishery, forest productivity, energy and pollution data, which “paint a picture of the state of the country.”

“Trump doesn’t really seem to have a lot of respect for science-driven planning or science-driven anything, and theoretically he could shut the gates on, or even destroy, all that amazing data with the stroke of a pen,” Wong said. “You know how people say that you should hope for the best but prepare for the worst? I don’t have a lot of hope these days, and I’m doing everything I can to get ready for the worst.”

Coryn Wolk is a Philadelphia-based writer and environmental advocate. Wolk learned about DataRescue Philly after working with Wiggin’s Lower Schuylkill River project.

“I work on environmental advocacy at mostly the local and state level, so a big cross-national push to preserve federal data was new territory for me,” Wolk said. “I’m not a scientist or programmer, but I am deeply concerned about climate change, so I joined the DataRescue project to contribute whatever skills I could. I also know that this is a real threat—Pennsylvania’s own environmental history shows the destructive power of a government willing and able to interfere with scientific record-keeping and research.”

Wolk said during the event on Jan. 13 that she was “struck” by how many departments are impacted by vulnerable datasets. She left the program feeling more informed about the importance of protecting climate research—and learned about programming in the process. 

“This data involves all of us, and the people creating it need everyone’s support to keep it alive,” Wolk said.

With the new administration, scientists are racing against time to capture datasets that provide the truth about our natural world. Any one of the pages offloaded to DataRefuge and the Internet Archive could be the dataset that saves the world. 

Mount Airy’s Immigrant Innovation Hub welcomes new Americans and sparks economic development

Photo by Mark Likosky

Photo by Mark Likosky

American Dreams

by Alex Jones

Denise Williams comes from a family of entrepreneurs. After arriving in the United States from Thailand in 1989, Williams’ mother started a staffing agency to serve the Asian-American community. In 2009, Williams, who is Vietnamese, started Madison Birch, the Old City-based staffing agency that works with clients who serve international brands, such as Nike and DuPont.

But it wasn’t until she heard about the Philadelphia Immigrant Innovation Hub, or I-Hub, that Williams was able to truly follow in her mother’s footsteps and create a business that strengthened her local community. 

The center is a collaboration among Mt. Airy USA, the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians and mission-driven nonprofit lender Finanta. It provides the networking, resources and expertise to help new Americans start their own businesses. 

“[I-Hub staff were] extremely supportive in terms of developing a new audience [and helping] with paperwork,” said Williams, who completed an earlier iteration of the course in 2016. Would-be entrepreneurs, who are welcome to participate regardless of immigration status, attend an intensive three-week series of workshops held at Work Mt. Airy, a co-working space run by Mt. Airy USA. 

“Any kind of support that I asked for, they were ready to go,” Williams said.

The no-cost course covers business planning, marketing and financials. Credit-building exercises are also available for those looking to gain access to capital through Finanta.

At the I-Hub, entrepreneurs are encouraged to share ideas and network with each other. During her session, Williams connected with an entrepreneur from Kenya who ran a home health care agency. He was having trouble finding workers who could better serve his Asian-American clients, who often didn’t share the same language or cultural conventions as his staff. 

Williams was able to address these needs, collaborating with her fellow entrepreneur to provide workers who could keep his clients happy—and well-cared for.

“A lot of Asian elders, especially in these communities, don’t know that there are government programs to help them,” said Williams. With her experience and connection to these communities, Williams can pull from a pool of workers and match them with clients for the best fit. “They can bridge language and literacy barriers, so they can help [clients] access those programs.”

This way, Philly I-Hub and its clients are able to positively impact Philadelphians in ways beyond simply boosting economic growth: They’re identifying, communicating and meeting the needs of those in communities that may be underserved. 

“That outcome isn’t something we had ever even thought about. It was a stepping-back moment for us,” said Sarajane Blair, managing director at Mt. Airy USA. “Entrepreneurs are plugging holes in their [own] communities.”

After spending 2016 refining its programming, the creators of Philly I-Hub consider the program a success so far. Part of Mt. Airy USA’s motivation for starting the program is that although the city has been gaining population, in part due to growing immigrant communities, most of that growth is concentrated in South, Southwest, and Northeast neighborhoods, while Northwest Philadelphia’s population has gone down. The initiative was designed in hopes that more new Americans would be drawn to that part of the city. 

Since then, entrepreneurs who have participated in the program have opened an optometry practice, started a samosa business, and developed an app to connect day laborers to contractors and construction projects in need of workers. 

“It’s been pretty amazing,” Blair said. “We have not had a serious focused marketing effort, and we’ve had people come from all over the city and all different sectors.”

 The next steps for the I-Hub involve securing funding to grow the project beyond its 18-month startup phase, conducting outreach to more potential entrepreneurs and adding a mentorship component, in which graduates of the program could help coach new participants. Organizers are also considering opening the program to any would-be business owner, not just those who are new to the U.S.

After her experience with the program, Denise Williams has some advice for entrepreneurs looking to start their own business: Pay a visit to the Philly I-Hub. 

“Make a commitment. Come every day,” she said. “Don’t be shy, and ask lots of questions. [The staff] share invaluable things.”

Six socially minded apps that were born and raised in Philly

Illustration by Marika Mirren

Illustration by Marika Mirren

Geeking Out for Good

by Albert Hong

Apps. Whether you access them on a website or download them to your phone, they’re a growing platform for crowdsourcing and problem-solving on a micro and macro level. Here are six to look out for from Philadelphia’s growing class of community-minded social entrepreneurs. 

Tours that show the real Philadelphia
Just a heads up: This app from Philly-based Tory Wergelis-Isaacson isn’t available to download just yet, but the concept for Zeeno may be something you want to consider getting involved in when the tourists really start hitting Philly in the summer. Zeeno aims to be a resource for visitors who want to get personalized tours from locals here and elsewhere. That’s where you come in—you can sign up now to become a tour guide, and after you’re put through an application process and background check, you could become an official Zeeno guide.

Stormwater Credits Explorer
Keeping our water clean
We’re fortunate that the Philadelphia Water Department (now known as just Philadelphia Water) manages our stormwater runoff—through the organization’s work in implementing the green stormwater efforts of its 25-year Green City, Clean Waters plan. The Stormwater Credits Explorer web app, which launched in 2015, is a pretty neat and practical part of that plan. With its simple-to-use interface, the app can be used by commercial property owners in Philadelphia to not only find out how much they’re paying in terms of stormwater fees on their water bills but also how much they could save if they installed some stormwater tools onto their property. Just enter an address and the app lets you experiment with different pieces of infrastructure—green roofs, rain gardens, permeable pavements, stormwater basins and subsurface storages—to get an estimate of your savings. With the deterring of stormwater pollution being one of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Enforcement Initiatives for the next three years, it’s great to see our city thinking one step ahead. 

Reuniting lost pets with their families
There’s no doubt that a compilation video of a dog’s failed attempts at catching food in the air can instantly help make the day a bit better. Cory Donovan, program manager at ImpactPHL and co-organizer of the Philly New Technology Meetup, built a free app for both iOS and Android devices thatchannels our communal love of animals into an Amber Alert for lost pets. The idea is simple enough—people who download the app can make a profile for each of their pets, and if any of them end up lost, owners can report them with the app, sending a push notification to any FurAlert users in the nearby area so they can help in the search. The success of the app will hinge on people downloading FurAlert before their own pet gets lost, since the app can only work if the community is already linked in. Sign up today, find Fido tomorrow. 

Ditching student loans for scholarships
Scholly may be the best-known of these Philly-made apps. It’s a scholarship-finding service for high school students, college students and graduate students that was featured by news outlets such as Forbes and “Good Morning America.” It was even awarded an investment from Daymond John and Lori Greiner of ABC’s “Shark Tank.” The pitch on “Shark Tank” from Christopher Gray, the founder of Scholly who graduated from Drexel University after winning $1.3 million in scholarships, ended up sparking what’s touted as the biggest fight ever among the show’s “sharks.” Gray and his co-founders, Nick Pirollo and Bryson Alef, created the app to help match students with scholarships tailored for them. Their efforts have been noticed by big-name celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, when Gray was included on her SuperSoul 100 list last year. Actor Jesse Williams has since been a board member and chief brand ambassador
for Scholly. Check it out.

Food Connect
Getting food to hungry people
We’ve covered the awesome work of Food Connect before, most recently in our December 2016 issue, so it doesn’t need to be repeated how important this platform has been, which connects restaurants with leftover food to homeless shelters and community organizations around Philadelphia. Founded by Megha Kulshreshtha, a Philly-based real estate developer, the free app has been an instrumental part in helping the one-quarter of Philadelphians who are struggling with food insecurity. Kulshreshtha’s belief in the power of working together was made most evident during the Democratic National Convention this past summer, when Food Connect partnered with other hunger relief organizations to collect food from the restaurants serving the 50,000 people who traveled to Philadelphia for the event. Through Food Connect—which won the Dev Project of the Year award at the 2016 Philly Geek Awards—people with food to donate, who need food or who can drive between locations all coalesce to make the app what it is. 

Helping companies support employee social action
At its heart, MilkCrate was always an app that tried to make sustainable living easy for everyone. It originally connected individuals with sustainable businesses nearby, whether they were looking for asingle cup of coffee or a responsible caterer. But CEO Morgan Berman and her team have rebuilt the company and the app from the ground up, and just launched the MilkCrate for Communities platform. The new app helps corporations’ employees and communities be socially and environmentally active; MilkCrate has gamified making socially responsible decisions, which the app tracks and rewards. Redirecting efforts toward a business-to-business service for corporations has given them access to a bigger pool of users, and they’ve recently announced a partnership with Comcast. Even if you’re not part of a participating company, you can still download the Android app and use its original feature. But if the recent deal with Comcast tells us anything, there’s a chance we’ll get to use the entire platform sooner rather than later.

Kurant Cider branches out

Canning (Fermented) Apples

by Emily Kovach

It’s a modern-day artisan Cinderella story: A hobbyist has a real knack for making the thing he or she is passionate about, parlays that into a small business, hits the market at the right place and time, and launches a successful brand. Despite the fairytale feel of this narrative, this is more or less how Joe Getz, founder and co-owner of Kurant Cider, came into his role as a cider maker.

 An avid homebrewer, Getz began dabbling in do-it-yourself wine and cider until those, too, became serious hobbies. He was working at Keystone Homebrew Supply in Montgomeryville, teaching customers about brewing equipment, methods and techniques, all the while honing his own craft. In 2013, Getz and his wife, Molly, had the idea to start their own company and teamed up with a business partner in January of the following year. Together, they began brewing test batches of their dry hard cider, drawing inspiration from European ciders that resemble wines more than the saccharine-sweet American versions. They decided to call their company Kurant, based on a Scandinavian word meaning “now” and pronounced like “current.”

 That April, they lost their original business partner, but found another: Michael Meyers, who is still with the company. They finalized on a few outstanding recipes and decided to start production with a “gypsy brewing” model: making product in the facility of a more established operation. In June of 2015, Kurant Cider began renting space in the brewhouse of Round Guys Brewery in Lansdale. That deal only lasted through autumn of the same year.

“Those guys were super great to us, and we learned a lot, but the space was so small, we were kind of in their way and we couldn’t really grow,” Getz says.

 In early 2016, they moved their setup to Free Will Brewing Co.’s facility in Perkasie. All the while, the Kurant team worked to build brand awareness at cider and beer festivals. They also began self-distributing to local bars and restaurants, focusing on locations in Philadelphia. Last Thanksgiving, they launched their line of cans, which Getz believes will help them get on more menus.

 “The thing about cider is, most bars are only going to have one tap line, maybe two, dedicated to cider, and they rotate those a lot. We are hoping the cans will help with that,” he says. They also signed a wholesale deal with Muller Beverage, one of the bigger beer distributors in the region, which should also broaden their market.

 The cans sport a clean, minimalist design: a crisp white background with a modish, abstracted apple design. Getz, who works part-time as a graphic designer, creates all of the art and imagery for Kurant. Their core brand is Bees, “our bread and butter cider,” as Getz says, sweetened with responsibly sourced honey. Earth is a hopped cider that they’ll begin canning this year, and they also develop one special cider for each season. The winter seasonal that launched in December is called Spice, featuring a warming flavor profile of brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.

 Keeping ingredients local is important to Getz. “Right now, we’re using about 95 percent Pennsylvania apples, and the honey we use is sourced from the Lancaster-based company Dutch Gold,” he says. Still a beer brewer at heart, Getz enjoys teaming with local breweries on products such as Drink Me, a wild ale made with apples, in collaboration with Stickman Brews from Royersford.

 The future holds Kurant’s most exciting project yet. In late December 2016, they purchased a building on Girard Avenue in Fishtown, where they will build the Kurant Taproom, a tasting room and bar. The space will be home to a small production space, but the plan is to keep the main production space at Free Will Brewing Co. 

“We’ll use this as a test kitchen for us to make some cool stuff that’ll only be available there,” Getz says excitedly. The bar, which will also feature craft beers and spirits, will finally give Kurant a home of its own and help introduce its small-batch ciders to a growing base of enthusiasts.

Craft Brews News

Photo by Melena Grace Wright

Photo by Melena Grace Wright

by Emily Kovach

Wissahickon Brewing Company to Debut in East Falls
Eight years ago, Tim Gill’s children gave him a homebrewing kit for Father’s Day. What started as a family activity blossomed into a full-blown hobby as he invested in more professional-grade equipment and entered his beers in homebrew competitions. He also began attending conferences, trading information and gathering resources from others with the homebrew bug.

Gill, who manages programming at LOVE Park in Center City, has decided to plunge into professional brewing as he prepares to retire from his first career. He recruited his family to help start Wissahickon Brewing Company (WBCo): His wife, Lisa, and children Tim Jr., Meg, Luke and Pete are all on board in various high-level roles. The 15-barrel brewery is slated to open in early February on Schoolhouse Lane in East Falls, doubling as a production brewery and a cozy taproom. A rotating roster of food trucks will be parked out front.

As a native of the Wissahickon Valley and a 30-year employee of Fairmount Park, Gill says he could not imagine any better way to pay homage to a park that has figured so prominently in his family and life. “Our vision is that WBCo will reflect the culture and history the park brings to the city... a natural gem in an urban setting.”

Point Breeze Brewing Expands Microbrewery 
Tucked into a converted garage space off of Grays Ferry Avenue, Point Breeze Brewing has begun making beers for wholesale to local bars and restaurants, including Rarest in Center City and Madira in Point Breeze. The founding team, friends Kristen and Kyler Nicholson, Scott Motisko and Patrick Rhine, decided to start small. The company was founded in 2014, but their production space has only been operational since December 2016, and they’ve been running a nanobrew schedule of two to three barrels per month while fine tuning their recipes. They are currently producing Point Breeze Pale Ale, Reed Street Rye IPA and Madira Spiced Ale, and the brewers are also working on a new recipe for the debut of a summer beer.

There are no immediate plans for a taproom that’s open to the public, as the Kickstarter-funded startup is focused on first introducing a range of quality beers to the market. As the company and product names suggest, the Point Breeze team is deeply invested in their neighborhood. “There are already a lot of great craft brew bars and bottle shops throughout South Philly, and now we can add to the new microbrewery scene in the area,” says assistant brewer and marketing manager Scott Motisko. “The growth is incredible, and we’re excited to be a part of it.”

Flying Fish Crafthouse Crosses the River
Flying Fish Brewery, an established craft brewery on the scene since 1995, has crossed the river from its hometown of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, to set up a taproom in the up-and-coming Brewerytown neighborhood. The huge (8,000 square feet with 191 seats) space is located on the ground floor of the Fairmount @ Brewerytown rental property on the corner of 31st and Master streets.

The Flying Fish Crafthouse opened its doors early December 2016, offering an extensive number of Flying Fish beers from two bars, along with a menu designed by Chef Brian Duffy, a Philadelphia native with many years of experience in the culinary industry, including at the prestigious LaCroix at the Four Seasons in Center City. The menu is leveled-up bar food with creative twists, like the Freebird Hot Pocket appetizer with spicy pulled chicken, chive pesto, grana padano and roasted tomato sauce, or the Swine and Diner pizza loaded with cheddar, cured and smoked hams, whole grain mustard, bacon dust and, yes, a fried egg.

The beer is front and center on the drinks list, with a number of brews exclusive to the location, such as LoveFish, a cherry-infused abbey dubbel. Specialty cocktails, by the glass and the bottle—as well as a short list of wines—round out the menu.

Exploring craft breweries just outside the city

Brewery Day Trips

by Emily Kovach

Making Beer and Creating Community at Levante Brewing 
This West Chester-based brewery has been exciting local craft beer lovers since its founding in August 2015. Open Wednesday through Sunday, the taproom lines up 17 taps of freshly brewed beer, such as Cloudy and Cumbersome IPA and Kolibri Kölsch. A rotating list of food trucks provide snacking options, and growler and crowler (a 32-ounce can) fills are available for enthusiastic patrons to take home their favorite brews. Levante’s motto is “Elevate your craft,” which the owners live up to with active community and philanthropic engagement. The Chester County Food Bank, SoldierStrong and Brandywine Valley SPCA are just a few of the charities they’ve provided with funding or sponsorships.

Hidden River Brewing Offers Apparitional Brews
Take a drive to Douglassville in Berks County, about an hour outside of Philadelphia, to visit Hidden River Brewing Company, a small brewery and pub housed inside the allegedly haunted, 300-year-old Brinton Lodge. This ambitious brewery has made 240 different beers in a wide variety of styles during its first year and a half in business, offering 12 beers on tap. Hidden River eschews the common model of “flagship” beers, meaning every week between two and four new beers surface, and a few others disappear. They aim to create beer and food that reflects the Southeastern Pennsylvania region, using locally grown fruits, herbs, grains and hops in a number of their beers, while serving up dishes made with local produce, cheese, charcuterie, breads, honey and jams.

Coming Soon...
Later in 2017, keep an eye out for socially responsibly local brewing venture Triple Bottom Brewing Company. This startup is cofounded by three friends, each with a set of expertise that lends itself to the company’s three-pronged mission: great beer, environmental responsibility and workforce development for folks who traditionally have a hard time securing jobs because of homelessness or arrest records. Pictured here are team members Kyle Carney, Tess Hart and Bill Popwell.

Deer Creek Malthouse offers Pennsylvania-grown malt to brewers

Great Grains

by Alex Jones

Any beer lover in Philly can tell you that the region is in the midst of a craft beer boom. Between 2013 and 2015, the number of licensed breweries in the state nearly doubled to meet demand, from 114 to 224, according to state Liquor Control Board figures. Local beers dominate draft lists at bars and brewpubs across Southeast Pennsylvania.

The only drawback? Usually, the only locally sourced ingredient in these “local” beers is the water. 

But Deer Creek Malthouse in Glen Mills—the first malthouse in Pennsylvania since Prohibition—is working to change that.

Since opening in 2014, “Our focus has really been on trying to figure out how to make really high-quality malt using locally sourced grain, and to try to understand the market and build a brand,” said Mark Brault, Deer Creek’s founder. “We're happy with what’s in the bag right now and the response we’ve gotten from the market.”

Brault, who was a biologist for Merck before embarking on the quest to bring back Pennsylvania malt, works alongside co-owners Josh Oliver, a chemist, and farmer Scott Welsh to identify types of barley and other malting grains that grow well in Pennsylvania’s climate, contract with farmers to grow an optimal product for malting, and process grain into malt. Most malt for conventional and craft brewing comes from grain-growing regions like the upper Midwest and Central Europe.

Beer typically has four main ingredients: malt, hops, yeast and water. Most of the flavor—and the alcohol content—comes from fermenting malt. Malt is grain (typically barley) that’s been carefully steeped, germinated and dried to develop enzymes that will convert its starches into sugars—which, once yeast is pitched into a batch of beer, can be converted into alcohol. 

The traditional method they use, floor malting, involves spreading the grain in an even layer on the floor of a special room in the malthouse, then raking and turning it by hand as it germinates. It’s labor-intensive, but advocates say that processing the grain this way creates more complex flavors than when this step is done by machine. Next, the grain is heated in a huge kiln, monitored for temperature and humidity for a full day and night—which necessitates sleeping at the malthouse—and is then cleaned and bagged for sale.

Tröegs Brewing Company in Hershey, Free Will Brewing Company in Perkasie and New Liberty Distillery in Kensington are some of Brault’s devoted wholesale customers. Keystone Homebrew sells a wide variety of Deer Creek’s malt in home-scale packages through its website and at its stores in Montgomeryville and Bethlehem.

“It’s really cool to be able to say this was grown right down the road, within three hours of here,” said John Trogner, founder of Tröegs. “It gives [the beer] a sense of terroir, a sense of place—it’s a little niche that you can’t get anywhere else.”

Due to limited supply, Trogner has only been able to highlight Deer Creek’s unique malts in small-batch, special-edition beers. But as the malt becomes more available and accessible, he hopes to brew larger batches, which could be enjoyed by beer drinkers throughout the brewery’s 11-state distribution footprint. 

While breweries are Deer Creek’s primary customers, there’s market potential for local malt in the region’s bakeries, farm-to-table restaurant kitchens and food artisans. Deer Creek’s malt has made its way into the hands of such food artisans as Ryan and Eric Berley at Shane Confectionery and cheesemaker Sue Miller of Birchrun Hills Farm, who’s developing her take on an Italian cheese that’s aged with a coating of malted barley applied to its rind.

The much-lauded High Street on Market uses Deer Creek malt all over its menu—in its sourdough breads as well as in savory dishes and desserts.

“Deer Creek is a perfect encapsulation of what we love and value in the High Street bread, pastry and savory programs,” said Sam Kincaid, who oversees bread and pastry at High Street on Market. “[We prioritize] extracting natural sweetness and complexity from seemingly simple or familiar ingredients, and giving expression to our local agroecosystem and benefiting as much as we can those producing quality ingredients using methods we respect.” 

At High Street on Market, local malt is used to boost dough development and depth of flavor. In the kitchen, it might be used to intensify flavor in a dish like a smoked malt flour pasta served with beef heart ragout or to evoke nostalgic flavors by steeping ice cream with Dutch malt. 

Now that the Deer Creek Malthouse team has assembled a group of producers to grow barley that’s perfect for malting—and put high-quality malt into the hands of customers—they’re focusing on overcoming the next big hurdle: how to produce more malt with those same standards, reach more markets and start paying themselves—spending fewer nights in the barn tending batches would be nice, too.

“We need to add capacity to keep up with demand,” Brault says. “We also need to see how we can lower our costs to get to a scale [so] that there's enough malt at the right price for our customers to be able to use more of it.”

Making wine at home is an enjoyable winter do-it-yourself project

Get Your Juices Flowing

by Emily Kovach

Whether you’re a passionate beer homebrewer looking to expand your horizons or a casual home cook looking for a fun fermentation project, making wine at home is a rewarding and relatively easy process. The equipment investment is reasonable, and there are a variety of ready-to-go kits that provide nearly all the ingredients necessary to make a range of wine styles. Of course, there are more customizable and experimental recipes and methods for brewers who aren’t interested in boxed kits. The friendly folks at the Philly Homebrew Outlet in West Philly helped us put together a guide for everything the aspiring vintner needs to get started.

The Gear

  • 7.9-gallon plastic winemaking bucket
  • 6-gallon glass carboy
  • Mix-stir drill attachment for degassing
  • Bottling bucket (with a spigot attached)
  • Auto-siphon
  • Airlock and carboy bung
  • Bottle brush
  • Hydrometer and test tube, to test alcohol levels 
  • Hand or floor corker, and corks
  • Bottles (750 ml are standard but other sizes can work, too)

The Ingredients

  • Grape juice concentrate. Fresh juice is available from the Philly Homebrew Outlet twice per year: May (juice from Chile) and September (Italian and Californian juice). Other fruit juices can be used for making fruit wine.
  • Yeast, the type of which varies according to the kind of wine you’re making
  • Clarifying agent
  • Stabilizer (potassium sorbate)
  • American, French or Hungarian oak chips or powder (optional)
  • Sanitizer

Winemaking box kits generally come with everything you’ll need except for corks and equipment. They range in price from $70 to $180. The cheaper ones contain a bit less juice and don’t require aging, and the more expensive kits have more juice and grape skins, and they can age in storage to develop more complex and subtle flavors.

The Basic Steps

  • Sanitize all equipment. It is essential that all the gear stays clean all the time.
  • Pour the juice into the winemaking bucket. If using a concentrate, dilute with water until it reaches 6 gallons. Add oak chips, if using.
  • Pitch (add) the yeast for primary fermentation, when the yeast does most of the work of converting sugar into alcohol. The process takes between 7 to 10 days. Wine should always be stored in a cool area, no warmer than 75 F.
  • Siphon the mixture to the glass carboy, add the clarifying agent and let it sit for 2 to 3 weeks for secondary fermentation.
  • A week before you plan to bottle, add a stabilizer and degas the wine using a mix-stir, a tool that attaches to a drill. It’s inserted into the carboy and whips around to free any carbon dioxide that’s still trapped in the wine.
  • When ready to bottle, transfer the wine to a bottling bucket and attach a bottling wand, which fills the bottle from the bottom up, minimizes splashing and leaves the perfect amount of headspace. It also helps with avoiding the introduction of oxygen, which at this stage can lead to bacterial growth and spoilage.
  • Cork the bottles with a hand or floor corker and let them sit upright for a few days to allow the cork to fully re-expand.

Some wine can be enjoyed right away, and others require storage. Any bottles in storage should be stored on their side to keep the cork from drying out.

For more information, free classes, and gear or kits, visit Philly Homebrew Outlet online or at its locations in Olde Kensington and West Philly.

2017 Advertising Rates

Placement / Size 1X 3X 6X 12X
Back Cover $2,650 $2,385 $2,120 $1,855
Inside Front Cover $2,150 $1,935 $1,720 $1,505
Inside Back Cover $2,150 $1,935 $1,720 $1,505
Page one (Right Hand Side) $2,150 $1,935 $1,720 $1,505
Full $1,495 $1,390 $1,285 $1,165
2/3 $1,275 $1,175 $1,085 $955
1/2 $870 $820 $765 $695
1/3 $695 $625 $595 $535
1/4 $515 $465 $440 $395
1/6 $335 $305 $285 $250
1/8 $275 $250 $235 $210
Double Truck (Inside Cover +Page 1) $3,025 $2,725 $2,575 $2,495
Double Truck $2,495 $2,245 $2,120 $2,195

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Grid's Editorial Calendar for 2017

January 2017 | 93

The state of sustainable farming in Pennsylvania, Grid’s picks for your condiment table and local goods for the pantry, slow cooked winter meals and more
Politics: Presidential power | State Politics and Philadelphia's Mayor
ART DUE DATE: December 9

February 2017 | 94

What’s next from Philadelphia social entrepreneurs?
Beer & Spirits | Museums
ART DUE DATE: January 13

March 2017 | 95

Focus on art and music programs for people of all ages and summer camps for kids and teens
Picks for Buying Clubs and CSA’s | Seed Starting Guide
ART DUE DATE: February 10

April 2017 | 96

Our popular spring preview of festivals and street fairs paired with delights for gardeners
Food Artisans | Farmer Markets
ART DUE DATE: March 10

May 2017 | 97

Picks for restaurants, summer food festival previews, new local
purveyors and more
Water | Beer & Spirits | Gardening Supply Hot Spots

June 2017 | 98

Take a spin through Philadelphia’s ever expanding outdoor adventureland
Cheese | Pets | Secret Gardens of Philadelphia

July 2017 | 99

Our bi-ennial wedding issue is back this summer with ideas and insight for beautiful and sustainable weddings.
Camping | Best Neighborhoods | Bakeries

August 2017 | 99.5

New restaurants, local food purveyors and a special section on recipes for barbeques
without thebeasts.
Bikes | Summer Water Fun | Coffee

September 2017 | 100

To celebrate our 100th issue, we’ll be featuring all things made in Philadelphia.
Makers & Doers | Beer & Spirits | Art
ART DUE DATE: August 11

October 2017 | 101

Our first ever design issue!
Infrastructure | Home Renovation | Energy
ART DUE DATE: September 8

Special Advertising Section and Distribution: Philadelphia Bike Expo

November 2017 | 102

The annual holiday gift guide is back with more locally-made goods, ideas for DIY gifts and experiences your family won’t forget.
Specialty Grocers | Recycling | Minimalism
ART DUE DATE: October 13

December 2017 | 103

What’s the future for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania?
Best Boutiques | Beer & Spirits | Religion
ART DUE DATE: November 10