Beer Garden: Local breweries hop on—and off—the local hop bandwagon

Filmmaker and activist Jamie Moffett harvested Cascade and Nugget hop vines he and neighbors planted in their “Guerrilla Hops Garden” along Rand Street in June 2013. Photo by Jamie Moffett.

For some beer enthusiasts, hops—pungent, cone-shaped flowers whose acidic resin gives beer bitterness and aroma—are what define a good glass of suds. Many beers use hops that come from European brewing centers, but even the domestic hops in local India pale ales usually arrive from suppliers in the Pacific Northwest. While our region has a burgeoning local brewery scene and the hops can be grown here, the overwhelming majority of the hops in their brews come from far-off places because it’s still cheaper and easier to buy from elsewhere.

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An injured rider finds support from the bicycle community

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Solar in the City: Customer-backed, campus-based energy system a first in Philadelphia

Temple University's solar panels can be seen by approximately 26,000 regional rail riders.Although the newly installed solar panels are mounted three stories up on Temple University’s Edberg-Olson Hall, about 26,000 regional rail riders see them daily as they pass through the Temple University Station. The visibility is what the university is hoping will draw attention to the project, so more people see solar energy as viable. 

Although the newly installed solar panels are mounted three stories up on Temple University’s Edberg-Olson Hall, about 26,000 regional rail riders see them daily as they pass through the Temple University Station. The visibility is what the university is hoping will draw attention to the project, so more people see solar energy as viable. 

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

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

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

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