Struggling to understand

Struggling to understand

I must have watched the video of Alton Sterling’s son cry on the internet five times when it first appeared on my Twitter feed. I could not help but watch it over again, and try to understand what just happened and why. To see Cameron Sterling become the man of the house so suddenly, and in such a terrible way, was heartbreaking. I wanted to be one of those men patting him on the back, embracing him and offering some kind of comfort. This young man would remember Tuesday, July 5, 2016 not only as the day that he lost his father, but the day when he would never trust a police officer again. Still, after watching the video a few more times I found myself trying to understand the “fear.” That fear of a darker or lighter skin, that seems so ingrained. Is it ancestral? Is it taught? Or is it something more? I waited and watched the barrage of news coverage, the media...
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The Rooms Project: Recovery doesn’t have to be a struggle

The Rooms Project: Recovery doesn’t have to be a struggle

On a humid Tuesday morning in Bucks County, in the surrounding neighborhood, a cul-de-sac setting, the only noise that can be heard is a water fountain from across the street. A backpack slung over her shoulder and a folding chair in one hand, Jillian Bauer, creator of The Rooms Project, walks up the stairs of Independence Lodge Sober Living, a recovery house. The Rooms Project is a way that Bauer gives “recovery a voice” through the stories of experience, strength, and hope she often heard in “the rooms” of recovery support groups and meetings. After scrolling through her phone, checking to make sure that she has the right address and time, a man looking to be in his late 30s invites Bauer into the house. She sits in the kitchen, waiting for her interviewee Bryan Kennedy, the owner and founder of Independence Lodge Sober Living. Bauer started The Rooms Project just a few years ago, in March 2014 after celebrating a year of sobriety. She...
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Our sidewalks suck. What can the City do about it?

Our sidewalks suck. What can the City do about it?

The 1900 block of Ringgold Street appears as many other blocks in North Philadelphia. A few people stand on the corner or lean against rowhomes and talk. Many of the houses are abandoned. And the street itself is empty, cracked and jagged. In some places, the sidewalk almost seems to disappear before your eyes. Yet here, and in neighborhoods across the city, locals have grown complacent at the poor condition of their streets. Sometimes, the cracks only become noticeable when you stumble and fall, or see a stroller wheel jam up, or watch as wheelchair-bound neighbors try to navigate their way home. A few sections of Ringgold Street are cordoned off with yellow tape, indicating that the City is at least trying to fix the sidewalks. But what can be done for a community with so many more pressing problems, in a part of town that often goes overlooked? In Philadelphia, sidewalks are the responsibility of the property owner, not the City....
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Connecting young minds through code

Connecting young minds through code

Returning Home When Sylvester Mobley returned from Iraq he wanted to find a way to make a community impact in his city. He really didn’t know what that would be, but when he began to really look at the issues of diversity in technology, something became apparent. Most of the tech industry did not look like him or come from the same upbringing as he did. “When I was really looking into why it there was such a lack of diversity in the tech industry, one of the things I kept landing on was education,” Mobley said. Before joining the Army National Guard in 2006, Mobley was in the Air Force Reserves where he became a computer, network, cryptographic switching systems specialist. In this field of work some of Mobley’s responsibilities included setting up, troubleshooting and fixing computer systems. He also setup networks, servers and software among other things. Mobley had the technical training and experience, but he was also college educated. He attended Temple...
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School community gathers to condemn violence against student

School community gathers to condemn violence against student

Though the clouds hung heavy above the School District of Philadelphia headquarters at 440 Broad, students and teachers gathered in front of the building to rally in support of Benjamin Franklin High School student Brian Burney. Burney, a junior at Ben Franklin and member of the Philadelphia Student Union, said he was assaulted by a school police office while attempting to use the bathroom at his school. In a statement released by the union, the incident occurred when Burney left class to go use the restroom. He found that the bathrooms on the fourth and third floors were locked. On the third floor, Burney was told by school Police Officer Jeffrey Machiocha that he needed a pass in order to use the bathroom. An argument took place and Burney threw an orange against the wall. Soon after, Burney found himself in what the student union described as a choke-hold. However, School District spokesman Fernando Gallard told Philly.com that it was "clearly a restraining...
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Looking forward to better days

Looking forward to better days

The last image that I saw of my dad, was when he was laying in his casket. He looked so peaceful and it was at that moment that I realized I would never hear from him again. Prior to that I had only seen him twice before, when he was being pushed into an ambulance with a bloody patch covering his forehead and when I had given him my last hug on Father’s Day 1999. It’s a story that I’ve told a few times and each time I tell it, it feels as if the terrible events happened just yesterday. It’s a common scene and an unfortunate story that is told too often while trying to live and thrive in the city of Philadelphia. The amount of gun violence that Philadelphians experience is nothing new, but the question that keeps coming up at each crime scene and each vigil is what will be done to address the ongoing problem? The situation is dire...
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The life and death of El Diario

The life and death of El Diario

A Reporter’s Worst Fear  It was just a regular day for Gloria Medina, former reporter at El Diario La Prensa, a newspaper considered to be the oldest Spanish-speaking daily in New York. Medina, at the time, had felt proud to work at a paper with such distinction, as did her fellow reporters. El Diario was family, Medina said. And when working for a paper for such a long time you begin to feel that you are a part of the paper itself. Her voice cracked for a moment as she remembered the day that she was laid off from her job of 16 years. The first job she held in journalism. “We were laid off on June 13, 2013,” Medina said. “Almost three years ago, it seems like it was yesterday.” El Diario was founded in 1913 as a weekly under the name La Prensa in Lower Manhattan, and in 1963, merged with El Diario de Nueva York El Diario La Prensa, according to impreMedia,...
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A one-stop resource fair for Latinos at CCP

A one-stop resource fair for Latinos at CCP

Roxanna Encarnación, a Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) came to the U.S. in her early teens and went straight to CCP to obtain her education. An alumni of the 2010 class, Encarnación now works as a loan servicer at Finanta in Philadelphia. “It was really eye opening,” Encarnación said of her time attending classes for the first time at the Philadelphia college. “I had to make a foundation here, learn a new language and learn a new culture. It’s the most affordable school and you take your education anywhere that you want, it’s not like you can get stuck.” Encarnación is part of a larger population of students who once believed the thought of attending college to be out of reach. There are many hurdles and challenges for those who might not have the funds for tuition or have come to the U.S. undocumented. According to the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce’s Roadmap for Growth report, the city’s population in 2013 was 44 percent African-American; 13 percent Hispanic or...
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Uber PA’s general manager calls PPA ‘a broken system’

Uber PA’s general manager calls PPA ‘a broken system’

Last year, Raymond Reyes, a 25 year veteran in the army, retired. Searching for something new to hold him over he was first introduced to Uber when visiting his brother in New York City when he was traveling from the JFK airport. He recalled his story earlier at a Uber press conference in response to the targeting of ridesharing by the Philadelphia Parking Association (PPA). Mostly brought to light after yesterday’s Philadelphia Daily News article. “I realized that for me, driving for Uber would be the perfect way to get out of the house to see the city and meet new people,” Reyes said. Reyes signed up to join the popular ridesharing service and everything seemed to be going well, he said, until one day in Center City he received a trick request. Two riders, wearing plain clothes, jumped into the back seat making Reyes suspicious. The riders, Reyes said, were seemingly staging a conversation that centered around bashing the PPA and making sure Reyes...
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A Conversation with Black Hood’s Duane Swierczynski

A Conversation with Black Hood’s Duane Swierczynski

Not sure if comic book fans know, but we have our very own superhero set here in Philly! How exciting is that? I’m disappointed in myself for not perusing the shelves of my local comic book stores a little better. And I hope I do not get punished by the staff of Geekadelphia for such a thing. The Black Hood is Philly’s answer to the comic book vigilante problem that we currently do not have. Although we have been visited by some of the more famous of super heroes, Superman did stop here in Philly for a “Cheese Steak sandwich” at one point. The Punisher stopped by once as well, and Thomas Elliot (Hush from Batman) resided in Philly for a time. Duane Swierczynski, the current writer for the Black Hood series, took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to me about what he has planned next for the hero Philadelphians deserve and what got him interested in the comic book...
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