I’m Joining Billy Penn!

I’m Joining Billy Penn!

Starting Monday, Feb. 6, I'll be working along side the awesome journalists at Billy Penn as a Knight Foundation Fellow. I'm really pumped as I will be working on stories for the Solutions Journalism Network’s Philadelphia project, a 16-organization group covering prisoner reentry and  recidivism in Philadelphia. It's going to be so awesome and I'm so pumped to get started.  ...
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How to fight the stigma of homelessness

How to fight the stigma of homelessness

Dysfunctional families, distrust of the system, the lack of affordable housing — there are so many situations that could influence why a person can become homeless that others might not consider as they walk past those experiencing it. “I think we tend to look for easy answers because homelessness is horrible and scary and you want that easy fix,” said Sarah Erdo, volunteer and community engagement manager at Bethesda Project. “The easy answer, I think, is the lack of affordable housing and the cycle of poverty.” Bethesda Project and other local homeless services organizations hosted a panel at the Legend Galleries called “Bringing Homelessness Home” last week as part of Young Involved Philadelphia’s State of Young Philly event series. The panel discussed the many challenges and aspects of homelessness that laypeople may be unaware of while, appropriately, surrounded by artwork reading encouragements such as “Perseverance with Dignity” and “Signs of Hope,” part of the gallery’s National Homelessness and Hunger Week exhibit. Often those who are experiencing the cycle of homelessness have stigmas...
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Some Of Our Favorites From TEDxWilmington

Some Of Our Favorites From TEDxWilmington

Have you ever wondered what it was like to live in a time when live music was as commonplace as smartphones? Or ever considered that one of the founding fathers could be thought of as a data nerd? Information is power. That’s what TEDxWilmingtonSalon celebrated as part of Delaware Innovation Week 2016 at the Wilmington Public Library on Thursday. The event series is organized by Ajit George, whom we profiled earlier this month. Check out some of the highlights below. ### A doomy take on music Instead of keeping to the normal TEDx routine, Vincent James, founder of Keep Music Alive, played a few songs on his keyboard. “We hear music every single day of our lives and maybe, just maybe that’s why we take it for granted,” James said. But the quality of music is in danger, James said. He went on to discuss what he calls the three disturbing trends that are killing the future of music. First is music education. He asked: have you noticed that schools across the...
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Wilmington is having a moment

Wilmington is having a moment

In a way, we have the Wilmington tech scene to thank for Delaware’s newest brewery. Dew Point Brewery, a playful take on DuPont, opened in August just outside of Wilmington in Yorklyn’s historic Garrett Snuff Mill. It’s owned and run by Nick Matarese and his family. Matarese is a Wilmington tech fixture, the founder of branding agency The Barn. Dew Point’s launch is just one of the ways that the state’s tech and entrepreneurship community is bringing the cool to to Wilmington. Because real talk? Wilmington has historically not been cool. It’s not been of the Brooklyn or Philadelphia ilk, places where young people flock for the nightlife, beer gardens and artisanal shops. But the tide is turning. Millennials are driving the real estate boom in downtown Wilmington, according to Jones Lang LaSalle’s 2016 Wilmington Skyline Review. Still, Will Minster, director of business development at Downtown Visions, is candid about the pace of this change. “To be honest, it’s really been kind of a slow process,”...
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This new giving circle funds struggling Philly schools

This new giving circle funds struggling Philly schools

It was about a year and a half ago when Andy Toy read an article about a school in Germantown that was struggling with funds. The principal, Toy recalled, had only $34 and couldn’t afford to purchase many amenities for his students. However, within a few days of the article being published, the school received thousands of dollars in donations and the principal was able to move forward in buying the things that his school needed. That’s when the idea of the Philadelphia Public School Giving Circle (PPSGC) took hold. “To me the lightbulb kind of went off and was like, if we could get everybody out there and do the same thing, people would give because people are interested in giving,” said Toy, development and communications manager of Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition (SEAMAAC). “There is a big need out there.” With PPSGC, there is a strong focus on regular neighborhood public schools, especially those in low-income areas and have limited fundraising capacity within their communities,...
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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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