A Game of Thrones-style swordplay class happens Sundays in West Philly

A Game of Thrones-style swordplay class happens Sundays in West Philly

Graham Meyer plays with swords every Sunday morning in West Philly. He carries them there in a golf bag, en route to a gathering of the Philadelphia Common Fencers Guild – students and teachers interested in learning the finer points of Historical European Martial Arts. Most of the swords in the bag are a mixture of wood and plastic. Only a few students, including Meyer, have actual bladed weapons. Meyer’s favorite is the steel competition blade called the Federshwert, a type of German fencing weapon. He also knows how to wield a rapier, sabre, and spear. On Sunday, despite chilly winds and melting ice soaking parts of the park, Meyer gathered his group of six disciples, urging them to grab a sword that they felt comfortable with. Instead of a quick warm up, Meyer went straight to drills. He started off with basic hand positions and footwork this weekend morning. His path to this point with his class is anything but straightforward. A Portland...
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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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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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Butkovitz unveils plans for potential drone usage

Butkovitz unveils plans for potential drone usage

As part of an ongoing effort to explore how technology can be utilized to improve government function, City Controller Alan Butkovitz announced Wednesday that the city has been using drones to inspect dangerous buildings in neighborhoods across Philadelphia. Butkovitz and his team selected four locations around the city to test the drone's capacity to make visual inspections. The drone was utilized to gain a broader view of collapsing buildings in Hunting Park, West Philadelphia, Point Breeze and South Philadelphia on Manton Street. “Our latest project joins our record of technology initiatives since I first took office 10 years ago, including transparency over campaign finance reporting through our website and developing a mobile application that allows citizens to report fraud directly to our office,” Butkovitz said. “The immediate advantage of utilizing a drone was realized with the ability to cover more ground in less time, making the process more efficient and effective. We found a visual inspection of one block consisting of 56...
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My Trip To The New York Times

My Trip To The New York Times

This past summer I was given the opportunity to visit The New York Times with a friend of mine, Ben Harris, and sit in on the paper's evening Page One meeting. It was pretty interesting and I was just blown away by the entire experience. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be sitting in on a meeting at the Times. What stood out to me the most when I first arrived was that every cubicle in the newsroom seemed to be filled, slightly different from the visits I've done with the Philadelphia Inquirer or Philadelphia Daily News. I know there have been layoffs at the Times but it didn't seem like it to me. You could really feel confidence in the room, if that makes sense. Michael Slackman, who was then Deputy Foreign Editor and now Head of the Foreign Desk, was our tour guide for the day. Michael is a pretty awesome guy and knows his...
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Summer Teaching

Summer Teaching

Can't remember if I posted this or not, but I worked on the above video for the majority of the summer while assisting with Temple University's High School summer journalism program, otherwise known as Prime Movers and Shakers. It's led by Professor Maida Odom, former reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and one of my former professors. The goal of the summer program is to teach the students, who are from different Philadelphia area high schools, about journalism and the different aspects of the field in a few short weeks. At the end they produced a newspaper that is printed by the Philadelphia Daily News. This was my second time working with the program and this time my main responsibility was putting together a video of the students experience with the program. It's not the best, but I was proud in the fact that I was able to put this together after not working with FinalCut Pro for a a few...
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The Transformation Of AJ Young

The Transformation Of AJ Young

There was never a particular moment when AJ Young felt that he was supposed to be a guy, but it was more of a continual questioning why it was he felt uncomfortable around friends and family. Not just generally, but socially. Young was born Catherine Rebecca Young. He grew up in Elgin, Illinois where he realized early that people didn't really recognize his gender identity the way that he wanted. AJ stands for Andrew James, a name Young would have been given had he been born a male.   "There was never one moment when I was like, of course I'm suppose to be a guy. It was more of figuring out why I had felt uncomfortable and off a little bit, not just in my body." It was around the time that Young was a sophomore in college at American University in Washington, D.C. and taking women's studies courses that he had become aware that trans people existed. Young started to realize that he...
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TABJ wins Student Chapter of the Year

TABJ wins Student Chapter of the Year

The National Association of Black Journalists announced at their annual convention, this time being held in Florida, the recipients of their Student Chapter of the Year award. This year, the Temple Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists at Syracuse University, tied for this years award. This is a very exciting moment for TABJ, as we worked very hard this past semester at Temple University to reach this goal. Congrats, team!   ...
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Long Time, No see

Long Time, No see

Finally, I am a senior. Or at least I’m finally considered one. There are still a few classes that I have to get through, but I’m getting close. Originally, I had transferred from the Community College of Philadelphia and received my degree in Liberal Arts. At the time CCP did not have a communications course or anything relating to journalism. And while I’m sure there are a lot of things that I should be contemplating about, life after Temple, finding a job in the field of journalism, and many more. I find myself concentrating more on trying to be a student journalist and student. It’s challenging. There are so many stories that I am in the process of working on and many more that I want to tell, but it becomes slightly hard and even draining when you have an assignment due for class the next day; a team of writers that you are trying to lead and educate, chasing after stories, while also...
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