September 8, 2014 |
Federal housing Secretary Julián Castro visited the West Philadelphia Promise Zone on Friday, but not everyone went along on the tour. Angry members of the Mantua Civic Association, one of the main local groups working for change, said they weren't invited. "I thought it was supposed to be collaborative," said association president DeWayne Drummond, who stood, steaming, outside the tour starting point at the Mount Vernon Manor apartments while Castro, Mayor Nutter, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, and others went inside.
September 5, 2014 |
The feds promised to help West Philadelphia. And now a cabinet secretary is showing up to take a look around. Julián Castro, head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, will tour parts of the new Promise Zone on Friday, as two local institutions commence a $4 million initiative to transform early childhood education in a troubled part of the city. The effort, led by the William Penn Foundation and Drexel University, seeks to double the number of neighborhood children in high-quality child care within three years.
September 4, 2014 |
Hoping to stabilize the dilapidated West Philadelphia neighborhood of Mantua, the city wants to entice police officers and firefighters to move into the struggling area - with cash to help buy homes and pay taxes on them. Officials think having police and firefighters living in Mantua and interacting as neighbors with residents would improve the quality of life in the area. But even with the cash incentives, the initial $200,000 program could be a hard sell. "It's a good idea," said Joe Schulle, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 22. "However, our guys are still going to be reluctant to move into transient neighborhoods if they have kids and families.
August 27, 2014 |
In neighborhoods such as Fishtown and Northern Liberties, arts and artists stimulated big growth and new vitality. In battered Mantua - the heart of a new federal Promise Zone - it can seem as if the arts departed with the people. Now, a team of Drexel University faculty and students is offering a plan to support a growing number of artists as a way to lift an area pulverized by crime, poverty, and unemployment. "It's not art for art's sake, it's art for the sake of the good of the neighborhood," said Andrew Zitcer, an assistant teaching professor at Drexel who studies urban policy.
August 15, 2014 |
Like every great home cook, Josephine Samuel has one legendary signature dish. "My mother showed me how to do fried chicken and how you make it taste real good," said Samuel, a Mantua resident. But, she added wistfully, "You can't eat fried chicken every night. " So, she enrolled in "Local Culinary Traditions," a new, free course offering from Drexel University's Center for Hospitality and Sports Management that invites West Philadelphia residents and any Drexel students to collaborate in documenting beloved family recipes and experimenting with making them healthier.
July 18, 2014 |
IN THE WEEKS leading up to Laura Araujo's slaying, Jeremiah Jakson's life seemed to be spiraling out of control. Or he was on the cusp of greatness. It depended on the day and the hour, but it was all on display on Jakson's Facebook page, a constant barrage of selfies, street cliches and grandiose delusions. The spotlight-grabbing narcissist is the polar opposite of Araujo, 23, a shy college grad who never wanted much attention. "Im a good dude at heart but im done being a good dude," Jakson wrote on June 26. Jakson, 22, was a security guard with AlliedBarton Security Services, but was fired last month for performance reasons.
June 23, 2014 |
John Williams has never held back. Not in his work ethic, in his intellectual curiosity and above all, in his opinions. "I run off at the mouth, and I have a very bad habit," he says. "I tell the truth. " It has been exactly 50 years since Williams, one of the state's first African American board-certified orthopedic surgeons, saw his first patient at Einstein Medical Center. He has witnessed medical technology advance beyond his imagination, surgical techniques honed to near perfection, and postoperative recovery become quicker and less painful.
June 6, 2014 |
The 22-year-old son of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who is serving life in prison for killing fetuses, was shot early Wednesday while allegedly burglarizing a residence in the Mantua section of West Philadelphia, police said. Barron Alexander was shot three times by an occupant inside a house in the 3700 block of Brandywine Street shortly before 7 a.m., police said. He was listed in critical but stable condition at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He was charged with robbery, burglary, and related offenses.
June 2, 2014 |
It was a grand and glorious funeral, one that drew hundreds of people onto the streets to honor not a person but a house. There were tears, more than a couple. But also joy, and music and memories, all in celebration of 3711 Melon Street in West Philadelphia. The house began life 142 years ago as a stack of bricks and lumber, and was set to end it on Saturday as a dusty pile of the same, after a ritual demolition. The empty, abandoned home, its roof failing and back wall bulging, was the centerpiece of "Funeral for a Home," an arts project that paid tribute to one home as a way to recognize them all - in a city where demolitions have become commonplace.
May 13, 2014 |
The house is a wreck, all broken windows and boarded doors, soon to be torn down. But Annie Hunt remembers when the home was alive - a place of light and laughter, a haven for a mother and son. The West Philadelphia property belonged to a strong and determined woman, Hunt's aunt Leona Richardson. As a teenager in the late 1930s, Richardson struck out alone from the segregated South, leaving small-town Louisiana and making her way to Baltimore. When World War II broke out, she got a job in a defense plant as a welder.