5. Ross Markman and Emily Paull (Love Notes #4 and 5): Reading Terminal Market
Ross was my friend’s roommate. Emily is his girlfriend. Somehow I convinced them to be the first love note writers outside of my own short notes. I met them at Reading Terminal, iPhone in hand, having no real experience with photography, and certainly none with photographing people. We sat down at the tables in the Market, and I handed them each a piece of paper to write their love notes that I would later transcribe. I have learned much since then:
- Have people submit their notes via email when they are good and ready
- Courier is a terrible type font for this blog (yes, I know, it will be fixed soon)
- Shoot photos of people discreetly if possible so as not to make them too uncomfortable
- Warn contributors that it’s “just me and an iPhone” so they’re not too disappointed when I come sans camera
- Have standardized questions
- Occasionally add in some personal moments (but not too many)
- Use the meeting as an opportunity to get to know the contributors and the places they’ve chosen
4. Chris Bartlett (Love Note #79): Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany
I started the blog soliciting contributions for love notes from friends, friends of friends, and so on. My hopes were that having a solid foundation of letters would convince people to contribute on their own. Chris Bartlett, the ED for the William Way LGBT Center, was one of the first to reach out to me via Twitter. He is also the first love note writer to make me cry. And not just sniffle, I had tears running down my face. His love note to the church highlighted the crucial role it played in providing a home for the Philly-LGBT community both during the AIDS crisis and today. It was an honor to meet the rector, Rodger Broadley, who was one of the few willing to preside over the funerals of AIDS patients, and get a tour of the church. It remains the most moving love note.
3. Phil Jablon (Love Note #102): PSFS Building
This love note has been my best discovery so far. It is the perfect way to show someone the city without spending any money. And really, it has the BEST view I have ever seen of the city. I was kind of nervous initially, thinking that security was going to bust us, but in fact, Phil and I got up there at the end of a conference and no one looked twice at us. We even got to snag some of the leftover food. This is now my go-to spot, my perfect “Philly”-spot.
2. Shannon McDonald (Love Notes #18, 21, 24): Northeast Philly
Shannon’s contribution was epic – three love notes and three hours of driving around NE Philly. We started the tour meandering towards Pennypack Park, one of the night’s three destinations. Once there, we took a quick stroll to the bandshell, talking all about the neighborhood, the park, her work, Philly life, etc. Then it was off to Twistee Treat for my favorite, a swirl cone with chocolate sprinkles. We ate and chatted more as the sun set behind the giant pink cone. Finally she drove me back towards center city along I-95, and we rolled the windows down to get great gulps of that strange Northeast Philly smell. She showed me that there were people who loved the city and were willing to talk about it. And more personally, I had a lovely time hanging out with her. I thought about all the people I could meet and places I could see doing the blog and decided, yes, this is going to be something. So thank you Shannon for being one of the main drivers of the blog.
1. John Paul Titlow (Love Note #100): Little Pete’s
John had to be #1 because we met each other and started dating through the blog. It’s sort of the perfect Philly Love Notes love story.