Philly Love Notes Gift Guide

Hello friends and Philly-lovers, Time for the first Philly Love Letters Gift Guide! With some help from you, I put together a completely non-comprehensive list of amazing things being done right here in the city (or right outside). This only scratches the surface of the cool stuff being made here. There are always tons of great markets and small businesses to support (like Amalgam Comics, Philadelphia Independents, Yowie, and Omoi Zakka). And of course, one of the best gifts of all -- donating money, time, Read more

Giving Back 2017

Oh this year. Time to buckle down and do what I can to give back. Like last year, I'll be donating all of the profits from the map sales to local nonprofits from Thanksgiving through Giving Tuesday. That means that your purchase of a map will help to support all of the following organizations: Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory, Marian Anderson Historical Society, SEAMAAC, Red Paw Relief and Students Run Philly Style (more about the nonprofits below). Last year we raised Read more

#whyilovephillyarts Launches

It's official, the first #whyilovephillyarts, featuring Sean Martorana, is now live! Check out the prints below and purchase one of the 30 limited edition prints online. This is the first collaboration that aims to build a body of Philly-specific art across a variety of mediums for people to purchase with 100% of the profits going to the artist (along with a full commissions and licensing Read more


Confronting my fears at Ignite 12

The other week, I did something that totally terrified me. And by terrified, I mean the last time I tried to do it I ended up crying in a bathroom stall and not coming out till it was over. What was it? Giving a public presentation. When the guys behind Ignite Philly asked me to speak at Ignite 12, I only accepted because I had one drink too many at an inspiring Ignite 11. I was roped in, and anyway, there’s no better way of getting over a fear than confronting it head on — in front of 300 semi-drunk Philadelphians. Luckily I was talking about a subject I’m passionate about.

I gave a lightning five-minute talk about Philly Love Notes and the lessons learned from doing it. And they are as follows…

1. Do something that terrifies you (Ignite)
2. Be surprised (Beryl Belcher and Alison Dell)
3. Be open to new experiences (David Goodman and Holly Otterbein)
4. Appreciate your surroundings (Leah Kaufmann and Nathaniel Popkin)
5. Listen (Susanne Johnson and Emma Sicalowski)
6. Enjoy other people’s excitement (Matthew Sherman and Ralph Onesti)
7. Find your community (Timothy McKenna and Rudy Flesher)
8. Find someone who makes you laugh (Andrew-Lansie and Leigh-Aaron)
9. Find quiet (Zach Subar and Phil Jablon)
10. Learn someone’s history (Colleen Davis and Tom Petersen)
11. Document your own loves (Gate Lane and the Race Street Pier)
12. Take your friends out (Nick Goldberg and Dan Ueda)
12. Go out of your way (Jill Sybesma and Joel Mathis)
13. Eat liberally (Philly Phoodie and Polly Math)
14. Drink even more liberally (Tara Nurin, Nikki Volpicelli, Molly Eichel, Swabreen Bakr, Isabelle Heyward)
15. Fall in love (Shannon McDonald and Michelle Feldman)
16. Find your own spot (and if you do, submit a love note)

If you’re interested, the audio of my talk and all the others can be found on the Newsworks website.

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How do we get the waterfront Philly deserves?

Even before becoming the communications manager for the Delaware River Waterfront Corp (DRWC) I had a mild fixation with waterfronts and ships. I wrote my thesis on the Philadelphia port’s fumigation policies so that I could get close to the big cranes and watch the boats being unloaded. Since starting my job, I’ve become hyperaware of how cities use their waterfront. I spent this past weekend in New York City. On Sunday, we strolled through Brooklyn Bridge Park, the promenade, ate at Smorgasberg, and then took the East River Ferry from the park to 34th Street in Manhattan. I was blown away by the park: it’s amenities and uses, the number of people visiting, and the small touches that made it seem so special.


Last week, DRWC unveiled the preliminary design plans for a new Penn’s Landing Park. The timeline is long, and the money needed is enormous, but god do I hope that we can pull it off. Brooklyn Bridge Park was perfectly New York, and I would like to imagine that the future Penn’s Landing will be perfectly Philadelphia. How great would it be to walk down Market Street and finally see a waterfront worthy of our history and great city. A girl can dream (and be part of the organization that would build it), right?

Brooklyn-Bridge-Park-12 Read more

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FDR Park Boathouse

FDR park is an underused gem in the city. I mean, look at how beautiful this is. Who would know that it existed right across the street from the stadiums?
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A Night of PEP Bowl in South Philly

PEP Bowl
If you happen to be in S. Philly looking for something to do, head over to PEP bowl — a six-lane, non-profit, BYOB-F (booze and food) bowling alley. Totally old school. Totally amazing.

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A round-up of Philly’s great style bloggers

Philly has no shortage of great city-centric blogs. Some of my favorites are the style blogs, which maybe, just maybe, are helping me hone my fashion sense a bit. I wanted to give a highlight of those that have made it into my Google Reader and which I now read religiously.

1. Streets and Stripes: A fashion and lifestyle blog authored by freelance photographer and editor Chaucee Stillman that’s geared towards young, creative, and culturally aware readers. Lots of photos of Chaucee’s great personal style, other beautiful Philadelphians, and photo shoots in some of the city’s lovely boutiques.

Read more

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Carmen’s Country Kitchen

I tried out Carmen’s Country Kitchen for the first time on Friday morning.  These days I have the luxury of being able to sit for an hour at breakfast before “work” (read: internship) starts.  The person I was supposed to meet never showed, which turned out to be a small blessing in disguise.  

I spent the next hour chatting with Carmen herself. She is an amazing woman, full of great stories, neighborhood gossip and advice. There is no need to go into the food here on this blog — enough has been written about it on Yelp. The reviewers are right. It is indeed delicious and massive. 

Unfortunately, Carmen’s will be closing in December.  A neighborhood staple will be replaced by a pizza shop, and Carmen will be moving down to the Carolinas to be closer to her grandchildren.  Her hours are pretty crazy before the move date, but if you get a chance, go before it’s too late

(note that this is only half of the order)
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Shorts — Life as a Blogger

I’ve been plugging away at this blog for five months now.  In that span of time I’ve accrued almost 140 love notes, which have brought me to at least 100 random places around the city, and have allowed me to meet with upwards of 75 people (so far). It has been with me through breakups, new relationships, new housemates, quitting my job, finishing my masters, and somewhere along the way finding a deep love for my city.  

Most of the time, it’s completely exhausting. Like now, at midnight on a Monday night, when I’m still trying to put posts together for this week. It’s also been a whirlwind of learning.  It is not an underestimation to call me a technophobe, but here I am with a blog. I know what SEO means. I have twitter followers and can retweet things. I can embed maps. In the coming weeks I’ll even be redesigning the site and getting facebook (thank you tech friends). 

In those five months I’ve gone from spending my days alone, hunched over a microscope with mild social anxieties (a true scientist) to networking, and organizing parties, and setting up collaborations, and teaching classes to kids. 

I’m surprised by how this blog has changed me. I’m excited to continue meeting contributors, discovering new places, and learning more. While still in its infancy, I hope that this blog is helping people reconnect with their city just as it has done for me.  

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Ignite Philly 10

If you want to be inspired by a young generation of Philadelphians, and then hang out and get drunk with them, go to Ignite Philly. It’s a series of short five minute presentations from a wide range of impassioned people, who basically show you how much cooler they are than you. Technically Philly did a great write up on the event, but I’m adding a bit…

Data Garden — The marriage of music, tech and plants. They are having an event on October 14th that looks like the coolest thing happening all fall. As they explain it, “participants will have the opportunity to wander Bartram’s Garden and connect with their natural environment through live music, performance and sculpture that blurs the distinction between biological and digital worlds.” I plan on dragging anyone I can get my hands on out to the gardens.

Philadelphia Opera Company — Watching their Macy’s Hallelueigh Chorus flash mob gives me the chills. Not sure why, but I love that they do these Random Acts of Culture here in the city. Supposedly you can get the inside scoop on the next one if you follow them on twitter.

RAIR Philly (Recycled Artist-In-Residency) — Salvage, art, sustainability all at a construction and demolition recycling facility. Those of you who know me in my real life know that I love this kind of stuff. And, they’ve come up with the phrase of the year — the Biggie Shorty.

And of course, Albert Lee, who loves Philly even more than I do. Luckily he’s open to sharing her with all of us.
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Philadelphia Horticultural Society Pop Up Garden

PHS had a change in leadership a few years ago.  They’re pushing for more showpiece projects, including the (hopefully) annual pop up garden. Located right off of Rittenhouse Square, you can wander through a meadow of urban dwelling plants, enjoy overflowing beds of fruits, veggies and other assorted plants, and sit at Alice in Wonderland’s table.  They’re doing a pretty good job changing my perception of horticultural societies. Now we just need to figure out how to throw a pot luck dinner party there.

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Being a scientist in Philly

The purpose of this blog is to highlight why we love our city, but I still want it to be somewhat personal. Before this month, I had time to post shorts about my life and goings on in the city, but I’ve been swamped recently.

So for some more personal info…

For the last six years, I’ve been working (posing) as a neuroscientist at UPENN. We’ve been studying how the visual system develops in fish, baby fish, really really tiny fish. I’m leaving in two weeks for a yet to be determined job or internship in the environmental field (fingers crossed for the Montgomery County Planning Commission and Next American City). I love science, but am ready to move on to something new. So I’m leaving with these pics to show what a lab and fish facility look like.

(My desk — surrounded by lots of chemicals)
(Microscopes. I spent years dissecting the eyes out of fish)


(Some of the 500,000 fish in the facility)
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