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.
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?
I filled out this survey (see previous post). Curious to hear what you have to say.
National Geographic runs a series called I Heart My City, producing a collection of great city guides from residents themselves. I submitted my answers for Philadelphia, which don’t seem to have been chosen, but I figured I would share them here…
Philly (Philadelphia) is My City
When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is to the 33rd floor of the PSFS building.
I reached out to the Huffington Post for their Love Letters section. I figured, I have a collection of 175 love letters, why not re-post one there.
Instead, they asked my to write one. So I did. It got published today in their travel section today!
Today on the Race Street Pier (one of my favorite spots in the city)
Philly Love Notes is taking a much needed Spring Break — i.e., I just started a new job and need to learn how to handle both at once. I’ll start publishing love letters again in two weeks.
In the meantime, put your love for Philly down on paper/computer screen, and send it over to me at email@example.com or use the SUBMIT page.
Leaving you (temporarily) with a photo from my new office down at the Delaware River Waterfront. Spending every day along the river is only making me love Philly even more.
Josh Kruger, a Philly-based writer and editor, writes about HIV/AIDS, LGBT politics, media and ethics using his personal experience as a member of Philly’s LGBT community and as someone living with HIV. I’ve excerpted a love note he wrote to the Philadelphia HIV/AIDS organizations who saved his life last year. To see the rest of the love letter, and to read more of his work, please visit Josh’s website.
“So, last year, after decades of HIV/AIDS research, after decades of public health campaigns, and after thousands of HIV/AIDS related fundraisers, volunteer campaigns, and solemn memorials for those men and women we have lost to this virus, I was still stubbornly dying. At this point, it was the work of bureaucrats at the Philadelphia AIDS Activities Coordinating Office (AACO) that came into action because I made one single phone call to AACO upon the urging of an HIV case manager at Action AIDS. After this brief phone call with an incredibly knowledgeable, friendly, and commonsense woman at AACO who went above and beyond her duty in order to comply with my ridiculous lack of a voicemail box, I was fast tracked to an appointment at Philadephia FIGHT. And, at this point, I began to take ownership of my health and take the steps necessary to live long enough to be both a writer and, eventually, an LGBT senior citizen living with HIV.
Want to go on a Philly adventure? Venture into some of the less traveled neighborhoods? George Matysik’s got a list that will take you from 52nd Street to Feltonville.
Bell’s Market is a Russian supermarket in the Northeast filled with cheap produce, an extensive selection of smoked and dried fish, deli salads, cheap canned goods, an entire aisle of tea, and candies and chocolates you’ve probably never heard of. If you don’t speak Russian, you may be the only one in the shop that doesn’t.
8354 Bustleton Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19152
Below are more of the many love letters written by Meenoo Rami’s students at the Science Leadership Academy. To read more and to see what Philadelphia students have to say about their city, check out their website.
Favorite spot: Mt Airy Playground
Neighborhood: Mt. Airy
Address: Sprague Street
I am: A student at Science Leadership Academy and an Editor for MightyPost. I love watching and playing sports in general, but I also enjoy videogames, bike riding and watching Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Current Home: Mt Airy
Photo by R. Kennedy for GPTMC
Well that was fun…
Yesterday I put together a #whyilovephilly twitter campaign, enlisting the help of over fifty news organizations, non-profits and individuals. We asked people why they loved Philly, and added in a few of our own reasons. We retweeted the ones we liked, and had conversations across the Philly-twitterverse. We did it all using #whyilvephilly.
You know what happened? There were thousands of tweets from Philadelphians and former residents. It remained almost entirely positive. We had so much to say about this city that we made it trend all day in Philadelphia and nationally for a part of the day. People talked about the sports teams, the history, cheesesteaks (of course), the independent music scene, museums, crab fries, and more. There was a lot said about crab fries.
The takeaway: people love this city for a variety of reasons, but mostly because it is home.