Monday, March 31, 2014

Pennsport Cares Week: Help Support A Fellow Pennsporter Run Against Hunger

Welcome to the Pennsport Cares Week! Pennsport is an amazing community filled with a diverse group of neighbors who give back any chance they get. Pennsport Cares Week is a celebration of that charitable spirit that lives in this neighborhood by featuring a new chance for you to get involved for the greater good. We understand times are tough and if you can't contribute financially, please consider donating your time to these worthwhile causes. And who knows? You may have a little fun the process.

Remember to stay involved: please share these stories with your friend or neighbors.


ISSUE: Help support the Coalition Against Hunger's Walk + Run Against Hunger
"In the U.S., more than 1 in 5 children don't know where their next meal is coming from. In the five-county Philadelphia region, over half a million people struggle to buy groceries for their families"
Last year, nearly half of all children in Philadelphia received food from food pantry
Donations can be made directly here


Ryanne Jennings, my wife and fellow Pennsporter, is participating in the Walk + Run Against Hunger on April 12th at the Art Museum. Ryanne will be running in the morning 5k (3.1 miles) in support of local food pantries and hunger relief agencies. While running her first 5k is certainly a challenge, nothing compares to the challenges presented to those with limited food access.

The Whole Pennsporter Fam Damnly at the Walk + Run Against Hunger 2013

Ryanne is the Communications Coordinator at The Food Trust, a Philadelphia based nonprofit whose mission is to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information to make healthy decisions. "This run benefits dozens of agencies in the Philadelphia region  (including The Food Trust) that work to fight hunger and look to improve healthy food access," said Ryanne. "I have been training for the past few weeks and I'm excited for the challenge -- nervous, but excited. I've been running with our dog, Stella, who acts more like an anchor than running partner when she smells something interesting."

Listing Moyamensing Avenue and the Delaware River Trail as her favorite places to run in the neighborhood, Ryanne hopes her first 5k will bring some much needed awareness to food access issues. "I feel strongly about food access and it's an issue in which everyone can relate," said Ryanne. "We all know what it feels like to be a little hungry, but there are people in the region who simply don't know where their next meal is going to come from and this walk helps to bring awareness to the problem and the much needed funds to those trying to feed our neighbors."

Please consider making a contribution, big or small, to the Walk + Run Against Hunger. Donations can be made directly here

And, hey, come on out to the Art Museum on April 12th and show your support in person by walking against hunger. I know first-hand that it's a wonderful day out with the family and an inspiring way to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors.

The Mummer's Added Some Struttin' to the Walk + Run Against Hunger 2013

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The "Brand" of Pennsport, Then & Now

Have you ever thought about the rich history of Pennsport? It's one of Philly's first neighborhoods and has one of the countries strongest port traditions. Simply put, Pennsport is cool beans and don't forget it.

At Media, a branding and design firm out of Old City, has chosen to celebrate some of Philly's oldest 'hoods  by branding them based on their services or traditions. - which features Fishtown, Manayunk, and Old City -

As for Pennsport, then and now speaks to our neighborhood's long love affair with the shipbuilding along the Delaware River as well as the ever-present tradition of the Mummer's, the lifeblood of the community.

"Widely considered as the First Ward of Philadelphia," says Ian T. Berg in the blog post. "Pennsport hold a history like no other neighborhood in the city."

Pennsport Then: What better way to set the tone for Pennsport's history as a shipbuilding section of the country along the Delaware River than to literally brand its mark on the side of a ship. The wood grain and typeface speak worlds long ago and transports to the late 1700s. Pennsport was badass back in the day.

"Even more interesting, it was the site of the construction of the first U.S. Naval ship" via At Media

Pennsport Now: "Spirit of Mummers" highlights the neighborhood's propensity for having a grand old time strutting Two Street on New Year's Day. The design borrows the colorful pillar of the Mummer's Museum on Washington Avenue -- Pennsport's answer to the famous Chinese gateway at 10th and Arch.

"With it's first official parade in 1901, the celebration of the New Year in Philadelphia has always been highlighted with the colorful costumes, floats, and antics of the Mummers" via At Media

Which one do you like best? Did they nail the spirit of the neighborhood? How would you have branded Pennsport?

Drop a line in the comments, on Twitter, Facebook, or Email and tell us what you think.
In part 2 of the series we examine some of the oldest parts of Philadelphia's history. These neighborhoods have seen some radical change over the centuries, while others have held strong onto their roots to further solidify their place in the quilt that is this great city. - See more at:
In part 2 of the series we examine some of the oldest parts of Philadelphia's history. These neighborhoods have seen some radical change over the centuries, while others have held strong onto their roots to further solidify their place in the quilt that is this great city. - See more at:
In part 2 of the series we examine some of the oldest parts of Philadelphia's history. These neighborhoods have seen some radical change over the centuries, while others have held strong onto their roots to further solidify their place in the quilt that is this great city. - See more at:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Black Light Mini Golf Coming to South Philly in May

This post first appeared on our partner site, The Passyunk Post. Check it out here.

South Philly is getting its own indoor mini golf joint. Adventurer’s Mini Golf, located at 38 Jackson St. in Whitman, is looking to open in May as Philly’s only year-round indoor mini golf course. With South Bowl in progress, Swanson Street from Snyder all the way down to Oregon Avenue could very well become the Philly’s next entertainment hot spot.

It might not look like much but, fear not, mini golf is coming.

Tom Knabe, one of the guys behind Adventurer’s and also Fright Factory, is excited that they’re close to opening up shop.  “We are looking to open in May. We were originally going to build in the old Forman Mills but we ended up at 38 Jackson because it was a much better space for the layout we had in mind. Adventurer’s Mini Golf has about 8,000 sq. ft. to work and will be located above still-operational Fright Factory on Jackson Street. "We're very close, We begun laying out the course this week and will spend the upcoming weeks primarily painting and tweaking the course and finishing the party rooms."

Adventurer’s looks to feature classic and new-school arcade games, skee-ball, and two large event rooms for up to 100 people. As far as food goes, they’ll look to have drinks and popcorn on site and the newly opened Uncle Oogies will be cool neighbors and offer catering for the event spaces.

“The adventurers theme is very eclectic,” said Knabe. “The course is a mix of cartoony regions of the world — Desert, Arctic, and Jungle. The party rooms are themed to old Disney Adventurers club. A mix of authentic and replica outdoor gear from around the world.”

As those of you who have been to Target, Shop Rite or the now defunct Foreman Mill’s can attest, Swanson Street can be one of the more treacherous and confusing streets in Philly to navigate. Apparently, there have been meetings with PennDOT to revamp the street experience.


Well, the escalated quickly! Yous guys are very excited for some mini golf in the area. Traditionally, things like min golf are reserved for the far suburbs due to space and parking issues -- such is not the case here given its proximity to the parking under I-95.

What is equally as cool is the reaction to the possibility of the Swanson Street revamp. In my opinion, it's sorely needed and I hope that these new business owners have the pull to make this happen.

In the meantime, I call electric green! 


Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Hunger Games: Manton Street Park & Community Garden Has One Spot In The Garden

Manton Street Park & Community Garden, everyone's favorite pocket park and garden, will be holding a lottery for one of their open plots in the garden. There are some restrictions so please read the following information carefully.

Hello friends and neighbors:

Good news!

If you or a friend or neighbor do not already have a garden plot at Manton Street Community Garden...a garden plot has opened up and we are accepting applicants for a lottery for the available plot.

Please share this email with anyone who is interested in gardening and resides within our "Friends" region - between Front Street and the west end of 5th Street, between Washington Avenue and Reed Street.

We will hold a lottery on Wednesday, April 30 for the available plot.
1) Applicants for the lottery must reside within our Friends region (between Front Street and the west end of 5th Street, between Washington Avenue and Reed Street)
2) Applicants must send an email containing name of applicant, address and phone number, by April 28th to
3) The lottery will be held on April 30th at Manton Street Park (weather permitting) - participants must be present to win
4) Winners must submit the annual $45 garden payment and submit signed garden by-laws upon winning on April 30th

Questions? Email or message us.
For more information on the amazing work being done by Mark Berman and the MSP&CG Crew, hit this link.

Good luck to everyone that enters and happy gardening. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Tagged: Front Street Hit Hard by Recent Rash of Graffiti

The weather is warming up and there is a good chance you have or will take a stroll down Front Street -- heck, maybe you'll walk the length of Pennsport down its wide, tree-lined sidewalks along the mega-structure that is I-95. While doing so, depending on your route, you'll walk past the EOM baseball field, VSEC Animal Hospital, Mekong River, Rizzo Rink and a slew of traditional Philly row homes.  The things that collectively make Pennsport a tried and true neighborhood.

What you don't really expect to see is this:
Homes and businesses tagged on Front Street from Washington to Snyder
"Sad, isn't it? I'd like to catch those kids and hang them by their toes," said a neighbor walking by as I was taking the pictures for this post. "Sometimes, they're not even kids!"

In a recent email conversation with Conrad Benner of Streets Dept, a website dedicated to exploring Philly through urban exploration (#urbex), we talked about what constitutes "art" and if there are "rules" on the street art scene when it comes to personal property.

"Generally speaking, over the 3 years I have been running Streets Dept, I have found that the large majority of the people who's styles I like, and who I document regularly on the blog, choose to work on spaces that are abandoned, or left to deteriorate," said Benner, a lifelong resident of Philadelphia who is currently leading the charge to have SEPTA subway lines run 24/7.

 "And while I certainly can't speak for the "Street Art community" as a whole, I can tell you that images like the ones you have sent me always cause me to shake my head like, 'come on, guys!' I personally really hate to see people's personal property, their homes/businesses, get tagged up."

In regards to when street art moves in to the realm of graffiti and vandalism, Benner explained, "This is a complicated question for me to answer for many reasons, including people's perceived notions about what constitutes something as "street art," vs. graffiti, or tagging... art is a very wide term open to interpretation. So, it's hard for me to say that this is or isn't art, though it's clearly vandalism."

"Come on, guys."

When tags move from under 95 and vacant warehouse to homes and local business, I feel much like Benner mentioned above -- come on, guys. It moves from a type of self expression, or "art", and into a realm straight up disrespect and helps to negate the hard work of everything that makes a neighborhood special -- it's people and it's places.

And therein lies the problem with this recent rash of graffiti. I've searched the city for Toynbee tiles, admired the commentary of Banksy, and the intricacies of Joe Boruchow. Hell, I posted this photo on Instagram on the latest EKG Labs tag on a box near The Industry. And I dug it, until I saw they also tagged the vacant and yet-to-be-sold Ugly American and Freda Meats warehouse. It just doesn't sit right with me.

Look, this is a city and, to be honest, graffiti should be expected in a lot of places. I even admire it most of the time but this has certainly crossed a line. Tagging people's houses, local business, or institutions is straight up disrespectful and shifts the focus of the "art" to the fact that a neighbor's personal property has been vandalized. Plainly said, it sucks.
An opinion shared by commenters on a recent post from The Passyunk Post regarding the emergence of EKG Labs throughout South Philly:
"Matter of opinion. I enjoy street art mostly, if done in an appropriate setting (not a pristine neighborhood that has managed to keep graffiti and the like out, but somewhere that it is improving the aesthetic). Tagging people’s houses, though, which I’ve read in multiple places, is totally unacceptable and wrong."
If you see graffiti making its way on to the homes of your neighbors, do something about it. Contact 311 to request a power washing service by filling out a removal form. A route that has already been taken by neighbors and the Pennsporter Civic Association

"It has already been reported by us and neighbors, said Dr. Jim Moylan, President of the Pennsport Civic Association. "It will get done because it is one of the more effective city services, but it's a wait list like anything else. Neighbors can also call 311 and report the issues. The more reports the hope is it will bring more attention -- just too many locations for a limited crew."

Contrasting styles at Rizzo: a mural and a tag

These tags face the homes on Front Street

EKG Labs on Ugly American

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Brown Chicken Brown Cow Looks to Have Closed Up Shop

A version of this post appeared on The Passyunk Post. You can view it here


Brown Chicken Brown Cow, the ice cream shop on Two Street that opened in October 2012, looks to have closed up shop during this harsh winter.  The interior is cleared out and a rental sign now hangs prominently in the front window.

BCBC is closed. Photo taken last week when there was still snow on the ground. Thanks for shoveling!
The former home of Strange Brew Coffee, Brown Chicken Brown Cow offered hand dipped ice cream from Shady Brook Farms in Yardley as well as a variety of desserts, juices and coffees. Much like Strange Brew, it seems as though businesses just can't seem to stick at the location -- no matter how good it is for the neighborhood. You would think an ice cream shop featuring local products within steps of an extremely busy playground chock-full of parents and their kids would have made it longer than one summer. Then again, you have to put some effort in to making it a neighborhood mainstay, Pennsport isn't a "build-it-they-will-come" type of neighborhood -- not yet anyway.

Inside is cleared out

While it was certainly an odd location, a consistent flow of people in and out of the adjacent Cross Fit 2 St seemed to show that there was some new life for businesses along Two Street. A welcome site considering new homes are going up left and right.

BCBC shared a wall with CrossFit 2 Street

Though there has been no official "goodbye" so-to-speak, it looks all but certain they have closed. Their website is live but without any information, their Facebook page no longer exists and they haven't tweeted since last September. There is also that little thing of neighbors seeing a U-HAUL truck hauling BCBC's stuff away. Much like BCBC came in to the neighborhood with little fanfare, they seemingly have left even more quieter than they ran the shop when it was open.

As always, should we find out any more info on the whereabouts of BCBC and the future of the shop in Pennsport, we'll keep you posted.