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On the Ground: Parkside Journal welcomes Flying Kite to the neighborhood

The local paper invited Flying Kite publisher Michelle Freeman to pen an intro to the program.

In 2011, Flying Kite Media deepened its coverage around neighborhood news and began to explore the possibility of transforming vacant spaces into pop-up community media hubs.

With very limited funds and a desire to connect directly with people across the city helping to move their communities forward, the On the Ground program was born.

The On the Ground program aims to dive deep into changing neighborhoods, uncovering the people, places, and businesses that contribute to its vitality. The Flying Kite team embeds itself in a neighborhood for a period of 90 days, bringing a currently vacant space alive by creating a temporary media hub that hosts meetings, events, art exhibitions, and open office hours...

Flying Kite’s team is thrilled to report that their On the Ground program is up and running once again, as of this summer, and has landed in Parkside. Made possible by support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Flying Kite will take its On the Ground program to four of the five neighborhoods that the Fairmount Park Conservancy is initiating their Re-Imagining Civic Commons initiative, which will activate some major public space projects over the course of several years.

Original source: Parkside Journal
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Talking mental health on campus with a focus on Penn

The New York Times shines a light on a mental health crisis on college campuses. The story focuses on University of Pennsylvania, where student Kathryn DeWitt describes her struggle. She has since become involved with Active Minds -- a Flying Kite partner through our work with the Thomas Scattergood Foundation -- to create change.

Classmates seemed to have it all together. Every morning, the administration sent out an email blast highlighting faculty and student accomplishments. Some women attended class wearing full makeup. Ms. DeWitt had acne. They talked about their fantastic internships. She was still focused on the week’s homework. Friends’ lives, as told through selfies, showed them having more fun, making more friends and going to better parties. Even the meals they posted to Instagram looked more delicious.

Other efforts at Penn include the formation of a peer counseling program, to start in the fall, and the posting of “ugly selfies” to Instagram and Facebook, a perfectionism-backlash movement that took place for a few weeks earlier this year. Nationally, researchers from 10 universities have joined forces to study resiliency, and the Jed and Clinton Health Matters Campus Program has enlisted 90 schools to help develop mental health and wellness programs. Active Minds, which was founded at Penn in 2001, now has more than 400 chapters, including ones at community colleges and high schools. Ms. DeWitt is the Penn chapter’s webmaster.

Original source: The New York Times
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Universities and drug companies partner to tackle big diseases

New partnerships between universities and drug companies show promises for complex diseases. 

British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline is teaming up with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to start a research institute and a company aimed at curing H.I.V. infection and AIDS... The company and the university will each own half of the new company, Qura Therapeutics, which will have the rights to commercialize any discoveries... 

The arrangement is part of a trend in which pharmaceutical companies are working directly with university researchers. Novartis and the University of Pennsylvania, for instance, are building a research center on the Philadelphia campus to work on ways to genetically alter a patient’s immune cells to battle cancer.

But while the University of Pennsylvania partnership is already producing striking remissions in some cancer patients, the attempt to cure H.I.V. is expected to take far longer and may fall short. The $20 million being contributed is a small sum for a company like Glaxo, which spent close to $5 billion on research and development last year.

Original source: The New York Times
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PA jazz treasure Steve Coleman plans Philly shows

The New York Times takes a long look at Steve Coleman, one of the region's jazz legends, as he plans upcoming concerts in Philly.

More than any other living jazz musician, the alto saxophonist and composer Steve Coleman seeks inspiration in unlikely places. So it wasn’t all that odd to find him here on a recent Saturday, scouting locations at Bartram’s Garden, the nation’s oldest botanical garden, near the southernmost bend of the Schuylkill.

Mr. Coleman, one of the most rigorously conceptual thinkers in improvised music, was considering potential sites for a pair of major outdoor performances, on June 21, the summer solstice, and Sept. 23, the fall equinox. Those celestial dates, like the arboreal setting, represent an alignment of his interests. Some of them, anyway.

Over the last 30 years, since his debut album, Mr. Coleman, 58, has been an indefatigable outlier in jazz, engaged in esoteric but vital work on the margins. He has also been a mentor and touchstone to many in the music’s current vanguard, like the trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and the pianist Vijay Iyer, who once declared in JazzTimes magazine that Mr. Coleman was, for him, as important a figure as John Coltrane, someone who “has contributed an equal amount to the history of the music.”

Original source: The New York Times
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Wharton student -- and founder of four companies by age 21 -- reflects

The New York Times spoke with Daniel Fine, a serial entrepreneur and Wharton student who's staying in school.

Daniel Fine is the founder and chief executive of Glass-U, a two-year-old, 10-employee maker of foldable sunglasses bearing the licensed brands of universities, music festivals like Lollapalooza, and the World Cup soccer tournament last summer. He arranges for the manufacture of the glasses in China and their distribution around the country. He’s also a senior in college.

Mr. Fine financed Glass-U, which operates out of off-campus housing, in part with proceeds from a tutoring company, NexTutors, that he started right after high school. He has also founded Fine Prints, a custom apparel company he started during high school, and Dosed, a health care technology company that is working on a smartphone app to help diabetics...

Q. You considered applying for a Thiel Fellowship, a $100,000 grant to forgo college and pursue your dream?
A. I made it through the second round, but I didn’t complete my application. At Penn, I’ve absolutely learned in the classroom, but it’s been a much greater benefit being here and growing as a person and learning who I am, what I’m becoming and what I’m hoping to be.

Original source: The New York Times
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Philly physicist is this year's youngest MacArthur 'genius'

Danielle S. Bassett, a 32-year-old physicist at the University of Pennsylvania, is the youngest recipient of a 2014 MacArthur Genius Grant. Pennsylvania had a strong showing overall: other winners include Steve Coleman, 57, a composer and alto saxophonist in Allentown, and Terrance Hayes, 42, a poet and professor at University of Pittsburgh who won a National Book Award for his collection Lighthead.

The fellowships, based on achievement and potential, come with a stipend of $625,000 over five years and are among the most prestigious prizes for artists, scholars and professionals...

The oldest fellow this year is Pamela O. Long, 71, a historian of science and technology in Washington, whose work explores connections between the arts and science. The youngest is Danielle S. Bassett, 32, a physicist at the University of Pennsylvania, who analyzes neuron interactions in the brain as people perform various tasks. She seeks to determine how different parts of the brain communicate and how that communication changes with learning or in the aftermath of a brain injury or disease.

When she received the call informing her of the no-strings-attached windfall, Ms. Bassett recalled being stunned into silence.

“Halfway through, I said, ‘Are you absolutely sure you got the right person?’ ” Ms. Bassett said in a telephone interview. “Then they read my bio to me. It’s an unexpected honor and sort of validation.”

Original source: The New York Times
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Training dogs to detect cancer with their noses

The Penn Vet Working Dog Center trains canines to detect cancer using their remarkable sense of smell.

McBaine, a bouncy black and white springer spaniel, perks up and begins his hunt at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center. His nose skims 12 tiny arms that protrude from the edges of a table-size wheel, each holding samples of blood plasma, only one of which is spiked with a drop of cancerous tissue.

The dog makes one focused revolution around the wheel before halting, steely-eyed and confident, in front of sample No. 11. A trainer tosses him his reward, a tennis ball, which he giddily chases around the room, sliding across the floor and bumping into walls like a clumsy puppy.

McBaine is one of four highly trained cancer detection dogs at the center, which trains purebreds to put their superior sense of smell to work in search of the early signs of ovarian cancer. Now, Penn Vet, part of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, is teaming with chemists and physicists to isolate cancer chemicals that only dogs can smell. They hope this will lead to the manufacture of nanotechnology sensors that are capable of detecting bits of cancerous tissue 1/100,000th the thickness of a sheet of paper.

Original source: The New York Times
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University of Pennsylvania wins contract to treat memory deficits

The University of Pennsylvania was one of two institutions to win a Department of Defense contract to develop brain implants for memory deficits.

Their aim is to develop new treatments for traumatic brain injury, the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Its most devastating symptom is the blunting of memory and reasoning. Scientists have found in preliminary studies that they can sharpen some kinds of memory by directly recording, and stimulating, circuits deep in the brain...

“A decade ago, only a handful of centers had the expertise to perform such real-time experiments in the context of first-rate surgery,” said Michael Kahana, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania and the recipient of one of the new contracts granted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa. “Today, there are dozens of them, and more on the way; this area is suddenly hot.”

Original source: The New York Times
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Funeral for a Home earns national press

Funeral for a Home, a project Flying Kite has covered extensively in the past, earned some national praise for its mission to memorialize a demolished home in Mantua. The Atlantic's CityLab attended and snapped some pictures.

The voices of the Mt. Olive Baptist Church choir echoed off the buildings on Saturday along the 3700 block of West Philadelphia’s Melon Street.

Their usual pulpit sits around the corner at 37th and Wallace. But this past weekend, they sang at the funeral of an unusual neighbor: a small, dilapidated rowhouse at 3711 Melon, torn down that night.

As the choir sang the gospel hymn, the words seemed fitting – “Precious memories, how they linger.” Soon, memories would be all that’s left of the two-story home, a narrow rowhouse that long ago lost its partners.

Original source: The Atlantic's CityLab
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Can 30th Street become a hub for a 'livable' neighborhood?

Can the area around 30th Street Station be transformed into a mixed-used community? Next City investigates.

The first hurdle that the planners will have to overcome is the area’s zoning. Most of the parcels immediately adjacent to the station are zoned for industrial use only, essentially limiting their use to Drexel or Penn, since the area is too expensive for real industrial uses and the zoning also allows institutional uses. While the universities are no doubt the area’s anchors and will remain the most important employers, a truly urban neighborhood is hard to fashion out of an “eds and meds” monoculture.

Farther from the station, extending down Market Street to 34th Street and the streets farther south, the blocks are zoned for institutional use, again excluding office and residential uses not affiliated with a university or hospital.

Only in select locations — for example, on the block south of the old post office, where Brandywine is building the apartment building — are general residential and office uses allowed. This building is proof that there is a residential market in this location (and why wouldn’t there be, with the easy access downtown and to suburbs for reverse-commutes by regional rail or the highways?), and the first order of business must be changing the zoning so that developers can build housing and office space. This approach would complement the universities rather than allowing the neighborhood to be totally subsumed by them.

Original source: Next City
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Hidden City tackles the 'complicated' CHOP expansion

Hidden City takes an in-depth look at CHOP's expansion to the eastern banks of the Schuylkill.

Doug Carney, CHOP’s senior vice president of facilities, said his hopes were that CHOP would continue to “be attractive to the world-class researchers we compete for.”
Carney’s invocation of “world-class,” however, left an opening for those in the audience unhappy with CHOP’s plan for a 23-story, half-a-million-square-foot tower right next to the low-rise neighborhoods of Graduate Hospital and the Devil’s Pocket, which would bring 1,000 CHOP researchers to the site each day. (Note that this is not going to be a place for patient care, as with CHOP’s complex across the river, but an office building for research.) “Is it world-class,” a follow-up questioner asked the CHOP team, “to drive 76 then take a ramp into a parking garage?”

It doesn’t seem that CHOP’s institutional ambitions and the city’s ideal planning needs will coalesce. But CHOP, which is currently undertaking a remarkable amount of expansion, has goodwill on its side -- it is, after all, devoted to the care of children -- as well as, frankly, considerable leverage to do what it wants. The Graduate Hospital Area project serves as a good insight into CHOP’s role in the city and illustrates the influence it wields.

Original source: Hidden City Philadelphia
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Inventing the Future: Researchers at Monell tackle the roots of obesity

Monell Chemical Senses Center, a nonprofit research organization in University City, is at the forefront of research into how eating habits during pregnancy and infancy impact obesity.

The Monell researchers have identified several sensitive periods for taste preference development. One is before three and a half months of age, which makes what the mother eats while pregnant and breast-feeding so important. “It’s our fundamental belief that during evolution, we as humans are exposed to flavors both in utero and via mother’s milk that are signals of things that will be in our diets as we grow up and learn about what flavors are acceptable based on those experiences,” said Gary Beauchamp, the director of the Monell Center. “Infants exposed to a variety of flavors in infancy are more willing to accept a variety of flavors, including flavors that are associated with various vegetables and so forth and that might lead to a more healthy eating style later on.”

Original source: The New York Times
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Mighty Writers moves into Hawthorne Hall on Lancaster Avenue

Curbed Philly reports on an exciting development: Mighty Writers is moving into Hawthorne Hall on Lancaster Avenue.

While Hawthorne Hall patiently awaits its anchor tenant, a surge of youthful creativity is bursting forth just a few doors down.

On the western edge of the building cluster is the former home of Truelight Missionary Baptist Church, where its once-abandoned pews have been replaced with collaborative workspaces, a small performance area, and the seasoned influential voice of Annette John-Hall, Director of Mighty Writers West Philadelphia campus at 3861 Lancaster Avenue.

Founded in 2009 by former Philadelphia Weekly editor Tim Whitaker, Mighty Writers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that offers SAT prep courses, homework help, mentorships, and writing workshops to Philadelphia students between the ages of 7-17. The volunteer-rich organization has been a tremendous benefactor of academic growth in the wake of massive budget cuts to Philadelphia schools in recent years.

Original source: Curbed Philly
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Penn doctors examine the black-white divide in breast cancer outcomes

For years, scientists and doctors have puzzled over the disparity in outcomes between white and black breast cancer sufferers. A team at the University of Pennsylvania recently published a report on the subject.

The findings were striking. Over all, white women with breast cancer lived three years longer than black women. Of the women studied, nearly 70 percent of white women lived at least five years after diagnosis, while 56 percent of black women were still alive five years later. The difference is not explained by more aggressive cancers among black women. Instead, the researchers found a troubling pattern in which black women were less likely to receive a diagnosis when their cancer was at an early stage and most curable. In addition, a significant number of black women also receive lower-quality cancer care after diagnosis, although those differences do not explain the survival gap.

Original source: The New York Times
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Jose Garces' Distrito named one of the best Mexican spots in U.S.

Travel & Leisure names Jose Garces' Distrito, the West Philly taco-and-margarita mecca, one of the best Mexican restaurants in the country.

Television celebrity chefs and quality Mexican food aren’t necessarily a match made en el cielo, but in the case of Food Network’s Chicago-born Ecuadorian Iron Chef Jose Garces’ Distrito, the connection pays off. The somewhat gaudy, pink, loud, huge restaurant is dedicated to the cuisine of Mexico City and serves nachos, ceviches,huaraches, tamales, enchiladas, and moles that Philadelphians recognize as not necessarily authentic, but some of the most satisfying versions on the East Coast regardless.

Original source: Travel & Leisure 
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75 West Philadelphia Articles | Page: | Show All
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