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Taking libraries beyond books

The New York Times examines how libraries are looking to the future, and innovating along the way. That includes The Free Library.

Libraries aren’t just for books, or even e-books, anymore. They are for checking out cake pans (North Haven, Conn.), snowshoes (Biddeford, Me.), telescopes and microscopes (Ann Arbor, Mich.), American Girl dolls (Lewiston, Me.), fishing rods (Grand Rapids, Minn.), Frisbees and Wiffle balls (Mesa, Ariz.) and mobile hot spot devices (New York and Chicago).

Here in Sacramento, where people can check out sewing machines, ukuleles, GoPro cameras and board games, the new service is called theLibrary of Things.

“The move toward electronic content has given us an opportunity to re-evaluate our physical spaces and enhance our role as a community hub,” said Larry Neal, the president of the Public Library Association, a division of the American Library Association, which represents 9,000 public libraries. “The web is swell,” he added, “but it can feel impersonal...”

Last year, the Free Library of Philadelphia pulled together city, state and private funds to open a teaching kitchen, which is meant to teach math and literacy through recipes and to address childhood obesity. It has a 36-seat classroom and a flat-screen TV for close-ups of chefs preparing healthy dishes.


Original source: The New York Times
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Philly's creative class produces Pope-tastic merch

With the Pope descending on Philadelphia, the city's shops and designers are creating some awesome threads and keepsakes. (Philadelphia Brewing Company is also getting into the act, producing "Holy Wooder" IPA.) 

When you attend a big concert or an event, grabbing a souvenir is a great way to remember the moment. And with the pope coming to our area there are plenty of unique items being created to mark the occasion.

You'll find a Philly-fied find inspired by Pope Francis' historic visit to Philadelphia on the shelves at Monkey's Uncle in Doylestown.

"The turning water into wine kind of jumped into my head and knowing that we love water ice - one thing led to another," said Dan Hershberg, President and Owner of Philly Phaithful.

The threads are the kitchy and creative work of homegrown Philly Phaithful.

The apparel company, based in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia, wanted to welcome Pope Francis to the "Philavatican" with a sort of South Philly-esque, modern day miracle. 


Original source: 6 ABC
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Philly schools make list of top spots for aspiring famous fashion designers

Business of Fashion has released Global Fashion School Rankings, and the New York Times parses the list.

...the BoF one, which has a pretty rigorous and transparen tmethodology, is worth reading — both because of what its sheer existence says about the importance of fashion education and how it may no longer be the sad stepchild of arts college programs, but also because of the schools that make the list.

Some of them may surprise you. They surprised me, and, it seems, even the editors at BoF who compiled the ranking. “Perhaps the most surprising outcome of our Global Fashion School Rankings was the outstanding feedback from students and alumni from schools off the beaten path, suggesting that prospective students may want to carefully consider a wider range of colleges when making decisions about higher education in fashion,” wrote the editors Imran Amed and Robin Mellery-Pratt in an accompanying op-ed.

So what were these unexpected institutions?

In the undergraduate list, Central St. Martins (C.S.M.) was top, as you might expect, but Kingston University, near London, was No. 3, and Drexel University in Philadelphia was No. 10. Philadelphia University was No. 16, and the University for the Creative Arts, in Epsom, England, was No. 17. Pratt, by contrast, was 21.

Original source: The New York Times
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New high school program teaches modern manufacturing skills

A new program at Benjamin Franklin High School looks to prepare students for careers in advanced manufacturing.

Manufacturing isn’t dead. It’s just gone high-tech and a new center opening next month at Ben Franklin High School aims to teach modern manufacturing skills to students.

Workers are finishing construction on the Center for Advanced Manufacturing, on the lower level of Ben Franklin High. Classrooms for four disciplines: computer aided design, welding, precision machining and mechatronics to open this fall. Four more open next year.

David Kipphut, who heads the district’s Office of Career and Technical Education, uses Tastykake as an example of the assembly line technology being taught.

“They only have bakers in their research and quality assurance labs. Everyone working out on the field is not a baker. They’re all technicians.”

400 students will begin this fall. Students in the Ben Franklin catchment get first dibs, the other slots doled out by lottery.



Original source: CBS Philly
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Artists aim to create a physical manifestation of human suffering for the Pope

Even artists are getting into the act of prepping for the Pope with this arresting installation.

Artists are finishing construction of an unusual exhibit they hope resonates with Pope Francis during his trip to Philadelphia and with anyone experiencing trouble in their daily life.

When it opens Sept. 3, the grotto outside the city's Roman Catholic cathedral will house more than 30,000 knots, each representing a personal hardship or societal challenge.

"It's deeply moving to see the universal quality of these struggles," said lead artist Meg Saligman.

Organizers are crossing their fingers that Francis, who celebrates Mass at the basilica on Sept. 26, will visit the installation because it's inspired by one of his favorite paintings, "Mary, Undoer of Knots." The artwork shows Mary untangling a long ribbon — a symbol for smoothing life's difficulties...

Knots for the project here have been gathered worldwide. At a recent public event outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, passers-by wrote their burdens on strips of cloth and then tied the fabric in a knot. Challenges ranged from addictions to student loans to health problems.

Participants were then invited to undo someone else's knot — to symbolically share that person's hardship — and weave it through a loom for all to see.



Original source: Associated Press via The New York Times
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ESPN ranks cities by sports uniforms; Philly represents

ESPN took a scientific look at which cities have the coolest sports threads -- Philadelphia came in at number four.

Philly fans may be notorious for booing, but they certainly have nothing to complain about when it comes to their teams' uniforms (including the 76ers' new set, which hasn't yet appeared on the court but looks very promising). From team to team, from top to bottom, not a stinker in the bunch. And the city's score will go even higher if the Eagles ever make the much-anticipated return to kelly green.

Original source: ESPN
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Never heard of 'Philadelphia-style' ice cream? Make some before summer ends

Apparently there is an easier way to make ice cream, and it's called "Philadelphia style" -- it's made with just milk, cream and flavorings; no eggs. The New York Times investigates.

It is fluffy and light, letting flavors like vanilla, lemon or just fresh cream come through more clearly. “The beauty of Philly-style ice cream is that it pairs well with so many desserts,” said Eric Berley, who runs the Franklin Fountain, a retro-style ice cream parlor in Philadelphia, with his brother, Ryan.

Mr. Berley said that because this style contains more air and water, it is actually colder and lighter than other ice creams — the better to set off the flavors and textures of warm pies, rich cakes and sweet fruit. It is less filling and dense, so it can be paired with another dessert without making the whole thing too heavy...

Why Philadelphia-style? When ice cream first became popular in the United States in the 19th century, all-dairy ice cream was the norm.

Custard-based ice creams were referred to as “French style” — as in French vanilla — and they became synonymous with elegance and luxury. Superrich ice creams made with cream (no milk), or with cream and eggs, acquired names like “Waldorf” and “Delmonico.”

But the earlier formula of milk and cream lived on in Philadelphia: in cartons of Breyers, founded there in 1866; in the cones at Bassetts in Reading Terminal Market, the oldest family run ice cream business in the country; and at the marble counters of the Franklin Fountain.

“Philadelphians have great respect for history,” Eric Berley said. “We wouldn’t change something as important as ice cream very lightly.”


Original source: The New York Times
Read the complete story (and check out the video) here.

The (cardboard) Pope is already popping up all over Philadelphia

Cardboard cutouts of the pontiff are already taking over Philadelphia.

Kathy McDade posed with the faux Francis near Independence Hall so she could brag to her family about spotting the famous figure.

"I thought let me take a picture and post it on my Facebook page, and show them all that I met the pope in person," McDade said, laughing.

Pope Francis plans to visit Philadelphia Sept. 26-27 for the World Meeting of Families, a Catholic conference designed to bring families closer together.

Nancy Caramanico, digital content manager for the World Meeting of Families, said bringing the cutout to various sites on "Philly Francis Fridays" has proved popular with both Catholics and non-Catholics.

"Pope Francis is described as the people's pope. So we have him in places where many people can see him," Caramanico said. "People are just really excited to be around him and are anticipating his visit to Philadelphia."

The staff encourages people to post their pictures on social media using the hashtags #PopeinPhilly or #WMF2015.


Original source: Associated Press via The New York Times
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Huge Italian Market development project proposed for 9th and Washington

Hearts leapt with delight at this proposal for a long vacant parcel at 9th and Washington -- it has character, retail, residential and PARKING.

At last night’s Passyunk Square Civic Association zoning meeting, conceptual plans were presented for a 5-story mixed-use building that would have 18,000 sq. ft. of commercial space, 70 apartments, 8 single-family trinities and approximately 150 parking spaces in an underground lot.

Midwood Investment and Development, the group that is responsible for the recently-completed Cheesecake Factory location on Walnut Street, is behind this development. Though don’t worry, they called this project the “anti-cheesecake project.”

In order to blend with the existing retail on 9th Street, there would be awnings on the street-level to mimic the historic style of the Italian Market. Having those awnings would mean that the retail locations that would be tenants of this building would be able to bring some of their merchandise out onto the street, just like the other vendors in the Italian Market. During the presentation, they expressed that they’d like to keep the street level “alive” and “interactive.” A total of 18,000 sq. ft. of retail space along 9th Street and Washington Avenue is currently in the plans.


Original source: Passyunk Post
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Philadelphia Union advance to the U.S Open Cup

Our local footballers are heading to (and hosting) the finals of the U.S. Open Cup, the oldest ongoing national soccer competition in the country.

Ever since losing an extra-time heartbreaker to the Seattle Sounders in the 2014 US Open Cup title game at PPL Park, the Philadelphia Union made a pledge to get back to that same point this year.

They even came up with the motto of “Unfinished business” to guide them on their quest.

And while it may have taken some wild and unlikely wins, they accomplished that goal, beating the Chicago Fire in one Open Cup semifinal Wednesday before watching Sporting Kansas City take down Real Salt Lake in the other – a pair of results that ensured the Union will host their second straight Open Cup final.

And this time, they want to win it.

“We talked about it after the Seattle game last year that we had to get back to the final because there was unfinished business,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said. “But as cliché as it sounds, it’s amazing to get back. Every guy in there can look each other in the eye and be happy and know what it means to not just talk about but to actually do it. I couldn’t be prouder of our players.”


Original source: MLSsoccer.com
Read the complete story here.

Philly Mag weighs in on the future of Washington Avenue

Last year, Flying Kite checked in on the huge changes coming to Washington Avenue, an industrial corridor in transition. Now a couple of big announcements later, Philly Mag takes a look at this key thoroughfare. 

Washington Avenue forms the spine of some of the hottest neighborhoods in Philadelphia: Point Breeze, Graduate Hospital, East Passyunk and Bella Vista. It’s also stood as the southernmost edge of greater Center City; a gritty and unforgiving moat of asphalt four lanes wide that makes it oh-so-clear you’re not in Society Hill any more.

Those facts of geography probably make Washington Avenue’s transformation inevitable. In fact, it’s already begun. Center City’s relentless growth has led legions of new Philadelphians to cross the Avenue, and they’re demanding it become, well, a more normal street. They want a Washington Avenue that is less quirky and less chaotic: fewer pastrami factories, more purveyors of artisanal charcuterie.

Developers are rushing to meet that demand. Several mega-projects are in the works on Washington Avenue, including a 32-story Bart Blatstein development at Broad Street that will feature a grocery store, shops, restaurants, 700 parking spaces and 1,600 apartments. Seeking to build on that momentum, city planners want to rezone the western half of the Avenue, much of which is now zoned for exclusively industrial uses.


Original source: Philadelphia Magazine
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Philadelphia named one of American's best food cities

The Washington Post names Philadelphia one of the best cities in American, and takes a deep dive into what makes us unique. 

In modern Philadelphia, small is big. Unlike in other major markets, rents here are moderate, making it easy for chefs to open personal expressions. With $100,000 and a decent piece of real estate, says chef Rich Landau of the innovative vegan restaurants Vedge and V Street, “you can snap your fingers and open in two months.” Craig LaBan, the authoritative restaurant critic of the Philadelphia Inquirer, says that a hallmark of the city he covers, rich with museums and historical sites, is its “accessible sophistication.”?

Original source: The Washington Post
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La Colombe acquires influential investor, continues to expand

The founder of Chobani yogurt looks to coffee, La Colombe.

Having shaken up the yogurt world, Hamdi Ulukaya, the founder of Chobani, now has his sights on a much tougher target — coffee.

Mr. Ulukaya has taken a stake in La Colombe Coffee Roasters, one of the many coffee brands that have sprung up over the last 10 years to cater to the tastes of coffee drinkers who consider themselves connoisseurs...

“We’re in what I call the third generation of coffee,” said Todd Carmichael, the co-founder and chief executive of La Colombe Coffee Roasters. “For your grandfather, coffee was basically a commodity, roasted dark, quick, hot, hard to differentiate. For you and me, it was discovery of lattes, milk-based coffee drinks. And for this generation, it’s about different beans and how a coffee grown in Ethiopia tastes different from one grown in Costa Rica.”

Mr. Carmichael once set a record for an American crossing Antarctica on foot without assistance. “The reason I did that is really just because I told people I would,” he said, explaining how he plans to grow La Colombe into a coffee empire with 150 stores, a thriving online store and robust sales into restaurants.


Original source: The New York Times
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Philly choreographer brings ballet into the modern era

Choreographer Matthew Neenan stuns with "Sunset, o639 Hours" -- the show is headed to a New York festival.

A few weeks back, the lobby of the Wilma Theater here took on the aspect of a cheap Hawaiian resort. Polynesian music twanged from speakers. Everyone who entered was offered a paper-flower lei. This was not a visit from a hula troupe. This was a gala performance of the Wilma’s resident contemporary ballet company, BalletX. And yet the atmosphere made complete sense, if only in combination with a more incongruous fact: The ballet on the program was about a signal incident in the history of airmail.

That work, “Sunset, o639 Hours,” debuted at the Wilma last year to rave reviews. BalletX reprised it here this July, brought it to the Vail International Dance Festival this month and will perform it in Manhattan on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of the Joyce Theater’s late-summer Ballet Festival...

Mr. Neenan, 41, has found some fame of his own — not cover-of-Time level but impressive for an American ballet choreographer, especially one who doesn’t live in New York City. In addition to making dances for BalletX, which he founded with Christine Cox in 2005, Mr. Neenan has been the resident choreographer of Pennsylvania Ballet since 2007. Ballet troupes around the country perform his works, and in the past two years — busy ones for Mr. Neenan — Alastair Macaulay has praised him in The New York Times as “one of the strange originals of American ballet” and “one of the most appealing and singular choreographic voices in ballet today.”


Original source: The New York Times
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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
Read the complete story here
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