From the Chronicle • Germantown News Stories

February 25, 2010 • Germantown Chronicle Feb. 25.pdf

In This Issue


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The Rest of the stories (below)

  1. OARC Purchases Wakefield Homes, Plans to Finish Development

  2. Cliveden Begins Dialog on Telling Long-Buried Story

  3. ‘Monks of the Ridge’: The Wissahickon’s Mystical Past

  4. Pennsylvania Girl Choir at First Presbyterian

  5. March Events at Jewish Center

  6. Celebrate at New Redeem

  7. At Mt. Zion

  8. Apply Now for Free Trees from WMAN

  9. Bee-Themed Events in the Northwest

  10. Toad Detour Volunteers Sought

  11. City Launches ‘Coolest Block’ Competition

  12. Arts Garage Off to Great Start

  13. Mose Allison Concert

  14. Fundraiser for Peace Activist

  15. ‘One Book’ Workshop on Comics

  16. Mt. Airy Day Planning Meeting

OARC Purchases Wakefield Homes, Plans to Finish Development


By PATRICK COBBS

Staff Writer


In its effort to clean up blight across the Northwest the Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation (OARC) has set its sights on eight failed Germantown Settlement construction projects in lower Germantown. The projects include four newly constructed but never occupied town homes on East Penn Street, and four vacant lots and cellar holes on Wakefield Street.


“We purchased them at Sheriff’s Sale a few weeks ago,” said Erika Griffin, interim director for government and community affairs at OARC. “We’re very excited about the prospects of where we’re going with them.”


In addition to the Wakefield and East Penn Street properties the Sheriff’s Sale also included 25 and 27 East Clapier Street, two vacant lots that were part of the original Settlement development plan. But OARC decided not to buy the Clapier Street properties in the November sale, according to Griffin, though she did not rule out looking at them again in the future.


Those two lots have been the source of an ongoing legal battle between the City of Philadelphia and mortgage holder Local Initiatives Support Group about who should pay the roughly $28,000 in city liens on the properties that stemmed from building demolitions in the 1980’s, according to court records.


OARC paid $250,000 for the eight properties it chose, that money coming from a 2007 state grant for property acquisition and renovation, according the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). According to Griffin, OARC’s plan is to complete the nearly finished homes at 200 to 206 East Penn Street and sell them at the local market rate.


In a way it would complete the original vision for the projects. 


All ten of the properties, plus one other home on East Clapier and two on East Seymour Street were part of a market-rate home renovation and new construction plan funded by three mortgages that Greater Germantown Housing Development Corporation (GGHDC – a subsidiary of Settlement) took in June of 2000.


Two of the loans to GGHDC amounting to $1.5 million came through Local Initiatives, a grant and federally funded national non-profit lender, and the other amounting to $788,000 came through the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority. In April, 2009, Local Initiatives won a lawsuit against Settlement for more than $987,000, because, according to documents filed by Local Initiatives, Settlement stopped paying on those loans in 2003.


Only three homes were ever completed in the planned 13-home project. GGHDC took the project contractor Berrian Associates to court when the projects stalled in 2003. Berrian Associates was also the contractor for another stalled development of numerous newly-build but never occupied homes on the 7100 block of Devon Street in Mt. Airy.    


OARC still has at least $200,000 in state grant funds available, which it could use to bring the East Penn Street properties up to snuff, according to DCED.


Griffin said OARC hopes to have those homes available for sale by mid-summer. The organization has not yet made plans for the vacant lots on Wakefield, she said. 



Cliveden Begins Dialog on Telling Long-Buried Story


By PATRICK COBBS

Staff Writer


Some stories just have to be told, even if it takes more than two centuries to do it. And thanks to recent examinations of more than 200,000 documents from the estate of Benjamin Chew, some of which detail the family’s role in slavery and a brutal plantation economy, the national historical site of Cliveden of the National Trust, 6401 Germantown Avenue, is determined to revamp its story from what was, until now, white-centered and white-celebrating into something closer to a shared history.


“African Americans have never felt comfortable at Cliveden and if we can welcome them at all, we’re starting to do our job,” said Phillip Seitz, curator of history and fermentation at Cliveden, before a recent public conversation about these documents.


Seitz has spent the last several years cataloging the papers – literally a truckload or more in quantity – and he has been moved by the weight of what they contain.


“The stories of the enslaved people owned by the Chews are filled with tales of resistance,” he said. “Passive resistance, active resistance, violent resistance to authority.” 


About 25 people attended a community event Seitz facilitated about these findings at Cliveden in early February. It was not a lecture, but a conversation. It was what Seitz hoped would be the beginnings of an ongoing discussion, not so much about those enslaved people - men like Yarm who lived on the Chew plantation in Delaware and consistently resisted a slave overseer there, despite repeated whippings – but instead, about what place the stories of Yarm and the overseer, James Porter, have at Cliveden. And what place Cliveden has telling them.


Cliveden neighbors and other community members attended the event. Some were part of the community oversight committee that is helping Cliveden work out the best way to incorporate the huge new find.


A forgotten ‘goldmine’

According to Seitz, the Chew family donated the documents in 1982, but no one got around to going through them until just a few years ago. And it was likely from the looks of them, Seitz said, that no one had examined them for a long time before that.


“They turned out to be a goldmine of information about the enslaved people that were owned by the Chews, and we are still mining that information,” Seitz said.


As soon as he realized the significance of what was contained in the documents Seitz began calling prominent historians around the country to get help telling the story. But no one was interested.


“It was actually very lonely,” he said.


It wasn’t until 2002 that things started to shift. Heavy public pressure to commemorate colonial Africans and African Americans grew out of surprise archaeological finds at Independence Mall in Old City, which connected slave quarters to George Washington’s presidential residence that once stood at that site. Momentum from this ongoing project downtown, called the President’s House, inspired the recent transformation of the Deshler-Morris House, the “Germantown White House” at 5442 Germantown Avenue, which now features some of the slaves and servants who lived there with George Washington during parts of 1793 and 1794. And it also helped enliven community interest in the Cliveden find.


Starting a collaboration

“The end goal is to negotiate a reparations accord with America,” said Ari Merretazon of his work with the Cliveden project.


Merretazon is the Northwest Philadelphia representative of National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, which has been central in shaping the commemoration of the President’s House. Not only is Merretazon on the advisory committee for the Cliveden project but his organization and Cliveden have signed a memorandum of collaboration with regard to the newly-discovered documents that includes such things as working toward reparations.


Cliveden Executive Director David Young admitted that the notion of reparations makes some people uneasy.


“It’s the kind of thing folks jump on and reach for their wallets about,” he said.


Instead Young sees the tenor of the agreement as being mostly about education. And more broadly, about moving the culture as a whole in the right direction through community engagement and the balanced and truthful treatment of history that he feels the Chew documents demand.


But nothing about race and slavery is easy. Even less so for an organization that has never dealt with it before.


“We’re entering deep water,” Young said. “What we learned from the President’s House is that, while there are a lot of land mines, we want to be as open to them as possible.”


‘Failed’ history

Young envisions transforming the Cliveden focus to one that is about constructing “community memory” with all concerned, which “acknowledges what’s good and talks about what’s not.” It’s likely to be a dramatic departure from the “lily white” focus the organization has had up to now, he said, and one that may just help all of the Germantown historic sites better engage with the community they live in.


“I personally think that is where history failed Germantown,” Young said. 


Laura Beardsley, executive director of the Germantown Historical Society, worked for Independence National Historic Park when the President’s House project was getting underway. She supported it, and she knows how hard reconciling whites’ roles in the terror of slavery can be in a revered historical context.


“I think ownership of history is a very challenging question and they’re wading into the midst of all of that,” she said. “It can be painful. It is not an easy question but I think it is entirely necessary.” 


Beardsley is aware that, like most historic sites, the Germantown Historical Society has its own work to do in this area. And while there is something of a trend of re-interpreting traditional historic sites to include a more truthful representation of the histories that occurred in those places, she thought there were two remarkable differences about the Cliveden effort.


The newly discovered documents was one, but just as remarkable is the organization’s commitment to remaining transparent about how to use them, she said.


Who should tell the story?

And so the discussion Seitz lead on February 4 centered on the question: do whites have the right to tell African American history?


Most blacks in the room tended to say no. Most whites did not answer.


“It can’t just come from us,” said Merretazon. “The guilt is with them. We’ve got to break the silence. Break the code of silence.”


Merretazon wanted whites in the room to share what it felt like to read some of the narratives that Seitz provided to the group – a story of an African American man being whipped for saying he was as good as a white woman.


“I think that every white person poor or rich or anywhere in the middle has benefitted… there’s no doubt about that,” said David Nejako, the only white who spoke besides Seitz and Young. “The problem I face is where to go from here.”


Where Cliveden wants to go next is to plan at least a year of expanded programming using the new material, making special efforts to reach out to the community surrounding the site, especially African Americans, and asking for input on how to tell this story. To do that right, Seitz and Young seem to agree, means using the story of the Chews to own up to white people’s roles in the history of an unjust system – painful though it may be.


“For Cliveden itself we need to tell everything that went on here,” Seitz said.


And Young added, “Germantown is the most historical neighborhood in America. But it’s not a shared history. It’s going to take a lot of work to make it a shared history.”




‘Monks of the Ridge’: The Wissahickon’s Mystical Past


Left: the cave which may – or may not – have sheltered Johannes Kelpius.




Right: Nick Bucci at the monument commemorating the “Monks of the Ridge.”


By JOE BILDE and

GREG HALL

Editorial Staff  Interns


On a dreary, overcast afternoon, Nick Bucci ran his hand over an engraved slab of stone outside a small cave in the northwestern reaches of Fairmount Park.  The natural light pierced only about two feet into the darkness. The man-made cave was about 20 feet around, but it felt much deeper — and much darker.


“We’ve had people that have seen things [in the cave],” claimed Bucci, as he peered into the opening in a steep hillside near Hermit Lane and Henry Avenue.  “I’ve heard a few stories. Dogs get scared and back away or bark at it. Some teenagers were out here one night and saw glowing orbs in the air around them. And those weren’t fireflies. Another guy saw a figure in the cave. He told me about it and said, ‘It wasn’t one of the monks. This thing was much older.’ There’s a lot of history and supernatural power around here.”


According to legend, the cave was once occupied by Johannes Kelpius, the so-called “Hermit of the Ridge,” one of the most enigmatic figures of 17th century Philadelphia.  Near the cave is the Kelpius Community hermitage, a stark white cottage with an aging terra cotta chimney. Bucci is one of the devoted  members. In his view, “If Kelpius had been a Christian, he would have been canonized 100 years ago.”


Johannes Kelpius was the head of a group of pious monks who migrated from Germany, seeking a life of peace and meditation in America. The party settled in the Germantown area, and their presence can still be found in the woods near the Wissahickon.

Kelpius was born in 1673 in Halwegen, Germany, into a supposedly noble family. He studied at the Universities of Tubingen, Leipzig and Altdorf. Legend says that he also studied at Helmstadt, under Dr. John Fabricius, a philosopher and professor of divinity. He was heavily influenced by the teachings of Fabricius and Philip Jakob Spencer.


In 1693, he joined Johann Jacob Zimmerman’s Chapter of Perfection, a group of Protestant Rosicrucian monks who sought a religious colony in America and to devote themselves to a solitary life. The Chapter of Perfection read sacred scripture closely, but also reflected on astrology, numerology, the Hebrew Kabbalah and the writings of theologian Jakob Boehme. Zimmerman died before the group left for America, and Kelpius assumed leadership.


On Jan. 7, 1694, the Chapter of Perfection left Rotterdam for London, narrowly escaping shipwreck in the English Channel. In February, they boarded the Sarah Maria and set sail for America. French pirates attacked the ship on May 10, but the Sarah Maria out-maneuvered them, and continued its journey. The ship reached Philadelphia on June 23, 1694. The unusual group lingered in Germantown for a short time, but soon moved out of town.


The monks then began building an observatory west of Germantown, in what is now the Wissahickon area of Fairmount Park. There, they waited for the Woman of the Wilderness and Her Baby Son, who was destined to rule the world. They were about five miles from Philadelphia proper, and about a mile and a half from Germantown; far enough away to not be bothered, but close enough to be safe.  Being vegetarians, they established one of the best orchards in early America. The group became known as the Monks of the Wissahickon or the Monks of the Ridge.


The Chapter of Perfection considered the number 40 to be sacred: one and two were numbers of unity, and four represented harmony. Forty was seen as the number of perfection. They also saw 40 in Biblical history: there were 40 days and nights of rain during the flood when God purged the earth of sin, and Moses spent 40 days and nights on Mt. Sinai with God, just to name two examples. The community typically had 40 people and lived in a cabin measuring 40 by 40 feet, called the Larson cottage. The burial ground was also 40 by 40 feet.


Members of the Kelpius Community — a historical society that studies Kelpius and his followers — give tours of the area that the monks used to inhabit. Along with a Temple University archeology team, Bucci is currently excavating a small plot of land behind the hermitage. The site is thought to be the spot occupied by Kelpius’ original cottage before he moved to the cave.


As he gave a tour of the area, Bucci pointed to what’s known as  Kelpius’ Rock, also called Lover’s Leap. The rock has a few stories behind it; one story describes a Native American woman who loved a man, but he had lost a competition for her hand in marriage.  Rather than marry a man she didn’t love, the woman launched herself off the rock to her death in the Wissahickon, some 160 feet below.


Kelpius’ Rock has a number of strange markings on it, which Bucci says were quite possibly carved by Kelpius: “If you look at it, you think you can read it. But you can’t. You recognize letters here and there, but there’s no real order to it and some letters are inverted or written over others. It seems like another language, like gibberish.”


Also found on the rock are the letters “I.M,” which could be an homage to the self-referral of God, saying “I am that I am” in the book of Exodus.


Kelpius eventually left the cottage and, according to a 1958 edition of the Germantown Crier, spent most of his time in a cave to further his religious studies. Some experts believe Kelpius only used the cave as a place of religious mediation, while others believe he lived there.  He held daily services there, attempting to unite the local German religious sects.


According to Bucci, the cave that sits back behind the hermitage is one of about eight caves, most of the others having been destroyed, collapsed or hidden. This particular cave was restored in 1913. The mystery behind the cave is its authenticity, as nobody really knows if it is Kelpius’ cave.  The Rosicrucians believe it did belong to Kelpius, erecting a monument inscribed and dedicated to the monk in 1961.


Kelpius died in the winter of 1708, probably from tuberculosis. The orchards were wiped out by blight, his community of monks began to loosen and fall apart, and all but six went back to normal life in Germantown or Philadelphia. Villagers spotted the few remaining monks walking down carriage roads in hooded robes and sandals after Kelpius’ death.


In more recent times, there have been reports  - unconfirmed - of  robed apparitions appearing on Forbidden Drive.


Joe Bilde and Greg Hall are members of the Community Journalism class at La Salle University.



Democratic committee members from the 9th Ward unanimously endorsed Joe Hoeffel for governor at their meeting Tuesday night, February 9. The 9th Ward  includes Chestnut Hill and part of Mt. Airy. “Our voters expect us to pick the candidate with the best track record and accomplishments, rather than simply picking the perceived favorite,” 9th Ward Democratic leader John O’Connell said. “We’ve seen Joe fight for working people and progressive values as a United States congressman, county commissioner, and state representative. We know he’s the best choice for governor.” Even with heavy snow falling, most 9th Ward committeepeople turned out to hear from three of the five candidates for governor. Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty and State Senator Anthony (Hardy) Williams, Jr. also presented their platforms and made the case for their candidacies. The ward also unanimously endorsed Jonathan Saidel for Lieutenant Governor and State Senator Leanna Washington for a third term. (Above, left to right): John O’Connell, Joe Hoeffel, State Senator Anthony Williams, and Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty.



Pennsylvania Girl Choir at First Presbyterian


In a varied program of music from five centuries, including plainchant, classical, 20th- and 21st- century avant garde and spirituals, the Pennsylvania Girlchoir will appear in concert at the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown, 35 West Chelten Avenue, on Sunday, February 28.


Founded in the fall of  2004, the Pennsylvania Girlchoir is comprised of approximately 180 girls between the ages of 7 and 17 from five counties in southeastern Pennsylvania and two counties in New Jersey.  The choir has sung with the Philadelphia Orchestra in Carmina Burina, with the Opera Company of Philadelphia in La Boheme and with the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia in Elijah.  Last year, they were featured on the first-ever Comcast Holiday Spectacular on the Comcast Experience Video Wall, 17th and Arch streets.


The choir is under the direction of Mark A. Anderson who has served as Organist/Choirmaster at the Presbyterian Church in Chestnut Hill since 1996.  The Associate Music Director is Jodi Bohr, the teacher of first through third grade music at Germantown Academy in Fort Washington since 1993.


The program, the sixth of the church’s 2010 Concert Series, will begin at 3 p.m. in the sanctuary. Ample parking is available for the free concert; a free-will offering will be taken.

For information, visit www.fpgcgermantown.org.



March Events at Jewish Center


March events at Germantown Jewish Center, 400 West Ellet Street, include: 

People of the Book, Tuesday, March 2, 7:15 p.m. Germantown Jewish Centre’s book group meets monthly at Big Blue Marble Bookstore in Mt. Airy.  The group reads fiction and nonfiction books of Jewish interest written mostly, but not solely, by Jewish writers and chosen by the group. Volunteer group members lead the discussion.  This monthly event is free.  This month’s selection is The Muslim Next Door:  The Qu’ran, the Media, and That Veil Thing by Sumbul Ali-Karamali.  


Service of the Heart, Saturday, March 6, 10-11 a.m. Join us at Germantown Jewish Centre for this monthly gathering (first Shabbat of each month) – a wordless service of niggunim (traditional tunes without words) and silence.  Participants are welcome to attend just this service or then join one of our other Shabbat services.  


Women’s Clothing Swap, Sunday, March 7, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Donate as many clothes as you like, take home as many as you want!  $25 admission fee gets donated to Darfur Alert Coalition. Remaining clothing donated to Whosoever Gospel Mission.  


Shabbat Morning Greatest Hits Learner’s Service, Saturday, March 13, 9 a.m. Germantown Jewish Centre is now offering a monthly (second Shabbat of the month) Learner’s Shabbat Morning Service. 


For more information and to RSVP contact program@germantownjewishcentre.org or call 215-844-1507, ext. 19.



Celebrate at New Redeem

Pastor Rev. Dr. Linwood Riley and the congregation of New Redeem Apostolic Church, 5001 Germantown Avenue, invite you to come out and celebrate with us in thanks for 38 years in this house of worship. Services will be held Thursday, February 25 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, February 26 at 7:30 p.m.; with a closing service Sunday, February 28 at 4 p.m. Apostle Albert Young of Total Deliverance Ministry will be the guest speaker all three days. For information call 215-848-8630.



At Mt. Zion

On Sunday, March 14 at 4 p.m., the Chancel Choir of Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Germantown, 41 W. Rittenhouse Street, will celebrate their annual Day of Music featuring the Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale in concert. For more information call the church at 215-844-7614.



Apply Now for Free Trees from WMAN


Apply today to have a tree planted on your property this fall.  The West Mt. Airy Neighbors Streetscapes Committee is participating in the fall 2010 TreeVitalize Philadelphia Tree Planting Program. 


TreeVitalize supports neighborhood volunteers in planting trees by supplying them with free trees and limited services to help prepare planting locations.  TreeVitalize is a public/private partnership launched by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and led by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) in Southeast Pennsylvania.  The Streetscapes Committee will be organizing the effort in West Mt. Airy. 


Interested homeowners should contact Dave Tukey, project coordinator at wmatrees@verizon.net or 215-844-2807; or Doris Kessler, WMAN Streetscapes Committee chair, at doris.kessler@verizon.net or 215-242-0651.  An application and further information is available online at www.wman.net.  Completed applications must be received by Friday, March 26.


An application does not guarantee that a homeowner will receive a tree.  A permit from the Fairmount Park Commission is required for each tree requested and tree locations must conform to Commission guidelines. 


The Tree Planting Program is part of a continuing effort to increase the number of trees in Philadelphia.  Since November of 2007, the WMAN Streetscapes Committee has planted more than 180 trees in West Mt. Airy.   To learn more or to volunteer, please contact West Mt. Airy Neighbors at wman@wman.net or 215-438-6022.



Bee-Themed Events in the Northwest


Weavers Way Coop sponsors a honey-themed lunch, specialty honey tastings, a film on colony collapse disorder (Nicotine Bees) and a presentation on Bee Friendly Gardening by Jim Bobb, 2008 PA Beekeeper of the Year and Chair of the Eastern Apiary Society, on Saturday March 6, 12:30 – 4:30 p.m., at the Unitarian Society of Germantown, 6511 Lincoln Drive.


Penn State Master Gardener Jim Bobb has spent much of the past 10 years volunteering with many gardening organizations including Morris Arboretum where he developed tours and educational programs for  visitors.  He operates over 140 honeybee hives at public and private gardens as well as his own Worcester Honey Farms in the Lansdale, PA area.


The cost is $20, $25 for two attendees. Registration is required.  Email Anaiis Salles at outreach@weaversway.coop or call 214-243-2350 x119.


Then on Saturday, March 13, 2:30 – 6 p.m. a “Start Up Workshop: Build your Hive Here” will be held at the Green on Greene Building, 6819 Greene Street. 


If you’ve already decided to begin beekeeping in 2010, you may want to take advantage of this opportunity to assemble your hive kit among other beginners and experienced beekeepers.  Sponsored by the Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild, this event is one in a year-long series of events celebrating the 200th birthday of Philadelphian L. L. Langstroth, inventor of the moveable frame hive.  Registration is required.  Please email Dave Harrod at davehapa@mac.com  or call 215-760-4162. Cost is $5, free to members of Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild.


The Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild will meet on Thursday, March 18, 7:30 – 9 p.m. at Wyck, 6026 Germantown Avenue. The regular monthly meeting of the Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild (PBG) will feature speaker Mike Thomas, 2nd Vice President of the PA State Beekeepers Association and proponent of “natural” beekeeping. Registration is not required. For information call Wyck at 215-848-1690.



Toad Detour Volunteers Sought


It’s hard to believe that the toads will start their spring migration soon with all this snow on the ground. Toad Detour is preparing with a mandatory Volunteer Orientation. This will be a simple meeting to go over volunteer protocol and ensure that the migration goes smoothly this year. We hope to communicate our message of animal protection clearly to the community. Anyone interested in volunteering to help Roxborough toads cross the road during their annual migration is invited to attend the Volunteer Orientation. If you are interested, but can’t attend the meeting, please contact Toad Detour Coordinator Lisa Levinson at lisa@publiceyephilly.org.


The event takes place Sunday, March 7, 4-5 p.m., in the Dick James Room at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, 8480 Hagy’s Mill Road, Roxborough. For directions visit schuylkillcenter.org; RSVP e-mail lisa@publiceyephilly.org or call 215-620-2130.   



City Launches ‘Coolest Block’ Competition


Philadelphia has set its sights on becoming the greenest city in the nation.  To rally residents and stoke friendly competition among neighborhoods, Mayor Nutter launched the RetroFIT PHILLY “Coolest Block” contest at City Hall on Feb. 16. Organized under the auspices of The Energy Coordinating Agency of Philadelphia and the City of Philadelphia, the contest invites row home owners to enter to win energy-saving cool roof, air sealing and insulation upgrades for their entire block.


Traditional black asphalt roofs soak up the sun’s heat and allow its transfer between the exterior and the interior of the house.  White cool roofs, on the other hand, bounce off solar energy to prevent it from being absorbed into the roof and house in the summer. They reduce the amount of energy needed to cool the living space and bring the cost of cooling down by as much as 20 percent. Proper insulation and air sealing of the home can reduce heating and cooling costs by as much as 30 percent.  


Contest entrants will be judged on a range of criteria, but blocks with the highest resident participation have the best chance of winning.  Any Philadelphia row home resident is eligible to enter, but must submit a group entry through one “block coordinator.” The coordinator may be self-selected or may be one of the city’s “block captains” who volunteer to organize block activities on a regular basis.  Entrants must also submit a brief profile of their neighborhood and the future they envision for it.

Along with a cool roof, the winning block will receive a whole home energy audit – from basement to rooftop –  that will identify problem areas where air leakage and poor insulation are robbing homes of precious energy and provide an assessment of where insulation and air sealing products would help improve the home’s overall energy efficiency.


Sealants and insulation will be installed in the participating contestants’ residential homes. Entries will be reviewed by a panel of judges that includes representatives from  media, environmental organizations, and the building industry.  


The deadline for entry is April 5. The winning block will be announced by May 10. In June, the winning block will receive a block party to celebrate. More information and the official contest rules are available at www.retrofitphilly.com.



Put on your party clothes and dancing shoes and join neighbors at East Mt. Airy Neighbors’ second annual “Saturday Night Fever in East Mt. Airy” on the evening of February 27. Last year’s event was both successful  and fun and this year’s promises to be even better. It will feature live music by the amazing Urban Guerilla Orchestra, hors d’oeuvres and desserts, an open bar, lots of dancing and lots of fun.  It will take place in Benbow Hall of the Brossman Center at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, 7301 Germantown Avenue, 7:30-11 p.m. on February 27. Tickets are $75. For reservations and information visit www.eastmountairy.org, call 215-242-4170, or e-mail to info@eastmountairy.org



Arts Garage Off to Great Start


The Art Garage, with a fine turnout at its December event. Photo by Michael Albany.


By LINDA SLODKI

Guest Writer


Neither snow, nor rain, nor lack of heat dampened the spirits of the artists, musicians, and participants of the Mt Airy Art Garage, 542 Carpenter Lane, as they launched their cooperative vision in December 2009. People from the area brought food, laughter, warm welcomes, and good cheer. Artists felt camaraderie and shared in the vision for the future while shivering, just a little, in the present. Mt. Airy Art Garage wanted to thank everyone for their support, especially the management, staff, and patrons of Weavers Way Food Coop.


So, what’s next for the Mt. Airy Art Garage? Hundreds of people passed through their doors—artists who participated in their efforts and went to their meetings, people who stopped in to show their support.  All confirmed the need for an Art Cooperative space where artists can:

Create, exhibit, and distribute their fine art and handcrafts;

Educate and teach workshops to both adults and youth;

Create an ongoing Art Market;

Share and learn with other artists.


We recognized, appreciated, and respected the diversity of this unique section of Philadelphia. The message came back to us loud and clear—the Art Garage must move forward!


The Mt Airy Art Garage is now moving ahead to form a nonprofit artist cooperative and launch a membership drive.


Over the next several months their goal is to grow the membership with participating and associate memberships, raising needed money so they can rent space for upcoming events, classes, and art markets. They will be reaching out to individuals and corporations for personal and professional sponsorships, donations, and participation.


They are also planning a silent auction and evening celebration for April.


Look for them on their website at www.mtairyartgarage.org or become their friend on Facebook.


Even better, contact them to be kept in the loop as they launch and develop this new and wonderful opportunity for all artists.



More than one million families in the United State have attended a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University and, on average, they have been able to pay off $5,300 in debt and save $2,700 in just 90 days.  Now the University has arrived at the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown, 35 West Chelten Avenue. 


Beginning this week, the 13-week video curriculum taught by financial expert Dave Ramsey  incorporates small-group discussions to encourage accountability and discipleship.  Designed to get the participants to change the way they think about money, the Financial Peace University is not just information; it is transformation. The course helps participants understand their finances in the context of the stewardship of God’s gifts with the goal of helping them eliminate their debt, improve their relationships and gain control of their finances.


With an emphasis on how church members can use their resources in a spiritual way, the seminar also is valuable for individuals and families who want to get out of debt.


The Rev. Dr. Nancy Muth, senior pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown, and the Rev. Mr. Kevin Porter, director of Adult Education and Community Life, are the co-facilitators of the course which is given on Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m.  There is a $100 fee for participant materials that includes Dave Ramsey’s best-selling book, CDs of all 13 lessons, Financial Peace University Workbook and more. For  information regarding registration call  215-843-8811.



Mose Allison Concert

eMusictime.com will host “An Intimate Evening with Master Songwriter and Pianist Mose Allison with guitarist Jim Dragoni” at The Stagecrafters Theatre, 8130 Germantown Avenue, on Saturday, March 6 at 8 and 10 p.m. Tickets are available online at www.emusictime.com.


Mose Allison’s newest CD “The Way of the World” marks his return to the recording studio after a 12-year absence. Working with maverick producer Joe Henry, Allison has found his most sympathetic setting in years, surrounded by young, vibrant players, who add surprising slide guitar and some sinewy saxophone to the classic Mose sound. “The Way of the World” also features Mose’s first-ever duet with his daughter, singer Amy Allison. Yet this album is all Mose.


Jim Dragoni is an eclectic guitarist who has played with Allison, Larry Coryell, Odean Pope and has developed a body of work and reputation as a guitarist and teacher in the Philadelphia region. He has performed at Havana, Lincoln Center and numerous festivals. His last recording, “Gargantua,” was released in 2007. He is currently planning a recording with renowned saxophonist Odean Pope.


Visit www.emusictime.com to purchase tickets. Refreshments will be available at the theater provided by Roller’s Restaurants.


Fundraiser for Peace Activist

Friends of Christine Oliger, www.friendsofchristine.com, will hold a Brazilian Dance Party on Saturday, March 6, to raise money for Christine’s medical expenses. This event will take place from 8 p.m. until . . ., and will be held at 7165 Germantown Avenue (formerly North by Northwest).


Oliger is a peace activist who was diagnosed with ALS (also called “Lou Gehrig’s disease”) in 2008. Friends of Christine have held several fundraisers to help with her medical expenses.


The party on March 6 will showcase the Brasil Project, a five-piece band, featuring Brazilian singer/songwriter Anne Simoni, www.annesimoni.com, who has mastered the complex rhythms of samba, bossa nova and baiao. Simoni sings powerful and haunting romantic ballads in her signature seductive, sultry tone, expressing a yearning for emotional connection.


To reserve tickets go to www.friendsofchristine.com and use the PayPal button on the right side of the page. Or you may send your check or money order ($20/person) to “Christine Oliger Trust,” c/o Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting, 100 East Mermaid Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19118. All contributions toward Oliger’s medical expenses will be gratefully acknowledged. For information contact info@friendsofchristine.com or call 267-972-3708.



‘One Book’ Workshop on Comics

Do you know a teen who loves to write or draw comic books?  Are you a teen who would you like to learn how to do this?  If so, join Alli Katz for a workshop on Saturday, March 6 at 2 p.m.  at the Ogontz Branch of the Free Library, part of “The One Book One Philadelphia” program. This year’s book is The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.  The workshop is open to teens and is free but space is limited - calling to save a space is a good idea.  Materials and light refreshments will be provided.

The branch is open six days per week:  Tuedays and Wednesdays from noon – 8 p.m., Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.  The branch is located at 6017 Ogontz Avenue.  For information call Andrea Shumsky at 215-685-3566.


Mt. Airy Day Planning Meeting

A Mt. Airy Day planning meeting will be held Thursday, February 25, 7 p.m., at the East Mount Airy Neighbors (EMAN) office on the campus of the Lutheran Theological Seminary, 7301 Germantown Avenue.

Join us to help with new ideas and to work on the fair.  Committees are being formed now for the work needed to be done.  Bring your ideas and your friends, volunteer for a committee, or just come to see what is happening.

 

This marker in the Wissahickon Valley tells of some of the most mysterious early residents of the area: mystic Johannes Kelpius and the ‘Monks of the Ridge.”


See story below.